Isle Royale-Part I

The day had finally come to embark upon the island adventure. I was full of nerves and constantly checking the weather wasn’t making me feel at ease. I hadn’t be on a backpacking trip this long before. I’d done plenty of car camping, day hikes, and shorter backpacking trips. However, this one felt like a turning point for me. I had all my own equipment for the first time and I was solely responsible for planning the important parts such as what food to bring, what supplies/equipment were worth be carried, where to sleep, how long would I be able to hike, what route to take, and if finding water was going to be possible.

Fortunately, Isle Royale was not too difficult. After doing a test run at Frontenac State Park a few weeks prior, I had a little more confidence in the gear and food needs. I thought I’d be comfortable with the temperatures as they were expected to be roughly the same as that weekend, low 40s at night and up to 60 during the day.


Tuesday, June 7th

With the backpack backed I tussled my adorable cat, Olive, and drove the 5 hours north to Grand Portage for a short overnight at the Grand Portage Marina and RV Park. After going to the lodge to pay/check-in for pitching a tent that night, it was time to set up the tent. Due to the early morning ferry ride, I decided to use the more comfortable 8 person tent I wouldn’t be bringing with for one last night of ‘luxury’. Oh boy was I wrong. It was freezing! Even wearing a stocking cap, my heavier fleece, and jacket drooped over my sleeping bag, I was frozen in my 30 degree quilt.

Wednesday, June 8th

After what felt like no sleep, I got up to take my last shower before traipsing 47 miles across Isle Royale. As I headed to the bathroom, I noticed I could see my breath. Fortunately, the shower was hot and it brought me back to a normal body temperature. However, as I was deciphering what to put in my pack and what to leave in the vehicle, I decided to bring a few extra items for added warmth. As they say, I was packing my fears…freezing to death.

Took the short 7 minute drive to the ferry pickup. On the way, ate a quick breakfast and parked in the grass lot with the sign indicating that we would pay upon our return. For $5 a day this seemed reasonable based on my Minneapolis parking standards. At what they described as a dock (some boards that appeared as though they would go under or fall apart at anytime), were the two ships that transport from Grand Portage, MN to Isle Royale. It looked like the Sea Hunter III was taking out some scuba divers and we would be taking the Voyageur II. We handed over our bags (under the 40 lb limit) after identifying that we would be getting off at Windigo. After waiting for what felt like hours as the bugs attacked, we finally got on the Voyageur II to depart to Isle Royale.

Up next is the details after the 2.5 hour ferry ride to the island in the middle of Lake Superior!

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