Northern Michigan Essays: Trespassing Upper Peninsula Style

I don't know who owns the humble log structure, but I sure know I enjoy pretending it's me from time to time. And I know there are dozens of others who feel the same way.

It's a cabin on a bedrock bald overlooking a frozen lake in the highlands of the central Upper Peninsula. And we're an interloping band of roving cabin poachers. Good people, mostly, I think, but not afraid to bend the rules occasionally, now and again, from time to time and over and over. We hold fast to the belief, often found in areas with high unemployment and low wages, that it's a damn shame when certain things go unused or underappreciated. Oak saw logs that didn't make it onto the logger's truck become our firewood. Fender-tenderized venison fills our freezers. Abandoned, or, um, lightly used camps and cottages fill our weekends.

Now, if you're still reading, and not dialing the authorities, you'll be happy to know that while what we do is technically … probably … okay, most likely breaking and entering, there has never been any breaking. In fact, there's often fixing. I don't know what the sentence for entering and repairing would be, but up here common law and common sense seem more common place, and I'm willing to bet that a judge in Ishpeming or Eagle River would go easy on us.

I've heard that the owners are in Texas, or was it Florida? Anyway, they're someplace warm and far away. I guess they own several hundred acres enrolled as commercial forestland, and probably managed as part of an investment portfolio. I wonder if they've ever even seen this rugged pocket of lakes and hills, a good hike in off a dirt road that only connects to another dirt road. What are the odds that they've pushed through blowdowns, mucked around impromptu beaver ponds and scaled the massive rock up to the shack?


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