TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Reports or links to reports on trips.

Moderator: Tom


Topic author
torpified
Bushwacker
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:06 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 3
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by torpified » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:23 am

Departing from past practice, this time I brought a walking mate: my husband (Mr t). He’s a stalwart hiker and a devotee of the Canadian shield. But he’s reluctant to backpack, due to his fierce love of furniture, especially toilets. So the format of this visit was a lodge stay punctuated by the shortest possible backpacking trip.

4 June: Ann Arbor to Houghton. I drive, Mr t deejays. This is how I discover he has two versions of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” on his Iphone.

5 June: Houghton to Rock Harbor. The Ranger III has 70 passengers, an outstanding retro vibe, and safety features I dearly hope are never put to the test.

Image

The passengers include a botany class sponsored by the Isle Royale and Keweenaw Parks Association. During the passage, one of their leaders commandeers the large screen tv in the main passenger lounge to deliver a presentation on the bunchberry dogwood, a ubiquitous little white flower that is also (it turns out) an exceedingly violent vegetable. Each one harbors at its delicate heart a teeny mechanism constructed of spring-loaded stamens. When triggered by a passing insect, the contraption catapults a cloud of pollen a meter into the air, plastering the unsuspecting insect and any friends it has in the vicinity with pollen grains. They carry on to distribute the pollen far and wide. This explosive pollen launch happens close to instantaneously—so fast that the leader and her team needed a camera that took 1000 pictures a second to analyze it. I add exploding flowers to my growing list of things to worry about.

After getting established in our lodge room, we take the Stoll trail around Scoville point. Just short of the Smithwick Mine, we encounter a snow shoe hare, which scampers off when we all hear rustling in the underbrush. We creep toward the rustling, in heady anticipation of our first moose encounter. Instead, the bushes near the mine pit eject a guy in red flannel shirt, who wordlessly strides across the trail and into the bushes on the other side.

Image

Animals: hare; irritated moose impersonator

6 June: Rock Harbor and environs. We attempt a backwoods biathlon: canoeing to Hidden Lake and hiking from there. On the paddle over, we realize that our canoe is very mildly defective. My seat has come unmoored from one of its anchor points. It seems like something that a swiss army knife and a little ingenuity could fix. Unfortunately, all I have is a swiss army knife. Braving the attentions of a menacing hummingbird, we land and walk up to Lookout Louise--- a very sweet and fun section of trail. Its lower reaches feature a broad boardwalk winding through a decorative bog. Higher up, it switchbacks through a rock garden one of whose formations (Monument Rock?) towers above the surrounding forest.

From Lookout Louise, we admire Canada. Instead of returning directly to the canoe, we dart a mile or so out and back on the Greenstone Ridge Trail, just in case there are moose there. Almost certainly there are, but we don't see them.

For the return canoe trip, I kneel on my life preserver. Just in case there’s something to eponymy, we check out Moose Point and Moose Island. We see a flotilla of duck and their ilk, but no moose.

We’ve been issued a ground floor lodge room, which comes with its own little deck, overlooking Snug Harbor and outfitted with two pieces of furniture I call Adirondack chairs and Mr t calls Ganonoque chairs. Having read The Magic Mountain at an impressionable age, Mr t can’t resist the urge to spend the afternoon on the deck bundled in his sleeping quilt, reading and looking at the water. I visit Suzy’s cave and look, futilely, for otters in Tobin harbor.

Animals: hare; hummingbird; various ducks; leviathan-scale lake trout.

7 June: Voyageur to Chippewa Harbor, walk to McCargoe Cove. It’s sunny, calm, and borderline warm, which makes the boat trip incredibly pleasant. We stop at Daisy Farm to deliver supplies for the ranger, and its friendly denizens give us a kickline sendoff.

Image

Loon-laced Chippewa Harbor is lovely. We drop by Lake Mason, then take the Indian Portage trail toward Lake Ritchie. I’d been expecting it to be wooded, but it surprises me by following a ridge, complete with rock outcrops and open views, while it parallels Chippewa Harbor. Once it swings north, it undulates through woods. We encounter three kayakers 10% through a brutal portage and a pair of sand hill cranes. Although both parties seem entitled to emit blood-curdling cries, only the cranes do.

