Isle Royale National Park
May 2010

Day 5



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At 8:30 a.m. I surveyed the current outside conditions from the warmth of my sleeping bag. The sky was blue and cloudless, the branches were not moving, indicating there was no wind and the temperature was rather cool. We fired up the pocket radio and tuned into a news channel to listen for the weather. The forecast claimed the current temperature in Thunder Bay, Canada was 49 degrees and was heading for a high of 75 before the day was over; it would probably be a little cooler here on the island, though.

I drank some hot chocolate to kick-start the morning and around 10:00 a.m. we ate an unconventional breakfast which consisted of salami sticks and Knorr roasted garlic and broccoli pasta - it was actually very tasty. We only had a few miles to cover today so we took our time getting ready and finally left the shelter at 11:00 a.m.

Our destination today was Huginnin Cove which is located on the northwest corner of the island. I've never visited Isle Royale by canoe or kayak, but I have read that for people circumnavigating the island, Huginnin Cove is a good place for paddlers to escape inclement weather on Lake Superior. If they choose to make a run for Little Todd Harbor roughly 16-17 miles further east they better make sure they have good weather or can make excellent time because that stretch of shoreline is rocky, rugged and unforgiving and does not provide paddlers any way to pull out. The Huginnin Cove trail is a loop which begins just over a mile outside of Washington Creek and consists of an eastern section and a western section, with the cove being almost in the middle on the northern side of the loop. The trail was pretty easy-going most of the way and we only encountered a couple small climbs which appeared early on. On the way out we crossed a small bridge over Washington Creek where the U.S.G.S. gaging station [Link 1, Link 2, Link 3] is located. The gaging station is a small wooden structure which contains scientific equipment used to monitor several key aspects of a body of water (lake, river, canal or well), such as water quality, temperature and flow rates.

Roughly one mile after passing the gaging station we encountered a signpost marking the location of the Wendigo Mines (1890-1892). Literally, just a couple yards off the trail was the dilapidated remains of an old log cabin. We left our backpacks on the trail and spent some time exploring the surrounding wooded area for any other mining-era relics. The only things we discovered were some crushed rock and a couple sections of bent and partially buried track which were probably used to haul away tailings and ore.

The trail continued north, passing between two small ridges and then another log cabin skeleton shortly thereafter. The cabin was situated on the west side of the trail and overlooked a cliff on the east side which had a small trickling stream at its bottom. A short distance past this second cabin was a small, picturesque pond which appeared to have materialized due to a beaver dam on its western side. The trail circled the pond and when we arrived at the northern side we discovered some large boulders on the trail which provided us with a high-enough elevation to view a large grassy area to our south - maybe the remnants of a dried up beaver pond.

Moving further north, and closer to the Lake Superior shoreline, our surroundings met with a rather dramatic change. We began to lose all the elevation we had gained earlier in the day, there were large boulders covered in moss along both sides of the trail, the trees and vegetation closed in around us, the temperature dropped and the trail itself went medieval on us. There were craggy, jagged rocks strewn about the trail, broken trees all around us and twisted, weathered tree roots that spider-webbed across the trail forcing us to slow our pace a bit. There was a rocky overlook right where the trail turns to the west for the final push toward Huginnin Cove. We took off our packs and stood on the small outcropping for a couple minutes enjoying a great view of Lake Superior and the cool breeze blowing in from the north.

I didn't really have a vivid, preconceived idea of Huginnin Cove but, when it came into view at 1:40 p.m., on that sunny afternoon, it looked smaller than what I had pictured in my mind. However, even though it was small, it was both rugged and peaceful-looking at the same time; tucked away in its own private little corner of this secluded National Park. The cove's rocky beach was surrounded by spruce, cedar and other trees. It was a beautiful sight! Huginnin Cove only has five tent sites situated around its perimeter so we left our packs near the trail and scouted all the sites before returning to site #2. Our new temporary home was situated just up from the beach area which was easily accessible via a short trail. The site itself was fairly open and level, it was surrounded by trees which added an extra layer of protection from any wind that might blow in from the lake and it also had a decent view of the beach and the water through a small clearing. There was even a small stream nearby that filled the area with the peaceful noise of rushing water.

After we set up the tent and got everything situated we snacked on bagels and peanut butter and then went exploring. We walked the entire cove from one side to another, walking the rocky shoreline and boulder-hopping areas after the beach had disappeared. On the west side of the cove we discovered wooden pilings and pieces metal in the water which appeared to be remnants of an old dock. At 5:15 p.m. I found a large rock down by the shoreline where I sat and wrote in my journal as Ken relaxed on a huge boulder and soaked up the sun's warm afternoon rays. The boulder looked like it had been made specifically for humans because it was large enough to lie on and the middle section was perfectly "scooped out" making it feel like a lounge chair. There's no way a rock should have felt that comfortable! It was pretty wild.

It had turned out to be another idyllic day. The sun shone brightly all day, the temperature probably reached 65 or 70 degrees, we encountered periodic, gentle breezes to keep us cool, there had been no bugs (except for a few minutes during dinner) and the scenery, especially at the cove, was top-notch. During our hike along the Lake Superior shoreline we noticed some smoke out in the distance. Later in the day we heard on the radio that it was from a forest fire in Thunder Bay, Canada [Article 1, Article 2, Photos].

I began cooking our "Prairie Pesto" dinner, a new recipe I found before the trip, around 7:50 p.m. It was around this time that the mosquitoes seemed to materialize out of thin air. They became a little pesky when I was cooking and for a short time while we were eating but they eventually disappeared. After dinner we took our cameras, some hot tea and pop tarts down to the shoreline. Standing at the water's edge, we watched as a fish, with surgical precision, constantly picked off bugs from the surface of the water only a stone's throw out into the cove. Ken tried fishing here again for the second time but never caught anything, so we did some reconnaissance for a few minutes and found a good location to take a few sunset photos. As the giant glowing orb sank toward the horizon the sky began to smear with shades of purple, orange and yellow, like paint swirled on an artist's palette. We managed to snap a few good photos before heading back to the tent and retiring for the night at 10:20 p.m., ready for, hopefully, another perfect day tomorrow.

Final count for the day: One garter snake, no moose a couple dilapidated log cabins and not a single person.

Miles Covered Today: 5.0
Total Trip Miles: 36.2

Day 6


This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:27 AM