Isle Royale 2005

Father/Daughter Bonding Trip

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Note:  All times are EDT.

Saturday, July 16

7:22a.m.  Hit the road.  Periodic rain throughout the day.  Need new tires on the Camry.  Listen to “The Whip”, 98.3, in Farmer City, IL.  Always try to get this station between Champaign and Bloomington--always something different than the last time and always something different than you’ll find elsewhere!  Hear “Choo-Choo-Cha-Boogie” by Asleep at the Wheel and “Beer Run” by Todd Snider.

8:30p.m.  Stop in Bloomington-Normal, IL.  844 miles.  Eat at Dave’s Famous Barbeque.  Hear “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willy Again” on the jutebox.  Sticks in my head the whole trip.

Sunday, July 17

9:34a.m.  Hit the road.

12:30p.m.  Get to Dad’s house.  213 miles.  Should’ve gotten gas in Illinois at $.25/gal less.  Go to Walmart for a couple things since Dad’s not back from the cabin yet.  He’s home when we get back.  Lunch at Culver’s.  Go over to see Mom.

3:20p.m.  Leave Stoughton.

7:15p.m.  Get to the cabin.  259 miles.  Looks GREAT!  The restaurant in Presque Isle is closed so we end up eating chicken fingers at the “Yacht Club” bar.  The kitchen looked very closed, but the lady said it was no problem.  Not that good, but very kind of her.  Hot night with the fans on high.  I take the bed, Laura gets the mattress in the loft (seniority rules).

Monday, July 18

Morning.  Re-pack the Duluth packs.

2:00p.m..  Leave cabin.  County Road B to U.S. 45 north.  Pick up canoe at Sylvania Outfitters in Watersmeet.  Canoe looks good, sure is light!  (Souris River Quetico 17 Kevlar).  Don’t care for the cupped yoke pads, though.

5:10p.m..  Arrive in Houghton.  124 miles.  Later found out there were 30 kt winds gusting to 50+ that afternoon.  No wonder I thought we’d get blown off the road!  Check into the Super 8.  Nice big room overlooking the channel.  Check out the NPS office at the dock.  Pizza at the Ambassador.  Great building, good pizza.  Realize I forgot my fleece pullover—end up with a sweatshirt from Shopko.  Also realize I forgot to get a Michigan fishing license at the outfitter, but it’s too late by then.  No problem, we’ll just fish the inland lakes.

Tuesday, July 19

7:45a.m.  At the dock with the canoe.  Tie in the lifejackets and paddles.

9:00a.m.  Leave on schedule.  2-4 ft. swells left over from yesterday’s blow are noticeable, but not an issue on the big boat.  Visit with Ranger John, based in Houghton, and his wife Gail who are going to stay with the Mattson’s at the Edisen fishery for a few days.  Quite the characters.  Laura and I share a  club sandwich at the snack bar.  Pretty good, though pricy ($6 or $7).

2:00p.m.  Debark the Ranger III at Mott Island.  You have to wait for everything to be unloaded before getting your gear.  This takes a little while since the Ranger III carries all supplies over from the mainland (including trash dumpsters, etc.).

3:00p.m.  Loaded up and left Mott Island.  Canoe paddles nice.

3:35p.m.  Arrive Caribou Island Campground.  1.35 miles.  Take shelter 3 (site 2 is a tent site).  Kayakers in the other shelter and grandfather/father/son canoeists take the tent site.  Watch a moose in the water about 100’ from the dock.  Cold and breezy that evening so we hung the tarp across the front of the shelter.  50 degrees at bedtime.

Wednesday, July 20

Up around 7:00 (John, anyway).  Feels warmer than last night, but didn’t check the temp.

9:40a.m. EDT.  Leave Caribou.  Paddling across Middle Island Passage is a little interesting with swells coming off the lake and from different directions as they wrap around the islands.  The wind’s in our face coming up Moskey Basin at 10-15 mph .  Plan A was to paddle to Chippewa Harbor, but conditions are marginal for that so we head up Moskey Basin on Plan B.

11:35p.m. EDT.  Stop at Moskey for lunch.  3.9 miles.   Pretty hot in the sun and off the water—in the 80’s.

