TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

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TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by nicky1406 » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:06 pm

Greetings everyone!

Two weeks after returning home from my adventure in Isle Royale, I have finally finished my trip report. My apologies for the delay, but I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed reflecting upon the wonderful experiences I had on the island. This was my first trip to Isle Royale but as you all can probably guess, it will not be my last.

Since there is a limit of three photos per post, I have broken my trip report into four sections in order to share more photos with you all.

So, without further ado...

Friday, 5/24 [CT -> Thunder Bay, ON]:

Travel day! Nothing too exciting to report here other than that, apparently, a large amount of food in your carry-on (i.e. my food bag for the trip) is something that the TSA considers cause for suspicion - enough to make you dismantle your entire pack so that they can inspect the contents therein. Upon informing them that I had carefully read through all the TSA and airline food/liquid/restricted item regulations and had not brought anything that was forbidden, they stated, "Well, it wouldn't say it is on the website." :| :? I asked what was of concern to them about the food in my pack, and they said that there was "more than a handful" of it. Um...what? I was more than a bit annoyed by this explanation and for having to pull apart my carefully packed and organized pack (in order for it to fit within the specified airline carry-on dimensions), but I passed whatever test they administered and proceeded to re-pack my bag and continued towards my gate. "Isle Royale, here I come!" is all I could think as I walked away.

I made it to Thunder Bay, picked up my rental car, and checked into my motel before grabbing some dinner and enjoying what would be my last shower and slumber in a cushy bed for the next several days.

Day 1: Saturday, 5/25 [Thunder Bay -> Grand Portage -> Windigo -> North Desor]:

Up early today - too early, in fact. I drove from Thunder Bay to Grand Portage to catch the Voyageur II to Windigo and, unfortunately for me, I neglected to recall that the Voyageur II is on Central time and was an hour early. Oops! I could have used that extra hour of sleep, but I finished arranging my gear and watched some thunderstorms and downpours from the safety of my car, hoping that things would clear up before boarding time. Thankfully, other than a few sprinkles just prior to boarding the boat, Mother Nature seemed to listen to my pleas to keep the rain at bay. While waiting to board, I met a group of four nice folks (whose names have escaped my memory) who had recently met each other (last summer, I believe?) on the John Muir Trail and were now embarking on a 5-day trip to Isle Royale together. We all sat at a table inside the cabin of the Voyageur for the cold and foggy journey to Windigo and chatted about travel and backpacking trips and gear and the island.

Upon arriving, we were directed to the pavilion for our ranger orientation and LNT talk. Isle Royale is known as being the least visited national park in the contiguous 48 states, but also the most re-visited; and those who choose to come to here are typically either experienced or have at least done their research and are prepared for the island's wilderness challenges. Still, the rangers gave good reminders on how to stay safe, reduce your impact, and respect the wildlife and environment while on the island. Shortly after the ranger talk, the fog that had followed us from Grand Portage swiftly lifted, along with my spirits, and the sun started to break through the clouds. I picked up some fuel from the store, said goodbye to my new boat buddies, took a selfie with the Windigo sign, and was officially on my way!

Not a mile in, and I run into 2 other girls watching 2 young bull moose grazing off the sides of the trail. Although very pleasantly surprised, I had (what I thought would be) a long way to go, so I snapped a quick pic and continued on past them - as they were very hesitant to move forward/startle the moose. After passing the turnoff to Huginnin Cove, I saw not a single other soul for the rest of the hike to North Desor; I did, however, see 3 more moose! Each one dashed away at the sight of me, and I continued on my way along the trail.

With the beginning of leaf-out in full swing, the ridge was alive with varying hues of green and yellow ranging from dark to neon and everything in between. This, combined with the cool blue waters of Lake Superior, the stark white and black aspen bark, and the myriad of colors in the flora across the rocky ridge, made the entire scene a beautiful one to behold!

