Author: Mark Kapusciarz

Story Index

Has anyone ever wondered what it is like being away from civilization?

During the summer of 1994, one of my friends Stan, his brother John, and I set out to get away from the ordinary lifestyles that we have so far experienced. In the beginning of summer Stan invited me on a camping trip. My first reactions were ecstatic. I was in a desperate need of a vacation, and I figured camping would be a unique experience. Since I never went before I perceived it to be a great time just to sit back, relax, have a few beers, and enjoy the great out doors.

When Stan invited me to come along on the camping trip, I anticipated the trip to a campground at a national forest somewhere up north. Stan and John have been rigid, dedicated campers. Where I, on the other hand, was a novice to the wilderness lifestyle. About two weeks before our excursion, Stan tells me about this island in the middle of Lake Superior. He was so excited, that he was ready to jump out of his pants. The island was called Isle Royale National Park. I thus anticipated that this island was the setting of our camping excursion. I really did not care of the locality because I assumed Isle Royale to be just like any other campground, on the outskirts of town between forests and by the wilderness. I myself was exhilarated about the journey. Stan and I have taken a few trips together and I find myself to have a dazzling experience after an expedition with Stan. Story Index

The following week, Stan stops by my house and drags me out of bed inorder to help him buy some necessities for the trip. When we arrived at Sportmart, I find myself following Stan to the camping aisle. Stan stops in front of the dry food section. I was a little disturbed because I thought we would be ingesting normal food like hot dogs and burgers. However, I thought wrong. Stan tells me that we will be taking dry food packages because they are lighter to carry. Suddenly, I anticipated this trip to be different than I expected. Meanwhile, Stan fills the shopping cart with food and pays for the items we purchased. On our way back home, Stan fills me in on the details.

Stan and John decided that we will hike half of the trails on the island which will give us something to do for the several days we will be there. He further tells me that there is no type of civilization on the island. That is, there are NO STORES. I was immediately distressed about the entire situation. I found myself having second thoughts about the adventure to the island. However, Stan told me that it would be a unique experience and somehow conned me into joining him.

The following week, Stan, John, and unfortunately myself packed our camping gear and we found ourselves on our way to Grand Portage, Minnesota where we would board a ferry to Isle Royale. I was a bit disappointed because my back pack was about 50 pounds after I attached my sleeping bag and tent. The biggest discontentment of it all was we only had room for one bottle of vodka which had to last us seven days on the isolated island. While we were driving, I kept telling myself this adventure will not be that bad. On our journey from Chicago to Grand Portage we saw many fascinating sights that were very eye-catching. Already, I was feeling better about the whole idea of camping. Story Index

The following morning we arrived in Grand Portage for our ferry, The Voyageur. It was an older ship that reminded me of the ship on "Gilligan's Island" (the television show). Before we boarded the ship, John decided to rent a canoe so that we can paddle across the smaller lakes within the island. Shortly afterwards we boarded The Voyageur. It was a dreary Saturday morning accompanied by a thick fog.

Shortly thereafter we were on our way with an additional thirty hikers. The island is 45 miles long and 8.5 miles wide. Thus the chance of seeing people on the island was rare. There are no people who live on the island, only animals are present. The Vayageur took 90 minutes to arrive to the closest city on the island. There were three stops The Voyageur made on the island. We got off at Malone Bay. Once I stepped off of the ferry I began to worry [E] after Stan told me that the ferry only comes around two days a week. I suddenly began to think what would happen if I became sick or lost. There would be no one to contact and I would be left on the island with no one to know of my whereabouts. Than I began to wonder, what if we are caught in a thunderstorm and the ferry cannot cross the waters because the waves are too high? What if we run out of food? What if we die? I became a nervous wreck and suddenly began kicking myself for going with Stan and John.

Once I fastened my backpack on, and the three of us began carrying the canoe I found this trip to be a nightmare with no end in sight. Here I find myself in solitude and isolation with no contact to anything going on in the world. [E] If therewas a war, I had no idea. The only concern I had was to survive this nightmare.

