After finishing my military service in 1990, two friends Tim Newell and Mike Berry and I, discovered hiking at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Trail in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These stories are a small snapshot from these early years. The first book named, Looking Back, took place from the spring of 1992 through the fall of 1996.
This second book took place from just after the events of September 1996 to September of 1998.
Being a photographer, I documented all the trips and adventures on film. The images have been scanned from my film archives, edited when needed and they help to tell the story. Some images have never been seen by anyone but these three hikers for more than twenty five years.
What I hope everyone gets out of reading this true story is: my love of the land, the beauty of the park, and all the changes in weather I have seen at the park. I also hope to express how the park has changed me, my friendships as we hiked, combined with the love I have for photography. I am already working on the next book set in the years from 1998 to well into the 2000's.
Personal history is a fickle thing. We see our lives through our own perspective, in the light as we think others see us. I can only write what I think I saw. I will try to get it right.
In the fall of 1997, my brother and I moved from a rental home to a town house. It was much smaller but less expensive. When I was unpacking, I started looking at the photos I had taken over the past years. All the enlarged photos I framed from my hiking trips, hanging on my walls. The pictures started calling to me and got me thinking about hiking again. I hatched a plan to go hiking by myself that year. I knew I needed to get away. I felt trapped. My normal hiking buddy Tim couldn't or didn't want to go. He had used all his vacation up with family trips. Good for him! So, it was to be just myself this year. I didn't want to go alone, but it was go alone or not go at all...
Miners Castle -
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
This adventure was truly the end of my old life. That statement is in need of a large explanation. The short one is, I met a woman on-line in March 1998. We would eventually marry on May 20th of 2000. In that time, my whole life would change. I will focus on this hike, but as I look at the notes, I can see the photos and remember who I was then, compared to whom I am now. You would not recognize me today, from those days.
Like most of my hikes, Tim Newell and I planned this spring hike together to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We had this hike, and an additional hike planned for later in the year to South Dakota. For this first hike, Tim's wife Pam and a friend of hers, Jenny, were planning to go with us to Pictured Rocks. Pam had been camping before but never back country hiking. I will say more on this later. Jenny had some camping experience, but nothing this big or for as many days.
In Order Left to Right -
Jenny, Tim, Pam & (Me) David
Around the same time I returned from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in June of 1998, I began a fourteen-year love affair with a woman in Indianapolis, Indiana. Every three weeks I would drive 360 miles from Oshkosh, Wisconsin to see her. I did not think much about exercise in those months. All I did was work, talk to her on the phone, eat and sleep. My drive to exercise and getting in shape to go hiking was pushed aside. From late June to mid August I did nothing hiking related. I had been happy alone, but the newness of a relationship was exciting. As the summer went on, I realized that if I were going to go hiking 111 miles in South Dakota, I would need to get out and do some walking.
I think all the driving, lack of sleep, and mostly laziness, got me to let myself go again. After all the work I did to slim down, build my hiking body back up, was simply gone. Going out to eat and the dating pounds packed on. I did not blame her; I made all my own choices. As the weeks became days, I panicked a bit. I started walking every day I could. I drank only water and ate less so I could trim down a bit. We had to go 111 miles in the Black Hills. It would be a lot more strenuous and challenging than Pictured Rocks. We also had to carry all of our food with us for the entire trip. I feel that even if we had fully prepared for this trip, it was bound to fail. I will explain more about that later. My being out of shape did not help matters one bit.
Tim and I had started to drift apart a bit. Tim was married. He had been for almost two years. Now that I had a companion, our time together went down even more. Not good or bad. It is just what happens to old friends. Family and work have to come first. Friends will understand. If not, they are not good friends. Even so, Tim was ready, as far as I could tell. He was in good shape to hike...
(Me) David and Tim - Centennial Trail
At this point, I wanted to end this story and book. I want to say, this is all that happened on this trip and make everyone wait until the next book for more. The more I thought about it, I wanted to be true to the history and to my story. There are two more weeks of adventure in fall 1998. My adventures were not done yet. The next weeks are hard for me to talk about. Still, I have found it has made it better for me to explain what happened next and closing a door and being able to move on. The rest of this trip is the beginning of my 14-year life with the woman that would move to Oshkosh. We would eventually marry. Together, we would start a hiking company. Then she would encourage me to start a photography company while she made dog treats. We then would leave it all behind and move to Florida so she could get her doctorate. The all led me back to Oshkosh without her in 2013.
For now, here is the rest of 1998. These events would forever change my life.
(me) David - Wagner Falls