The Minong proved to be a much easier hike than I had anticipated and was warned about. I'm not sure if I'm unknowingly some kind of hiking superhuman (highly unlikely), or if I simply ran into fluke ideal conditions (much more likely), but I thought that the ups and downs were nice and gentle and I had no trouble following the trail, nor did I get wet crossing the 3 beaver dams. So after somewhat hurrying along for most of the afternoon in an effort to get to camp with plenty of time to set up/eat/relax, I sat down on the ridge in a particularly nice view spot and had a snack. I decided to check my location and discovered that I was only about a mile or so from N. Desor. My mind now at ease, I extended my break and took in the views a bit longer.

Since I had not seen anyone else since shortly after departing Windigo, I was surprised to find that 2 of the 3 sites at N. Desor were occupied when I arrived. I grabbed the site on the far left and set up my tent, made some dinner, and enjoyed some time down on the shore before heading to bed.

Colors of the Minong

Day 2: Sunday, 5/26 [North Desor -> Todd Harbor]:

Despite the loons rousing me throughout the night with their echoing calls, I awoke in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. Not in the least bit sore, I quickly broke camp and headed back up to the Minong. Today proved to be another surprisingly quick just-under-13-mile journey. A brief disorientation after heading East at the N. Desor junction post was cause for the loss of a few extra minutes of my time (the Minong couldn't allow itself be completely hitch-free for me, right?), but I made it to Todd Harbor by lunchtime, grabbed its one-and-only shelter, and had the entire place to myself until shortly thereafter when 2 other guys showed up and snagged the nice tent spot with a fire pit across from me. We briefly exchanged pleasantries and I took off to explore the area, given that I had the entire rest of the day to do so!

As part of my exploration of the Todd Harbor area but also as a side note, I must add that I discovered what would turn out to be a common theme within the campgrounds I encountered throughout the island...and this would be PRIVIES and TOILET PAPER! And I'm not just talking about one fortuitous half-roll left by a kind trail samaritan; I'm talking full-blown, brand new, right off-the-shelf and still wrapped rolls of toilet paper on actual posts meant to hold them in reserve. This may sound like crazy talk to you all, but as someone who regularly backpacks in areas without such amenities, this spoiled me tremendously for the remainder of my trip. No wandering about looking for a legal and covert spot to do business? No digging and squatting awkwardly over cat holes, reaching for a tree or root for balance? No packing out used wads of TP?! I'll take it, thankyouverymuch! Oh, the things we consider luxuries in the backcountry...

In addition to my happy privy discovery, I also learned while exploring that group site #1 is definitely the best of all the group sites in TH. If ever I were to go with a group, I would definitely snag it. It had cool spots farther away from the others and great views of the opposite side of the little peninsula it's on. The dock down below the group sites was also a favorite spot of mine, where I spent a good deal of time just sitting and soaking up some sun (through a few layers of clothing, of course - it was a tad chilly) and watching some fish-that-I-couldn't-identify casually swim by. The little foot bridge leading to the dock was also a peaceful sit-spot, where I spent some time just listening to the outgoing water run into the incoming waves of the lake.

Eventually, I made my way over to the mine and the little rock viewing area below it. Sadly, as evidenced by the number of folks who asked me about it, I missed out on a purportedly awesome waterfall in the immediate vicinity. Still not sure how I could have missed it, but apparently I was pretty close by and I was not even aware of its existence. Had I known, I certainly would have searched for it. Ah well - something to look out for next time.

After returning to camp and making some dinner, I headed over to the 2 guys in the tent-spot below my shelter. They were just starting to get a fire going. Since they were in hammocks and we were the only occupants of the campground, I wanted to say goodnight and apologize to them in advance in case I woke them in the morning when I inevitably got up with the sun.

That was at 9PM.

At midnight, I bid them goodnight and farewell before finally heading off to bed. We had lost track of time chatting around the campfire about seemingly anything and everything, but mostly about travel and our respective hobbies. Shortly after sunset, we got up to grab some firewood and I noticed a line of pink over the horizon. Before I knew it, that line was spreading across the entire sky illuminating it in a pink-ish fuchsia glow. I pointed it out and we all dashed for our cameras and tried our best to capture its brilliance. It's so easy to get caught up in trying to get the perfect shot in moments like that, and one of the guys commented that we should stop and enjoy it with our own eyes in the present moment instead of behind our lenses/phones. As a photographer myself, I found that to be a much needed and appreciated reminder. As the light faded, we skipped some rocks, gathered some more wood, and headed back to the fire to chat a good bit more into the night. I did not get their names and I wish I could remember where they were from (Pittsburgh, maybe?), but it was a nice cap to the evening and I greatly enjoyed their company.

