28 February 2011

Trespassers Will Be Shot

Back when Scotland was just a stone throw away, I used to do quite a bit of hiking in the high and lowlands. Scottish law demands that owners of private land allow hikers the right of way. A lovely piece of legislature, opening up the entire Scottish countryside to all who wish to enjoy it. Hikers in turn are expected to keep up their end by staying on the path, picking up after themselves, and not disturbing nature and live stock. This practice is not known in the UP, Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Yoopers do not allow you the right of way, they shoot you instead.

We left Rhinelander early Saturday morning for an impromptu visit to the Keweenaw Peninsula in the UP, just over a three hour drive from the Northwoods. It is still winter up there with several feet of snow. Ryan has traveled there a few times this season, to go skiing with his brother at Mount Bohemia. He wanted to show us this beautiful place on Lake Superior, look at some land, and putz around on snow shoes. And I was hoping to see a moose.

We picked Mount Houghton as our snow shoeing destination. We purchased a topographical map of the area, programmed the coordinates into Penelope - our GPS, and scouted the best place to park Big Blue and commence our hike. About a hundred yards into our ascent we stumbled upon a house. It was clear it was occupied for the weekend but no one was there when we approached. We quickly walked around the house and continued on our way. Ryan was very uncomfortable with this, but I did not see what the big deal was.


On our way down, we noticed a car parked by the house and decided not to barge through the yard but instead give it a wide berth. While we did not speak a word, it is impossible to be stealthy on snow shoes. Snow may fall quietly and muffle all sounds, it makes an amazing amount of noise when you walk on it. Whoever was staying at the house obviously noticed us creeping about. The next thing we heard was a semi-automatic rifle being emptied into the air.

We ran as fast as we could, which wasn't fast at all. The gun-toting Yooper got in his car and followed us. When he caught up to us, he stopped. We were in the woods, about thirty feet to his right. We ducked, feeling awfully silly because in no way were we reducing our visibility by crouching down. He did not get out of his car but drove on and stopped next to Big Blue, parked at the end of the road.

I had left a note on the dashboard with what we were doing, where we were going, and at what time we left, in case something happened to us. We stood at the top of the hill watching the man circle our car. He must have read the note, seen Lola's car seat, and decided we were not a threat. He got back in his car and drove off. We quickly made our way down, took off our gear, and left.

We were more shocked than scared, to tell you the truth. Other than this incident, which reads more frightening than it was, our weekend was wonderful. The countryside was lovely, the snow abundant, and the weather glorious. We even got a little sun burnt. But sadly, no moose.

16 comments:

  1. DiscoveryChannel was showing us Man Woman Wild, a dumb series in which a city woman is surviving any wilderness with her capable husband doing no more than acting blond. Anyway, they were lost (yeahhh) in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. The guy came from Kentuckey, he insited on repeatingly telling his viewers. And the camera crew was still there also, but still he insisted to be 'lost in the mountains'. They came across a cabin and were kind of scared, hesitant to cross. Now I've read your story I kno why the were so afraid as to meet the owner. Kentucky guy was afraid to get his woman shot. Funny practise though, shooting at passers by. I must say, I'm jealous of all the snow that's left there. It's gone here and that is a pity because we've planned a ski trip thursday a week from today...

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  2. That sounds scary! I can't help but picture you all running through the woods with Ryan carrying Lola. I would pay good money to see the look on Ryan's face. It makes me smile just imagining what kind of expression he was using.

    James B.

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  3. Holy Moose! That was an adventure!

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  4. That doesn't sound at all exciting. Holy crap! I can't imagine what Mike would've looked like. Good thinking to leave a note. I never would have thought of that.

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  5. Your story made me chuckle a little--we have 60 acres and when I see people on it, I feel glad they're out enjoying our bountiful nature. When D sees people on it, he freaks and wants to go confront them. Good grief--it makes me crazy!

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  6. That was a fine how-do-you-do from our friends to the north. I hope you didn't decide to buy land there. sounds like you'd have AWFUL neighbors!

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  7. I'm visiting from SITS, again...I know I've popped by before! That was some kind of adventure you went on...WOW! Leaving a note was a good idea!

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  8. This sounds like a crazy adventure. Good grief! To be shot at! Obviously you were no threat, frankly I think there are too many happy-gun-toting people around but I know THAT is an unpopular attitude in the US. Yeesh. I'm glad you took it all in stride.

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  9. Seriously? That's awful! I wish we had a law like Scotland does. When I spent some time in the UP a couple of summers ago, everyone we met was very friendly.

    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

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  10. Wow, I'm jealous of that Scottish law!

    I'm glad he took time to read your note and notice that your toddler probably wasn't the threatening and dangerous kind. What a good story!

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  11. Yeah, I'd say it was plenty scary. I hope you are never shot at or chased on a hike again.

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  12. Eeek!!! That's crazy!
    Just as well you are SMART and figured out what to do.
    What an adventure, all right!
    x

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  13. OMG! Just read the part of the rifle and froze. So glad everything was ok.

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  14. Coming in from SITS. Wow! That is pretty scary, they don't even ask questions then shoot.

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  15. Holy Moly! Nothing like a gun-toting stranger to make you feel welcome! Glad the Wild Chase was just a blip in an otherwise lovely getaway!
    Stopping by from SITS,
    Tori

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  16. The biggest rednecks live in Michigan. No one believes me, but I think this helps my point. I'm not saying everyone in MI is a big redneck, but the big ones ARE there. My family is from MI and I live in NC and I will hold to this!

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