Friday, August 4, 2023

Isle Royal (comprised of over 400 islands) is the least visited national park and the most revisited. (Isle Royale Part I)

I told you in 2021 that due to Covid we only made it to the visitor center at Isle Royale National Park (located in Houghton, MI, pronounced "Hoten").  Leaving Copper Harbor, on Saturday we took a 3 3/4 hour ferry (Isle Royale Queen IV) ride to the island. People-ferry that is, no cars on the island. Wow, are we glad we came back!! Met some nice people along the way. The island is just gorgeous.

Isle Royale is the largest island in the largest freshwater lake (Lake Superior)  in the world. 

Coming in to Rock Harbor.

They stressed how bumpy the ride on Lake Superior would be. I took dramamine to be safe, but compared to some ocean ferries we've been on this was smooth. After we landed at Rock Harbor they unloaded everyone's gear. If you were staying in the lodge your bags were delivered to your room for you. Those of us backpacking had our ranger briefing, then waited in line to get our permit to camp and, if needed, paid the National Park fee. To get a permit they helped you fill out an itinerary of the campgrounds (36 across the island) you planned to stay in. People stayed one night, like us, up to several nights. We met a Grandma who was hiking a week with her 6 year-old granddaughter. We retrieved our backpacks, and in our case, a duffle bag for our second night that would be at the lodge.

We took some time and rearranged. We had small packs we took with us on the ferry that we could also use as a day pack if needed. We put the day pack in our backpacking pack. We also filled up any partial bottles of water at Rock Harbor. Besides the National Park Ranger station, a store, gift shop, the lodge, a restaurant, and grill this was one of only 3 places on the island to get potable water. We were only camping one night, but staying much longer would require you to treat drinking water from Lake Superior or inland lakes or streams.

The next stop for us was the lodge office to drop off our duffle bag for our second night. For $4 per day we could leave it there. Well worth it over hiking with it! We were off. We hadn't hiked in so many years our 1st choice on our itinerary was the first campground, located a few feet from the dock. Heck, we might as well make it worth our while so why not go for the second one, 3 mile ( closer to 4 miles)?

Campground near Rock Harbor

It was mid afternoon by the time we started,  the sun was out, and it was hot (at least to me). Lots of roots, rocks, on the nearly 4 mile Rock Harbor Trail to "3 mile campground." It was pretty rugged, as everyone else seemed to think too. Pat said I whined. Based on its name, we kind of assumed it was a 3 mile hike. After 3.5 miles I was hot, sore, tired, moving slow, and done, but we did get there. First come first serve at the campgrounds. Some sites even had screened shelters and picnic tables. We didn't land a shelter or private tent site, but we ended up having a group site to ourselves. We set up the tent and we headed down to Lake Superior to chill our feet in the very cold water. Snack mix for dinner. We didn't want to carry cooking supplies for one night--every ounce makes a difference. I was asleep by 5 (think the dramamine from early contributed to that) just about the time the rain hit! I didn't get up until after 5 a.m. I woke up a few times because, despite what the ranger told us, it rained quite a bit. Don't think Pat slept as well as I did on our 1/2" thick backpacking mats. Could be it was a little snug in there too.

3 Mile Campground

Isle Royale Part II: I was feeling pretty good the next day (Monday) but Pat's knee was bothering him.

Where are the Piepers now? Chatham, IL

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