The Hike

The final hike of my summer trip to the North Shore was to Carlton Peak on the Superior Hiking Trail, one of Minnesota’s most impressive high points. To get there from Highway 61, take the Sawbill Trail (County Road 2/31) 2.5 miles from Highway 61, to the Britton Peak parking lot on the right. The trail can be a bit steep but it’s an easy path. It’s also popular. I saw quite a few people, including the nice father and daughter who had shared their bug spray with me on Eagle Mountain. They were on a hiking jag like me, doing as many hikes as they could in a week. It felt good to see a couple of familiar faces.

When I got to the top of the peak, I just sat there for a long time like I have done at trail summits a lot on this trip. It made me sad to know I had to finally head home.

At home, I would have to face a pile of IRS letters. There would be student loans to figure out that Barry had taken out in my name. Should I just keep heading north? Maybe I could get to Alaska and head out into the bush! No! I would last about a minute out in the bush. Plus there was a book waiting for me to illustrate — and my arms were lonely for Charlotte.

Time travel

As I hiked down the trail, I wondered what I would do if I had a time machine. Would I go back to 1973 when I was a lifeguard at the YMCA while attending art school? Would I decide not to go out on a date with Barry that Friday night to Moby Dick’s for a couple of beers in downtown Minneapolis? Would I choose to stick to my original plan of moving to Santa Fe once I was finished art school?

I think about time machines a lot, influenced by old movies about going back in time. There are no time machines (yet), but if there were, I would be tempted to change my future. In that case, however, I would not have my three awesome kids or my granddaughter, Charlotte. I would have missed meeting wonderful friends through Barry and having some really fun parties and trips.

Coyotes howling at the moon

lonely arms

Lonely arms

Maybe I would never have done pictures books. If I had moved to Santa Fe, would I just be drawing coyotes howling at the moon? No. I love my life, even though times are tough right now. Until dementia took over Barry, we had a full and interesting life – and, really, I would not want to miss any of it.

Just like my hikes trekking up and down the trails, life is a series of highs and lows. I know it is a cliché, but life is like a roller coaster. When I got to the top of Carlton Peak, the view was spectacular and exhilarating, just like the highs in life. I wouldn’t trade those highs for anything. I guess the same can be said for the lows in life. You just have to get through those, too. They make life’s highs that much more wonderful.

With that I headed home to Barry, our sticky kitchen floor, the bills and all my worries. But I also came home to my studio where I can work, to my kids and to Charlotte. It’s a wild ride, and I’m holding on tight!

For information on Carlton Peak http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/superior/recreation/recarea/?recid=40276&actid=73

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5 comments on “HIKE NUMBER TWELVE
  1. Nancy says:

    Alternately, jump into the time machine and go back a bit, to when Barry started his dementia. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. 🙂 And read _The Time Traveler’s Wife_, if you haven’t already. Remember, “Never judge a book by its movie.” It’s a great book. And if you ever want to hear coyotes howling at the moon, we have them here. Come East, instead of West, young woman! The full moon last weekend found them howling like mad, and it was utterly fog to the ground, a la Brigadoon. Hugs to you, Nancy.

  2. I need to do my hiking through your feet right now, Nancy, so keep walking and writing!

  3. Keep on loving your life as best you can. Can’t wait to see the new book illustrations you are working on. Keep us posted.

  4. Linnea says:

    I do the time machine also Nancy re: my daughter who is bipolar. But if there wasn’t her, there wouldn’t be my amazing granddaughters. This is a daunting path, many times, but we don’t walk alone. Thanx for sharing your journey.

  5. Maryann says:

    Hi Nancy: Thanks for sharing so openly about your life. I especially liked hearing about Lutsen and I too recall skiing there with the kids when they were young. Since I didn’t learn to ski til I was an adult, my favorite hill at Lutsen was Big Bunny–gently sloping, nice and wide. And yes, where there are moose tracks, you will probably find moose. They don’t call it Moose Mountain for nothing. I also identify completely with your art of getting lost. I am so good at getting lost that one day I had to go from the Plymouth Library to Brookdale Library for a meeting. I got so turned around I thought I’d end up in St. Cloud. I had to stop and ask directions twice. So, good for you for taking off into the woods. What an amazing journey we’re all traveling. I still think back to what a lovely day we enjoyed at the Alphabet Forest. (I can get really lost at the State Fair.) I am grateful for you and all you bring to the world.

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