Isle Royale National Park: Where To Next?

We woke late at Three Mile, sore from the unexpectedly long hike the day before, but in good spirits. Adam and Phil filtered water and started breakfast, while I tended to my blisters and Sean tidied camp. The weather was gorgeous, sunny with a breeze off the water. We were able to look about us and see just how lovely our campsite was.

Three Mile had several privies (all campgrounds on the island have at least one) and, like the other large campgrounds, had shelter sites, campsites, and group campsites, each with a picnic table. These designated campgrounds help to discourage camping elsewhere, which is difficult on Isle Royale and, particularly on the thin-soiled northeast end, can be extremely damaging to plant life. The question before us, however, was, Where do we go next? Day Two had been planned out in our original itinerary as the long 10+ mile hike. At Three Mile, on the south side of the island, we were actually  slightly closer to our goal of East Chickenbone Lake than we’d been if we had awakened at Lane Cove as planned. The problem was that unplanned 4.4 miles over the ridge. The prospect of climbing Mount Franklin again immediately was more than we cared to do. In the greater sense of our planned route, we had essentially hiked eleven miles to go three miles.

Image: Sean M. Santos

Adam and I pulled out the topographical map and had a look. We decided that instead of immediately hiking up to the ridge, we’d take the Rock Harbor Trail along the edge of the harbor. Then when we reached Daisy Farm Campground in 4.4 miles, we’d determine whether to continue on to East Chickenbone or to camp at Daisy. We still held some hope for achieving our original route, but we also wanted to be safe.

What caused this tree to grow like that?

Two special cups: Sean brought along the enamel holiday moose cup that our friend, Dale, gave us, and I brought my Grandma’s favorite tin cup.

After breakfast, we struck camp while Adam fetched some fresh water out of Rock Harbor to filter for our bladders and bottles.

Unlike the previous day’s trails, Rock Harbor Trail was quite sunny and often ran over areas of exposed rock anywhere from ten to thirty feet above Rock Harbor.

Isle Royale National Park Administrative Headquarters, visible across Rock Harbor on Mott Island

We rested roughly half way to Daisy Farm, near Siskowit MIne, an early, abandoned attempt by European Americans at copper mining on the island. Essentially these mines, which also can be found on other parts of the island, are huge, open pits, usually with water pooling at the bottom. They are fenced off for safety and, with the forest growing up around them, are singularly difficult to photograph effectively.

Image: Sean M. Santos

We pressed on.

Image: Sean M. Santos

Garter Snake

Garter Snake

As we approached Daisy Farm, we were all tired, but Phil was feeling really badly, nauseated and dehydrated. So, we made the easy decision that we would stop our day’s travels at Daisy Farm and set up camp.

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