Dawn on the big lake. The water glimmers the color of the coals in last night's campfire. I crawl from the tent, walk barefoot down to the beach, dig my toes deep into the sand, and listen to the far-off chatter of gulls and the slow repeating verse of the surf.
I live on the shores of Lake Superior because of these islands-22 of them strung off the coast of northern Wisconsin like clouds in a lake-blue sky. There is Stockton-at 10,054 acres, it's the largest in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore-with its blueberry bogs, black bears, and the singing sand of Julian Bay. Or Hermit, a lonely, trail-less outpost; Oak, with 12 miles of trails; and Sand, where Lake Superior has carved caves into the sandstone cliffs.
I love the way the islands in storm light take on the silhouettes of humpback whales. I love the way the forest becomes a palette of orange, yellow, and red in the fall. And I love the way you can dig your feet into the sand and watch a summer morning break slowly above the water, the sun sliding toward you over a wild island.
Trail Info: Apostle Islands Nat'l Lakeshore, (715) 779-3397.