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Isle Royale National Park

Backpackers: Carl Fisher, Lori Fisher, Ed Tucker, John Gundry, Joe Gundry, Laura Gundry, Curt Gundry, Deb Gundry, Kim Gundry, John Gundry (Curt’s son)



Beginning of the trip. Ignore the canoe-it's not ours.



Packing up under shelterWe were lucky to have this shelter to get under while we packed up in the rain.



We saw these beautiful wild flowers everywhere.



Toasting happy hourWe ended every day with wine!



Handful of blueberriesWe spent 15 to 30 minutes picking and eating blueberries. Some were even saved for breakfast the next day.



An example of the trailsThere are a number of trails like this example.



SunriseThe morning after all the rain we woke to a beautiful sunrise.



July 27, 2013  Miles: 7.2 – The day started at Copper Harbor MI in a local, inexpensive motel that Carl had found on  It was only two blocks from the ferry that we caught at 8:00.  We arrived to a somewhat confusing situation about loading our backpacks with the Captain hollering about getting loaded and not wanting to depart late.

Fortunately the skies were mostly clear and we had calm seas for the three hour ferry ride to Isle Royale National Park.  The forecast for the day, however, was for showers.  Upon arrival at Isle Royale all are required to listen to an informative ranger talk about the do’s and don’ts of hiking and backpacking on this pristine island in the middle of Lake Superior.  As we made final adjustments to our packs and filled up with water clouds moved in.  The heavens were spitting light rain when we took the beginning of trip group picture.

The light rain lasted just long enough for us to break out pack covers before it ended.  The remainder of the day was in the 50’s and partly sunny – about perfect for backpacking.  We stopped at Suzy’s Cave and explored.  It is really more of a tunnel than a cave but was a good stopping point to remove backpack covers.

We made our destination for the night, Daisy Farm, with no issues and stayed in Group Site 1.  After completing normal camp duties (setting up tent, filtering water, dinner, etc.) several of us walked to the shore line where a talk was being conducted.  We arrived shortly after it started and it just so happens that the talk was by Rolf Peterson and his wife.  They had kayaked over from their residence on a nearby spit of land and were talking about moose and wolf – which is what Isle Royale is known for.  Rolf and his wife have been conducting studies on the island for more than 50 years.  Rolf is mentioned in the book Winter Study by Nevada Barr which uses Isle Royale as its setting.  Lori read the book while we were backpacking.

 July 28, 2103  Miles: 3.7 – We woke this morning to a steady downpour of rain.  None of us were anxious to pack up in the rain so everyone stayed in the tent until about 9:00 AM when we had to get going.  Fortunately there was a group shelter nearby where we brought wet tents and gear to hang to dry a bit while we had breakfast in relative comfort.  We hit the trail at 10:30 comfortably ensconced in rain gear with backpack covers firmly in place.

Backpacking in the rain is no fun – it’s more like a forced march.  It’s just not comfortable to stop to take a break so one just keeps walking.  Fortunately we decided to stop early after only 3.7 miles and take refuge in two shelters at Moskey Basin Camp.  The shelters are three sided structures with screen material on the front which allowed us to hang gear to dry out once the rain ended at 3:30 PM.

Carl’s backpack rain cover did not do its job and some of the contents of his pack got wet – to include his lightweight, goose down sleeping bag.  So now not only is his only pair of pants completely soaked but his sleeping bag will not provide much warmth.  Lori was gracious and allowed Carl to join her in her dry bag.

 The picnic table provided at the shelter was very nice for sharing wine and cheese during our groups “happy hour” and for preparing dinner.

July 29, 2013  Miles: 5.9 – At 6:30 AM woke to sunny skies (Yeah), no wind, and a calm lake.  It is amazing how good the sun feels after a damp, rainy, windy day.  We hit the trail at 8:30 AM and arrived at our destination for the day, West Chicken Bone Lake, at 12:30 PM.  We chose Group Camp 3 which had several tent pads pushed into the surrounding bushes.  Most of the group went swimming in the frigid but refreshing lake water.

Our early stop for the day made it hard to delay “happy hour” until 5:00 PM.  Happy hour each day consisted of sharing two or three bottles of wine carried in specially designed LIGHTWEIGHT FLASKS, and cheese.  We choose, with great success, hard cheeses to carry along with us – parmesan and asiago.  Both held up well and go nicely with red wine.  We also tried, for the first time, a dry sausage which both tasted great and held up well for three days.  

July 30, 2013 Miles: 7.9 – Departed ways with the Eastern Gundry’s as they did not have as much time as the rest of us.  We gained some elevation as we started hiking officially on the Green Stone Ridge Trail.  One of the highlights of the day was picking blueberries right next to the trail.  We arrived at camp around 1:30 PM and decided to put up the sill tarp Carl was carrying as protection against rain then pumped water and went swimming in the 60 degree water-very refreshing.  Upon departing the water Carl had a two inch leech hanging from his hand.  It wasn’t there very long before Carl ripped it off.

July 31, 2013 Miles: 8.1 – We awoke this morning at 6:20 AM to a few raindrops beating on the tent which got us all up and packing so we didn’t have to carry water soaked equipment but fortunately the rain stopped before we were finished packing.  With backpack covers in place we tackled a 400 foot assent back to the Green Stone Ridge Trail and blue skies.  We arrived at Ishpiming Point at 11:15 AM after a steady uphill climb - steady but not strenuous.  Then there was a steady downhill till South Desor Lake Camp turn off which is our destination for the night.  Laura is beginning to have Achilles issues and is limping as she walks.  We are all hoping she can finish the trip.

August 01, 2013 Miles: 5.5 – Uneventful hiking all day long even as we passed over Mt Desor with an elevation of 1394 feet.  We arrived at Island Mine Camp early in the day so John, Ed, Carl, and Joe decided to day hike to Island Mine and an historic well.  Both are no big deal but we did see a moose in the distance.  When we got back to camp the skies became threatening so we decided to “open the bar” early at 4:30 PM and start supper.  As luck would have it we were on our second glass of wine and eating when an enormous thunderstorm hit.  We all retreated into our tents to finish eating and drinking.

August 02, 2013 Miles: 6.3 – Today was an easy walk into Windigo where we found an empty 3 sided shelter to stay for the evening.  We spent the rest of the sunny, warm day doing tourist type things like playing cards, drinking Keweenaw Brewing Company beer, and attending a ranger program on shipwrecks.

August 03, 2013 Miles: 0 – We awoke to moose foraging in the stream across from our shelter but were unable to get any good pictures.  Then after we packed up and headed for the ranger station and ferry dock we came across a very friendly fox.  At the ranger station Lori bought a National Park passport as a retirement gift-we hope to get to many national parks over the next several years.  The ferry departed on time for the five hour trip to the other end of the island.  We were lucky to get into another 3 sided shelter for the night.  I paid for a shower which was only lukewarm to cold (I was able to get a refund but would have rather had a warm shower.)  We all attended another ranger program, this one put on by Luke, about Winter Study which was very informative and entertaining.

August 04, 2013 Miles: 0 – Our last day on the island we awoke to bright, sunny skies with dew everywhere.  We went on another ranger walk about plants and flowers before getting on the ferry back to Michigan.

Carl and Lori at the end
Carl and Lori at the end of the backpacking portion of the trip.