Hiking with Parkinson’s part 3

September 3 & 4- Daisy Farm

Friday, September 3 –

With Parkinson’s people have good days and bad days. If I do a lot today I might not have any energy tomorrow.  On both the 3rd and 4th of September,  I was beat. If I were a car, my fuel gage would have been pointing to empty. After sleeping over eight hours I woke up wishing I could sleep eight more.

We had hot coffee, a breakfast bar, and dried apples for breakfast. During breakfast we discussed the plans for the day. We had discussed hiking the four and a half miles to Moskey Basin which would follow the shore line. From there we could go up to the Greenstone Ridge trail which ran the length of the Island and would take us to Wendigo. Zachary felt that the hike to Moskey Basin would be too much for me to do, and a better plan would be to see if I could regain my strength with a day of rest. I didn’t want to ruin the trip for Zach and Michelle, so tried to talk them into hiking to Windigo without me. I argued that I could take the Voyageur II from Daisy Farm to Windigo on Sunday and would get there before they did. Zach and Michelle both felt that spending time together was more important than hiking on a particular trail and refused to go without me.

Following breakfast I did my BIG AND LOUD exercises. I had hoped that the exercises would give me a boost of energy, since that has happened in the past. They did help a little but not enough to make any real difference.

In case you think having Parkinson’s Disease is only negative let me tell you one positive thing about it. There are two pit toilets just north of camp on Daisy farm. One was just off the main trail and the other was accessible by going on the boardwalk. Michelle and Zach both said that they would rather go into the woods and use a log than do anything in the pit toilets. I thought they just didn’t want to sit on the stool. In fact I was pleasantly surprised how odor free the pit toilets were. I was on my way to use the toilet when a lady, coming the other way, said, “Don’t use the toilet near the main trail it smells like there’s a dead animal in there. The one by the boardwalk is much less stinky.” I thanked her without telling her I had used the one by the main trail earlier and couldn’t smell a thing. Loss of smell is one of the first symptoms of Parkinson’s.

The people who were staying in Shelter Number Five packed out and, with rain in the forecast, we decided to move into the shelter. All the campsites are available on a first come basis. However, each campground limits the number of day you are allowed to stay. For example, you could only camp at Rock Harbor one night. Whereas, Daisy Farm allowed people to camp for three consecutive nights. We stayed the three night limit with the first night camping in our tents and the next two nights camping in the shelter.

Back in the 1870s when the Siskowit Copper mines were running, the mining company planned Daisy Farm as a place where crops would be grown and chickens and other livestock kept to feed the miners. The name of the farm came from the fact that the farmer’s wife loved daisies and planted them around the farm. The mines shut down long, long ago and any evidence of a farm has also passed on.

If you were to come to Daisy Farm by boat you would pass by Caribou Island to the East and the Rock Harbor Lighthouse to the west. One of the first things you would see would be the T shaped dock which has a ladder for swimmers to climb out of the water on the east end of the T. People fish off the dock and we watched one man catch a nice size Coaster Brook Trout. (I’m not sure why, but he practiced catch and release. I told him I preferred catch and fillet.)

There is a creek that runs through the middle of the camp and a beaver dam and lodge are located close to Shelter five. I never saw beavers near the lodge but Zach saw three of them swimming around near the dock. The campsites run parallel to the shoreline but east and west of the beaver lodge. The campsites at Daisy Farm are not located close to Lake Superior like the one at Three Mile were. In front of campsites three and four is a pavilion which, while you cannot camp in it, you can use it for meals if it should rain.

September third was spent fishing, writing, and just hanging out. I should have taken better notes because I don’t seem to remember anything about that day other than my frustration that Zach and Michelle wouldn’t go ahead without me. It does seem like we had some really good conversations about life but I’m not sure what day those discussions took place.

Saturday, September 4

I slept really well but woke up feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. I meant to buy a battery driven C-Pap Machine, especially made for camping, but never got around to it. Zachary was sure that was why I couldn’t get rested up.

I decided to go back to bed after breakfast, which turned out to be a good thing. Michelle and Zach decided to do an exploratory Hike from Daisy Farm to Mount Ojibway and back. They left Daisy Farm and took the east trail that ran north up to Mount Ojibway. From there they walked west on the Greenstone Ridge Trail, took shelter from the rain by climbing up the ranger’s fire tower. They walked the length of Lake Ojibway until they came to the west trail than ran south back down to Daisy farm. The total hike was between six and seven miles.

My tiredness was because I was having a really Bad day with  Parkinson’s.   I felt too tired to go to the dock fishing and decided to write and rest. I spent the day laying in my sleeping bag with my phone beside me. It was totally useless as a phone but worked quite well as a word processer. I got very little writing done because I spent most of the day sleeping.

Michelle and Zach came back to camp really pumped up about their experiences on the Greenstone Trail. The trail is mainly solid, lichen covered, rock and when it gets wet it is like walking on ice. They were almost to the top, going up hill, when the rain started. Michelle slipped and fell a couple of times before figuring out how to walk on the slippery lichen.

Michelle works for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a heritage biologist, and she was pumped about the variety of plants she saw. She took a lot of pictures of the carnivorous pitcher plant, which grows on floating bogs. She also took many pictures of the lichen. I didn’t know that there were different types of lichen, and when she started telling me about it I figured that there could be 4-5 different kinds. Turns out, there are over 600 different types of lichen on Isle Royale. I also didn’t know that the plants Devil’s Club and Thimbleberry only grow west of the Rocky Mountains and on Isle Royale. Two other plants, the Northern Paintbrush and the Three-Toothed Saxifrage grow north at the artic circle and on Isle Royale. It pays to have a biologist in the family that makes plants exciting.

Everywhere they went they saw sign for moose: rubs, hoof prints, and scat. Moose are HUGE animals. With all the signs there had to be moose all around us. Zach saw one, that challenged him on the board walk. Michelle and I would have to wait until Windigo to see out first moose.

We spent the evening packing and cleaning up. We had to be on the dock by eight AM to get aboard the Voyageur II. I was afraid that, after sleeping all day, I wouldn’t sleep at all that night. It wasn’t a problem at all.

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