Isle Royale Kayaking TR

Went up to Isle Royale the week after Labor Day with Tricia. We went via the Voyageur from Grand Portage.

We arrived in GP Friday evening. Spoke to Wally and Jerry from Madison, WI who had set up their tent in the lot where you park. It was their first trip to the island.We elected to set up our car camping tent on the grass near the water in front of the Marina office.

As it got dark, we were talking to Wally and Jerry about the island. We noticed the Northern Lights and had a good display. (we had also seen them in the spring from Copper Harbor).

We soon retired to our tent. I woke later to use the facilities and noticed a car parked next to ours carrying a tandem kayak… could it be our friends from last summer, Nile and Patty…?

Woke to a beautiful sunrise and surprise. It was Nile and Patty!!

We moved our gear down to the dock and helped Nile and Patty move theirs’. There was a truck from Environment Canada there offloading gear for the boat-lots of gear!!

After loading our gear and checking in with Fritz, the Captain, we helped others load gear and soon we were on our way. We were eager to talk to Nile and Patty to catch up on a years events. I also spoke to one of the Scientists from the Canada team, Derek Muir who explained they were there to take core samples from the bottom of Lake Siskwit for comparison to previous samples taken. Apparently there is an increase in mercury, pcbs and other contaminents that they are trying to track. Interesting and informative conversation!

We soon arrived at Windigo and had our LNT talk, made out our permit and were back on the Voyageur off to Belle Isle after stopping at McCargoe Cove. Nile and Patty got off at McCargoe as did another couple in a tandem and a couple in a canoe. We would meet up with Nile and Patty later.

We then headed to Belle Isle our destination. We were the only passengers getting off at Belle, so we quickly got our gear and helped a lady who was on a 39’ Trawler move her boat back. She had walked it around the end of the dock so that the Voyageur could pull in. We headed up to the shelters and grabbed the shelter facing the SE. We were there by ourselves.

Later the couple with the canoe showed up from McCargoe.

We introduced ourselves and had a pleasant conversation with Keith and Anita from Duluth. This was their first trip to the island, though they were veterans of many trips to the BWCA. We boke out the bag of wine and had some snacks. We returned to our shelter for Beef Stoganoff, which Tricia had made at home, frozen, and then placed into a vacumn sealed bag so that we could heat it up in boiling water with no cleanup!!

It worked quite well.

Carl the Ranger whom we had seen wolves with last year came by. We had brought some Nutty Bars for him and heard about the summer.

We went over ot the fire place and cut some wood and got a fire going. Keith and Anita came over later and we had a fine time!! A beautiful night with plenty of stars.

we woke the next morning had bagel sandwiches with ham, real egg and cream cheese. Keith and Anita were heading over to Lane Cove so we said our fairwells and watched them paddle off. Keith showed me his system for getting his lures down deep to hopefully catch a laker.

We packed up the kayaks with fishing gear and snacka and headed over to Amygdaloid to try and catch some Northerns. Amygdaloid lake does not offer a lot of shorlein for casting, I waded fro a while and had no hits. It was getting late so we headed back to Belle Isle. It was great to be back on the Island again!!

Upon arriving back at Belle, we went to the dock to talk with the divers we had met last year. Very Nice coutious people!

We reurned to the shelter and noticed a canoe coming our way. I looked through the binnoculars and it was Keith and Anita. They had gone to Lane Cove and as it was occupied, they opted to return to Belle. They had caught a lake trout and offered to share it. Tricia had made Chili (enough for all of us) so we had fine fare and wine for dinner. The fish was fantastic!!

We had a pleasant evening talking of past trips and adventures, they were fine companions!!!

We woke early breakfasted on french toast with fresh bread and eggs. We started to pack up our gear and ready ourselves for the paddle to Macargoe Cove.We gave our extra filtered water to Keith and Anita.

I had brought a new filter sytem from Katadyn, the Base Camp. It consists of a large bag with a ceramic filer in it and a long hose to be placed in a container to catch the filtered water as gravity forces the water through the cartidge. It works great, filters about a gallon in a half hour. No more pumping for us!!!