Todd Harbor Sunset

Day 3: Monday, 5/27 [Todd Harbor -> McCargoe Cove]:

Today was a little harder to get out of bed, though the reasons were well worth it. As not to wake my campfire comrades asleep in their hammocks nearby, I packed up and snuck out as quietly as I could. Today was a super-short mileage day, and I would end up making it to McCargoe before some people had even left for the day. But not long into my hike as I quietly walked along, I suddenly heard a loud "Ker-THOOMP" sound close by. I immediately froze, thinking I must have startled a moose grazing in the marshy water to my right. I scanned the area but couldn't see anything. "Ker-THOOMP" again, and this time even closer! My heart now racing, I stood still and carefully scanned the area until I finally spotted the culprit: A brazen little beaver patrolling the waters by his lodge. He was slapping the water with his tail with more force than I imagined that he could be capable of! I breathed a loud, mildly embarrassed sigh of relief and admonished him for his behavior - you can't just go around scaring innocent hikers like that! :P

Close to McCargoe, I passed the mines planning to hike back and explore them after getting settled into camp. I arrived at camp and chatted with a group of guys with painfully heavy-looking packs who were heading out in the direction in which I came. They left, and I set up in shelter #7, perused the campground area, and quickly realized how tired I actually was from the previous night's lack of sleep. So, I decided to crawl into my quilt and treat myself to a short nap.

I awoke from my cozy slumber to a LOUD motor running. "What in the heck?" I thought, "There are no vehicles allowed around here!" Over the noise I could hear voices, and while curious as to what the commotion was about, I was still very tired and attempted to get back to my nap, but doing so proved to be too difficult and I finally popped my head out of my quilt cocoon to investigate. It was the Voyageur dropping some folks off! That made a lot more sense than the half-asleep image I had in my head of a wayward vehicle bombing down the trails. :lol:

I meandered down to the community fire ring where I met the Mikes (two friends, both named Mike) who were base camping at McCargoe. They had a fire going and I asked if I could steal some of its warmth. We began chatting and eventually the mother-daughter pair who the Voyageur dropped off with their canoe for a portage trip made their way down to join us. We mingled and laughed as we warmed our hands and this went on for a good long while. Our conversations were some of the best I had during the trip. A couple coming from Hatchet Lake made their way into camp later on in the evening and joined us by the fire as well. At some point, I started to head up to my shelter to gather some things to begin cooking dinner. And then it happened...

WOLVES. Their noise broke through the evening air and immediately grasped everyone's attention. I rushed back to the fire and stopped to listen - it was coming from directly across the cove. Their yipping/barking and yowling was unmistakeable. There were a lot of them, and they were causing quite a commotion. Their impromptu serenade did not last long, but WOW was it remarkable. We speculated as to what they were going on about: Was there a spat of some kind? Perhaps they got a kill? Maybe the Isle was lucky enough to see a brand new litter of rambunctious pups? We of course could not be certain, but we floated on the high of that incredible experience for the remainder of the night.

Upon later sharing my experience with the rangers in Rock Harbor, they said that many people who claimed to have heard wolves howling were actually hearing loons, as the loon's wail call can sound similar to a wolf's howl. I suspect that I even encountered some people who had that exact experience, based on their description of what they heard in the park (e.g. "sounded like an elk bugling at first"). However, with recorded proof of it, I can happily testify to the authenticity of my encounter!

McCargoe Sunset

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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by nicky1406 » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:11 pm

Day 4: Tuesday, 5/28 [McCargoe Cove -> Moskey Basin]:

The sunrise bathed the landscape in beautiful golden light this morning, which I could not resist photographing prior to taking off for the day. For a moment, I wished I had my big camera to record the beauty, but my legs were undoubtedly happier that I did not. The west side of Chickenbone Lake was quite peaceful and serene. Here, I expected to see a moose or perhaps even a wolf. Instead, I saw loons and small woodland creatures scampering about. Many times, I paused to breathe in the fresh cool air and admire the scenery around me. It was a lovely morning.

