Isle Royale Trail Journals 08-20-02

Journals From A 2002 Hike in Isle Royale National Park

August 20, 2002

7:15 AM

Back at the hotel now in Grand Portage. Went to sleep around 8:00 Sunday at Lake Desor. No one else cam in & it was very quiet – every noise seemed magnified. We could hear the wings of ducks beating as they flew over, and every little twig that snapped or fell. Were finally able to fall asleep, but after midnight I kept waking up. Around 4:00 we heard a strange sound from up on the ridge. My first thought was an owl, but not sure if there are owls on the island. THen the sound went on – a mixture of howling/yelping. We’re still not sure what it was… (note – probably wolves!)

We were on the trail by 6/6:15 or so. We hiked pretty fast. The first part was ridges, but there were a lot of easy areas then. Well, not vertical rock ridges, anyway. Crossed a few swamps by beaver dams which was a bit scary. The first one we came across, we weren’t sure where the trail went, but it was indeed across the dam. Made it to Windigo around 12:30 (13 miles). Immediately took showers ($3.00 for 5 minutes), and then went up to the store for some sandwiches – good! About $3.50 for sandwich, chips, and a pickle. Everything at the store has a 35% surcharge for use of utilities, etc., because things are expensive/difficult to get in.

We were able to get on the boat (Wenonah) at 3:00 (a day early). After they dropped off the people whose cars were at the Wenonah parking lot, we were able to stay on the boat for a ride over to the Voyageur Marina where our car (and some other peoples’) was parked, because they had to refuel the boat. We then heard one of the workers on the boat talking about some of the history of the island. The captain of the Voyageur grew up on Isle Royale – part of the group of fishermen and their families who originally lived out there. The story (or should I say history) is that Michigan, or the Park Service, wanted to have the island as a place for rich people to come and vacation on, a place for fancy lodges and summer cabin. To do so, they had to force the fishermen out of their homes. One man was sick and hand to go to the hospital (on the mainland) – when he came back, there was nothing left of his home – the Park Service had burnt it to the ground. There are a few cabins left, handed down from generation to generation, I suppose. I doubt that new construction is allowed, and not even sure if the cabins/homes are now able to be handed down another generation. Once the present occupants pass on, the places might now be “reclaimed” by the NPS? An interesting situation – something to look into.

Anyway, we’re back at the hotel now, and it’s as if it all never even happened. How do you secure a time, and event, except in memories, on paper, in pictures? How do you truly remember, except by repeating the experience? It is hard to grasp any significance in life when times are so fleeting – ultimately, it comes down to what we learn, and the experience we acquire, and trying to figure out how to direct our life in order to make the best use of it.