Day 5: Belle Isle around Blake Point through Merritt Lane into Snug Harbor

Sailboat Proceeding through the Palisades toward Blake Point

Belle Isle was lovely with the charm of the beach and the mysterious ruins, the fireplace too formal for its environs and the moss-covered cement stairs ascending up to the promontory to view entrants into the small cove where the paddle craft were landed. Paddling out of the harbor was bittersweet as we looked toward more north-shore paddling past Hill and Locke Points and on toward Blake Point.

We started out with calm water, much like what we saw in the Amygdaloid Channel. The elder kayaking guide and his entourage had departed Belle Isle an hour before us, paddling in a tightly organized flotilla. They bade us goodbye with good cheer. On the calm water, we caught them prior to Hill Point, just a couple miles out of the cove at Belle Isle.

Leaving Belle Isle in the morning

They gave it a little sprint, but their shorter boats, designed for mobility, were no match for the straight, fast coursing of our touring boats. The swift overtaking reinforced what we knew to be true about longer boats.

Locke Point and the islands lining it continued to provide shelter from the brunt of the waves. The rugged shoreline, rocky and jagged, extended alongside us. You can follow us on video:

As we approached the Palisades, though, the waves picked up. Our direction of paddle around the island to stay on route caused us to traverse the waves at an odd angle through the Palisades, sometimes forcing me to adjust course to avoid taking a wave broadside. Duane’s boat, bigger than mine, did not experience that issue.

The Palisades occupy the distance between Locke and Blake points. On a north or northeast wind, the cliffs are pounded by waves from across the distances of open water in northern Lake Superior. We were fortunate with a southwest wind at 5 to 10 miles per hour, so the conditions we faced were as good as they get.

Route from Belle Isle around Blake Point to Rock Harbor on a Garmin

The map depicts our route, with Hill, Locke, and Blake Points visible. As we crossed the Palisades toward Blake point, we observed a sail boat round the point, its mast bobbing as the boat encountered the chop on the other side of the point.

Slightly ahead of us, two kayakers rounded the point into the choppier water coming into Tobin Harbor at Merritt Lane. They proceeded along the shore of Tobin Harbor toward Hidden Lake dock.

We came around third, clearing Porter Island and striking out directly for Scoville Point. The other kayakers seemed to rethink their direction, changing course and progressing across the waves toward us. I didn’t realize my own competitive nature as starkly as I did at the moment. After the strenuous paddle across the Palisades around Blake Point and into the two- to three-foot waves once we cleared the island, still, I found new stamina to remain in front of Duane and the other two.

Snug Harbor View from the Lighthouse Restaurant & Greenstone Grill; Water Taxis rest at Rock Harbor Lodge Dock in the foreground.

As we passed, we looked up at the day hikers on Scoville Point, unable to greet them as the waves demanded all our energy. It didn’t take long for Duane to overtake me along the point, but I maintained the brisk pace coming second into Rock Harbor, rounding the point into Snug Harbor. Less than a minute later, the other two kayakers beached in Snug Harbor.

With our boats onshore, we started out to the campground in search of a shelter, realizing we were very unlikely to find an empty one at 12:30 because many people had time to arrive before we did. We jogged through the shelters, running up to each along their paths when no gear was visible, but we found nothing open. Somewhat dejected, we stopped to drink at the spigot. As we straggled on toward the marina, a hiker in full pack emerged from Shelter 6. We found a home for the night. I sat on the table while Duane fetched a dry bag with our first gear.

Our Boats at Rock Harbor

The other two kayakers did not find a shelter, but their tent site was close by, and we had opportunity to chat as we all carried our gear to our respective campsites. They were pleasant, enjoying a late season father-son adventure. That evening, they witnessed looking eastward what we saw looking west: an elderly Bruce the Moose and a younger bull meandered through our campsite, grazing their way toward the water behind Shelter 3.

The Young Bull

It was an adventurous day, from the placid waters of Belle Isle, bidding farewell to the older kayaker and his entourage at Hill Point, through the Palisades and around Blake Point, continuing into the fierce waters rounding Scoville point. Still, I reveled in my small drama of staying ahead of the other two kayakers, and Bruce and his young buddy were a fine welcome home to Shelter 6.

Daisy Farm exploration was planned for Day 6.

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