Wild Again

Wisconsin's Apostle Islands show how settled lands return to wilderness

| September / October 2003

THE APOSTLE ISLANDS are not on the way to anywhere. I managed to grow up in southern Wisconsin, and even to fall in love with the wild beauty of Lake Superior, without ever journeying to the northernmost tip of the state. There, the Bayfield Peninsula juts out into the cold waters of the lake and an archipelago of 22 small wooded islands lies just offshore. Not until a few years ago did I find myself, almost by accident, gazing out at those islands and realizing I had found one of the places on this good earth where I feel most at home. I have been haunting them in all seasons ever since.

There is nothing especially dramatic about the Apostles. In some places, they meet the lake with narrow, pebble-covered beaches rising steeply to the forest behind. Elsewhere, they present low sandstone cliffs, brown-red in hue, that have been so sculpted by the action of wave and ice that one never tires of studying their beauty.