We said our sad fairwells to our new friends, exchanging info to keep in touch. We paddled by the diving people and waved goodbye. We headed over to Amygdaloid Channel and down towards the lake. It wasn’t to bad paddling across to Indian point. we stopped briefly at Pickerel Cove to see Patty and Nile. They were headed over to The Ranger Station to meet Carl who had a day off. we declined to go with as we were meeting frineds at McCargoe who were backpacking. The paddle down to McCargoe took a while as we were paddling against the wind. We thought about stopping at Birch Isle, but continued on. Upon arriving at Macargoe, we found the shelters taken and decided we would spend the night at Birch by ourselves. It was a great idea, the paddle back with the wind at our backs was short. Birch Isle is beautiful, I would highly recommend a stay there. That night we watched a river otter diving for food off the dock. Tricia got some great video of it diving.

We woke to dark skies. we packed and headed back towrds McCargoe. With the threat of rain, we wore rain gear under our life vests and we needed it. It rained most of the way down to McCargoe. Once we arrived, we took a shelter near the water and unloaded our gear. We set up camp and started the filtering process (fill the bag and let gravity do its thing).

Around 1:00, our friends Bill and Tina and their twins George and Jacob arrived. They took another shelter and came over for drinks and talk of our trips so far. They had taken the water taxi from Rock harbor to Malone Bay and hiked up the Ishpeming Trail to Hatchet. From there, they went to Todd Harbor, which we saw from the Voyageur on our way to Belle Isle. They all went down to the dock to clean up. jacob jumped in with his Crocs on and one got stuck in the muck. We ryed fanning the bottom with a paddle but no luck. If you find a red Croc at McCargoe let me know!!

That evening, we made Mexican Pizza on Billy’s Outback oven (we had brought the crust mix for him along with the fixins for a spaghetti dinner and pancakes for the next morning). We began cooking dinner and showed the boys how to properly check for the doneness of spaghetti by throwiung it on the door-it stuck and was done! They had great fun with that!! We enjoyed a fine dinner with red wine and buttery nipples for desert!! Billy made a lemon cake that was interesting.

Later we went down to the dock and watched beavers feeding out in the bay, and a mother loon and baby chasing fish.

I had cut some wood for a fire and surprise smores for the boys and others as it turned out. We walking by the fire and one of the guys there mentioned it would be nice to have a saw to cut additional wood they found, and a girl said it would be great to have smores-boy were they surprised. We had a nice time by the fire and enjoyed smores with those there!!

We woke ealry to make pancakes for our friends, after which we packed our gear and said goodby to our friends. we would see them at Rock Hrabor in a few days-them by land us by water.

We were apprehensive paddling towards the lake, it had blown good the previous day, but died over night. We weren’t sure how the lake would be.

As we approached the lake we could hear waves breaking. we approached the entrance to the Cove. The cans marking the entrance were moving up and down and we could see white caps from breaking waves. We punched through the surf and headed towards the point that would lead us to Pickerel Cove and calm waters. As we entered the lake we were in 2-3 waves quartering our sterns. Numerous times, my bow would knife into the wave-I waited for it to pop up which it did!!

We reached Herring Bay and shelter from the wind and waves!!

We spoke to a canoist who came over from Lane Cove that AM. Carl the ranger was there also, he commented on the building seas, we were happy to be off the lake. We portaged through the campsite which was short and sweet and loaded up the boats. The paddle to lane Cove was quick with following winds. It was my first time to Lane Cove. The sites are spread out along the shore in the trees. We did the portage to Stokely Bay which was longer than that at Pickerel Cove, but easy.

We headed down Stokley Bay towards the portage into Duncan Bay our destination for the day. That portage is longer still with a little ups and down. We loaded up the boats and headed down to the Narrows. Along the way, we passed numerous Merganser families scooting along the surface when we got too close. They were fun to watch.

We arrived at the Narrows, there were 2 kayakers there, a father and son who also came from Birch Isle that day.

We said our hellos and began out camp duties. By now setting up camp was without thought or discussion. we watched a beautiful sunset and moonset and went to bed early. We checked the weather and decided rounding Blake Point would be better done ealry.

