[ Continued ] Chris, Ernie, JoAnne, Jeff and I set out on the West Trail, heading north. The members of the Miniss Kitigan Drum have kept the main paths in good shape, although occasionally we had to duck under an overhanging branch. We made good time, passing the turn for the Sugarbush Trail in fifteen minutes. Twice we startled up deer, and a few times sent a harmless snake scurrying for safety. Occasionally we caught a whiff of leeks, crossed a spread of limestone rocks imbedded in the rich soil, came to a muddy depression that might hold water in the spring, or passed a vibrant, reddish purple flower.
When we heard the crashing surf to our left, we hoped we were close to Bomway Bay, and scouted the heavily-grown woods for a possible trail. We thought there was an old road that left from a former clearing. Finding nothing other than criss-crossing deer trails, we decided we had not gone far enough and pushed on.
We were growing tired when we came upon a small orchard and an old log structure whose roof had collapsed but whose walls were intact. It was about 16' x 18', and had only one opening, a door with a head sill about 5' from the ground. Once again we explored the woods to the west for a trail, but didn't find any. My reading of the shadow direction made me think we were farther east than we had hoped. Distrusting the trail map, I suggested continuing along our path, which I thought (erroneously) was looping back to the south.
It did link up with a more-traveled path, which I suggested following to our right in order to return to Garden Island Harbor. Ernie, though, believed we were close to Golden's Clearing, and thought we should turn left. Perhaps the people camping there could give us better directions, he suggested, and that swayed the vote. We turned left, and trudged wearily towards the group of people studying (by living) Native American culture. Ten minutes later, we were welcomed into their camp, a collection of a dozen bent sapling tents covered by transparent visqueen tucked into the woods around two restored old cabins.
The friendly group did not have much pertinent information. They told us that the trail we had hoped to find was very difficult to see. The structure we had passed had been the home of a blind man who had tied strings from his house to his apple trees and garden area to allow him to find his way -- over 60 years ago. We thought about turning back; they said it was about a 45 minute walk to our boats. Ernie, though, proposed walking the beach, counterclockwise, to reach Bomway Bay. "I guess since I've already come this far...," Chris replied. The campers told us that one of their friends was undergoing a vision quest on the beach, so we should proceed with cautious respect; we keep our eyes open, but were unable to see him.
We proceeded slowly over the rocky beach. We passed dead fish, thousands of flat limestone plates, an old wheel, clusters of tiny but vivid violet flowers, a washed-up fish-net buoy, mesquite-like bushes with bright yellow flowers, and a seagull's grave. Sadly, whatever clearing had once been at Bomway Bay was completely overgrown. The cabin remnants and gnarled old apple trees we had imagined could not be found. Despite hours of hiking, we had not located our objective.
We divided into two groups; one came back through the woods (stumbling into two more small, overgrown orchards, while the others trudged along the difficult beach. Bay after bay greeted them, sometimes rocky, sometimes so mucky that in one Chris's sandal was sucked off her foot. The long points could not be cut because of their marshy interiors. Finally, at 7:00 p.m., Don Cole, who had come over in his houseboat to check his new gps and had been dispatched to rescue the exhausted hikers, picked them up in his 18' metal dingy (it was a difficult task in the rough sea, but Mike Nackerman proved adept at handling the craft) and brought them back to their boats. Agnes had waited patiently, absorbing the ambiance that wafted out from the serene and quiet island, which more than anything else evoked the sensations she had hoped to recall.
The waves were still large, and the trip back to Beaver Island took almost an hour. Ernie, with Agnes and her daughters on board, circled Little Island before heading for home. Everyone was looking forward to a late dinner and bed, but all in all, despite finding neither the graves or the old homestead, it was a wonderful day well spent.
[ Garden Island Cemetery ] [ Map ]