Isle Royale 2009

North Side Paddle

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Thursday, July 23


1:00p.m.  Hit the road after final packing in the morning.  Stop for gas.  1/2 hr delay in Hickory.

5:00p.m.  Arrive at Laura’s,  217 miles.  Eat, pack up her things, and hit the hay.


Friday, July 24


6:05a.m. EDT.  Hit the road to “Born to be Wild.”

6:45p.m. CDT.  Meet up with John in Sugar Grove, Ill. to pick up radio.

7:20pm.  CDT.  Leave Sugar Grove.  The storm hits as we get to the construction in Rockford.

9:15p.m. CDT.  Arrive at Dad’s.  846 miles.



Saturday, July 25


Morning.  Visit with Dad and go see Mom.  Get Duluth packs.


11:15a.m.  Leave Dad’s.  Stop at Rutabaga’s to pick up yoke pads.  Dad calls the shop while we are there to let us know that Laura’s camera is still at his house.


12:10p.m.  Leave Dad’s again.

3:20p.m.  Arrive at Dan’s.  219 miles (total).  Pack the packs.  Go to store for hamburger, pita bread, etc.  Load the canoe and ready to go.



Sunday, July 26


9:15a.m.  Leave Dan’s.  Call Brad and Tim as we get near around lunch time to see if they want to meet up, but Brad & Rennie and busy and Tim’s apparently at church.  Stop at Emily’s in ? River at Brad’s recommendation.  Good (a little pricey).  Stop at Gooseberry, Temperance River, and Grand Marais.  Pick up “Superior Death” by Nevada Barr for the trip.


5:00p.m.  Arrive in Grand Portage.  Check out the store there and the boat dock.  Then to Ryden’s.  317 miles.  Dinner at Ryden’s--OK, but not much choice.  Room is clean and functional ($45).  Call Sherri on the pay phone, since no cell coverage and we didn’t think about it in Grand Marais.  A little final packing, then bed.



Monday, July 27


5:00a.m.  Walls are a little thin, so we figure the neighbors were up too.  Breakfast at Ryden’s.  Get a couple sandwiches from them for lunch on the boat.  Not bad, but Laura’s was too soggy to be appetizing by the time we ate them.


6:30a.m.  At the Voyageur II dock.

7:30a.m.  Voyageur leaves.

10:00a.m.  Arrive in Windigo.  Register and fill up Platypuses.

10:30a.m.  Leave Windigo.


The lake is quiet for a smooth ride out.  Meet Loree (from the I.R. forum) and Barb on the boat who are backpacking.


1:15p.m.  Arrive at McCargoe Cove.  Take shelter 4 and settle in, before hiking to the mine.  Rain starts so we just hang out, feeling sorry for Loree and Barb who were hiking to Chickenbone.  Rain ends around 5 so we hike to the mines after the spaghetti supper (7:00 to 8:20)  Watch beavers in the twilight.


9:00p.m.  Bedtime.  This was pretty consistent throughout the trip.



Tuesday, July 28


6:00a.m.  Rise and shine.

7:55a.m.  On the water with wind at our back.

8:30a.m.  Get to entrance of McCargoe Cove to see waves breaking over the shoals and whitecaps on the lake.  Winds are 15-20 kts.  Decide to stay at Birch Island.  There’s a dive boat (Superior DIver) there, but the shelter is open.  Laura’s napping by 9:00.  Talk with Ralph, who runs the boat, and his clients, who happen to be from Charlotte, NC.  A couple from Indiana paddles their canoe in from McCargoe a couple hours after us.  They make the same decision we did to stay.


Paddled Brady Cove in the afternoon, read, and napped.  Had a little shower with rain blowing into the shelter.  We got intermittent reception on the weather channels, but managed to hear winds were 28 kts at Rock of Ages.  Waves 4-6 on the lake.  The dive boat had decided not to go out, but went down to McCargoe instead to hike to the mine.  They were kind enough to fill our Platypuses with filtered water before they left!


Winds are supposed to die down overnight, so we’re hopeful for tomorrow.



Wednesday, July 29


6:40a.m.  Rise and shine.