I came across a junction post with nothing but the letter "P" carved into it and thought, "What is that supposed to mean?" I pondered this for a minute and then it came to me: "'P' is for 'Portage!'" And if anyone is familiar with Sesame Street's Cookie Monster song, you can imagine the jingle that repeated itself in my head for the next mile or so.

Lake Ritchie was another delight to come upon. The water was calm and images of kayaking or canoeing its leisurely waters pervaded my thoughts as I strolled by. I felt spoiled by this beautiful weather. If only Mother Nature could guarantee me that the conditions would be this perfect for any future trip! Close to Moskey Basin, I passed a family portaging their canoe towards Ritchie and was envious of their day; it would surely be a nice one!

Arriving at Moskey, I immediately found that Shelter #1 was taken. Concerned that there might be a lot of spots already claimed (the group of guys I met before they headed out of McCargoe the morning before had warned me that Moskey was completely full the previous night when they were there), I quickly grabbed what I thought looked like the best one and attempted a quick reconnaissance of the area to see if I could find an even more desirable option. Cue Dave, aka dcclark, who I noticed up ahead of me. He had arrived not a minute or two after me to try to stake his claim on the best shelter there. Thankfully for both of us, he found his favorite shelter and I ultimately decided that my original choice as my favorite, as well.

Dave introduced himself and I learned that he is a fellow photog and a Michigan native who has been to Isle Royale multiple times before. I picked his brain for a bit about the island and then headed back to my camp to set up; however, not wanting him to miss out on some potentially nice wildlife shots, I came back and directed him over to the front of my shelter where a group of mergansers who did not seem bothered by my presence had gathered for a sunny nap on the shore. We observed them and laughed at their silly antics until they eventually decided that they were tired of an audience and moved over to the shoreline next door.

Cue Woody. Woody was from Wisconsin and had a strong accent to prove it. He had been napping in his shelter and had apparently come by to scope out the new arrivals of campers. He clamored over to us with great enthusiasm, and the remaining couple of mergansers quickly bolted off. Boisterous and friendly, Woody's distinct presence was apparent as he informed us that he was on the island for quite some time and had no real plans other than to explore and have a good time - and he certainly seemed to know a thing or two about that! I still hadn't eaten lunch or finished setting up camp and Dave had some ambitious plans to go bushwacking in the area, so we all parted ways for the time being.

The remainder of the day was spent rock hopping, exploring the area, hanging around both solo as well as with my newfound camp friends, and just in general enjoying life on the island. A family of Canadian geese (with ADORABLE baby chicks) happened to cross paths with us several times as they made their way around the area. When I emerged from my shelter later that evening after dinner to enjoy a cup of tea, I discovered them walking right up onto the shore in front of my shelter. I stayed put as not to startle them, and my next door neighbor Sid watched as they strolled right by me while I stood there mere feet away. We surmised that their nest may be close to my shelter since they spent so much time there, but I was nevertheless surprised at their apparent indifference towards me. These Canadian Geese were of the much friendlier variety as compared to the ones where I'm from, where they hiss and try to attack if you so much as even glance in their general direction. I took way too many pictures and videos of their fluffy little "kids" and went over to chat with Sid as they continued over to his shelter. Dave later joined us and we hung around conversing and watching the stars come out until it got too late and too cold (at least for me!) to stay out any longer.

McCargoe Sunrise Light

Day 5: Wednesday, 5/29 [Moskey Basin -> Daisy Farm]:

Lounging in my tent with the door open this morning, I allowed my senses to become fully immersed in the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors before finally, albeit reluctantly, getting out of bed. Waking up right on the water is a wonderful thing, though it makes it hard to muster up the motivation to get up and leave in the morning! Today would be another incredibly short-and-sweet hike to the next camp at Daisy Farm. Many people were still eating breakfast at their shelters when I arrived, so I noted the shelter I wanted to take if its occupants ended up leaving that morning (they did) and I staked my temporary claim on Shelter #13. I surveyed the rest of the campground and came back to find that my preferred shelter was now vacant; so I raced to grab my permit, but just as I was walking up to my new home with my pack in tow, another couple who had just arrived walked right up and claimed I grudgingly went back to my not-so-temporary shelter and officially set up camp.

