The Farthest Away
You Can Get
It is hard to know how to accurately describe the southwest corner of Beaver Island, because the arc of beach between Cheyenne Point and French Bay is singularly free of anecdotal lore. The beach is primarily rocky, with some stretches of sand, and several boulders that were said to be "as big as a house" when houses were smaller. The land, lying below the highest part of the West Side Bluff, consists of stepped low plateaus, wooded with a variety of species: hemlock, pine, balsam, maple, beech, birch, and cedar. There are a few ponds, particularly in the stony areas behind the protruding points. Deer, beaver, fox, and coyote abound --when Archie staged his coyote hunts forty years ago, this was one of the areas he chose.
We drove west to the end of the private road below Tip Miller's Hill, parked, and walked another five hundred feet west to be sure we were on public land before venturing out to the beach. We were confronted with a veritable forest of a papyrus-like reed we had never seen before, full of the swoopings and calls of birds too shy to be seen. This was on the eastern edge of Cheyenne Point itself --where the government had intended to build the Beaver Head Light. And would have, if their guide had not led them to his own property, where he declared, "Fellows, this is your spot!"
We cut the point on a trail made twenty years ago by Larry Delamater's winter cedar-cutting operation, where logs skidded to the beach past the next point were picked up by a second tractor and hauled to the road, to await pick-up in the spring. The beach here is windswept and wild, but it is difficult to break into the woods because the tangle of fringe trees have sent out abundant branches, clamoring for a share of the moisture and light. We found interesting driftwood, parts of boats of various sizes, more bones and feathers per foot than on any other beach here, and of course the ubiquitous styrofoam cooler sides and a limp helium balloon.
We hiked north until the sun began to set between Gull and High Islands; the Foxes were also visible to the southwest, North shimmering like a mirage in front of the larger South. Walking back in the moonlight, hoping we would be able to find our car, we settled on a description for this magnificent and isolated stretch of land: as far away as you can get.