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ur fifth day
on the island began much the same way as the last two days, with clear skies
and a nice breeze. We crawled out of the tent around 8:30 a.m. and the bugs
were immediately on us as if they had been lying in wait for this very moment
all night. Did I mention this place had been the worst campsite so far in
terms of the bugs? Maybe that's what the small sign along the trail meant
went it said "Lake Richie. Population 2.5 million". We packed up some of our
gear and went down to the lake to fish. We didn't get anything in front of
our site so we worked our way down the shore past the group sites. One of
my casts was met with a bite from a pike, but I didn't set the hook in time
and it swam away. Ken, however, managed to catch a 23-24" pike a short time
We returned to camp, ate some oatmeal and were on the trail by 10:50 a.m. The sun
was pretty warm but the clouds had begun to move in and helped keep the direct rays
of the sun from cooking us. The vegetation was still fairly close to the trail and
we again encountered quite a few downed trees. About one mile into the hike we passed
a guy coming out of Chippewa Harbor. He said there were only two men still in camp
when he left so we were sure to end up with one of the four shelters on our last night.
He also revealed some of the best news of all - there were no bugs at Chippewa Harbor
and he had heard wolves howling in the middle of the night! He said one of the guys at
Chippewa Harbor had been hiking between West Chickenbone and Hatchet Lake and happened
to see a wolf sitting in the middle of the trail scratching like a dog.
The spruce and cedar trees remained plentiful along this stretch of the Indian Portage
Trail and the pine needles on the ground provided additional miles of soft trail to walk
on. The bugs seemed to intensify the farther we hiked and roughly two miles into the day
the mosquitoes were so bad that we were forced to stop hiking for a couple minutes to
dig the DEET out of the backpacks and to put on the headnets.
After six or seven (I lost count) long, planked walkways and a couple significant climbs,
we arrived at Chippewa Harbor. The campsite pretty much appeared out of nowhere as we
arrived at the top of the last rocky hill. There are two shelters right at the end of
the trail on a very large rock outcropping and two more at the other end where the
outcropping slopes down toward the dock in the harbor. As soon as we walked into the
campsite we were greeted by a nice breeze, probably a good ten degrees cooler than the
air temperature on the trail, and boy was it refreshing. Even better than that, there
were no bugs!
A single hiker named, Bob (from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota), occupied the first shelter.
We introduced ourselves and spoke for a few minutes before walking down to claim our shelter
and unpack. Bob was a great guy to talk with which was a good thing, because little did we
know, we were going to be have a lot of time to just sit around and talk. Another single hiker
already occupied the shelter closest to the dock so we took the shelter next to it. By 12:50 p.m.
we had unpacked our gear and were ready to check out the local sites.
Before we left on this trip I had read about a rocky bluff just past the group
sites that provided a great view of the harbor and Lake Superior and was only
a short hike away. We walked east past the last group site until we saw a
well-worn path that
north up a hill. The path was easy to follow at first, but the farther we
walked, the harder the path was to follow. Eventually, the worn path faded
away until all we had to rely on were rock cairns left behind by previous
hikers. The cairns blended in so well with the surrounding terrain that we
missed one or two and were forced to blaze our own way to the top. Our persistence,
however, was rewarded with a spectacular view that overlooked practically
the entire harbor in front of us and to the west and the frigid, open void
of Lake Superior to the east. A few awestruck moments and a
couple pictures later we began the trek back down the bluff. Once again, we
lost our bearings and were left wandering around the dense wooded area at
the bottom of the hill. Fortunately, you can't stay lost very long on an island
- just look for the water and head in that direction. Come to find out, we
were off course by only a few yards, but the thick tree cover prevented us
from recognizing previously seen landmarks. On the way back to the campsite
we walked past the old "schoolhouse" (it's actually an old resort cabin
) that I had also read about on a website.
One account called it a schoolhouse while another claimed it was just an old
building that was used for storage. Inside the partially decayed building
were a couple old benches/seats and the remains of what appeared to be a small
heating stove. The building is only a couple yards from the shore but unless
you know where it is and are intently looking for it you would probably miss
After our excursion into the pretty much unmapped areas east of the campsite
we turned our attention to Lake Mason a mere .6 mile from the shelter. When
we arrived at the lake we realized we forgot to bring the fishing poles. Even
though it appeared to be shallow and we could only access the very northwestern
corner of the lake, it would still have been worth
the effort, especially since it probably is not fished very often. There wasn't
much to see here except a bleached-white, gnawed-up piece of bone laying on
the rock near the shore. We figured the bone must have come from a moose because
it looked too large to be from anything else. From here we walked back to
camp and took another trip to the top of the bluff. We managed to get a weak
cell signal so we made quick calls home to say hello. It was now becoming
quite buggy up here so we walked back down to the shelter.
At 7:00 p.m. we emptied some dehydrated hamburger and taco seasoning into a pot and began
to cook dinner. We put the meat into tortilla wraps, added packs of taco sauce and shredded
cheddar cheese and were soon dining on tacos in the middle of the great outdoors. We must
have been very hungry because we managed to polish off an entire pound of taco meat, a
one-pound bag of cheddar cheese and an entire package of Raspberry Crumble (Mountain House®
again, what else!) for dessert.
After dinner we walked down to the dock and fished. We were on the dock for only a short
time because the wind was blowing so hard into the harbor from out on Lake Superior that
to describe the temperature as cold would be an understatement. We met up with Bob again
and talked for a while before returning to the shelter. The wind remained constant after
we left the dock and by the time we were winding down for the night we had become quite
cold. The wind had managed to shift direction and it was now blowing directly into the
shelter. We put pieces of Tyvek® in front of the screened area and held them in place
with our hiking poles to prevent the wind from blowing directly across our sleeping bags.
The rain began to fall as we finished off the night with some hot tea and from the way it
looked, we were in for a long cold night. As I lay in my sleeping bag at 11:00 p.m.,
engulfed in complete darkness, I realized that the chance of hearing any howling wolves
was probably close to zero because the whistling wind and the constant drone of rain would
definitely drown out the wolves.
Final count for the day: A couple fellow hikers, one pike, many more mosquitoes and
a few Cormorants
flying over the water in the harbor.
Miles Covered Today: 4.3
Total Trip Miles: 35.5
This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:25 AM