We woke before light and began packing our boats. We were on the water as it began to get light. Our campmates had left in the dark, I heard them paddle by.

The water was calm as we headed down the bay towards the Palisades, steep cliffs offering no escape from the lake were it rough. We elected to skip breakfast, agreeing to stop once we rounded Blake Point. It is notorius for rough conditions with routine 4-6’ waves when 2-3’ waves are elsewhere. As we approached the point the water was very choppy with clapotti waves (reflective waves) prevalent off the Palisades. The sun was up now making it easier to paddle amongst the chop. As we approached the Point, we had moved farther out away from the Palisades. We turned and headed towrds the point hoping it would be calm on the other side. It was amazing we rounded the point-one side rough and choppy, the other smooth. We rounded the point and relaxed. We continued on our way. We saw the two kayakers from the Narrows at Merril Lane. we opted to head to Rock Harbor and then we would decide what we would do from there.

It was a nice paddle down past Scoville Point along Rock Harbor, calm with a nice breeze. We landed at the beach next to the water taxi dock. We decided to get coffee and a roll, not having had breakdfast. We made great time from the Narrows. We walked down to the campground to see if it was crowded which it wasn’t. We opted to grab a shelter and taske a break.

We decided to take a shelter and wait for Bill and Tina and the boys. At this point the subject of showers came up. We were pretty ripe even after cleaning up at Birch Isle. So what would you pay for a shower??

A 5 minute shower was $3.00, a 10 minute shower $6.00.

I went for the 10 minute shower, money well spent!!!

We dried out gear and snoozed. It was nice to walk around. We saw familiar faces from previous trips both park personel and consecionaire people.

Later, we went for a walk to Tobin Harbor and enjoyed a nice afternoon.

We went to the snack shop later and enjoyed a cold beer on the deck. Soon others joined us for some nice afternoon conversation. We saw our friends Patty and Nile paddle in. They came from Merril Lane for dinner as the restaurant would be closing tonight. They joined us for a beer and dinner. They woiuld later paddle back to Merril Lane.

We went to the Auditorium for a presentation on Orchids which was very interesting. We went back to our shelter, well fed and clean for a good nights sleep. We assumed Bill and Tina were at 3 Mile, leaving tomorrow on the Queen. We woke early and went to the snack shop for coffee and a roll. we sat outside on the deck and enjoyed a nice morning as only you can on Isle Royale.

People were starting to pour in to make the aftenoon sailing of the Queen. Billy and Tina and the boys showed up, dropped off their gear at our shelter and went off to eat. We had spoken to a guy who had jsut came in. He had seen wolves feeding on a just killed moose calf at a small beaver pond on the way up to Mt Franklin. He showed us his pictures which were great of the wolves. I told heim he needed to go down to the Prak Office to relate his story. He showed me on a map where this happened and we decided to hike over there.

We said good bye to our friends and started our hike to the site. When we arrived, we could see what was left from the trail on the opposite side of the pond. I looked through binnoculars at waht was left of the carcass, which wasn’t much. I decided to cross a beaver damn to get a closer look and some photos. I watched for any sign of wolves for a while, and in the absence of any sign, I noisily walked acoss the damn and pproached carefully. I took some pictures, impressed with what little was left trying to imagine the scene yesterday.

I returned to the trail and watched the scene for a while, wondering if wolves would show up.

We left after 2 hours without seeing any wolves. Tricia did get great video footage of 2 Pileted woodpeckers working on a tree.

We got back to camp and spoke to the guy who had told us of the site. He said he ws going to post a report here with his pictures, I hope he does as they are quite impressive.

We had Chicken and Noodles alfredo (made with real milk!!) for dinner. It was soon off to bed as we were both tired.

That night it stormed quite loudly with thunder and lightening for a while. I was glad to be in a shelter.

We woke the next am and went down to watch the Ranger III leave, we said goodbye to the Mike and karen who were in the next shelter. We had exchanged info sbout places to go and e-mail addresses to exchange more info them about the North Channel, us about the Slate Islands which we went to in July.

After the Ranger left, Rock Harbor was like a ghost town. It was nice to have quiet again.

We paddled our boats over to the dock and got them ready for our trip back the next day.