I met and chatted a bit with my new next door neighbors, and then did a little more surveying of the area and stumbled upon what I think may have been fox tracks in the sand by the shore. I then opted to do the day hike I had planned - the short triangle loop clockwise up to the Ojibway Tower. This hike graced me with an abundance of warmth, bluebird skies, purple wildflowers, and rambunctious squirrels - and I reveled in every bit of it. Sweeping views greeted me at the top of the tower and induced way more selfies than I'd like to admit. After a relaxing lunch and peaceful enjoyment of the views that I had all to myself, I headed back down and ran into 3 more moose in the brush right off the trail. And a little farther down, I encountered a very sketchy beaver pond crossing with planks that appeared to be just barely floating on the surface of the water. Upon stepping on them, they felt surprisingly sturdy and I carefully stopped midway across to admire the impact these beavers have on the landscape. As I stood there, I spotted a little turtle sunning himself on a rock nearby. I returned to camp and spent the rest of the afternoon just moseying around and relaxing, then made some dinner and turned in early for the night.

Purple Wildflowers

Beaver pond planks barely above water!
Last edited by nicky1406 on Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:05 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by nicky1406 » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:15 pm

Day 6: Thursday, 5/30 [Daisy Farm -> Three Mile]:

Getting to bed early last night meant that I was up and ready to go this morning before most were even awake, so I took some sunrise photos on the shore and headed out in the golden morning light. The Rock Harbor trail was very nice - picturesque and right on water - though I imagine it must be a bit treacherous in wet weather conditions (which I knew nothing about during my entire trip, by the way!). I explored the mine pits right off the trail and arrived at Three Mile to find the place completely vacant. The shelter right across the dock looked good, so I set up camp and then tackled the short climb to Mt. Franklin as part of a day hike. There, I met who I believed to be a daughter and her 70-year-old mother who were having lunch on the summit rock. They were staying at the cabins in Rock Harbor and day hiking, doing 10+ mile days together. I was impressed! Meeting folks like that is always nice and reinforces my belief that, with continued training and persistence, I, too, can and will be getting out there and racking up the big miles well into my seventies, eighties, and beyond.

After snapping a few pics, I continued my day hike down to Lane Cove, a lovely tent-only campground just a little ways off the beaten path. A tree stump silhouetted in such a way that it closely resembled a large animal like a wolf or bear thoroughly spooked me as I approached it from a distance. You've got to look out for those sneaky stump animals; they'll getcha every time!

As I hiked a little farther in, a symphony of spring peeper frogs loudly chirping filled the air. Each one with a differently pitched call, they sang and responded to each other in dissonant harmony as I hiked the ridge above their home in the marshy underbrush below. With no one else around when I arrived at Lane Cove, I spent a good hour+ just enjoying the peaceful solitude. Most of the sites were very nice, and I slightly regretted my decision to turn this into a day hike instead of an overnight stay, which was my original plan. I will definitely plan to camp here next time.

Upon arriving at the Mt. Franklin/Lookout Louise/Three Mile junction on my way back, I briefly considered taking the 5 mile run over to Lookout Louise; but I ultimately decided that I would have plenty of time to tackle that in the next couple of days on a separate hike. After finishing dinner back at camp, I headed down to the dock and met Doug and Steve, two friends from Columbus who were also staying at Three Mile that night. We chatted ultralight gear for a bit and they kindly invited me over to their camp for some warm beverages. They were leaving the island the next day and had an excess of provisions that they graciously shared, including apple cider packets and teas and hot water and even a cell phone charge! At their camp, I met Allie and Brian (a couple from Chicago), and Dave joined us as well. We all hung about, joking and laughing and exchanging stories about our respective experiences on the island, future travel plans, backpacking gear and food choices, etc. Once it started to get a bit too cold, we called it a night and all headed off to bed.

