Isle Royale, August 2011

Day 1

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93,000 steps. That's the number of steps we figured we would take by the time our Isle Royale trip was behind us. It's a large number, to be sure, but like many things in life, it just depends on how you look at it. So, what did our 93,000 steps look like? To find out, you'll have to continue reading.

My second hiking trip of the summer took place at Isle Royale National Park. My son has seen countless photos and listened to many stories from my previous trips to the island. He's always wanted to accompany me, however, the school year has always seemed to interfere. This year, everything worked out and we were able to plan a trip for the end of August. After all those years he would finally be able to experience, first-hand, the beauty and solitude that has, for me, been such a draw.

We left home around 9:30 a.m. and began the long drive north. When we reached St. Ignace we stopped for lunch at Clyde's [Link 1, Link 2] so I could introduce Mike to their signature menu item. Clyde's is a small, old-fashioned restaurant known for their "Big C"; a mouth-watering, stomach-bursting, ¾ lb. hamburger - an Americana monster. We each ordered a Big C and a drink and split an order of fries. We ate at one of the picnic tables outside in the warm summer breeze. After barely finishing our food we rolled ourselves back to the car and drove across the street to the Mackinac Bridge overlook before continuing west across Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The drive was uneventful and hours and hours of daylight gradually morphed into dusk and then into the pitch black that is typical of a northern-latitude Michigan night. Finally, we began ticking off the remaining 140+ miles between Duluth and Grand Portage on Highway 61 through Minnesota -- we were on the home stretch. The traffic was extremely lite most of the way up 61, so much so, that I actually stopped the car right in the middle of the highway a couple times so we could get out, stretch our legs and give Mike a chance to see the Milky Way spread across the heavens in all its beauty and grandeur. Despite the lack of traffic, we were forced, nonetheless, to drive well under the speed limit for much of this leg of the trip due to the abundance of deer lurking close to the edge of the roadway. After all, we didn't want to risk hitting one and stranding ourselves that far from home or that close to our destination.

The highlight of the drive came when we were a little over an hour from Grand Portage. At the very edge of the headlight's illumination, right on the edge of the highway was an unknown object. As we closed the gap the object's form and color became more distinct until the point when I recognized the object as a dog. It was standing motionless, staring right at the car, almost like a deer frozen in the glare of headlights, but in the split second that we were only feet away, I realized it was too big to be a dog. The large gray-colored creature was a wolf. It was standing so close to the edge of the road that if Mike had put his hand out the window he could have touched the statue-like carnivore. And this is how the conversation went as the wolf became one with the impregnable dark void behind our vehicle:
Brian - "Wow! That was awesome!"
Mike - "What?" (with a hint of curiosity in his voice.)
Brian - "What do you mean, what? Didn't you just see that?"
Mike - "See what? I was changing the radio station."
Brian - "The wolf standing on the edge of the road."
Mike - "No. Are you serious?! Oh, man!" (as he futilely looked over
            his shoulder to see it.)
Brian - "It was standing so close to your side of the car that you
             could have reached out and grabbed his ear!"
For much of our drive up Highway 61 I had Mike closely watching the road in front of us because we needed an extra set of eyes scanning the road for deer. We just happened to pass a wolf -- the only wolf we would encounter -- during the couple seconds that he looked down to change the radio station. I was ecstatic, he was dejected and I good-heartedly razzed him about it for the rest of the trip.

We slowly rolled through the parking lot of the marina at 2:00 a.m. until we found a suitable place to park. Mike and I walked down to the dock where I showed him the ship we would be taking over to the island in a few hours before returning to the car to sleep away the rest of the night.

Miles Covered Today: Approximately 850

Day 2

This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:28 AM