Peace In A Tin Can

Peace In A Tin Can

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Porcupine Mountains Series Part 3: We All Need Something To Hang On To
Boots.  Tall, rubber, waterproof boots.  That was what I needed.

About three years ago, I saw a picture of my beautiful and very fashionable niece wearing a pair of Burberry boots at a tailgate party.  I was fascinated with her boots.  They looked so…safe.
Then last summer my nephew, who had been pouring concrete, dropped by my house wearing tall rubber Muck boots.  I kept staring at his feet, thinking they looked so safe.

Do you ever get an idea in your head that has no basis for credibility but you believe it anyway?  You believe it because you have to?  This is what happened to me with the tall rubber boots.  I got this idea in my head that if I wore tall rubber boots, the snakes couldn't get me.  I came to believe that if I wore those boots while hiking, the appearance of a reptile with no legs would not throw me into a complete panic, because my boots would protect me.  Snakes can't suddenly cross over your foot and climb up your pant leg when you're wearing tall rubber boots.  They can't strike at you through thick rubber.  The boots would keep me safe.  I believed it, I needed that thought to hold onto, and I knew I would never experience a completely peaceful hike without those boots.

But the boots are not cheap, and since I am always stockpiling my money for gas to take my trips to the U.P. of Michigan, boots were not in the budget.  At least, not until my compassionate husband surprised me with a pair of Hunter boots, complete with fleece liners.  They…are…awesome, as is my husband.

Armed with my tall rubber boots, I headed into the Porcupine Mountains with confidence.

Since I spent my first day in the mountains not hiking while I dealt with a shredded tire on the tin can, I had ample opportunity to meet other hikers in the campground.  Asking each of them where they had hiked so far was always accompanied with an inquiry into the snake population out there on the trails.  The 4 Guys had hiked the entire 17 miles of the Lake Superior Trail in one day, and saw two snakes.  The hunter had just emerged from several days of backcountry camping; he saw lots of snakes.  When I asked the couple next to me if they saw any snakes on the Presque Isle trails, they casually replied "oh, just a few".

The freakishly warm weather in October was keeping the snakes of the Porkies active.  No worries; I had my boots.

The next morning, after the sudden storm of the night before, I walked Rooney early.  Wearing my Hunter boots, I headed up the drive through the campground to a field where Rooney could sniff all the bushes.  Along the way, there was a short stretch of road that had deep brush on either side, with tall grasses and wild flowers.  As I strolled through this wild alley, I saw something on the ground.  Upon
closer inspection, I realized it was a snake, which had come out of the weeds seeking the heat of the asphalt after the storm, only to be flattened by a late night arrival of an RV to the campground.  I'll be honest; my heart did that little skip-a-beat thing it does, but I stayed calm.  I had my boots to protect me in the unlikely event that the early morning sunshine would breathe life back into the flat snake.  I kept going, with even breaths and a new-found confidence.

However, stepping foot on the Presque Isle trail gave me pause.  I mean, these snakes would be alive.  I pulled myself up by my boot straps - quite literally - and hiked with confidence.  Over the next several days I hiked many miles on
many trails.  The only time I took my boots off was when I went to bed each night.  They were comfortable, kept my feet dry in muddy areas, and warm.  Most important, my boots removed my fear.  I didn't want to see a snake, but I didn't worry about it either.
Google Images

The funny thing is, I never saw a single snake, except for the dead one in the drive of the campground. I think I am the only hiker that was in the Porcupine Mountains that week who never came across a snake, which leads me to believe my boots have magical powers.  They don't just protect me from snakes, they scare them away!  Hey, we all need something to hang on to.

I love my Hunter boots, and I love my husband for getting them for me.  Next year, I might even hike the Cedar Swamps.  Okay, no I won't.  I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid!

Cedar Swamp, Porcupine Mountains
Courtesy of Google Images