Lakeshore Logbook – Jim Dahlstrom

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.

This is the fifth in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.

Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.

Jim Dahlstrom served as a Protection Ranger at Little Sand Bay during his time at the Apostle islands National Lakeshore, from October 2005 to May 2010.

What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job? 
That would be a tie between hunting deer on Sand Island during the early days of the deer reduction program, or piloting the ice rescue boat on frozen Lake Superior.

The NPS windsled Northwind

What is the most fun experience you had in the park? 
Probably interacting with visitors from all over the Midwest and the country, most notably during the winter ice cave season.

Jim and wife Christy Baker at the ice caves

The amazement and excitement from people discovering this unique feature right in their own backyard was infectious. I brought my 6 year old son there years later and it seemed brand new all over again for me. He thought it was pretty cool, too.

Jim checking ice thickness at the mainland sea caves

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park. 
Taking my father in law (retired NPS) on a trip to Devils Island Lighthouse to watch the sunset. He found it very difficult to leave and still talks about it now, some 15 years later.

Sunset seen through the Devils Island Fresnel lens

What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park? 
The wreck of the Sevona under 20 inches of the clearest ice I have ever seen. Being able to lay flat on the ice and look down over it is something I will never forget.

Looking at the shipwreck Sevona through the ice on Lake Superior

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride. 
That would have to be the experimental mouldering privy at Cat Island that myself, Damon Panek, and the backcountry team worked on. It was fun to research, plan, and construct a potentially new, sustainable, method to manage waste in the back county.

The moldering privy on Cat Island

What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently? 
Probably the time we responded to a mayday call in heavy weather near Oak Island. They turned out to be fine, but at one point we fully submerged the boat while going into a headwind and about a 10 -15 foot high wave. Felt like we were in a submarine.

Jim responds to group of kayakers in distress on Oak Island

If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why? 
Outer Island. I only visited there while patrolling a few times, but always thought it must be an amazing place to view a sunrise, feeling like you’re almost at the edge of the world. I never got a chance to hike to the sandspit or the lumber camp and always wanted to explore the interior and its amazing diversity.

Jim and Christy on Outer Island

Jim Dahlstrom now works at Glacier National Park as the North Fork District Ranger and EMS Program Coordinator.  We would like to thank him for adding his experiences to the Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.