Saturday, May 25th
Last night we got into Ironwood, MI around 4:30 or 5:00. Checked into the hotel – Comfort Inn. Ate at Pizza Hut & got our gear ready. We tried to lighten our packs, but were unsuccessful for the most part. I think they’re lighter than our Isle Royale trip, though. This morning we were up around 6:00. Showered & went down for the continental breakfast – was pretty good – better than many!
Left Ironwood & headed into the park on Hwy 107. Stopped at a little outfitter store. Bought a souvenir & were headed out when I noticed their sign – “Don’t forget the bug spray and bear repellent.” So, me being freaked out about the bears to begin with, I convinced Andy to go back in & check it out. He comes back a few minutes later saying, “I got it, but you’re going to kill me!” So it turns out that this was extra-special industrial strength CERTIFIED bear repellent – it was $50! Well, I about died and cried all at the same time because I couldn’t believe he just spent $50 for pepper spray – as a matter of fact, I still can’t believe it! Oh well – it’s a $50 security blanket, I guess. And, it was nice of Andy to buy it for peace of mind.
We headed for the visitor’s center and got registered. It came to $52.00 for 2 people, 4 nights. It also included $4/night for parking. From the visitor’s center, we went in to the main overlook, by Lake of the Clouds. The trail we planned on taking was Big Carp River Trail. We found the entrance down on the west end of the lot, down from the Cloud Lake overlook. The sign was down, so it was unmarked. There were restrooms at the lot (no water.)
So, we headed down the trail. Just a little ways in, the trail split in 2 – we weren’t sure which way to go for the ridge trail – we went right, and it was right. (How weird – Andy’s writing in his little camp notebook, and his last entry was May 25th, 2001!! Isle Royale, Malone Bay!) The trail went up & ran along the ridge, right along the edge in many places. The ridges are rocky, with moss & low growing shrubs, pretty much like some spots in northern MN (vegetation-wise.) After a couple of miles or so, the trail headed down, and we followed alongside the next ridge. Here the forest had old-growth (virgin? white?) pine – dark, damp, and mystical. Kind of like the forests in the Pac. NW, on a smaller scale. There was a (first come-first served?) shelter where the trail first crossed the Big Carp River. After another mile or so, we had a stream crossing over the same river. Only about mid-calf deep, we wore our slides & it was cold, but easy.
After another 3 miles or so, we hit Lake Superior. We ran into a few people and talked for a bit. We asked where the next campsites were, and he happened to have an extra map w/all campsites, bear poles & toilets, and mileage – yippee! The map we had didn’t have any of that – only elevations, trails, & cabins, etc. so, we basically raced ahead of them to try & get a site on Lake Superior. He was right on our tail for awhile, we realized – we passed the first 2 or 3 sites & they were full! We were tired & wanted to stop! I was starting to worry that they were all full. Finally, we got to the next one & it was free. The guy behind us was PO’d, but oh well. The site is cool – right on the shore almost, and people have been decking it out – the fire pit is huge w/rocks all around it. There’s a rock table, a rock bench, and about 6 rock chairs on the ground w/backs – all in a row like a sofa. Also, there’s a big fat groundhog about 10 feet from the front door of our tent.
Well, time to eat potato soup & have the rest of my Bacardi Lemòn/Orange Gatorade drink. The fire is going & I’m going to have Andy play his strumstick soon!