Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Isle Royale - Week One

Fourteen days on the rock. "What are you going to do out there?" people asked. "You are going to freeze," they warned. Our crew mockingly repeated these phrases to each other while we all had the time of our lives.

Rachel and I paddled a tandem kayak. Dan and Brian paddled a canoe. Craig paddle a single kayak. The power behind these boats was quite evenly distributed so that no boat was left behind (unless they were trolling, of course).

At approximately 2:00 pm EST on Monday, May 4th, Rachel, Brian, Craig, Dan and I stepped off the Ranger III and onto the rugged shores of Isle Royale -- our home for the next 14 days. The weather was stunning. We roamed Windigo (a western cove) smiling and sleeveless.

Here is the breakdown of our route and highlights for the first seven days. Get your Isle Royale map out unless you have it memorized.

Day one: Windigo to Beaver Island - 1 mile. Dan and Brian found a matching set of moose antlers at Windigo. A great day in the sunshine. We ate chicken burritos for dinner.

Day two: Beaver Island to Rainbow Cove - 9 miles. Paddled in sprinkles and cool weather to Rainbow Cove. Then hiked 0.8 mile northeast to set up camp at Feldtmann Lake, a serene and peaceful spot. Craig saw a moose swimming and found the first morel. We ate steaks and potatoes on the beach of Superior.

Day three: Rainbow Cove to The Head - 4 miles. Hiked the Feldtmann Ridge up to a lookout spot, then came back down to paddle on. The South winds were too much for the canoe, so we parked early and hoped for the wind to die. No luck, so we back-countried a camp spot amid the marshy grasses. We spent lots of time with our noses in the beach rocks.

Day four: The Head. Winds kept us on land, but not down-hearted. We wandered about the area. Collectively, we found 2 small antlers, two big antlers, a moose skull and lots of agates.

Day five: The Head to Siskiwit Camp - 16 miles. We were so eager to move on that we paddled til two hours before sundown. We experienced deep rolling waves, multi-directional-cross-chopping waves (I am making these terms up to describe what I experienced, by the way) and even smooth water with a tail wind. Sunshine all day. Frost at night.

Day six: Siskiwit Camp to Hay Bay - 6 miles. After breakfast we embarked on a morel hunt. Between the five of us we found a hat full! I picked dandelion greens on the way back. Then we paddled across Siskiwit Bay and up a river to a waterfall. We bushwacked to camp right next to the falls! Dinner at dark was so amazing that I have to tell you about it. I made a dandelion green salad with dried strawberries and bananas, almonds, fresh apples and topped with a mandarin-ginger yogurt dressing made that night. We also ate thai noodles with peanuts. Then, after all that, we fried a panful of morels in clarified butter. Oh, man, was that delicious!

Day seven: Hay Bay to Malone Bay - 7 miles. After breakfast (of multigrain pancakes with craisins, walnuts and pumpkin seeds topped with fresh yogurt and pure maple syrup) we paddled our way to Malone Bay. On the way we pulled off at Wright Island. Rachel and I couldn't believe the calm sunniness, so we made the boys paddle on while we sunbathed in our skin. We both meditated on that moment to help us get through the summer. At Malone, I was eager to hike the 0.6 mile up to see Siskiwit Lake. Still a beauty!

Stay tuned for the rest of the trip!

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