The Lake Ritchie shoreline is teeming with turtles! We stop for lunch and chat with an Isle Royale veteran guiding his 11 year old companion (who is giddily fishing) on his first backpacking trip. They tell us we just missed a moose. Before saddling up, and thanks to the presence of a trail crew, I have the highly unusual wilderness experience of using a freshly-sanitized outhouse.

Between Lake Ritchie and McCargoe cove, we see a half dozen backpackers, a garter snake, clouds of butterflies, flocks of dragonflies, a handful of gigantic trees felled (mostly) by beavers --- but no moose. McCargoe is deserted but for a yachtsman from MN. We claim shelter #4 – officially converting the 5 pounds of tent in my backpack to dead weight --- and head off to investigate the Minong Mine before we seize up. (Something Mr t carries that is not dead weight: one of those foam rollers so favored by creaky middle-aged people who exercise.) The mine is thrilling in the peculiar manner of industrial ruins being reclaimed by the landscape they’d interrupted. Rusting relics of this formerly bustling place are everywhere. Segments of track terminate in shafts where the stubborn remnants of last winter’s snow linger and remnants of mysterious gadgets litter the forest and the dunes of tailings that snake through it. We dart in many directions, but not so many that we can’t find our way back to McCargoe, where the yachtsman reports that we just missed a moose.

Image

After dinner we hand out near the dock, hoping for moose ballet. A bald eagle flies by and we discover a snail (the McCargoe Escargot)---but no moose.

Animals: hare, sand hill cranes, turtles, snakes, yachtsman, grouse, McCargoe Escargot, bald eagle.


8 June: McCargoe to Rock Harbor. We breakfast on tang, instant coffee, and slightly careworn entenmann’s apple pies, then head down the path to East Chickenbone. This is a new trail to me. Its first half reminds me of the spur trail to Lane Cove: both cross a series of ripples whose troughs are marked by many degrees of beaver impact. The very first trough holds an active dam from which a beaver the size of a Shetland pony is lowering herself into the pond. My previous experience with Isle Royale beavers induces me to expect she’ll come over to tell us off in no uncertain turns --- but when she sees us, she turns tail and flees. Subsequent troughs abound in beaver evidence, but we don’t see additional instances of the actual creature.

On the awesome as always Greenstone Ridge, approaching the Ojibway fire tower, the moose finally appear. Mr t hears snuff snuffing and gestures in its general direction. 20 meters off, two perfectly still young moose are regarding us. Their coats blend so perfectly with the underbrush that only their dark eyes give them away. “They’re looking right at us,” I say. Realizing their cover is blown, they amble-sprint in opposite directions, mirror images in flight.

Image

We admire Canada from Mt Franklin, then descend toward Tobin Harbor. The unnamed lake partway down is vast, and held in place by a beaver dam probably visible from space. We take the Tobin Harbor trail, vigilant as always for otter. Rounding the corner ahead of us, I spy a portly hiker in dark clothing, whom I assume (because we hadn’t seen him before) we’re overtaking. Only we don’t get any closer---he always seems to be disappearing round the next bend. Then we get to a long straightaway and I suddenly understand. The reason he is so adept at walking through the woods is that he is a moose. “We are following a moose down the trail,” I inform Mr t. His cover blown, the moose darts away into the underbrush.

Animals: beaver of prehistoric dimensions, moose and more moose!

9 June: Homeward bound. On the passage back to Houghton, random Ranger III passenger Rolf Peterson gives an update on the reintroduction of wolves to Isle Royale, as well as an overview of the game of musical megafauna various provincial and national authorities are playing with Lake Superior Islands. I’ll probably post more of what I remember to the animals forum. Other natural historical revelations from the trip home: there are now moose in the upper peninsula thanks to a 1980s “Mooselift” that helicoptered in a seed population from Ontario’s Algonquin Park. (We learned this from reading a boulder at Van Riper State Park, where we stopped to stretch our legs.) And the verge dividing 28 from the railway tracks between Munising and Sedey appears extremely popular with sand hill cranes. I counted 4 pair, and I was supposed to be paying attention to the road because I was driving!

Image
Last edited by torpified on Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:58 am, edited 2 times in total.


Tortuga
Trailblazer
Posts: 132
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:11 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 2
Location: Chicago

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by Tortuga » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:47 am

Sounds like a really great trip! Being disappointed that my own Spring sojourn has turned into an Autumnal one, I rely on these reports to keep me going. Thank you!

