Isle Royale, May 2005

Day 6



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The alarm on my watch went off at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. We figured the Voyager would probably pull into Chippewa Harbor around 9:00 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. and we wanted to make sure everything was packed and ready to go when it arrived. The weather was pretty gloomy and cold today; table scraps from last night's menu of constant wind and steady rain. The wind kicked up early yesterday evening followed by the rain around 11:00 p.m. The temperature bottomed out at 40-45 degrees overnight and the strong wind probably knocked a few degrees off of that.

At 10:15 a.m. the boat had still not arrived and we began to wonder if there had been a delay or if maybe Captain Fritz was not going to sail at all. There wasn't much for us to do at this point except sit and wait. If we hiked out to Lake Mason to fish or explored something else in the area then Murphy's Law would dictate that the Voyager would arrive, find nobody waiting for it and promptly turn around and leave - without us! 11:15 a.m. came and went and still no boat. We hiked back up to the top of the bluff, which by this time we could do blindfolded, and called the transportation company. They told us they had not heard from the captain yet so they had no idea where he was and to call back in and hour if he didn't arrive. Now, what? You guessed it, hike back down to the shelter and wait for another hour. We waited until 1:00 p.m. and made yet another trip back to the top of the bluff. The transportation company still had not heard from Captain Fritz and they were not able to reach him on his cell phone. They told us to give it another couple hours and if he didn't pick us up tonight he would be here bright and early tomorrow. Before walking back down to the shelter we looked intently out toward Lake Superior. We could see an occasional whitecap but they seemed few and far between, definitely not too bad to sail, or so we thought. The other thing we found extremely odd was that the transportation company couldn't make contact with the captain of their boat. And, why had they tried to call him on a cell phone and not a marine-band radio? Too many unanswered questions, to be sure!

It's wasn't that spending another day and night on Isle Royale was disappointing in and of itself, but we had known today was supposed to be the last day of our trip and we were ready to go home. On top of that, we had spent a good portion of our day doing pretty much nothing; afraid that if we strayed too far from the dock we may just miss the boat. Finally, the sun had been hidden by thick cloud cover, the temperature was between 50 and 55 degrees, there was still a fairly strong, constant wind and there had been intermittent, blowing drizzle throughout the day; not exactly weather to write home about.

By 2:30 p.m. we had pretty much abandoned any hope of seeing the Voyager today. By 3:00 p.m. the outlook for the rest of the day began to brighten as blue sky began to emerge from behind the breaking cloud cover and sunshine started to burn off the damp chill in the air. This all was a welcome change since my feet had been cold most of the day from just sitting around waiting for a boat that never arrived. The guy who was staying in the other shelter had left this morning so we moved all our gear from shelter #3 to shelter #4 because it had more tree cover and would be a better wind break in case it was cold and windy again tonight. Ken and I split the last pop tart for a snack and then I decided to build a fire. I didn't hold out much hope for a fire since the precipitation last night and today had soaked the dead and downed wood. By now, Bob had joined us once again and helped Ken and me scour the area for stuff to burn. With the driest wood and kindling arranged in the grill, I lit a match, held it next to the dryer lint and birch bark and crossed my fingers. To my amazement, I was able to coax the small flame into a blazing, miniature blast furnace that quickly warmed the three of us to a comfortable level. We stood around the fire for a couple hours sharing hiking stories, laughing, talking about our families and where we live and just enjoying some good conversation.

When it was time for dinner, we returned to our shelter and boiled water for our last pack of fettuccini. Ken had a small package of tuna in his backpack so we improvised a meal of tuna helper by adding it to our fettuccini. Not a bad meal! The sun was still shining after dinner so returned to the dock to do a little more fishing. The warm sunshine was very deceiving because once we were on the dock, beyond the protective cover of the tree line, the temperature was a lot colder. The harbor acted like a funnel by channeling the strong wind directly onto us from out on Lake Superior. We only made a couple passes up and down the dock before we were chilled to the core and the pattern held true again; Ken caught a Brook Trout and I was shut out.

With sunset right around the corner we returned to the fire and stood around talking with Bob until 9:30 p.m. Before going to bed we made sure everything was packed away so that in the morning all we would have to do is repack our sleeping bags, sleeping pads and Tyvek® and get on the boat.

Final count for the day: A single Brook Trout and a lot of rain drops.

Miles Covered Today: Not many. Only what we put on during our numerous trips back and forth between the shelter and the top of the bluff.
Total Trip Miles: 35.5

Day 7


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