The first two days were not that bad. We hiked, ate, paddled across some lakes, and we slept. A large number of moose live on the island. Their appearance was quite hideous. Furthermore, one of the rangers told us that these animals will attack if they feel threatened. This was enough for me, I could not take the dangers that existed on this island. [E]

The following morning, Wednesday, I awake to a moose who is right outside our quarters. John had no fear [E]of the animal, however Stan and I found ourselves to be this moose's breakfast. I was pale white and ready to faint. Stan on the other hand was not as timorous. Fortunately, the moose walked away from our tent and left us alone. This did not reduce the fear I have been feeling for the trip. I abruptly packed my back pack and sternly told John and Stan that I have had enough atrocities for three days and I am going home with or without them. They tried to reduce my hostility but they had no luck. They were afraid something would happen to me [E] so they came along with me. Stan told me there was a ferry coming tomorrow morning at McCargoe Cove, but our boarding passes were not until Sunday. I insisted we get there. Story Index

Thus, the journey of traveling three days in one began. That is, we planned to average approximately nine miles per day before I decided to go home early. Now, the plan is to travel twenty-seven miles within a day hoping the captain will have enough room to take us back to civilization. Otherwise, we are left one the island for an additional three days. I was determined to do whatever I had to just to get back to the real food, showers, and the other marvelous necessities we have been given. The journey seemed endless with no destination in sight. My heart began to weaken as I just thought about what will I do if I cannot go home tomorrow. Stan and John were as determined as I was. They did not want to hear me whimper and moan about the miserable time that I was having anymore.

The day came to an end as the sun set and the rain began to fall. A horrid downpour made us stop in our tracks with eight miles left to implement before we got to McCargoe Cove. I shed a tear as I thought that we would not be able to go home until Sunday. Stan cogently said that if we got this far then were going to make it the remaining eight miles at sunrise as long as the rains died down.

When sunrise came, we packed our things and went back on our way. A few ours went by when we realized we only had one more lake to cross and about a half a mile to hike. Stan, John, and I were elated. After looking at the ferry schedule, we estimated that we have three hours to get to the pick up point. My worries were over, I thought.

We boarded the canoe and began paddling. All three of us began to reminisce about our experiences which we found amusing. Suddenly, the clouds rolled in and strong wind began to give us difficulty. The water became choppy and our canoe was about to tip over along with our gear. We all began to panic as the waves pushed us up toward the other side of the island. We became bothersome because our hiking trail was still far away. Suddenly, our canoe tipped with our gear inside. We pulled the canoe and our backpacks off of the choppy waters and attempted to look for a trail in the thick forest. After time slipped away we had no luck. Our only option was to try paddle through the choppy waters. Frustration was present in all of us. Cogently we pushed through the seas and with the help of the Man Upstairs, we made it to our last trail. Shortly thereafter we made it to McCargoe Cove just minutes before The Voyageur came into the harbor. Story Index

I was so enthused that I was ready to swim to the boat from the shore. However, when the ferry came to shore we approached it as if today was our scheduled day to leave (even though it was not until Sunday). The captain DENIED us access to board the ship because he said he was already at maximum capacity. I made up a story and told the captain that I have asthma and that I ran out of my medication. He seemed to be sympathetic but said that he could only take two of us after I begged for him to help us. I even tried to bribe the captain but he still said it would be too dangerous. So guess what happened, Stan, John, and I ended up staying at that one part of the island until Sunday. I felt that I was being punished for going on this trip. Many demented thoughts crossed my mind. For example, I thought about canoeing to Grand Portage. Another thought I had was to try to make an S.O.S fire out of the forest. Stan and John retained me from doing anything crazy and I just restlessly waited for the ferry on Sunday.

I cannot remember the last time I cried since this trip. However, I am happy I went on this trip because I appreciate everything that society has contributed to the world. For example, having a McDonald's or any other fast food place is like a gift from God. Yet, a valuable lesson was experienced: the conditions that our first ancestors had to deal with were unbearable. Moreover, never again will I go on another camping trip. Story Index

Emotion Structure of the Story