Grand Portage, MN – August 8, 2012
The water barely moved around Isle Royale. Warm and calm, it felt like gliding over a mirror as I pointed the Looksha toward the distant mainland and began to paddle. The storms would hold for another day.
Ripples spread across the surface of the lake an hour later. The hint of movement made light shimmer and dance around me.
Another hour and the water changed again. Small waves–six inches high–nipped at Looksha’s hull, then fled, leaving the water still. Lines of ripples flowed through the glass surface like rivers.
Then it was calm again, clear blue as deep as I could see, and heavy with cold. The boat felt slow, as if the water was half-frozen and stuck against the hull. My fingertips turned numb brushing against the surface.
I stared up at the cliffs on Pigeon Point, the closest American soil to Isle Royale. The world had transformed in those miles of ripples and six-inch waves. It felt like I’d traded summer for fall and everything had a cold, sharp edge.
“This is the lake they told me about,” I thought. “The one with water so cold that you fall in and sink forever.”
I turned the boat, glad to race winter South.