2015 Trip 3, Isle Royale National Park, June 24
With the drapes wide open, the early morning slowly greets us and the sky gets lighter and lighter. At 4:45, Chris decides to fight the mosquitoes and goes down to the dock and takes pictures of the early morning sunrise. I let her do it.
Isle Royale is about 50 miles long. Don’t expect us to hike the entire island. Rock Harbor Lodge is on a spit of land and I am guessing most of the moose population here is scattered around the island where the backpackers are more likely to observe them. Score one for the backpackers.
After breakfast in the grill, we headed out on a hike to Suzy’s cave to see how much water will be on the trails this morning. Theoretically, moose may be present on this trail but I will end your suspense early; we did not see any. Like yesterday’s trail, this is a loop that has one leg on Tobin Harbor (north side) and one leg on Rock Harbor (south side). The trail is rocky, after all this island is here because the rock formation has withstood erosive effects. The trail goes through forest, along water, over rock formations, and up and down the ridge as it crosses from the Tobin Harbor side to the Rock Harbor side.
Suzy’s cave is a small cave that a young girl discovered and sought shelter in during a storm. Her family lived on one of the islands in Rock Harbor back before the park was formed. The cave is on the ridge between the two bodies of water. As we leave the cave and hike down to Rock Harbor, we notice that fog has started to develop on the water. Soon the islands begin to disappear and it is time to get a little nervous (Chris) as to whether the fog will develop enough to envelop the trail.
Eventually light fog reaches the shore but our trail never disappears. We do meet two other couples out backpacking. One woman has a face mask of mosquito netting. My DEET spray this morning appears to be more effective than yesterday’s eco spray. We hike a little faster on the way back, but I soon realize that I am getting tired and need to be cautious so as to not lose my footing on the wet rocks or mud. We end up back to “civilization” in a little over two hours. Our reward is a snack of cinnamon, sticky buns at the grill.
In the afternoon, we partake of a ranger hike focusing on wild flowers. Isle Royale has a short growing season and right now numerous plants are budding. Our ranger is here through the conservation corps and is a recent grad of Rutgers in environmental policy. This is a summer internship for him. The fact that this presentation only attracts the two of us doesn’t discourage him. It presents him with the opportunity to practice for the larger crowds that come after July 4th. In addition, the large boat that brings day hoppers over from Michigan does not run today. His talk is well done but unfortunately, like previous wild flower talks I have listened to, I don’t seem to retain a high degree of information. It was interesting to learn about a few flowers here that change colors over the period of several weeks. The white ones below can be seen in a yellow shade in other locations along our trails.
Ed and Chris June 26