Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Newport State Park

Friday I stayed at Newport State Park, Site 4 one of two that weren’t already booked for the weekend. I just needed to sleep in a tent. Have a FIRE, Hear the sound of WOOD and Water. I thought as long as I was going to Northern Door, I’d bring a canoe and see if anyone would join up for a tour of Europe Lake on Saturday.
On the Way...to Duck Bay
Hiking the 1.5 mile trail to site 4, I followed the shoreline, noting how it keeps changing over the years…the water level in Lake Michigan is still low, extending the shore of the park, not really a good thing as all the campsites in the southern, shallower area of the park are up to 100 feet further from shore, which now has a large growth of Phragmites and brush.

There was an immature bald sitting in a large pine along the shore, which I frequently scared up as the trail was near to the beach. Birds just have this routine of flying a few hundred feet ahead of you, being annoyed by your presence, flying ahead…over and over…kind of comical…on water or land, most do the same thing. The eagle cried out a few times with his shrill call.

Lots of lake flies made the spiders fat and content
I was planning on just chilling out at camp, read a book, sit on shore, enjoy the wildlife and sounds…I forgot the book at home, bummer. So I gathered lots of wood, for after dark fire worshiping. I did the routine…set up the tent, hung the pack and found a large flat rock on shore to lay back and listen…a flock of swans, wings making the air sing as they go by, Caspian Terns with their raucous cry, red-wing blackbirds, of course geese and seagulls are ever present on any shoreline, be it Island or Main. 
Mute Swan
Newport is isolated enough on the eastern tip of Door County so few motorized sounds pollute the air. Once in a while, you’ll hear a plane or a distant car.

I had quite a view…to the North was the remains of the Pilot Island lighthouse, with Detriot/Washington Island even farther and to the South was the tall white line of the Cana Island Light, probably a good 25 or 30 miles total from North to South. Fog on and off covered Pilot Island…fog was predicted tonight and it would be dense. Easterly was just 70 miles of fresh water.

Pilot Island
Cana Island

Duck Bay, where site #4 is located, was once the site of a logging camp and the remains of an old log crib dock still sit in the water.

Schooners would land here to pick up shingle and lumber…this would be a nice site to sail to in a small boat…it is well protected from the south and somewhat from the North. The shore has enough soft areas to pull out a boat without rock damage…maybe this fall, another sailing trip?

About 8 pm the fog started to move in and the fire was built. I Tried to burn my pants off with the heat, but the thin skin on my legs couldn’t take it and I had to back off. The fire lasted until 10. I crawled in the tent. About 3 am, the raccoons whirling and fighting over something caught my attention; waking me up…It was so foggy, I could see haze in the tent with a flashlight. A fish tug motored by about 6, sounding a fog horn several times. Thought it might be a good picture, but the fog was too thick, I could see Gravel Island, but no tug.

My usual camp breakfast of instant, no mess, no cleanup, no dirty dishes of Oatmeal was Easy!. Took down the tent, policed the site and headed back to the car….the fog was lifting and it was warm, 60 degrees, pretty nice for mid-May.

Indian Paintbrush
It was a short drive to Europe Lake. I had sent out an invite to paddlers, but it was short notice and didn’t expect to see anyone, so I was excited to see long-time paddlers Terrie and Craig. We chatted greetings a bit and launched our boats…a variety of boats. A short open deck Kayak, a short canoe and one sea kayak. Shallow water, near shore paddling, so little warm clothing was necessary. Our set up time was short. Europe Lake was formed when glacial debris separated Europe Lake from Lake Michigan 11,000 years ago.

A few miles in circumference, partially surrounded by Newport State Park, the private land is slowly being developed with large vacation homes…of course they need a view, so the shoreline is being cleared in front of most homes, but there are seldom any motorized boats. It is a nice place to paddle in spring and fall when the big lake is cold.

We paddled about an hour and 30, then headed our separate ways.