This story (and accompanying photo) come to us from Sara of Battle Creek, MI. Sara says of her photo: “My photograph reminds me of a dangerous backpacking trip to Arizona where I found out first hand the hard core value of water and the true magnificence of our Great Lakes.”
Here is her story:
My friend and I both grew up near the shores of Lake Michigan. We recently had business in Phoenix and were fortunate to depart early to spend some time outdoors. Having both grown up hiking and backpacking, we were not daunted by a 19 mile loop hike in the Arizona dessert in July. The map clearly stated that there were “reliable” water sources. We would spend 3 days completing our journey with three water stops along the way.
Long story short, there was no water. We were two days and 14 miles out in rough terrain. We dropped our packs and with only 12 ounces of water between us hiked the last five tortuous miles back to the car. We refused to drink the last few drops of the water because the sloshing sound that it made in the water bottle was the only sound of hope that we had. It was 117º and we suffered severely. We thought incessantly of water. We looked for water. We talked about water. We dreamed of water. We were too scared to cry for fear of the loss of water. We survived. We made it back to town where we took some time to recover before hiking back in to retrieve our packs and our dignity.
As a method of closure we decided to burn our trail map (a tiny piece of paper that was almost worn out), we felt that it would signify our triumph over stupidity and the elements. But, we could not find an appropriate place as there were burn bans all across the US. Upon returning home to Michigan we had business near St. Joseph. It was a hot day and after work we decided to go swimming in Lake Michigan. The very moment I first saw the Lake after our trip, I knew that we had found the perfect form of closure – we would bury our map next to one of the most splendid freshwater lakes in the world. But the beach was so big how could we ever choose a location? The answer came to us as we walked up the beach. In the middle of the huge expanse of sand, was a full unopened bottle of water sitting all alone. There could not have been a clearer sign, this was our spot. We buried our map, hugged each other and cried.
I will never forget what it was like to be without water. I chose this picture as a representation of my story. It is reminder of what happens when a fish is out of water. It reminds me of what it was like in the dry Arizona dessert. Mother Nature is ALWAYS in charge. It could represent all of us if we do not act as stewards of the Great Lakes. All water is precious. Individually we must act to promote global understanding and conservation if we hope to keep the Lakes alive and vibrant for future generations.
Thank you, Sara, for sharing this story and photo with us!