Lake Superior Paradise, Isle Royale National Park

You may think of paradise as a tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific. But we have paradise right here in our own back yard. Its a remote island that’s hard to get to. Our goal for the month of July was to cruise Lake Superior and see some of the remote areas of the lake. So we set our sights on Isle Royale National Park. It is a set of more than 400 islands which make up the archipelago. The park covers 894 square miles of which 75% are underwater. Isle Royale National Park is the least visited National park in the lower 48 states. The area is only accessible by boat or seaplane. There are 165 miles of foot trails and 36 camp sites. Most visitors come to the park to hike and primitive camp. Everyone must obtain a permit ahead of time to enter the park and give a detailed timeline of your travels within the park.

The red dots show our anchorages for the week. The Map is a little hard to read, but you can blow it up. I will give the details of each stop during our stay.

First Stop after we crossed from Copper Harbor, MI about 50 miles to the south was to the Rock Harbor ranger station to check in. We also wanted to gather information and get the lay of the land. We stayed at the small marina for a night. Rock Harbor has fuel, boat rentals, kayak rentals, small store, ranger office, cabins, and a small restaurant. This area is the busiest area of the island. Once you leave here its true wilderness everywhere else.

The next day we traveled to Moskey Basin a fairly short run down the Rock channel. On the way with Morty’s help (see earlier post), Dorothy spotted our first Moose in the wild. We were so excited. She was a cow swimming right in front of us from Tooker Island to the main island. We later learned she probably had a calf on the island and was swimming back for food. Moose will have their young on the small outer islands to protect them from wolves on the main island. She will return to the calf until its strong enough to swim across on their own.

After setting the anchor, we launched the dingy and we were off in search of more moose. Dorothy’s research lead us to visit a couple of historical sites in the area. The first stop was the Edisen Fishery. This site is a very well preserved fish homestead of the Edisen family. It looks as if they walked away yesterday. A volunteer caretaker lives in the house during the season, talks to visitors, and maintains the grounds. The picture of the sign gives you the details of their lives. We were amazed at the well preserved equipment and buildings.

Next we hiked to the “Moose Man” cabin. Rolf Peterson is the leading authority on moose in the world. Think of Jane Goodall and her gorilla studies. He along with his wife Candy have been studying moose and wolfs on Isle Royale since 1960. They moved into the Bangsund fishing cabin. A couple of Pictures will tell you the Bangsund story. We were the only two visiting at that time of day and the Petersons were so welcoming. We talked with them for an hour about their studies, life on Isle Royale, and current events effecting the environment around us. They expressed such enthusiasm and passion as they talked about their work it made you feel like we should jump right in and help out. After we left their home, Dorothy and I were even more determined to see moose in the wild. A few interesting facts to share;

  1. The Bull moose with the biggest antlers gets the girls
  2. Cows will swim to outer islands to have their young, safe from wolf predators.
  3. The cow will swim to back to the main island each day to eat and then return to the calf at night to nurse.
  4. The calf will stay with the cow for about a year until the cow one day just says, Goodbye.
  5. Moose are very good swimmers and can dive up to 30 feet deep.
  6. Underwater they eat seagrass and have special nostrils which close during underwater feeding.
  7. Moose have terrible eyesight, if one is coming towards you just stand behind a tree.

Dorothy playing tour director for us driving the dingy.

Another boater gave us 2 fresh lake trout filets for dinner. The fish slept in Lake Superior last night. A little seasoning and butter on the grill. They were delicious.

After leaving our anchorage at Moskey Basin we traveled to Chippewa Bay for the night. The next day we took a dingy ride and hiked a few trails. We found an island on a lake on an island on a Great Lake.

SEASONS at anchor this was 8 o-clock in the evening and the sun was starting to set.

Hay Bay was the next destination for anchoring. We had to navigate a narrow channel which then opened up to a very peaceful serene setting. Only one other boat in our anchorage. It just happened to be a Grand Banks from Hancock, MI. Photo is Sunrise the next morning. The haze and color are from the wildfires in Canada.

Hay Bay was the gem of the Isle Royale National Park. We were treated to some of the best moose watching just 200 yards from our boat. For hours in the evening Bull moose would come and feed on the sweet grass which grew underwater in this shallow bay. They would appear out of the low brush on shore and wade into neck deep water. Then dipping their heads underwater for a few minutes collecting mouthfuls of grass they would come up for air and chew the tasty grass. A moose has a digestive system similar to a farm cow, they will chew their meal at least 3 times over. We watched this process over and over for hours. I must have taken a hundred pictures. Here some of the better ones. We did see a cow moose and other bull moose feeding that night, but it was to dark to snap a photo.

I caught this bull shaking water off his back as he came up with a mouthful.

2 Bull moose and a couple of geese.

Other wildlife during our stay.

A Gaggle of Geese

Common Megeser Ducks, Mother and babies

Great camouflage for this family

A couple of hundred toads that just matured from the water.

Some sunrise and sunset photos. The colors were fantastic because of the wildfires in Canada. At times we could smell the burning wood.

3 thoughts on “Lake Superior Paradise, Isle Royale National Park

  1. This might be your best blog post ever. Beautiful pictures and great stories. Glad there are people who tend to these places and their heritage.

    Like

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