There are secret places in the Land of Sky Blue Water where I retreat when I grow tired of the rat race. These are the places once traveled by the French explorers who came to hunt and fish amongst the Chippewa and migrating pilgrims who marveled at the abundance of lakes, rivers and streams teeming with game. These are ancient temples of whispering pines and the eagle’s path; secret places of sunlit coves and smoky campfires and of smoldering sunsets that bespeak of old ghosts and lost tribes.
At Camp McNulty I find tranquility with the constant sound of the wind in the pines, call of the wild loon and ever-changing colors. In the far distance I might hear an Evinrude cutting a line across the sparkling waters or the sound of a shotgun shattering the stillness in some distant glen, but mostly I hear the wind in the tall trees. I cannot help but to recall the line from Carl Sandburg who wrote in his poem “Wind Song” the line: “Who can ever forget listening to the wind go by counting its money and throwing it away?”
In these places the ancient explorers found secret bays where the fish were plentiful and they might camp for the night before continuing their journey bringing furs to the river men who in turn carried them for sale to the great cities. The scent of pine and birch are as refreshing as the cool bay where the water reflects the turquoise heavens.
The morning fog is a barrier for the uninitiated and where a man lacking in experience can easily become lost. At night we hunker down with books and journals to read by the glow of a dim electric lamp on those evenings when the power lines are working; or we tell stories around the campfire of years past and those friends and family no longer here save for a memory on the wind.
If I leave the camp at all it is for necessary supplies or a trip to the antique shops where I might find an old book by Troy Nesbit which in turn spark fond memories of camping trips from the past and a trail that was long and winding to bring me here again.
At sunset the treetops are touched by a golden light that changes into deep lavender and brings darkness to the wild trails. At night the forest is so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Black bears forage for berries and the wolves howl at the glittering stars. Reluctantly, we head for the cabin and hunker down for the night, content that the morning will bring another day of enjoyment in the calm bays and secret places of the northwoods.
All photography copyright © 2014 by Thomas McNulty