Lakeshore Logbook – Christy Baker

Christy Baker
Christy Baker

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 15th 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.

Christy Baker worked as Branch Chief of Cultural Resources from 2005 to 2010.

What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job? 

I assisted the Midwest Regional Archeologists while they completed survey work on many of the Islands within the park.  At first glance, the natural resources are all around however people inhabited the Islands even long before logging and fishing was a way of life for many.  I enjoyed learning about both the cultural and historical aspects of peoples livelihood, and I learned something new every day.

Christy sifting the sediments at an Archeological site
Christy sifting the sediments at an Archeological site.

What is the most fun experience you had in the park?  

I enjoyed going out with coworkers and colleagues to the islands in the summer.  Coming from mountain parks, I had never lived near water.  Using boats as our transportation to complete our jobs was a wonderful way to spend the summer months in the field.  

Christy piloting one of the park boats
Christy piloting one of the park boats.

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park.   

Working beside my supervisor, natural resource, and fire crew to clear trees around Michigan Island Lighthouse.  The mature trees were impeding the view of the lighthouse from the water and from the Historic site as well.  It was wonderful to see how much the project opened up the area and how nice it was to see the visibiliy of the lighthouse  from the water.   

View of the light towers on Michigan Island from the lake
View of the light towers on Michigan Island from the lake.

 What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park? 

The storms coming off of Lake Superior.  I lived at the Hokenson House with my husband who was the Little Sand Bay Ranger.  We had an amazing view of Lake Superior, and when the storms rolled in I couldn’t believe the force of the water.   I often saw large freighters trying to find refuge near Sand Island durning those storms. 

storm waves rolling into the Hokenson dock at Little Sand Bay
Storm waves rolling into the Hokenson dock at Little Sand Bay.

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride. 

I’m proud to have submitted Rocky Island National Historic Site to the National Register of Historic Places.  The nomination  was approved by the WI SHPO in 2008.   

What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently?   

This story does not have to do with my position but does have to do with recreating.  My sister and I decided to kayak from Little Sand Bay to Sand Island.  We rinsed out the cockpit down by the Hokenson dock, and a small gardener snake slithered out of the kayak.  We were both a little leery since I’m not a fan of snakes.  We decide to start paddling over to Sand Island.  We paddled to the beach on the Northeast side of the Island.  My sister and I both got out of our kayak and I remember her yelling.  I looked into her kayak and there were 4 free loading baby gardener snakes crawling around.  It’s a story neither one of us will ever forget. 

 

Kayakers approaching Sand Island
Kayakers approaching Sand Island.

If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why? 

I would go back to Little Sand Bay.  We lived at the Hokenson House for 5 years and I loved the area.  My son was born in Ashland and I have great memories of my coleaugues, the community, my job, and raising my son until he was 1 year old.  It was a peaceful place to live and work.

the house Christy lived in at Little Sand Bay
The house Christy lived in at Little Sand Bay.

Christy Baker now lives near Glacier National Park. Her husband, Jim Dahlstrom, is a ranger at Glacier.  Christy works at a small rural school in West Glacier, (66 kids K-6).  She is considering returning to work for the NPS.We would like to thank Christy for this week’s entry in the Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.