Sunday, December 9, 2018

Backpacking Rock Island State Park: Day 3

After a chilly second night, my watch beeped me awake a little after seven. 

I began boiling water for a hearty warm meal of dehydrated spicy southwest breakfast hash. Getting up to stretch, slip on my pair of cold hiking boots, a bald eagle flew just feet above the fence of cedars that surrounded my cliffside campsite. Simple moments like silently waiting for that kettle to heat from the comfort of my down sleeping bag, bring feelings of gratitude. That's a wonderful way to begin another day on the island. On my last day at Rock Island State Park, I dedicated hours purposely for exploring the southern half of the island. After packing up all of my gear and tearing down the tent, I loaded my backpack and found the coastline. The only sounds I heard for a few hours were the colliding of smooth stones under my hiking boots and sparse waves crashing onto the shore. 
There's so much stillness here, endless sights causing you to stop in your footsteps and absorb all of this visual stimulation nature is ever-so generously providing. Clear cool waters creating a window to a sandy floor below, detailed reflections and Wisconsin's finest palette of fall colors. Before capturing this picture, I hiked for thirty minutes along the shoreline completely by myself. The solitude here, let me tell you. I paused and read carved stories of the past from the island's early inhabitants. 
Attentive eyes will discover this as a reward after skirting along water's edge beneath cedars and slick rock. This is a subtle reminder of when tribes called Rock Island home hundreds of years before I snapped the shutter on my digital camera. It's amazing that after all this time, what you see here has remained intact through winters and Door County's notoriously harsh storms.

Prior to hiking back to the boat launch for the final ferry departure of the day, I was eager to find this secluded rocky point on the map towards the bottom tip of the island. The depths of color and light shimmering off the water may illuminate just how shallow the lake gets between the trailing islands at Door County's northern end. Distant walls of dark blue clouds plummeting below the horizon create this bittersweet illusion of a far away mountain range. See you on the far side, Rock Island. Another state park in the books, catching the first of two ferries back to mainland Door County from Wisconsin's remote Rock Island State Park. Backpacking here truly is an experience like no-other in Wisconsin.