An Unplanned Zero Day
The rocks shielding Huginnin Cove from the big lake offered a great place to sit in the sun. Behind campsite one, I stepped from rock to rock out to the largest boulder. Sleeping Giant reposed in the background, the provincial park visible on the Canadian coast to the north. This formation is visible from all along the Minong Ridge Trail that we have hiked so many times, but here it seemed almost close enough to be within paddling distance. Of course, it is not, but the illusion provides a sense of intimacy with whomever the spirits are that occupy that space of earth.
Day One was a little more exciting than we had hoped for with the choppy waves and nearly colliding with the big rock that sprayed us with the geyser of water. Instead of hurrying, we took the second day off, locating and organizing our gear, while enjoying the warm breeze off the lake.
Our vessels accommodated our gear easily. Duane’s kayak is the Current Designs Solstice GT Titan, 17′ 7″, the Greyhound Bus of touring boats which paddles fast and straight with a capacity of 475 pounds. Mine is the Prana LV, at 17′ even, with a maximum load of 375 pounds, also a fast boat with good dynamics.
We were outfitted with spray skirts, wet suits, bilge pumps, flares, day flags, GPS devices, a marine radio, spare paddles each, air horns, whistles, and PFDs, obviously. Also, I had stashed a laptop and a mobile hotspot to play with and to sneak an occasional post on FB when cell service was available. I could connect all along the north shore with my data plan that included international service from Canada. If you don’t have this service, you can expect to accrue hundreds of dollars in roaming charges.
Located in Lake Superior, Isle Royale is in international waters, which requires compliance with U. S. Coast Guard regulations, which require flares and recommend the marine radio, etc. The other gear addresses the cold-water paddling and the remote nature of the Island. For comfort and extended survival capacity in cold water, we are upgrading to dry suits, which are also strongly recommended.
For meal preparation, we used the backpacking stove and a pot for boiling water for the dehydrated meals, the collapsible coffee cups, and titanium spoons. We will upgrade next trip to a larger stove and a frying pan along with a couple plates, even if it means we have to pack dish soap. For filtering water, we use the Platypus 4 liter, and we took an MSR Miniworks EX as well.
Furniture was two Helinox Chair Zeroes, much welcomed on the days where there was nothing but damp logs or rocks to sit on. At a single pound, they are highly portable.
The portage bags we used were the NRS Bill’s Bags, which allowed easy transport of gear oton the Voyageur II. These, however, we have since replaced with mesh duffle bags to save space in the compartments of the kayaks.
For shelter we opted for our Marmot Limelight 2P, which weighs in at almost six pounds, over our Big Agnes Copper Spur 2P Platinum, which weighs in at 3 lbs. with the footprint. The Marmot gives a better sense of privacy with its thicker fabric, and it is slightly larger than the other.
Our luxury item was a two-person screen room large enough to accommodate our camp chairs and our cooking gear. We were sheltered from the black flies that, at a couple of campsites, seemed to think Deet was a condiment to complement the flavor of the chunks of skin they took with each bite. Late summer seems to be black fly season.
To power our adventure, Duane packed a 100 watt folding solar panel and a 300-watt solar generator, weighing in at 3 pounds. This gear was sufficient to power all safety and convenience items, including cameras and smart watches.
On this free afternoon, we took a hike on the trail along the water from Huginnin Cove toward the Minong Trail junction. It curls along the shore and twists among boulders. We noticed little metal tags on small fir trees along the trail, and later we found out that they contributed to Rolf Peterson’s moose study and were used to gather data regarding moose foraging patterns.
The trail crew left a moose shed conveniently for photographing near the intersection of the east and west Huginnin Cove trails.
The trail was lined with bunch berry flowers with an occasional pink lady slipper standing amidst them in the shallow soil that partially covers the rocks. Tree roots that can’t find a way down through the bedrock snake over and across, creating tripping hazards, as they extend toward the crevices where they burrow into the ground. The terrain on Isle Royale is composed of rocks and roots, whichever way you go.