Day 7: Friday, 5/31 [Three Mile -> Rock Harbor]:

A new neighbor (of the furry variety!) greeted me at my shelter door this morning as I was getting ready to leave. A snowshoe hare, who, if I were to venture a guess, probably lives underneath my shelter, hopped around in front of my shelter and darted in and out from underneath it as I packed my things. He didn't seemed bothered by my presence, and I watched him for a few minutes before returning to my morning chores.

It was quite an overcast morning - a far cry from what I had become accustomed to for weather on this trip - but it still afforded me perfectly nice, dry conditions to hike in. I immediately patronized the camp store upon arrival in Rock Harbor, and then the visitor center where I chatted with the rangers and another fellow named Dave for a good while before popping out just in time to find my friends from the night before posing for a photo in front of the Rock Harbor sign. "The gang's all here!" they yelled when they spotted me, and called me over to join them in the photo. A big thank you goes out to the kind soul who patiently juggled probably a half dozen cell phones just so that we could each have our own picture of our group in front of the sign!

Afterwards, we separated briefly so that I could select a shelter and drop my gear and so they could pick up some food and drink at the camp store, and we reconvened at the visitor center to hike the Stoll Trail to Scoville Point for one last hurrah together before parting ways. We enjoyed the views, took lots of photos, and rock-hopped around until finally realizing that we had to start heading back if they wanted to make it to their boat before it departed. We exchanged contact info as we returned to RH and I bid my newfound friends farewell as they prepared to board the Queen IV back to Copper Harbor. I still had another day-and-a-half left on the island, so I made my way over to the lodge and ordered a water taxi for next day's hike to Lookout Louise. Since the trip would be nearly 20 miles out and back if I hiked it entirely, I opted for this pricey yet time saving option as it would also allow me the chance to view Tobin Harbor and Rock Harbor from a different vantage point. Once that was taken care of, I went back to the camp store and purchased tokens for a highly anticipated warm shower. I had to spend $12 for only 10 minutes of shower time, but after a week in the woods without one, it was worth every dang penny.

Dinner, tea, and a sunset walk around the marina would complete my night - or so I thought. As I strolled by the visitor center, I passed by two brothers who I had run into a few other times over the course of the trip. A brief chat with them turned into a less-than-brief chat as some other folks who passed by joined the conversation, which eventually turned into a gathering at the fire ring by the marina. Yet another unexpected and nice cap to a night on the island!

How I started the trip...
...and how I ended it!

Day 8: Saturday, 6/1 [Day hiked/Stayed in RH for my layover night]:

For those who are familiar with the camp stay regulations and are wondering, I just beat the one night limit in RH. The limit begins on 6/1 and the rangers told me that since I had stayed there on 5/31, I would not have to worry because it would restart/refresh on 6/1. Perfect timing!

I happily slept in this morning and then began my hike to Lookout Louise via the Tobin Harbor Trail. This was a very nice trail that had lovely views of the harbor from various view spots through the trees and on the shore. I took the side path to Suzy's Cave and spent a short time exploring that area before continuing on. Back at the Mt. Franklin/Lane Cove/Lookout Louise junction, I remembered a tower that I had seen at the ranger administrative buildings across the water while hiking from Three Mile to Rock Harbor the previous morning. I took my phone off airplane mode and, for the first time since leaving Thunder Bay the weekend prior, I had a full cell phone signal. I texted my family to let them know that I was still alive, and promptly shut it back off to preserve battery since I knew that the signal would not last long once I started hiking again.

The section of the Greenstone from the Lane Cove junction to Lookout Louise was quiet, scenic, and a bit primitive even - it reminded me of parts of the Minong. It was a gorgeous day and the views from Lookout Louise did not disappoint. Being that it was my last full day on the island, I was sure to keep a slow pace and really take in the sights and sounds of everything around me. Hidden Lake was a lovely little lake that felt so peaceful and serene that I was a little sad to leave it to go catch my water taxi at the dock; I felt like I could have relaxed there and just watched and listened to the birds and other wildlife all afternoon long. The water taxi ride was a quick one (15 minutes, maybe?), and certainly better than hiking the same 10 miles back the way I came - and it was neat to ride past a bunch of the old cabins that are still standing mere feet off the water on small rocky islands in the harbor.

