Ask a Hiker: How to Find Joy in the Unexpected?

Q: Ever found unexpected joy from a trip gone wrong?

A: Isle Royale taught me just that. When my knee decided to rebel, nature decided to show up in its full glory. From loons to a rare wolf sighting, sometimes the universe has better plans than we do. So, when life throws a curveball, maybe it’s just setting you up for a home run!

In May 2021, my husband and I decided to do some backpacking in Isle Royale National Park, which is one of the least visited national parks in the country. We had a 4-night trip planned with about 8-10 miles of hiking a day as the goal.

The first day was an 8.5 mile hike to the campground at Feldtmann Lake. As we hiked, my right knee started to really bother me. I shrugged it off at first since my knees bother me often, but as the miles went by, I realized that I couldn’t put a lot of weight on it without being in a lot of pain.

By the time we reached Feldtmann Lake, I could barely walk. Not wanting to ruin our itinerary, I told my husband we should set up camp and plan to continue our route in the morning if my knee was feeling better.

However, the next morning there was no change, so even though I was really upset, we made the wise decision to just stay put at the campground and let my knee rest so I’d be able to hike out in a few days.

I’m so glad we did. We had the most amazing time even though I was injured. We saw so much wildlife around the lake, including loons, a fox, several moose, and even a wolf (which are next to impossible to see)! We relaxed, did some fishing, and took a short walk to the shore of Lake Superior.

By deciding to stay put and just enjoy our surroundings instead of hoofing it through the national park, we saw a lot of wildlife that we probably wouldn’t have seen had we done our original itinerary. We also didn’t see many people at all and got to fish every day, which were two things we had hoped for but weren’t counting on.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our plans that when things don’t go our way, we get frustrated and angry and let that dictate how the rest of our trip goes. But sometimes those unexpected happenings lead to a better trip and experience than we ever could have planned ourselves. Be willing to be flexible and see what happens!

Take care,

Stefanie Henne from Open Road Odysseys

Milijana Gabrić

Milijana Gabrić

Milijana, the founder of World Travel Connector, a passionate globetrotter and hiking enthusiast, explores trails worldwide, from her native Croatia to the USA, Egypt, Laos, and Vietnam. She cherishes the sunrise atop Mount Sinai and greets the Atlantic at the ancient End of the World in Spain. Her Camino adventures in Spain and aspirations like Via Francigena and Kumano Kodo reflect her hiking passion. While not big on social media, she connects with fellow hikers on her blog, sharing her outdoor love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *