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Monday, June 3, 2013

Isle Royale May 27 to June 2, 2013 (Minong Trail and points south)

Monday: Brian and I rode the Voyageur II to Isle Royale out of Grand Portage on Memorial Day. During the ride, I learned from the deck hand that if you turn a map of the island upside down, it shows the face of the windigo creature. Please be careful if you try this--it's scary. During the LNT talk at the ranger station, we learned that the ice had come off the inland lakes only a week earlier, and that all the moose calves were a week old (apparently, they are all born at the same time, gestation ending when the external conditions are right). After registering our itinerary, we took the long, half mile hike to our night's destination, Washington Creek.
Filtering water from Washington Creek
Washington Harbor and Beaver Island

After settling in, we hiked to Huginnin Cove on the north side of the island.
Isle Royale red squirrels have evolved into their own subspecies.
Huginnin Cove
At Huginnin Cove we found a gift of watching what I think were huge brook trout (coasters?) swimming upstream to spawn, then returning to Lake Superior. It was really something. We also checked out the Wendigo Mine cabin from the 1890's.
Moments before spawning.

Tuesday: The hike to North Lake Desor was long, about six and a half hours, with lots of ups and downs. Last year there was a fire on this section, and that made it hard to find the trail at times.
Post apocalyptic wasteland scene
In places the trail was the only place grass was growing.
We eventually hit those amazing ridgetop views that I love about the Minong.
Above North Lake Desor
North Lake Desor evening
The loons made wonderful companions and sang us to sleep.
This would be the only night we spent in tents.
Wednesday: My favorite section of the Minong, Desor to Todd Harbor. I had forgotten how flat and straight the second half is, but the first half of this hike pounded me good.
Lovely fog on Lake Superior, looking north to Canada
Trail flowers
Ups and downs
Minong Ridge
Merganser in Todd Harbor
Islands outside Todd Harbor
Wednesday: We waited for the rain to let up before starting our easy hike to McCargoe Cove.
We explored the Minong Mine area and got a little rain on our walk back.
McCargoe Cove
Thursday: We hiked to Moskey Basin.
Air laundry
Bathing...yes it was cold.
Moskey caterpillar
Snowshoe hare
Moskey storm
Friday: To Chippewa Harbor, where we would be picked up the next day by the Voyageur II. Oddly, this was the only campground that filled.
Chippewa Harbor
Little cabin down the shore
Bryan near the water
Chippewa Harbor
Voyageur II coming to take us home Sunday morning
I had a great time. It rained most days but never all day. The nights got cold. The days got warm and I burned my neck a bit. We had some campgrounds to ourselves. We met some wonderful people on the trails and in camp. My gear was a bit heavier than it normally is, because I carried a lot of clothes for weather variations and rain, and as usual, I carried too much food. I needed all the clothes, but not all the food. Starting weight was around 36 pounds.

Isle Royale has come to feel like a spiritual listening place for me. I'm grateful I had another opportunity to visit.

At the Windigo dock, the moose wolf study people were saying goodbye to their spring Moosewatch volunteers, who were leaving on our boat. With Rolf and Candy Peterson and John Vucetich waving goodbye, I was amazed at the amount of knowledge on that dock. Ranger Val put her arms around their shoulders and joined them for a goodbye chorus line dance as we left the island, watching these people who work so hard to protect all the island is about singing and kicking in rhythm with each other.


  1. That is awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  2. These pictures & the short yet sweet (and poignant!) narrative that accompanies it is WIN. Thanks for sharing.