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he first blinding
of light hit my squinting eyes at 6:30 a.m. Stepping out of the car I had no
way of knowing that this morning's postcard-like weather would set the
tone for the rest of the week. The bluebird sky was beaming with sunshine,
the air was crisp and cool and there was not even the slightest hint of a
breeze. We made final checks of our gear and wandered down to the dock. To
my surprise, there were only nine people heading over to the island, including
By 7:25 a.m. the gear had been loaded, everyone was on board and we were officially on our way to Isle Royale. The captain addressed everyone via the
p.a. and said the ride was going to be exceptionally nice as the waves were calm to two feet. Ken and I stood outside on the rear deck and spoke
with Matt, the Voyager II's deckhand. We had a good conversation and learned that the ship had undergone some extensive work prior to the start of
the 2010 season. Matt said the owner was able to get a killer deal on two slightly-used, great-condition engines and Allison transmissions, the engines
had been mounted on custom polypropylene mounts to help reduce vibration, the shiny, diamond plate steel engine covers were brand new, there was
noise-reducing material added to the engine compartment and the old side doors had been replaced with new metal doors. Matt said the engines were more
efficient and allowed the ship to move about one mph quicker.
Lake Superior's surface was as smooth as glass and the trip was quick and
uneventful. We tied off at the Windigo dock at roughly 10:15 a.m. and were
Lucas who led us up to the visitor center for the required backcountry ethics/LNT
review. We made sure we were the last ones to register because we had a few
regarding our proposed route. After looking at a zoomed-in Google aerial map,
Ken figured we may be able to hike along the shoreline from Rainbow Cove to
the area directly south of Lake Halloran. From there we would travel cross-country
to the lake to fish and eventually continue north where we would intersect
the Feldtmann Ridge Trail that would take us the rest of the way to Siskiwit
Bay. Ranger Lucas said he had spent several seasons at the east end of the
island but, this was his first year at the west end and, as a result, he was
not very familiar with the route we presented. After spending a few minutes
discussing our plans he brought up a couple valid points that caused us to
change our minds and "play it safe" by sticking to the trail. We
said goodbye to Ranger Lucas, filled our water bottles at the spigot near
the dock and ate a sandwich before we hit the trail at 11:45 a.m.
We weren't too far down the Feldtmann Trail when we encountered two guys hiking toward Windigo. We spoke with them for a couple minutes and discovered
that they were heading to Washington Creek and had passed a husband and wife duo a ways back. They said we would probably see them when we stopped for
the night because they were also heading to Feldtmann Lake.
The trail was pretty easy-going and within a short time we were traversing a short climb to a ridge. The ridge overlooked a valley to the east and what
I believe was Grace Harbor to the southwest. The temperature had warmed by a few degrees and there was now a pleasant breeze blowing through the scenic
landscape around us. We stopped for lunch around 2:50 p.m. and found a large downed tree about 50 feet off the trail. We sat our packs on the tree and
used the remaining free space as both a table and a seat. We ate some trail mix and the remaining sandwiches we had packed and were back on our way
by 3:15 p.m.
Most of the trail was level and easy-going today, but after lunch my shoulders
and feet began to feel a bit sore. I attributed the annoyance to
the common "first-day aches" which are almost a given for me after
not having shouldered a pack or worn boots for as long as I had. We reached
Feldtmann Lake around 4:30 p.m. and discovered that site #2 was occupied; it
was the husband and wife we had been told about earlier in the day. Even though
we were ready to rid ourselves of our backpacks, we wandered past every site
before finally settling in at site #4. The site was large and open and even
after setting up the tent we still had plenty of room to cook, eat and spread
out. It also had a nice view of the lake.
After everything was unpacked and set up we took our fishing poles over to
the lake to fish for some pike. For over an hour we fished all of the easily
accessible shoreline near the
campsites with negative results. Three times I saw a pike swim past my lure
not far from shore and three times I felt a half-hearted bite at the lure,
but nothing even remotely good enough to keep the fish on the hook and bring
it ashore. Ken fished the shoreline down toward site #2 and then around the
southwest corner of the lake but never had a bite. While he was fishing he
spoke with the male from site #2. The couple had come to the island on a floatplane.
Tomorrow morning they would hike to Siskiwit Bay and from there they would
make their way over to Rock Harbor. Ken learned that they too had stayed at
Feldtmann Lake in the past and had caught quite a few pike just as we had
several years ago. This time, however, they spent quite a while casting various
lures into the lake only to have the fish elude them as well. Although we
were disappointed at not having caught any fish, we were relieved to know
that we weren't the only ones who were unsuccessful today.
Back at the campsite it was pleasantly warm in the sun and cool in the shade.
I could sense from the current conditions that it would probably be pretty
darn cold overnight. I sat on a log for a while in the
sun and wrote in my journal until we started cooking at 7:15 p.m. We had chicken
Fettuccini Alfredo for dinner along with a granola bar and a hot beverage.
We tried fishing again after dinner but didn't even get a bite. As the evening
wore on I stood down by the lake and watched a family of three goldeneyes
fly patterns around the west end of Feldtmann Lake. After a short flight their
typical choppy, whistling sound would cease and I would
muted splashes in the distance as the birds touched down in the water, their
small bodies creating ever-growing concentric rings on the previously glass-like
surface of the lake. This took place several times before the birds finally
flew out of sight over a line of trees at the edge of the lake. After the
birds were gone the only sound I heard was a chipmunk periodically scurrying
around in the brush near our tent - it gave a new definition to the word quiet.
The sun eventually disappeared behind the trees to the west, and even though
it had not yet officially set, the temperature dropped quickly. By 9:00 p.m.
my hands and feet were cold so I moved into the tent, crawled into my sleeping
bag and reviewed my topo map for tomorrow's section of trail.
By now I was becoming rather tired and sleep came quickly, ushered in by the relaxing sounds of nature - a nearby songbird, a fish jumping in the
lake ("Where were you earlier in the day?", I wondered.) and the haunting chatter of a couple loons echoing across the lake.
Final count for the day: Two common goldeneyes and one merganser swimming in Washington Harbor, a group of cormorants, two squirrels, two moose
antlers and lots of droppings (but no moose themselves) and a grand total of four people.
Miles Covered Today: 8.5
Total Trip Miles: 8.5
This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:27 AM