August 21, 2018 / Travel
Isle Royale National Park - Day 1 - Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor to Lane Cove
Tim and I are huge State Park and National Park supporters and, well, nerds I guess! We have been to almost all 66 of Minnesota’s State Parks and we hope to some day get to all of the National Parks. Isle Royale National Park has been on our list for a while and we’ve been talking about it for a few years. This past winter Tim finally decided that this was the summer to visit Isle Royale! It’s not the easiest place to get to, and you really have to plan ahead and buy a lot of equipment if you are planning on backpacking, which is what we did. This was also our first backpacking trip so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. However, I think Isle Royale is a great place to have a first backpacking experience because:
A. There are no bears! Nope, no bears!
B. There are currently only two wolves, but even if there were more, they pretty much keep to themselves.
C. It’s an island, so you can only go so far, it’s kind of difficult to get lost. I think it’s 45 miles long and 9 miles wide.
D. It’s a National Park and we love supporting our parks!
I’m sure there’s lots of other reasons but these are our top 4.
Fortunately we had pretty exceptional weather; no rain, it was in the 60’s and 70’s during the day, however, the nights did get very cold and even with my long underwear, jeans, wool socks, hat and gloves on in my sleeping bag that is supposed to be good in 30 degree weather, I was literally shivering through the nights. That part was my least favorite. But I survived!
I did overestimate how far I thought we could hike. We do a lot of hiking and camping, but we don’t normally carry 40 and 55 pound packs on our back. These didn’t feel overly heavy, and I really don’t think we over packed, but extra weight is just bound to slow you down. We also decided that we wanted to take our time and enjoy our hike and really take in nature. We weren’t trying to see how many miles we could get in.
So, once we decided that we were going to do it, we had to get our gear. Some we had (tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads) but we had to get backpacks, a water filter, a jet boil fuel tank to make all of our dehydrated food that we also had to buy, hiking shoes, etc. That added up real fast! Thank you REI! (We really do love REI!)
Then we had to drive to Copper Harbor, Michigan and spend the night so we could catch the ferry to take us over to the island. Not only another expense, but we had to make sure that we were there on time. The ferry took about 3 and half hours to get to the island and once you get there you check in and then you’re on your own!
We visited at the end of June, so not quite busy season yet, but we still saw a fair amount of people. However, once we were deep into the trail, several hours would go by where we saw no one! It was just us and the birds and the snowshoe hares and the moose! We ended up seeing 5 moose! Oh, there’s also no wood ticks or deer ticks! Just, unfortunately a winter tick that affects the moose.
Overall, we LOVE Isle Royale! It is the least visited National Park, but most returned to, and we definitely plan to return!
On our first day after the ferry dropped us off, we headed to Lane Cove on the North East side of the island which is roughly a 7 mile hike.
We saw 4 moose our very first day! One was a young male with fuzzy antlers that was rummaging around in one of the lakes eating vegetation from the bottom of the lake.
When we arrived at Lane Cove there were 6 campsites and 4 were already taken so we grabbed the fifth one. All of these sites were really nice and spacious and quiet. Once we had our tent set up, Tim jumped into the freezing Lake Superior water to filter some water which we boiled in our handy Jet Fuel boiler. Love this thing! Then we rehydrated some red sauce and rigatoni, which was surprisingly tasty, but maybe anything is tasty after hiking 7 miles of ups and downs with 40 pounds on your back! I then popped open my little Black Box Pinot Noir and sat on a rock at the edge of the water to watch the sunset for the next 2 hours or so. It was probably around 11pm when it finally disappeared since we were so far North and it was actually the summer solstice! A truly gorgeous spot for a sunset!
Sunset at Copper Harbor Michigan the night before we leave.
Leaving Copper Harbor on the Isle Royale Queen IV
Approaching Isle Royale!
Off we go to Lane Cove!
Our first signs of Moose!
A majestic sunset at Lane Cove