Isle Royale, May 2003

Day 3



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How about a brief description of Friday... woke up in the middle of the night and heard steady rain falling. I woke up another two or three times during the night because I was cold and heard rain falling. I woke up again at 9:15 a.m., looked outside and saw more rain. Woke up for the day at 10:15 a.m., looked outside and saw, you guessed it, a steady downpour of cold, soaking rain! There was a damp chill in the air when I got out of the tent and I would estimate the temperature was no higher than the mid to upper 40's. I looked out the front of the shelter toward Red Oak Ridge across the bay to the north and it was shrouded in thick, dark clouds. All that was visible above the treeline was a dark, shadowy object where the ridge was supposed to be. There was a strong wind coming from the northeast that seemed to increase in speed as the day progressed. The wind was creating whitecaps in the sheltered bay and the turbulence had churned up the sediment in the water, changing its color from a nice shade of blue-green to reddish-brown. The only sounds I heard were the falling rain, the wind cutting through the trees and the sound of waves crashing on the breakwater. Good thing we would not be on the boat today because it would have been a double Dramamine day! By noon the rain was still falling at a steady pace and the shadowy remains of Red Oak Ridge had completely disappeared from sight behind even thicker, gray clouds. Since the rain was still falling we discussed a possible change in plans. We had planned to only hike 4.4 miles today and stay overnight at the Island Mine location. Because we did not know when the rain was going to stop and we didn't want to hike or set up a tent in the rain, we agreed to stay in the shelter all day and make up the miles tomorrow. This turned out to be an excellent idea.

When the cold finally became too much we climbed into our sleeping bags. We sat at the picnic table with the bags pulled up under our arms and passed the time by playing cards and reading magazines. When we weren't playing cards or reading we were either propped up on our backpacks staring out at the rain or laying down on the bench, sleeping. The only other thing to do was drink honey-lemon tea to keep warm and snack on breakfast bars.

By 3:30 p.m. the rain had diminished to a slow drizzle but now the wind had increased in speed, whipping up even more whitecaps in the bay. I watched a seagull in the air over the breakwater. It looked as though it had been painted onto a large canvas because it didn't seem to be moving; it almost did not appear to be a real bird. The wind was so strong that the seagull just hovered in one spot, not moving up, down, forward or even backward, it simply made small adjustments with its wings and hovered in one spot like a helicopter.

I finally got out of my sleeping bag at 5:30 p.m. after taking a long nap on the bench. It had stopped raining and I was thinking that maybe I should send out a dove to look for any signs of dry land. We cleaned up the table and started boiling water for dinner. Dinner was going to be fettuccini and tacos. The seasoned taco meat was rehydrated, we put the meat on tortillas and then added some pre-shredded cheese. The only things we hadn't thought to bring were packets of taco sauce, but the tacos were great nonetheless. The food and hot chocolate exhausted our water supply so we were forced to walk down to the pier to filter more. It was very windy at the pier without something to block the wind. The wind was probably blowing at a steady 30 mph with even stronger gusts. By the time we finished filling the last container my hands and fingers were almost numb. We returned to the shelter, cleaned the pots and silverware and did some more reading.

By 10:55 p.m. the wind was still fairly strong and an occasional gust still managed to make it around the two big trees and into the shelter. It was pretty dark by now, but surprisingly it was not yet pitch black as I could still make out the silhouette of the pier, the breakwater and the treeline across the lake. Ken was willing to make a bet that the temperature would fall into the 30's overnight and I had to agree. We wanted to get an early start tomorrow because we had extra miles to make up and we still wanted enough time to visit a couple landmarks along the way. Even though we now had an extra 4.4 miles to cover tomorrow, it had still been a wise choice to stay in the shelter all day. As I was lying in my sleeping bag the only thought in my mind was the hope that I would awake tomorrow to sunshine and no rain.

Final count for today: numerous seagulls, several Goldeneyes, a couple squirrels and still no people.

Miles covered today: 0
Total trip miles: 20.7

Day 4


This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:24 AM