​Isle Royale National Park – Day 1

Day 1 on Isle Royale started with a boat ride via Isle Royale Boats aboard the Voyageur II.  I had read the boarding pass last month when I bought the ticket but hadn’t reviewed it recently.  The departure was scheduled for 7:30 in the morning and I arrived at 7:15, plenty early.  Well, everybody knew my name by this time as I was the mystery guy they were waiting on.  I was supposed to be there at 6:45 according to the ticket….  Oh well, we still left several minutes before the scheduled time:-)

It’s a two hour ride to Windigo at the southwest end of the island.  The lake was calm so it was a nice smooth ride, a little cloudy and we had a few drops of rain but otherwise a nice cruise.  The boat runs at a blistering 12 mph, so it’s good to be patient.

Orientation at the Windigo Visitor Center

Orientation at the Windigo Visitor Center

Upon arrival we were greeted by a ranger who started by handing out several pieces of paper to various people – including myself.  For the orientation those of us with these papers were identified as the “guest experts” on various topics.  Mine was pertaining to Respecting Wildlife.  After the orientation it was on to the visitor center to obtain my back-country permit for the trip.

Finally after topping off my water supply, I hit the trail at 10:30 – or maybe it was 11:30… This is not the first time during a park visit that time zones have become an issue and this would bug me the whole week.  I left Grand Portage, MN which is in the Central Time Zone while the park is in Michigan and therefore is in the Eastern Time Zone.  I operated the week as if I was at home, but depending on where people were from it could go either way.

It’s about a 0.6 mile hike up to the Greenstone Ridge Trailhead from Windigo.  The Greenstone runs nearly the full length of the island and I would be spending most of the week upon it.  From the trailhead to my first camp, Island Mine, was about 5.8 miles.  Then a few tenths off the Greenstone to the campground.  Total distance covered today was about 6.9 miles.  I arrived at the campground around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Was quite relieved to drop the pack – 45 pounds is way too much to lug around.  I would discover I brought a variety of things I would not useneed.  Oh well, live and learn!

About halfway along the trail I had stopped for lunch when I also realized that my left arm was getting numb.  After taking the pack off realized it was also a bit stiff and swollen. Was a bit scared until the feeling came back and the swelling went down.  Guess I had the pack strapped on a bit too tight.  After getting the pack on after lunch, I made some adjustments and didn’t have that issue again the rest of the trip.

The fortunate thing about waiting for my arm to return to normal, was that I got my first view of not one, but two moose.  A cow and calf to be precise!  I heard something coming out of the trees and grabbed my camera and just sat on the log.  The cow emerged from the forest about 20 yards down the trail and turned in my direction.  She stopped when she saw me, turned to get the calf, then back in my direction.  After realizing I wasn’t going anywhere they continued across the trail and into the trees on the opposite side behind me.

All in all, it was a great first day on the island.  I crawled into my tent around 9 pm and got some shut-eye.  Had hoped to see some of the Perseid meteor shower, but this campground was down in a low lying area and under a fairly heavy canopy – so there wasn’t much sky to see.


Windigo to Island Mine

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