Isle Royale 2011

Huginnin Cove

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Thursday, July 28


Had spent the week at the cabin with Dad and the brothers.

Jon from Royale Air called in the evening to change my pickup time in Windigo from 3pm to 11am.  Could have gone at 5pm, but I knew needed to get some miles on after getting back to the mainland.  So I went with the rational choice.

Got everything packed in the truck, save for a change of clothes, cot, and sleeping bag.  Need to be at the Houghton airport by 9:30 EDT the next morning.


Friday, July 29


5:15a.m. CDT.  Hit the road for Houghton.  Quick stop in Watersmeet after 35 miles for the first available coffee.  Ahhhh!  Gorgeous drive up the U.P. with lots of mist rising off the wetlands in the morning sun.   At one point drove 20+ miles on US 2 without seeing another vehicle.  Stop at McDonalds in Houghton for breakfast, since I’m plenty early.

8:45a.m. EDT.  There's no one in the airport when I get there, but the 2 other seaplane passengers show up not too long after me.  About 9:30 we hear "Final boarding call for Royale Air Service to Windigo" over the loudspeaker.  At this point I had seen only 1 other person in the airport, through an open doorway.  The pilot Dave walks out and says something about the smart aleck on the PA as I was having a good laugh.  We casually walk out to the plane on the tarmac, load up, put on inflatable lifejackets, and take off.  Weather was clear so it was great flight with nice views.  I enjoyed the front seat.

10:15a.m. EDT.  Land at Windigo.  The other two passengers were visiting a park service employee, so I was by myself for the orientation, done at the visitor's center.  It goes so much quicker that way.  Pretty sure I scored 100% on the "test".

Got settled into shelter 1 at the campground.  The 10 shelters are all great sites overlooking Washington Creek, but only tent site 2 is very desirable, also on the creek.  The other tent sites are right next to the trails leading into the campground.

Hiked back to the store for gas, and got water at the dock—found out later there IS a spigot at the campground.   Had lunch, then headed down the Feldtmann Lake trail for a couple miles and back.  Apparently missed the moose in the creek while hiking.  Read some Grisham and took some evening pics along the creek.  5 teenage girls and counselor camped in site 2, but were good neighbors.



Saturday, July 30


9:15a.m.  On the trail for Huginnin Cove, taking the eastern loop (clockwise).  It was pretty warm (for I.R.) and I sweat a lot anyways, so I stopped about every 1/2 hr or so to cool off and hydrate.  A nice walk through the woods with some ups and downs.  There was a bit of newer downfall on the trail but nothing too bad to get around.  The 2 liters of water was about right.

12:15p.m.  Arrive at Huginnin Cove.  Not very impressive progress for 4 miles, but about what I expected.   There was only one other party there and I was able to get site 1, which is choice.  It looked like weather may be moving in from the west, so I got set up, ate lunch, and hit the tent as it started to rain.  Read for about 5 min, then fell asleep.  That’s what happens when I exercise.

Although there had been some thunder, the ground was barely wet when I got up, so the storms just skirted us over the lake and it cleared up nicely.  Took lots of pics, hung out, and visited with folks.  The campground eventually filled up with 7 parties in the 5 sites.  I shared my site with four "kids" from Wis. (mid-20s I’d guess).  They had done 14 miles on the Minong that day, but didn't appear to be too worse for wear, although I’m sure they felt it.



Sunday, July 31


10:15a.m.  On the trail back to Windigo, continuing the loop clockwise.  Before I left, I asked the kids if they wanted me to take a picture of the four of them.  Then the one girl said she wanted a guy shot, and insisted that I join the boys so she had a picture of the one guy who snored louder than any of them—I had warned them!  At least she didn’t say anything about my stumbling around in the middle of the night.

It was warm again, but I was starting to hit my stride a bit more and stopped less.  The first mile or so is along the lake with nice views of the lake and Canadian shore.  A couple of the downfall were a bit trickier on the western loop and I was on my knees crawling under one at one point.  But I had the camera strapped to the back of the pack and was being very cautious about not hitting it on anything.  And I don't crouch all that well.  Can't figure out why most people recommend doing the loop in the other direction (counter-clockwise) as it seems pretty arbitrary to me.  Another nice walk in the woods after leaving the shoreline.

1:15p.m.  Did the 5 miles back in 3 hrs, so about the same as 4 miles the day before.  Got shelter 1 again at Washington Creek again and was pretty lazy, napping and reading in the afternoon.  I had planned to catch up quickly with eddy_line from the forums when the Voyageur II stopped, but missed it.  Had one good blister that had just started bothering me for the last mile or so.  My knee had held up fine—the combination of the knee brace and trekking poles made all the difference in the world.  Went down to the dock area for sunset pics after supper.  Recognized a boat at the dock that had given us lake trout at Belle Isle in '09 (the Can-Am out of Barkers Island in Superior).  Apparently it was more memorable for me than them (as one might expect).



Monday, August 1


A relaxed morning and got down to the dock plenty early for an 11:00 pickup.  Decided not to shower, but did a quick sponge bath at the campsite.  A ranger said the plane was running late on the first flight, so it would probably be a little late for mine.

11:15a.m.  Plane arrives.  Jon is the pilot today and I’m the only passenger going back.  Another great flight and got more nice pics from the plane.

12:15p.m.  Hit the road after paying parking ($5/day) and minor repacking of the truck.  Man I hate getting in the truck and driving immediately after getting off the island.  Stopped several times along the way for food, gas, and pics.  But another beautiful drive across the U.P. nonetheless.  In the future, buy gas in Baraga as it’s on a reservation and you don’t pay taxes on it.  I drove by, then stopped about 20 miles down the road where it was 30 cents more.

6:15p.m.  St. Ignace (about 270 miles).  Stayed at the Super 8, just before I-75.  Nice clean room and beautiful view of the bridge.  Showered (aaaahhhh), put on clean clothes (aaahhh), and went to Big Boy for supper (uuuggghhh).



Tuesday, August 2


6:20a.m.  On the road after a quick stop at McDonalds for coffee and breakfast.  Didn’t even bother to check out what the Super 8 had.

1st stop in southern MI for gas and lunch.  Gas was significantly cheaper in northern OH, so should’ve gone a little further.

2nd stop at first rest area in KY about 2:30p.m.  Best cup of coffee I’ve ever had was from the machine, and it was 90+ out.

3rd stop north of Knoxville for gas and quick bite.

8:20p.m.  Arrive at Laura’s.  900 miles.  Unpack and deliver her gear.  Scott brings back pizza.


Wednesday, August 3


Last 200 miles and home by 11:00 am.