Back at Rock Harbor, I spent the rest of the evening hiking/walking every trail and nook and cranny that I could find to explore in the area. I ended my exploration at the seaplane dock relaxing and watching the late evening sunlight glimmering on the water.

Lookout Louise Selfie
Last edited by nicky1406 on Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by nicky1406 » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:20 pm

Day 9: Sunday, 6/2 [Rock Harbor -> Windigo -> Grand Portage -> Thunder Bay]:

I woke up this morning and took a long, deep breath - it would be my last morning of breathing in the clean fresh air on the island. I knew I would miss it. I dolefully packed up my gear one last time and headed down to the docks.

There were only a little more than a handful of other people leaving on the Voyageur with me this morning, so we had the entire boat to ourselves - a welcome surprise after the fully packed boat I came in on that included a large group of middle-school-aged kids. The journey back to Grand Portage was a long one - about 6-7 hours total - but it went by pretty quickly. The deck hand, an older gentleman with a scruffy beard and weathered hands, approached me and regaled me with tales of mysterious happenings that he had experienced and heard about on the lake over the years.

Arriving at Grand Portage was bittersweet. I was ready to go home, but I would surely miss Isle Royale. It had an ineffable familiarity to it and had quickly come to feel like home in its own right over the course of my time there.

Voyageur II on the morning of departure.
Voyageur II upon its return to Grand Portage - Much different weather than when I was last there!

Monday, 6/3 [Thunder Bay and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park -> CT]:

While not in Isle Royale, this end of journey for me was a fun side excursion to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park before my flight back to CT in the evening.

The unexpected best part about this journey is that I began it solo, looking forward to a wild adventure full of complete and utter solitude from other people - actually hoping that I would not really run into anyone else the entire time; but to my surprise, I finished it having met and bonded with a myriad of wonderful people who were a large part of what ended up making this journey such a memorable one for me. I am grateful for the spirit of kindness and camaraderie that the island brings out in people. The essence of this place is truly special. This, I am certain, is why so many people return once they have discovered it.

Until next time - Safe Journey to you all!

The Minong in all its glory.

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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by newb2019 » Thu Jun 20, 2019 2:52 am

Wow! Great TR!

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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by dcclark » Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:15 am

*Thumbs up* It was great to meet you! I'm envious of your Lookout Louise trip, that's something still on my list.

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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by torpified » Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:18 am

Hooray! Thanks for the fantastic report and photos---I enjoyed them so much I don't even mind having "P is for Portage and that's good enough for me!" reverberating through my head for (I hope) the time being.

I'm also grateful that you had audio confirmation that it was wolves you heard at McCargo. I was there (possibly with the same two Mikes) a few nights later, and we definitely heard something other than loons. Now I'm closer to believing that it was wolves!

Minong timing: I wonder if after a dry patch in late spring is ideal. The trail's not brushed over, so it's easier to follow. The views are better because the trees aren't totally leafed out. Post-dry patch, the mud wallows are minimal. And there is still plenty of TP in the privies!

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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by Duffy Moon » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:26 pm

That's an outstanding report, and the pictures are amazing. Thanks for sharing such a detailed account.

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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by Bobcat1 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:11 pm

What a great trip, thanks for sharing!
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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by tso115 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:23 pm

That sounds like a great trip!

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Re: TR: 5/25 - 6/2, 2019 [Windigo to Rock Harbor + Day Hikes!]

Post by nicky1406 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:22 pm

Thanks so much everyone! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
torpified wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:18 am
Minong timing: I wonder if after a dry patch in late spring is ideal. The trail's not brushed over, so it's easier to follow. The views are better because the trees aren't totally leafed out. Post-dry patch, the mud wallows are minimal. And there is still plenty of TP in the privies!
Torpified - I was truly granted the most ideal conditions I could possibly imagine in all aspects. You can be sure that I will be planning a future trip during the same timeframe and will just pray for the same fantastic luck!

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