8:00a.m.  On the water.  Forecast is 5-10 building to 10-15, but didn’t get current observations.  Going out between the buoys is bumpy and confused, but I figure things will at least straighten out away from shore.  Not so....  Mixed wave trains, solid 2-3 footers with the occasional 4.  Head out from shore at about 45 degrees to the major wave train, occasionally having to turn into larger ones.  Looking at the top of waves that are level with the horizon while in a canoe is a little disconcerting!  When we make the turn into Herring Bay we’re probably 1/2 mile out from shore.  Laura said she thought we were heading for Amygdaloid, which we were, because I was paying attention to the waves more than the shoreline.  I briefly glanced at the map, turned toward Herring Bay, and said to Laura, “We’re going there, whether it’s the right place or not!”  With the waves on our rear quarter the ride was still exciting and we still took some water over the gunnels, but it was a lot less work.


I really wasn’t relieved to be in the calm waters of Herring Bay, because I knew that the couple from Indiana had left behind us.  I think my anxiety while out there was as much worrying about them as it was us.  I had confidence in our ability to handle what we were in, but also thinking about what we could/would do if they got into trouble.  At one point a park service boat came by us and waved from a couple hundred yards off--then proceeded to the couple behind us and asked if they need assistance.  I guess we looked like we knew what we were doing!


8:45a.m.  Arrive at Pickeral Cove campground in Herring Bay.  Make grits for breakfast.  A kayaking party is eating, packing up, and getting ready to head for McCargoe.  We portage at the campground.  I thought about checking out the real portage, but wasn’t inclined.


10:10a.m.  Leave the campground paddling up Pickeral Cove.  Lazy paddle with nice breeze at our back, about 10 kts.  Stop at Johnson Island at the Anderson cabin and look around.  No one’s there, although we later met some of the family in Rock Harbor.


11:45a.m.  Arrive at Belle Isle.  Shelter 1 (fav) is getting a new roof, the couple from Indiana is at shelter 6 (2nd fav), so we take number 4, back in the trees.  Laura takes a 3 hr nap while John reads.  Another canoeing party (brother & sister) arrive in the afternoon, having hitched a ride on the Sandy (the lodge tour boat) from McCargoe to Belle Isle.  The had paddled through the inland lakes and saw 3 wolves on a fresh kill on Lake Livermore.  They watched them for over an hour from the portage across the lake and got lots of pics.


Filtered water for the 1st time and we both took a quick dip in the bay.  Wade out, fall backwards, and get out.  You know the water is cold when you come out dripping wet and a breezy 60 some degrees feels warm!  The lady from the Can Am came by and gave us 2 lake trout fillets, complete with aluminum foil.  The mac & cheese quickly became the side dish instead of the entree!



Thursday, July 30


5:45a.m.  John gets up to take sunrise pics.  Beauty beyond description!

6:45a.m.  Back to bed.

8:30a.m.  Rise and shine.  The other parties left for Duncan Bay.


10:30a.m.  Paddle over to Lane Cove.

11:00a.m.  Arrive at Lane Cove.  Hike up to Mount Franklin (2.5 miles, 480’ climb).

12:40p.m.  Arrive at top of Mount Franklin.  Eat lunch.  Watched lightening storm over the pregnant lady.  Met a few hikers/backpackers along the way.

1:30p.m.  Head back down sooner than we would have liked, because the weather was looking worse.  Didn’t get any rain, though it was cloudy and breezy.

2:50p.m.  Arrive at Lane Cove.

3:00p.m.  Leave Lane Cove into stiff breeze.

3:35p.m.  Back at Belle Isle.


The rangers finish up work on shelter 2, and we have the place to ourselves.  We consider moving to shelter 1, but we’re too lazy.  Walk down to the docks and there’s two fishing boats there.  One guy immediately gets a 1 gallon zip lock chock full of fillets out of a cooler and insists I take them.  I talk him down to 2 fillets, one which is 2” thick!  That took about 45 minutes to cook over the fire, since we couldn’t turn it.  He later walked by and we shared our chocolate cheesecake with him.



Friday, July 31


8:00a.m.  Slept in.

10:05a.m.  Leave Belle Isle.  Paddle around Hill Point into Five Fingers Bay since the lake was calm.  First time I paddled in my t-shirt.  Sunny and beautiful.  A little breeze is at our back.  I told Laura I was feeling very small out on the big water--a good place to be.


Laura made some overtures for going on around Blake Pt. but I wasn't going for it. 10 kts from the west might have been OK, but it certainly wasn't the dead calm I had said I would consider.  And the wind was forecast to build through the day.  So into Five Fingers...


