Isle Royale National Park

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By Tim Taylor, Tubbs Ambassador

Every fall I usher out another Medicine Lake Trip season with either a backpacking trip or a Boundary Waters Canoe Area excursion. It’s a perfect time; temperatures begin to cool, the pesky mosquitoes are pretty much non-existent and, of course, the leaves are changing. This past September we elected to return to Isle Royale National Park, a 50-mile Island in Lake Superior that is touted as one of the premiere hiking destinations in the country. It is Michigan territory but closer to Minnesota so we take the 2.5 hour, 25 mile, boat ride from the Minnesota side.

The adventure started immediately as we stood in a downpour waiting to board the Voyageur II, a 65 ft. Superior worthy vessel. Approximately 20 grade schoolers on an ecology field trip, ill prepared dressed in shorts and tennis shoes, wet and cold, boarded before us. It didn’t end there however, apparently, none of them used Dramamine and the seas were rough. Only one in our crew was impacted, more so from surrounding activities than the sea. Interesting boat ride. The trip home was smooth and calm ; )

We hiked the west end of the Island, starting and returning to the Windigo Ranger Station/Dock via Feldtman Lake > Siskiwit Bay > Island Mines camps. On the Feldtman Lake to Siskiwit Bay segment we took a longer lunch break and climbed the fire tower to gain a spectacular view of the Island, the inland lakes as well as Mother Superior.

The Island is also known for its Moose and Wolf population and over the years a site of much research on their interaction. We learned that there are currently 1600 Moose and only 2 Wolves, a father and his daughter. This is certainly an out of balance situation and this fall the DNR will be deciding whether to reintroduce more wolf packs. Interestingly, the story is that the wolves came over on the ice when Superior froze over (that must have been a very cold winter!). You can imagine that with 1600 Moose and roughly 500 sq. miles of land mass there’d be a pretty good chance of seeing Moose. That’d be true. We had a bull grunt his way through our camp at 2:30am the first night and between the 4 of us had encounters on the trail with 3 others.

Seeing wildlife adds excitement to any trip and Isle Roayle doesn’t disappoint! We also had a fox hedge his bets going after one of our boots drying in the sun. Luckily, he had to cross an open section of our camp so we easily noticed his presence. And on Feldtman lake we witnessed a beaver leave the safety of the water, travel inland and take down a small tree, drag it back to the lakeshore where her young then began feeding! Cool!

If you’re ever in MN look me up, I’ll hook you up to the trip planning details for this spectacular destination!