Isle Royale 1998
I spent August 4-9 backpacking on the island with my father. The only
complaint about the weather was that it was too warm! This summer had
been warmer and drier than usual. This meant that there were almost no
bugs (we did not need to use any insect repellent) and the water was very
warm (both the inland lakes and Lake Superior) which was great for
swimming after hiking. We took it pretty easy on this trip. A brief
description of the trip is given below.
We started the trip from Copper Harbor, MI aboard the
Isle Royale Queen III. The lake
was very calm and the day was quite warm. For most of the trip we sat on
the bow in shorts, not something that is common to do on Lake Superior.
Daisy Farm (Aug 4)
On the first day we got off the boat at Rock Harbor and hiked about 7
miles to the Daisy Farm Campground. It was a relatively easy hike. The
terrain is rocky and rooty but otherwise pretty flat. It was a good hike
to get started with.
A cow decided to take up residence in the camp so on our first day we
got to see a moose. In fact, she seemed to be comfortable enough with
people to know that they could be ignored. Here she is sitting down
eating right off a trail that leads to the group camp sites. That night
she decided to bed down in the ravine behind our tent site. This was
great until she started moving around in the middle of the night and
making a lot of noise.
The moose was not the only visitor on the first day. This red squirrel
also seemed happy to ignore people. This one climbed into a small stand
of pine trees, knocked down a bunch of pine cones, and then proceeded to
collect them one by one and bury them. It was happy with the pine cones
despite the fact that we were sitting there eating dinner at the time.
In fact, we never had problems with animals getting into any of our
McCargoe Cove (Aug 5)
The second day was our longest hike, a bit over 8 miles. The hike to
McCargoe cove (at least the direction we were going) wasn't too rough.
There was some ups-and-downs particularly going over the Greenstone
Ridge. Along the path we saw another moose standing not too far from the
trail. She let us pass without incident. On this hike we went through
the East Chickenbone campground. We had briefly discussed stopping
there. Although we had decided earlier to push on, once we got to East
Chickenbone it was clear we made the right decision. It is a small
campground, far from the water. I don't care how tired you are, it is
worth pushing on to McCargoe Cove.
McCargoe Cove is a very nice campground. The picture is taken from our
shelter somewhat up the hill from the water. It is a popular campground
for hikers (particularly those going on the Minong Ridge) and boaters. We
took a short walk (about 3 miles round trip) out to the ridge and saw one
of the many mining areas on the island. In the cove my dad caught a nice
pike that had been trying very hard to get caught (it had hit at 2 other
peoples lures first).
Lake Richie (Aug 6)
The next day we hiked about 7 miles to Lake Richie. This was my favorite
camp site. The lake was beautiful and quite
warm. This island was a nice place to swim out to and relax on for
awhile. This was also a great place to see wildlife. In the early
afternoon a cow and calf were feeding on water plants in the shallows
across the lake to the south. There were there for an hour or so. Later
in the afternoon a different cow swam out to the middle of the lake and
repeatedly dove down to get water plants. She was out there for a couple
of hours before a canoe got too close to her and she left. Later that
evening the cow and calf came back to feed. During this time another
moose tried to feed there too but the cow quickly chased it away.
The campground at Lake Richie only had tent sites. Since it was an inland
site (no access via water without portages) it wasn't as well stocked as
the other campgrounds we were at. Besides the need to bring in your own
TP this wasn't a problem for me. Since we went during peak time all the
campgrounds filled up pretty quickly. Lake Richie was the only place we
ended up sharing our campsite. Our "kitchen" actually had two tents on it
for the night.
Daisy Farm (Aug 7)
The next day we returned to Daisy Farm. This was a relatively short
(about 7 mile) hike. We got into camp pretty early. The cow we had seen
before was still in camp and posed for more pictures. We took a 4 mile
hike (without packs, it hardly counts) to Mount Ojibway and climbed part
way up the tower. The wind was blowing and it was overcast and hazy so we
didn't get great views. We couldn't see Canada because of the haze.
The day started out pretty hot but cooled off as a strong breeze was
coming off the lake from the south. The clouds began to roll in too.
Since we got there early we grabbed a shelter. It turned out to be a good
thing since the only rain we got the whole trip came that night and the
next morning. It didn't rain that hard but it was still nice not having
to deal with a wet tent in the morning. Because it was still raining a
little in the morning we slept in longer than usual. It cleared up by
Three Mile (Aug 8)
After Daisy Farm we decided to take it very easy for the next 2 days. We
hiked all of about 4 miles from Daisy Farm to Three Mile. Three Mile
turned out to be a pretty nice campground too eventhough it was so close
to Rock Harbor. The sites we fairly well separated and gave a sense of
seclusion. Not too many people stayed there either. Since we got there
so early I took a 5 mile hike to Mount Franklin and back. It was still a
bit hazy but the view was a bit better.
Along the trail I saw a number of interesting things. There were plenty
of signs of beaver. This beaver hut was a clear sign that beaver lived in
the area. The well chewed tree was also a pretty clear sign. I did not,
however, see any actual beaver on the trip. On my way back from the mount
I came across a bull moose along the trail. He seemed more surprised to
see me than I was to see him.
Rock Harbor/Copper Harbor (Aug 9)
On the final day we made the short hike back to Rock Harbor to catch the
boat back to Copper Harbor. To make the hike a full 3 miles we hiked past
Suzie's Cave up to the Tobin Harbor trail which feeds back into Rock
Harbor from the north. Since we got back early enough we spent some time
looking around the lodge area. We learned a lot more about the history of
the island. In fact, at one point there were enough people on the island
that it was its own county (now it is part of Keweenaw county).
Return Home (Aug 10)
Fortunately we were able to spend the night with some friends in Calumet
(about 45 min from Copper Harbor). From there we took the 10 hour drive
home. I am planning on returning soon and seeing a lot more of the island.
Back to my home
Craig J Copi |
Copyright © 1998, Craig J Copi
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