11:35a.m.  Arrive at portage to Duncan Bay.  There’s a sign at the portage saying there’s a fire on an island that has been left to burn, but there are no closures.  The date was from 3 weeks earlier.


11:55a.m.  Paddle Duncan Bay.  Go past the fire on island.  Just smoldering.

12:40a.m.  Arrive Duncan Narrows Campground.  Take shelter 2 because it faces away from the dock, and the away from the SW wind.  A couple sailboats come through the narrows, and later another dive boat.  I thought the dive boat was going to dock, but it went on down to the Duncan Bay campground.  Apparently they had listened to the forecast for 20+ kt SW winds overnight.


Laura takes another dip and does yoga on the dock.



Saturday, Aug 1


7:10a.m.  Rise and shine.  Rained all night with strong SW wind.


Ugly paddle up Duncan Bay, straight into 20 kt winds.  Arrive at portage, shoulders burning!  I tried not the watch the trees going by, because they weren’t.  If you missed a stroke, you stopped (and then started going backwards).


10:05a.m.  Start portage.  At one point I slipped off a boardwalk with the canoe on my shoulders when the wind caught the canoe.  Twisted the back and ankle a little, but everything felt OK a little ways down the trail.


12:05p.m.  Finish portage.  Water is calm in the little cove, but solid whitecaps out on Tobin Harbor.  2 foot waves as we go across, taking on another wave or two and getting the packs wet again.


Some folks on the Tobin Harbor dock tell us that the Voyageur isn’t coming out today.  Afraid the Queen might not go too, Laura makes a dash for a shelter (with the pack).  The Queen did go back, however, and we did get one of the 2 open shelters.


12:45p.m.  Arrive at shelter 9 in Rock Harbor.


The 4:00pm observation from Passage Island was 30-37 kt winds.  The U.P. had 50-55 kt gusts.


Hiked to Scoville Point after Laura’s nap and John’s hanging out.  At about 5:50, on Scoville Point, we decide to try to make it back to the lodge for dinner, which closes at 6:30 (CDT).  Make it there by 6:35 and get in!  Enjoy a steak dinner.  John showers after dinner (well, there were only a few folks left in the restaurant...)



Sunday, Aug 2


6:30a.m.  RIse and shine.  Rained last night, but sunny and clear.  Laura takes her shower.


1:05p.m.  Voyageur II arrives.  Capt Mike and Matt to a great turn and burn.

1:25p.m.  Voyageur II departs.  Bumpy ride with 2-4 footers on the lake.  The bow was kinda wet, but I still spent a lot of time there.  Laura played cards with Loree, Barb, and John.


No moose on this trip.  Berries weren’t quite ready yet, at least along the lake.  Skeeters not to bad, although they seemed particularly attracted to Laura.  Flies were not an issue.


8:10p.m.  Arrive in Grand Portage.

8:30p.m.  Leave Grand Portage.

11:30p.m.  Arrive at Tim’s, stopping for gas in Two Harbors.  



Monday-Tuesday, Aug 3-4


Hang out in Superior/Duluth.  Sail Tim’s sweet little boat (even with crappy sails).



Wednesday, Aug 5


8:00a.m.  Leave Tim’s.

10:35a.m.  Arrive in Mpls, meeting Donna for lunch near airport.

1:00p.m.  Leave Mpls.

7:10p.m.  Arrive at Dad’s, stopping at Dan’s to drop off canoe and pick up cheese for Larry.



Thursday, Aug 6


9:10a.m.  Leave Dad’s.

11:45a.m.  Arrive at Nate & Missy’s, stopped by H.P. (no ticket), and ungodly traffic in Chicago.

12:35p.m.  Leave Nate & Missy’s.

2:00p.m.  Arrive in Aurora.  Get up with John and return radio.

3:35p.m.  Leave Aurora.

10:45p.m. EDT.  Stop outside Cincinnati.



Friday, Aug 7


7:25a.m.  On the road again.

12:45p.m.  Arrive in Asheville.  Laura signs rental contract.  Move her stuff from Alex’s to their new place.



Saturday, Aug 8


Move Laura’s stuff in her old duplex.  Leave around 4 and get home at 7:35.   3450 miles for the trip.