My second hike was at Split Rock on July 17, 2013

The Hike

The first thing I did on my trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior was purchase a state park pass at Split Rock. I think it cost about $25 for a year. I like seeing the pass on my windshield because it reminds me of the freedom I have to go for a hike.

I chose to do two simple hikes, the Day Hill and Little Harbors Trails. Day Hill took me up high; the view was beautiful. If you get to the top of Day Hill, you will see a rock chimney built in 1900 by a Duluth businessman named Frank Day. He was going to build a house for his sweetheart there. But she dumped him so the house was never finished. Hey Frank, I would live there!

The day was hot. I was sweating when I got to the top. As I worked my way down and walked Little Harbors Trail, breezes from the lake cooled me right down. The place was filled with families camping and picnicking. No one was swimming, however, because the lake was still freezing cold from our late spring in Minnesota this year.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior at Split Rock Light House


A tough time remembered

Split Rock Lighthouse is really fun to see, but I was not in the mood to see that lighthouse today. Just couldn’t do it. I was remembering a tough time last year as I drove home from being Up North for a few days. It was at a time when I had no idea about what was going on with my husband Barry and his strange behavior. It was rainy and depressing on that drive home.

I had decided to move out and leave Barry. I did not know he had frontotemporal dementia (FTD) at that time, but I knew I could not stay with him or work as a caretaker for the condos where we were living. Since that low period, I am happy to report that lots of good things have happened in this past year.

What to think about? The word RELAX!!

As I hiked, I tried to relax. Take deep breaths — let myself breathe. For the past couple of years, I have not known what it is to relax. I had to learn to do that again. When I set off on this recent hike, I set Barry up at home with plenty of his favorite foods and my kids to look after him. I told myself that the IRS, student loans and bills would just have to wait. I knew they would all still be there when I returned in a week. I also reminded myself that Barry would be really happy that I was gone. He could feed the birds, eat waffles and buy all the blueberries he wanted — at least until his money ran out! These are things he must do — and I needed to hike!

As I hiked, I tried to leave it all behind. When I got to the top of Day Hill, I was feeling pretty good. The sky was deep blue and with Lake Superior rolling out ahead me, I breathed out a huge sigh!  To relax!

wild flowers

Walking in wild flowers

Little Harbors Trail was full with families hiking and picnicking. For a moment, I felt kind of lonely. I admit that I get easily homesick so I am used to that feeling. But I wondered if, as a family, we would ever get to a point again when we could all meet Up North for hiking and picnicking. From now on, would it just be me with my kids and new granddaughter Charlotte? As I continued to walk, I passed a young man making an awesome meal on an open grill. I imagined that my son-in-law Brian would be that guy cooking up something yummy for the rest of us! But for now, it was me alone, hiking and trying to relax!

A nostalgic dip in Baptism River

Before heading to my friend’s boathouse where I stayed on this trip, I stopped at the Baptism River. I was very sweaty and hoped to take a dip. This had always been a favorite stop for Barry and me in the past on the way to our canoe trips. When we were first dating, Barry climbed the cliffs and jumped off into the river like all the other young guys trying to impress their gals.

Stopping at the Baptism River this time was hard and bittersweet. First, there was no one there so I felt pretty lonely again. I decided to go for a swim and headed into the bushes to change into my swimsuit. There was not a soul in sight. But as soon as I started to peel off my sweaty clothes, I looked up to see a couple on the walkway above me looking at the lake. Then more people came along to swim. I had to figure out a way to quietly struggle into my swimsuit. Sweaty running bras are really hard to take off discreetly!  Soon I was changed and jumped in. It felt wonderful and relaxing!

On this hike, I realized it’s okay to visit favorite places from Barry’s and my past. It can be hard, but it’s okay to remember the good times! In fact, it’s important! Lots of emotions that night as I stayed at the Boathouse.


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6 comments on “HIKE NUMBER TWO
  1. Pat Werner says:

    I like that you knew your limitations and didn’t jump right into being the caregiver for both Barry and your condo association. I respect you. It has become so important to look after ourselves instead of everyone else. Enjoy.

  2. Warren Hanson says:

    That dip in the Baptism River is symbolic. A new Nancy is being born. Labor is never easy (I’m told), but the outcome can be miraculous.

  3. Helen Foster James says:

    Dear Nancy,

    Please know that there are many people rooting for you. You are an inspiration.

    Hugs to you!


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