User avatar

Ingo
Forum Moderator
Posts: 1510
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:11 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 11
Location: Hillsborough, NC

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by Ingo » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:01 am

I love reading your TRs--I may have to get you to write mine next time (I'll just let you make up the details) :D. Did Mr t do OK on the backpacking pack, or is he "never again"? And did Rolf say anything about the timing for reintroduction?
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF


Topic author
torpified
Bushwacker
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:06 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 3
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by torpified » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:34 am

Tortuga wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:47 am
I rely on these reports to keep me going.
I do the same---I fervently hope the institution of TRs survives pressure from social media to reduce everything to a briefly captioned snapshot!


Topic author
torpified
Bushwacker
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:06 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 3
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by torpified » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:43 am

Ingo wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:01 am
Did Mr t do OK on the backpacking pack, or is he "never again"? And did Rolf say anything about the timing for reintroduction?
Mr t: this is his second backpacking trip. On the first one, which was two nights but in a park (point reyes) with splendidly appointed back country sites, he'd begin each morning by momentously proclaiming, "I live yet." This time around, he skipped the proclamation, explaining that it was getting to seem less newsworthy. So I think he's adjusting. My next challenge will be curing him of his advanced fear of heights . . .

Rolf: it's early days and he's essentially an extremely interested bystander, but the plan he described involved introductions starting as early as this October. Right now they're thinking of bringing wolves from three places; they won't necessarily all be introduced at once. Although he seems pretty confident this is going to take, he also expects it's going to involve some wolf mortality (including at the paws of other wolves), and he's consciously starting an education campaign to prepare people for that.

User avatar

Tom
Forum Moderator
Posts: 709
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:16 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 14
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by Tom » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:56 am

torpified wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:23 am
.. a beaver the size of a Shetland pony...
"Rodents of unusual size? I don't think they exist."

Thanks for the TR. A great, fun read!

User avatar

thesneakymonkey
Trailblazer
Posts: 157
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:43 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 2
Contact:

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by thesneakymonkey » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:39 pm

great read, thank you!


Midwest Ed
IR Expert
Posts: 1039
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:25 am
Isle Royale Visits: 8
Location: Quad Cities, IL

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by Midwest Ed » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:30 pm

What a great read and trip, even for Mr. T. I did a similar trip in 2013, “base camping” from the Lodge.

Based on Mr. T’s appreciation for the Pre-Cambrian igneous and metamorphic geology of North America, has he studied or interested in the effects of the Keweenaw Rift that almost split the continent into two separate pieces? If so, I highly suggest the Michigan Tech Geo-Heritage Tours that are offered each summer. I did the whole thing in 2016 when it consisted of a short 5 day week and was extremely pleased. There is plenty of great walking and boat riding with no back packing. I now see they’ve expanded it into 10 days (5 sets of 2 days each to choose from), covering the entire panoply of the area’s geology.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013


Topic author
torpified
Bushwacker
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:06 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 3
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by torpified » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:12 am

Geo-Heritage tours: an excellent thought! Mr t was also waaaaaay into the Minong mine --- so something that combined boats, rocks, mines, and animals would be just the ticket.

Concerning mines, we developed one of those questions which can divert backpackers for miles:

the copper pits dug by indigenous people on IR seems like they're always described as "4000 years old". If that's literally true, it suggests people stopped digging for copper 4000 years ago, which seems strange. Is the truth that the pre-industrial pits are up to 4000 years old, and copper harvesting continued after ~1600 AD? Or did they really stop digging pits then? And if so, why?

User avatar

dcclark
NewbieCake
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:39 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 2
Contact:

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by dcclark » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:44 am

torpified wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:12 am
Concerning mines, we developed one of those questions which can divert backpackers for miles:

the copper pits dug by indigenous people on IR seems like they're always described as "4000 years old". If that's literally true, it suggests people stopped digging for copper 4000 years ago, which seems strange. Is the truth that the pre-industrial pits are up to 4000 years old, and copper harvesting continued after ~1600 AD? Or did they really stop digging pits then? And if so, why?
Yep, the "ancient miners" really did just stop mining. When Europeans first encountered the Ojibwe, they knew of the copper pits (had oral traditions about them) but didn't actually mine them. Nobody knows why. To solve that problem would be to answer an awful lot of questions about the ancient history of the Copper Country.


