Friday, May 21, 2010

Isle Royale - Week Two (Part I)

*Note: if you have not read "Isle Royale - Week One," please read the next post first unless you like to live in a state of confusion (which I do not condone).

Day eight: Malone Bay to Wood Lake - 4 miles. I caught the sunrise at Sisikiwit Lake -- a beauty. We were head-winded in for most of the day, so (after portage #1) Rachel and I hiked West along Siskiwit Lake to find the cliff we found last year. On our way back, the boys found us, and we had to hike back to the cliff yet again to show it to them. After a short rest back at the shore, and Brian catching a Lake Trout, we decided to paddle on. The paddle was easy enough. Wood Lake was quaint, lovely and peaceful. A couple fishermen in a canoe were already camping there, but they were nice and kept to themselves.

Day nine: Wood Lake. Another sunny day to watch the sunrise. That place has great rocks to perch on -- I mean huge cliff-type rocks -- my favorite. We all bushwacked to a nearby beach to entertain ourselves. Dan, Rachel and I lost the other two and ended up about a mile away from their destination. I was glad, however, because we got to hike along the huge rocks that I love so much along the shoreline. Those were the rocks I could only dream about walking on as I paddle by them in a kayak.

We ate some fried Lake Trout back on the shore at Wood Lake. Rachel even caught the first fish of her life! But Pike were two days from being in season, so she kissed and released. Brian, Rachel and I watched the sunset behind the Greenstone Ridge. This was the first day of blackflies, but, luckily, they were not yet biting and sucking our precious blood.

Day ten: Wood Lake. An unexpected full day at Wood Lake Due to the incessant rain. Thankfully Craig had a tarp, so we could all sit underneath together. This was our "Day of Silence." We did not speak a word to each other upon rising. I found it fascinating to see how everyone chose to communicate without words. We even played hacky sack with an empty hot sauce bottle and euchre without words. After lunch of glorified macaroni and cheese with venison ring bologna, we took a nap -- except for Dan who fished for hours and brought back another Laker.

Upon rising from our naps, we decided that the Day of Silence could end, so the day wouldn't be so depressing (not that is was). Not bad for our only rainy day!

Day eleven: Wood Lake to Lake Richie Camp - 4 miles. Unfortunately this 4 miles was not all via water. We did two portages. The first was 0.4 mile from Siskiwit Lake to Intermediate Lake. Not bad at all (except for the flies who started to take a liking to our taste). We paddled through that lake and portaged 0.6 mile over some gnarly terrain to Lake Richie. Then we got to paddle one more time to the campsite. Nice little spot, but the bugs were relentless. Who would have thought?

Day twelve: Lake Richie to Caribou Island - 8 miles. This was the dreaded day. I woke early to watch the fog span over the lake and dissipate with the sun (pictured below). We packed up camp asap (even without coffee) to paddle 0.2 mile to our 2.3 mile portage to Moskey Basin.
The sun was hot. The blackflies were ravenous. Each of us were weighted like mules with as much gear as we could carry across the land. The first trip over was seriously one of the hardest things I've had to endure in my life (the other being a 2.6 mile portage in the Boundary Waters). Rachel and I stayed close to one another in order to trade off the 5 gallon pickle bucket of our packed trash. Many times on the way we would simply collapse on our bellies for a break. With my head in the grass I would repeat each time: "I am grateful for this opportunity to push myself past my limits and become a stronger person." Magically, that made pressing on a little better -- for the first 40 seconds, at least.

When we reached Moskey Basin we were greeted by a long dock sticking into Lake Superior -- a refuge from the bugs and a sanctuary in the sunshine. After a quick break, we cheerfully hiked back to get the boats. The boats....

For the most part, we all traded which boats we carried, so we could switch up the muscle groups we were using. And thankfully, we were able to load everything else into backpacks and make that our final trip on the 2.3 mile gruel. The second time wasn't quite as bad... at least for me. But we all pulled our own weight.

Back at the Moskey Basin dock, it didn't take long before we were shirtless with our pants rolled up sprawling in the sunshine. That moment of relaxation in the sun without bugs made the whole double trek worth it to me. We all rested up and ate lunch.

But, it was time to paddle on (after all that, I know) to Caribou Island. The weather was so inviting that we just had to do it. Leisurely, we paddle about 5 miles to Caribou -- an island I just love due to its rugged rock formations. In fact, after dinner I strolled around the south and east side to reminisce and explore. Silly me without a light or clear sense of direction, I almost got lost! Luckily I recognized the moon and camp fire. I took the shoreline back to my home for the night.

My goodness. I have way overextended the details of these few days. I shall finish the rest of the adventure for you tomorrow.

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