Isle Royale National Park Backpack, MI

Isle Royale, as one of our guide books pointed out, is one of the least visited of all the National Parks but also one of the most revisited. Located in the middle of Lake Superior, Isle Royale is 45 miles long by 9 miles wide and is home to the longest running predation study in history, a study on the relationship between the island’s wolf and moose populations. After a wonderful week backpacking the island, I will not be surprised if I find myself among those who return time and time again. The scenery was beautiful, the hiking was challenging yet fun, and I loved spending the week in nature with my mom and making new friends through the club trip.

After a long day’s ride up to Copper Harbor in the CIWC van, we spent the night at the North Port Motel figuring out last minute packing details and resting up for our backpacking adventure. We left Sunday morning on the Isle Royale Queen IV for a 3½ hour ferry ride over to Rock Harbor. We were greeted by a very engaging ranger who reminded us about Leave No Trace ethics and then sent us on our way to Three Mile Campground where we spent the first night.

On Monday, we had a leisurely morning and then took off on the first of our long hiking days, heading 8 miles to Moskey Basin. We started out the hike along the coast of Lake Superior until the trail cut inland through some beautiful aspen groves and more inland scenery. Once we arrived and set up camp, we caught up with some of our new friends from the ferry, prepared dinner, and spent the evening talking about a big group of loons that kept paddling past us and watching dragonflies zooming by and as the sun set over the water.
Tuesday we headed out for a long hike to McCargoe Cove. When we arrived, a few of us went swimming off the end of the dock before enjoying a dinner of Sweet and Sour Pork with Rice and going for an evening venture up to Pine Mountain. From the top, we were all impressed watching the sunset over the island’s many lakes at the same time as the moon rose directly behind us.

Wednesday morning, Andrew and Barb saw a fox just before dawn. Then, after breakfast, we hiked up to Mt. Ojibway, the second highest peak on the Island. Throughout the hike, my mom and I were snacking on thimbleberries, native berries that look a lot like raspberries, that we found along the trail. We then hiked down to Daisy Farm just in time to hear a presentation about the moose and wolf populations by Sandy Peterson, who has lived and done research on the Island with her husband for 42 years! My take-home message from the presentation was her comment, describing a wolf crossing ice bridges to the island, that “There are explorers in all species.”

On our final major hiking day, we left from Daisy Farm and hiked to our final destination, Rock Harbor, where we set up camp for the night and celebrated our arrival with dinner at the Greenstone Grill. The next morning, we left our packs at the campsite and went on our lightest trek of the trip – a walk down to the tip of the peninsula with just our day packs. We caught the ferry back to the mainland, spent the night in Rhinelander, and made our way back home. With good company, comfortable campgrounds, perfect weather, and gorgeous coastlines, sunrises, and sunsets, I couldn’t have asked for more on my first backpacking trip.