Today I want to share some of my experiences from the Isle Royale hiking trip I took with my dad earlier this month. I would say that overall we went a bit early in the season, the nights were cold and the days were mostly rainy. We were able to avoid the mosquitos and black flies by going so early though, so that was a plus, and when the sun was shining the island was gorgeous! If I were to go back for a second trip I would definitely go later in the season to hopefully experience a sunnier side of the island.
Our adventure began in Houghton where we boarded the Ranger III at 9am and set sail on our 6 hour journey to Rock Harbor on Isle Royale. The trip in was pleasant and sunny, one of our few days without rain. Dad took pictures of the lovely views and we chatted with the few others ferrying over to the island.
The day we arrived, Friday June 3rd, we made the short 3 mile trek to Three Mile campground. On our way to the campground we took a small detour to see Suzy’s Cave, where the picture below was taken.
On our second day we stopped for lunch at Daisy Farm campground and continued on our 8 mile journey to Moskey Basin. The trek was rainy and muddy, so I was happy to be able to eat lunch in a dry shelter. When we reached Moskey we ran into a park ranger who informed us that the weather wasn’t going to improve until our last day on the island. We were the only two at the campground for the night though, so at least we had our pick of the shelters.
The third day we were originally planning to hike 7 miles to West Chickenbone campground; however, we decided to keep going another couple of miles to McCargoe Cove where we would have a shelter for the night. The sun did come out just as we were passing by Chickenbone Lake and we thought briefly about setting up our tent. We were glad we continued to a shelter though, as it began to rain again that night.
On this same day we took a small trek from our campground to Minong Mine, where we could literally crawl into the old mine pits. One of the mines still had old tracks from the cargo carts and a block of ice which was melting very slowly so far underground. The mine also had enormous piles of “poor rock” which didn’t contain enough copper to be valuable. Dad and I enjoyed looking through the rocks and finding ones with bits of weathered verdigris copper inside.
The fourth day was another 9 mile hike, and was by far the muddiest and most miserable. Without a speck of sun, we ate our lunches on a log in the rain. I then proceeded to topple backwards, the weight of my backpack pulling me down into a muddy bog. Dad trudged quickly back through the knee deep mud to rescue me from my muddy doom. After screaming a few expletives I was ready to continue to our nice dry shelter at Daisy Farm campground.
I feel like this would be a good time to mention that Isle Royale is full of bogs, most of them have planks that make the experience of traversing them a rather pleasurable experience. In fact, these were some of my favorite parts of the hike. The bogs were also where people reported sighting moose and the carnivorous pitcher plant. Neither of which we were able to find, but we were defiantly keeping our eyes peeled.
On our fifth day the rain let up again, so we decided to hike up to the ridge and see the views offered by the Mount Ojibway watchtower. The views from the tower were magnificent and the wind was fierce so high up. We took some pictures and videos of the view, and then proceeded on our 8 mile hike of the ridge. I am so glad we decided to go along the ridge, where the paths seemed less traveled and were therefore less muddy, and the views from high up were breathtaking. Below is an image of me enjoying my lunch on a boulder while dad took pictures over the ridge and let his socks and boots dry out a bit before proceeding to Rock Harbor campground.
Though we stayed in a shelter at Rock Harbor, I was excited to use the running water at the dock and to grab some dessert and coffee at the lodge. The sun was finally out for a bit, the hike was nice and I was full and happy. Dad and I stayed up later this night chatting, laughing and playing UNO. In the morning the sun was out, our shoes were almost dry and we were able to walk back up to the lodge for breakfast before setting sail back to Houghton at 9am.
The trip back was again sunny and relaxing. We passed the time by talking to the few other passengers on the ferry, reflecting on our journey and napping in the warm cabin. Looking back on the experience, I would still say that the muddy parts of our hike were pretty miserable, as was hiking in the rain with wet socks and shoes; but when the sun was shining, Isle Royale was fabulous, and I would definitely like to return someday when the weather is warmer and sunnier.
I want to give a special thanks to my dad for going on this adventure with me, taking the pictures above, and always keeping such a positive attitude! Love you dad!
I hope you all enjoyed my little recap of our hiking trip. Let me know if you have your own exciting adventure planned this summer in the comments below. I love reading about others hiking and camping experiences!