This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lake Michigan - Garden Island

Garden Island lies just to the north of Beaver Island.  This view is from Beaver.  For many years, the population of Garden Island was mainly Native Americans.  Many, who had lived for generations on Beaver Island, decided the culture of the new colonist was not to their liking and voluntarily moved to Garden.  Only in the past few decades have the Native Americans left the island for areas where employment is available.  The island is uninhabited and now mostly owned by the state of Michigan.

While there is a large body of water between Beaver and Garden, only a small portion of it is deep enough for boat travel.  That natural channel is marked by only one buoy, a green one - hard to find when it is not green.  Seems that the buoy is a favorite resting place for seabirds.

Last Dance tucked into Garden Island Harbor, behind Little Island.  Reasonable protection from winds can be found in this spot for anchoring and gaining access to the island.  The shoreline is heavily forested and the waters shallow, making for a challenge to find places to land a dinghy.  A number of improved trails are maintained by volunteers, but they are not marked and not all trials are cleared.  Maps and local knowledge are helpful.

Fortunately, an encounter with another boat in a Georgian Bay anchorage provided detailed information on hiking Lake Michigan Islands.  The crew aboard Catamount had an extra copy of a hiking guide, which they generously gifted.  The trail map proved most helpful in finding landing spots along the shore and the hiking trails.

Spirit houses are a unique feature on Garden Island.  The Native Americans built houses on top of graves so the deceased's spirit would have a place for shelter.  The houses are decorated with symbols.

An old settler's house remains on the island, the last surviving building.  It is used by the state to house staff during research on the island.  It is left open to provide shelter for hikers who may be caught in bad weather.

The site with the old house also had another feature that could provide some comfort to tired hikers - a hammock.