Topic author
torpified
Bushwacker
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:06 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 3
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by torpified » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:48 pm

dcclark wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:44 am
Yep, the "ancient miners" really did just stop mining. When Europeans first encountered the Ojibwe, they knew of the copper pits (had oral traditions about them) but didn't actually mine them. Nobody knows why. To solve that problem would be to answer an awful lot of questions about the ancient history of the Copper Country.
This blows my mind! Are there other instances of cultures just flat out stopping the use of a commodity that was within reach and had a purpose? (Or am I overestimating how easy it was to get at the copper and how much you could do with it that you couldn't do with more readily available material?) And are there leading hypotheses about what might have happened? (I'm picturing a hep-cat Algonquin muttering "copper is so bronze age -- I don't dig it any more"...but I suspect that's inaccurate.) And did people keep coming to IR even after they stopped looking for copper there? (Sorry about the barrage of questions --- i don't mean them as demands for answers so much as expressions of ignorant marvel, which I thank you for prompting!)

User avatar

dcclark
NewbieCake
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:39 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 2
Contact:

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by dcclark » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:09 pm

torpified wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:48 pm
This blows my mind! Are there other instances of cultures just flat out stopping the use of a commodity that was within reach and had a purpose? (Or am I overestimating how easy it was to get at the copper and how much you could do with it that you couldn't do with more readily available material?) And are there leading hypotheses about what might have happened? (I'm picturing a hep-cat Algonquin muttering "copper is so bronze age -- I don't dig it any more"...but I suspect that's inaccurate.) And did people keep coming to IR even after they stopped looking for copper there? (Sorry about the barrage of questions --- i don't mean them as demands for answers so much as expressions of ignorant marvel, which I thank you for prompting!)
I wish I knew the answers to any of these! I would guess that the Ojibway may have pushed out an older culture that did the mining, and so they (the Ojibwe) didn't have the traditions or skills developed. Extracting all but the easiest copper was tough work -- the ancient miners would build extremely hot fires over a chunk of copper-bearing rock, then pour cold water on it to crack the rock. That let them get at the copper, which was softer but still pretty solid. They really only "scratched the surface" most of the times, although that accounts for many tons of copper. There are reports of prospectors finding giant copper chunks (think tons) in pits that had been dug out by native miners, and the chunks were completely smoothed from the native miners carving off everything pointy bit of copper they could find -- but they didn't have the tools to pull up the whole mass.

I do know that the Ojibwe had a tradition of Isle Royale being an island reserved for spirits. I suspect that kept many of them away from it.

You've hit a spot of geekery for me. I seriously geeked out seeing some of the old pits on Isle Royale (and the more modern mines too... spent most of a day at the Minong).


Midwest Ed
IR Expert
Posts: 1039
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:25 am
Isle Royale Visits: 8
Location: Quad Cities, IL

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by Midwest Ed » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:14 pm

There is a variety of speculation as to why the mining ceased. From climate change to catastrophic genocidal wars to the easy float copper running out. Maybe they had all the tools and dinnerware sets they needed. Be careful of your Google searches as there are some pseudo-scholars out there that put forward opinion with little or no scientific evidence. There are some that claim Lake Superior prehistoric copper surfaced in Europe.

Very recently, an interesting field study from the University of Pittsburgh put forward evidence that the mining started much earlier than previously thought. By taking core samples from the bottom of the Lake, they measured the levels of Lead "pollution". Increased measurements beyond background levels were said to indicate man made activity and in particular mining activity. Their revised estimate is a beginning of mining about 8000 years ago or 5000 years earlier than previously thought.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013


Topic author
torpified
Bushwacker
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:06 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 3
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by torpified » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:53 am

thanks---this just gets more and more interesting the more you find out! So geeking out seems totally appropriate . . . .


kolo
LNT Expert
Posts: 93
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:48 am
Isle Royale Visits: 10

Re: TR 6/18: RH; CH-McCC-RH

Post by kolo » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:29 pm

7 June: Voyageur to Chippewa Harbor, walk to McCargoe Cove. It’s sunny, calm, and borderline warm, which makes the boat trip incredibly pleasant. We stop at Daisy Farm to deliver supplies for the ranger, and its friendly denizens give us a kickline sendoff.
Torpified, I was on the Voyageur with you. I think you are the one I told about the school at Chippewa Harbor. I am tall and I was wearing a grey fleece pullover. I believe we met before on your previous trip to Isle Royale when you backpacked the Greenstone. I talked to you at the junction to South Desor before you moved on to Hatchet Lake. My name is Brent.

It is a small world!

Post Reply