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.

Copper Harbor

Isle Royale Queen III at Rock Harbor 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.

Cow at Daisy Farm 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.

Red Squirrel at Daisy Farm 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 stuff.

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 from our shelter 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)

Island in Lake Richie 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.

Campsite at Lake Richie 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)

Cow at Daisy Farm (again) 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.

Campsite at Daisy Farm 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 about 9AM.

Three Mile (Aug 8)

View from Mount Franklin 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.

Tree gnawed by beaver Beaver Hut 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)

Raspberry Island 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.

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