We started out this morning by hiking on the Stoll Memorial Trail. There's an easy version of the loop that is about 4 miles around. We did that loop and hiked about two miles east of Rock Harbor and then looped around heading 2 miles back but on the northern side of the island. On our way, we saw some other visitors in canoes. We also saw a lot of evidence of moose: tracks and peeled bark on the trees. We never actually saw one, though.
Instead of looping back early to keep the hike short, you can do a longer loop on the Stoll Memorial Trail and actually head to the far east part of the island to Scoville Point. I heard there are lovely views there, but we didn't make it that far. The hike would have probably been twice as long if we had. As it was, we were still able to have some lovely views of Lake Superior from benches along the trail. The kids also had fun walking on raised boardwalk along the way.
That afternoon, we did an excursion to Edisen Fishery and Rock Harbor Lighthouse. Although this sounds ridiculous in hindsight, I
Oliver Leads the Way
Stoll Memorial Trail, Isle Royale National Park
hadn't realized how much of this trip would be water-based. Unless you are a serious hiker, a person at the National Park to hike around the entire island, you need to take a boat to get anywhere. We were on the boat much longer than I expected, close to an hour. I think I'm emotionally scarred from the sea sickness I suffered on the whale watching tour a decade ago. I just can't relax for a moment on a boat. "We're going to be sick. What do we do if the kids start getting sick? I don't want to spend an hour heaving over the side..." Once again, I felt relieved when we arrived at our destination without any sea sickness.
We listened to a ranger talk and describe the Edisen family, who lived on the island. They'd lived there for years--decades--fishing on the island. However, they didn't technically own the land. When the National Park Service took over Isle Royale, they allowed the family to continue living there until their deaths in the 1970s. Today, visitors can get a glimpse at this little fishery site that was in use from about 1890 through the 1970s. We decided to
Overlooking Lake Superior
From the Stoll Memorial Trail
beat the crowd from the boat and skipped walking through the fishery at the beginning. We set out on a trail.
There are multiple trails into the island from Edisen Fishery. We went east, heading to the Rock Harbor Lighthouse first. The trail was very shaded and cool (with many mosquitoes!). When we arrived at the lighthouse, everything opened up into the sunshine. The biting bugs went away, and the temperature must have warmed up 20 degrees. The bottom part of the light house is a museum that, among other things, covers different ship wrecks that occurred in the area. We learned it's the oldest lighthouse at Isle Royale, built in 1855. When we were done reading and perusing the displays, we climbed up a winding staircase and then a ladder to the top of the lighthouse for some beautiful views of the islands and lake. It's not very often you have to climb a ladder to get where you going, so it felt like a bit of an adventure with the kids (especially going back down!). When we were back at the bottom, we spent some time beach combing on the rocky shore beyond the lighthouse.
the light house, we hiked back to the fishery and then beyond to the moose and wolf research study. When we arrived in the cabin area, we walked through racks of animal skulls and pelts. It felt a bit surreal, mysterious, interesting, and just a little frightening. We entered the little cabin, and inside we were greeted by one of the kindest, most knowledgeable, and genuine people I've ever met. Candy Peterson is an expert on the wolves and moose of Isle Royale. She was also incredibly kind to our children, who don't always remember their manners. On this little island, it can't be easy to get food and water. Yet, when our children asked for water (their Camelbaks had run dry), she was quick to give it, waving off my protests. Our daughter Jo also asked for something to eat. I felt humiliated, as we were there to learn about wildlife, but Candy insisted the kids eat a piece of her fresh baked bread. She talked about learning to bake from Laura when she first moved to the island. It felt like we were visiting family and soon settled in comfortably. She talked about her life on the island,
the wolves and their health, how they're tracked, how the behavior and size of the moose change without predators. It was all so interesting and remarkable. I wish we could have spent more time with Candy. I also wish I'd brought money to purchase her book, A View from the Wolf's Eye! We had to say our goodbyes to get back to the boat before it departed.
While we waited to board the boat, we walked through the fishery and saw some old fishing equipment. You can't help but try to picture what life would have been like, living on this remote island.
We got back at dinner time. One again, we were amazed at just how good the food is at Rock Harbor Lodge. We showered, treated some of the bug bites, and enjoyed a relaxing last evening in our lodge room. I'm a little sad at the prospect of leaving tomorrow--and also dreading the long ferry ride back!
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