12:40p.m. EDT.  Hit the portage, once we figure out where it is (up the creek).   About 1 mile into it Laura twists her ankle with a "Pop".  She’s carrying the 70+ lb pack with the 9 days of food.  She can put weight on it, however, and since we’re double portaging anyways, we leave the pack and canoe and start walking back to Moskey to test the ankle and get the remaining gear, if we decide it is still doable.  But about 3/4 of the way back, the ankle rolls over again (with a scream) and that settles that.  So she gets as comfortable as possible by the trail, and I go back and bring the pack back to Moskey.  Then hike to the campground to tag a shelter. A kind soul offers to help get Laura to the campground, but by the time we get to the start of the portage she has already managed to limp back.  So Laura waits at the portage while I go back for the canoe.  Finally load the canoe and paddle over to the shelter.

3:25p.m. EDT.  Make camp in Shelter 7 at Moskey.  Figure I got to do the 2 mile portage anyways!  Just didn't plan to end at the same place we started.  Wrap and elevate the ankle which is quite swollen and turning nice colors.  Obviously the boot isn’t going back on after it came off.  Later had Laura soak it in the lake as a substitute for ice.

The couple who helped on the trail also gave us their Ace bandage so we'd have an extra, as they were going to R.H. the next day.  Some kids (well, to me anyway), had passed me as I was getting ready to get the canoe up and at least one was apparently a little worried about the way I looked!  When they met Laura they were talking about going back and carrying the canoe for me (I wouldn't have let them if they had, though, stubborn as I am).  Great folks on the Island!

Ranger Brian from Daisy Farm checks in on us that evening, and after looking at the ankle said he’ll send the EMT from Rock Harbor down.  Laura can barely hobble to the latrine--too stubborn to let me help her though (where'd she get that from?).

Thursday, July 21

Stay at Moskey Basin.

Sleep in despite the sun shining directly into the shelter as it emerges over the horizon about 6:20.  Paddle around Moskey Basin a little.  Ranger Annalie comes down in the afternoon from R.H. with a SAM splint and ice packs (and another Ace bandage).   Campground is full by about noon, apparently rare for Moskey.  Play lots of cribbage and gin and nap.  Laura hobbles down to the dock with the splint on.  She’s going stir crazy in the shelter.

Wish I had gotten a MI fishing license now, but oh well.  I would’ve only gotten it for a couple days at the end of the planned trip, so it wouldn’t have done any good today in any case.  Despite others opinions that they don’t check for licenses, the rangers do, as we observed.  Next trip I’ll probably just make it easy and cough up the $40 for an annual ($7 per day, otherwise).

Friday, July 22

Stay at Moskey Basin.

Laura’s up before sunrise to takes pics, then back to bed.  Another warm shorts and t-shirt day.  Swelling is better in the ankle, but worse in the foot and toes.  More cribbage, gin, and naps.

Saturday, July 23

Up around 6:45 (John anyways).

8:45a.m.  Leave Moskey.  Absolutely gorgeous paddle across glass-like water.  Laura has her boot on today, with just a small bit of Ace bandage around the foot and only a sock liner.

9:45a.m.  Arrive Daisy Farm.  2.9 miles.  Take shelter 11 near the shore and a latrine.

Paddle across Rock Harbor over to the Edisen Fishery.  Laura is able to hike up to the lighthouse.  Candy Peterson comes over to Daisy Farm in the evening to talk about the moose/wolf study.  Her husband Rolf and her have been doing the moose/wolf study since 1970.  Their base is across Rock Harbor from Daisy Farm, near the fishery.  If you ever have the chance to hear and talk to her DO!  It was very informative and interesting.  There were only 2 other parties at Daisy Farm that night so it was a small group.

Sunday, July 24

Up around 8:00.

9:25a.m.  Hit the water for Tookers Island.  Sun just came out.  Rock Harbor is mostly calm, with some swells coming off the lake.  Paddle between Inner Hill and Outer Hill Islands with some negotiating the lake swells to get in.  On the other end it gets very interesting as we come to the end of Davidson Island and lose the protection of Outer Hill Island.  The lake swells are breaking on the outer reefs and everything looks OK at first, with just some residual swells to deal with.  What isn’t immediately obvious is an inner rock reef over which the swells build to almost, but not quite, breaking.  We end up surfing down a couple steep swells, managing to keep the canoe straight, and having a little fun when we aren’t thinking about dying!