The Voyageur came in later, we briefly spoke to Fritz about the weather as tomorrows weather was questionable. We agreed to check with him in the AM as to whether we would go and when.

We opted for pancakes for dinner.

We went down to Tobin Harbor where we saw Nile and Patty. We helped them get their gear and kayak to the other side. We went back to the shelter to pack what we could. We joined Nile and Patty at the Store later and sat on the table and talked of our adventures. Wisely, thay had opted out of paddling down Scoville Lane as the lake was rough.

We woke early and went down to the dock. Fritz decided to wait till noon, as the winds were blowing and the harbor was kicking up. There were no reports from the lake bouys on conditions, not a good sign. He finally was able to get a report from the Wenonah on the other end. We would leve at 1:00. We stopped at Daisy Farm to pick up some kayakers and a backpacker.

We stopped at Chippewa Harbor to pick up some folks. The ride around Saginaw Point was rough. We went down to Malone Bay where the scientists we met on the way over were. We picked them up and there gear and headed to Windigo where we would drop off the kayakers from Daisy Farm. Fritz had said the lake may get really rough at the Head near Rainbow Cove, but it wasn’t too bad.

We went into Windigo, dropped off the Kaykakers and saw the only moose of the trip in the water!!

We arrived back in Grand Portage about 8:15. we offloaded our gear and loaded up the car. We went to the Casino for dinner with Nile and Patty. We then then went to a lodge in Grand Marais, the Grand Marais Inn. We didn’t have reservations and when we arrived, they had left keys on the bulletin board with instructions to pay in the am!!

I love the North. Paid for our room and complemented them on there service!!We got up early and showered and went to the Blue Water Cafe for breakfast. We suiad our goodbys and continued on our way. We stopped in Wausa, Wi to visit a friend we met up on the island previously.

We arrived home late, exhausted and went to sleep happy to be in our own bed!!

A note about the pictures, I have included the pictures of the moose remains and some may not like them.




Great time heh? I posted a reply to your report on the Isle Royale Web page.

Sarah and I paddled up there for 9 days back in August. I’ve yet to post the pics (lazy).

I love Isle Royale and Lake Superior. We only had 2 days of rough paddling through the Pallisades and around Locke and Hill points. Our paddle around Blake Point was uneventful. We encountered some clapotis and 4 footers around Locke Point, but it wasn’t too much of a problem.

Our Gourmet was amazing thanks to my wife. I thought I would lose weight on the trip paddling 10 miles a day, but I actually gained a little! She picked a bowl full of thimble berries each day and made fresh pie every evening…incredible to be in the back country and enjoy such great food and friendly people!

See ya,


Check out the Slates
Were you in Kayaks?

I love the Five Fingers and Lake Superior!!

You should think about the Slate Islands in Terrace Bay, we went there in July, great caribou.

We paddled in our kayaks…

2 weeks prior to that trip we did a week in the Apostles and paddled up at Pictured Rocks in July.

We had a fairly good paddling season to say the least.

I’ll have to check out the Slate.

Sounds like a nice trip…
My son and I did the Apostles and Pictured Rocks over the holiday weekends. I also spent a week paddling up to Grand Marais from Sand Point in July.

Is Isle Royale a place a person can paddle solo?

I have met a few people both canoing and kayaking

solo. If you go solo, obviously the weather will play a bigger part in your trip.

Portages will be more of an issue if you end up doing them.

I plan on doing some solo paddling maybe next year.

If you have done The Apostles and Pictured Rocks (even more so Pictured Rocks with its exposure) you should be fine. Pay heed to places like Blake Point, Scoville Point etc.

Depending on when you go, you could paddle the Five Fingers with good protection from the lake, or Rock Harbor.

I am looking at the possibility of heading up there next July or August. 85 miles along Pictured Rocks wasn’t a problem solo, but then the Lake was like a mirror all week and temps in the 90’s. I was surprised by the numbers of other paddlers I saw along the way and some of them in recreation kayaks without skirts! The Lake Superior Water Trail along the Minnesota shore looks interesting too.

I am leaving tomorrow for IR!!! Can’t wait!