11:05a.m.  Arrive at Tookers Island to find it full.  5.0 miles.  Consider trying Merritt Lane, but it’s a really long day if it’s full, so we decide we’ll head for the Rock Harbor campground.

11:15a.m.  Head for R.H.  The Queen is just coming in, so we decide to try and get there before they’re done with orientation, to make sure we get a shelter.

11:35a.m.  Arrive R.H.  1.4 miles.  Orientation is still going on at the dock.  Fun to push it paddling for a little stretch anyways (~4.2 mph).  Laura and I paddle great together!

Getting a shelter wouldn’t have been a problem in any case, since I don’t think anyone off the Queen stayed in R.H. that night.  Take shelter 4.  Hike to Scoville Point after lunch.  Probably not advisable for Laura, but I told her it was her call.  She was feeling it that night, but said it was worth it.  It was really weird staying at R.H. in the middle of the trip.  We did indulge in candy bars and a coke, but tried to stay away from the dock/lodge area (and didn’t shower).

Monday, July 25

9:30a.m.  Leave Rock Harbor into a light headwinds.

10:35a.m.  Arrive at Three Mile Campground.  2.6 miles.  Take shelter 10 by the small dock.  Thought it might be easier to unload the canoe there, but it’s really not a great place—the dock is too high and the rocks smooth and slippery.  But I suppose no worse than some portages.  Temps in the low 70’s with a brisk breeze at times.

Nice spot with a great view from the shelter, but we did have a couple groups of kids come and swim off the dock.  First the girls from the Y camp, then the boys from Camp Timberlake (or something).

Tuesday, July 26

Up at 6:30.  Had a little storm during the night.  The sun is rising with a solid cloud bank exiting to the east leaving clear skies behind it.  Absolutely spectacular.

7:28a.m.  Leave Three Mile into a shifty headwind.  Passed our hiking neighbors who left a little before us.

8:28a.m.  Arrive at Rock Harbor.  2.6 miles.  Shelter 2 this time.  Would’ve taken 4 again for a little more privacy, but I’m feeling pretty lazy!  Make pancakes and bacon, as we just grabbed granola bars at Three Mile.  Dinner at the lodge—Lake Trout was great and got to finish Laura’s steak too!

Wednesday, July 27

A little nippy in the morning, probably the coolest night since the first at Caribou Island.  I get a little worried when I see other folks heading for the boat before 7:30.  Check my watch against theirs to make sure it isn’t dying!  We start carrying stuff down around 8:00 which is plenty of time.  I let Laura take a pack as she was pretty insistent.

9:00a.m.  Ranger III leaves.  Boat ride back is uneventful.

~3:00p.m.  Boat is pretty close to schedule.  Get off the boat and someone hollers “Hi John!”  It’s ranger John from the ride over.  Nice to be remembered.

6:12p.m.  Arrive at the cabin after returning the canoe.  Have pizza at the bar in town with Dad and Dan.  They’ve been staining the cabin.

I fight Laura for the mattress in the loft and win.  She gets the air bed.  Dan graciously sleeps on his Therma-rest.

Thurday, July 28

At the cabin.  Reorganize and stow the camping stuff in the trunk, including the dirty clothes, now known as the “Hazardous Waste Bag”.  Clean out the shed and get the workbench moved from the cabin into it.  Dad lets us throw out a van load of stuff!

Friday, July 29

At the cabin.  Brad, Lorenda, Nathan, Missy, Ellie, Jason, Lilu, and Jill come over for the day from Duluth.

Saturday, July 30

At the cabin.  Dad, Dan, and Laura put a second coat of stain on while I do a bunch of little stuff.

Sunday, July 31

9:35a.m.  Leave cabin.  Stop twice before Portage—oh it’s hard to be back on the road…

~7:45p.m. Arrive St. Louis (Florissant).  605 miles.  Stop and go traffic on I-90 between Madison and Rockford.  Drop Laura off with the Latin Club.

8:33p.m.  Leave St. Louis.

9:29p.m.  Arrive Okawville, IL.  62 miles.  Construction along the way.  Super 8 is clean but everything seems to have a broken knob (A.C., sink, etc).  Oh well, it’s the first bed in 13 days so who cares!

Monday, Aug 1

8:55a.m.  Leave Okawville.

9:29p.m.  Arrive home.  763 miles.