Isle Royale, September 2001

Day 6

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Sunday was going to be an easy, relaxing day since there wasn't any hiking to do and the Wenonah wasn't scheduled to depart Windigo until 3:00 p.m. I woke up at 8:30 a.m. and took my time repacking my backpack. After breakfast we walked over to a building near the ranger station and used the coin-operated showers to clean up. We went back to camp, took care of the last minute packing and then swept out the shelter so it was dirt-free for the next occupant. A last check of the camp site and we were on our way back to the store/ranger station to kill some time before the boat arrived. I browsed through the store, picked up a souvenir for each of my kids and talked to a couple of hikers and a park ranger.

We learned some interesting facts from the ranger during our conversation with him. The most recent studies placed this year's moose population at roughly 900, while the wolf population numbered 19 in several packs across various territories on the island. Another interesting piece of trivia related to the meaning of the word "Windigo". It turns out that Windigo is an Indian term for a mythical creature that roams the north woods in search of lost people. Legend has it that if you turn a map of Isle Royale upside-down you can see the face of the mythical 'windigo'. If you look closely, Feldtman Lake forms the eye, Cumberland Point forms the nose, Washington Harbor forms the open mouth and the rest of the island forms the body. One final point made by the ranger was about the National Park Service plan to eventually remove all the treated wood from the island. Apparently the chemicals used to treat the wood leech out and contaminate the water and soil and harm the animals and the environment. This meant that many of the planked areas that helped us avoid swamps and marshy areas would no longer exist. He also explained that the bridge over the Siskiwit River would eventually be taken down, forcing hikers to remove their backpacks, hoist them over their heads and wade through the river. How soon this would happen, if at all, was unknown.

Before we knew it the Wenonah was tied off at the dock and it was time to load the gear and board the boat. When we left the dock at Windigo the captain headed for Washington Harbor where we dropped off a single man and his supplies. The house apparently belonged to his grandfather and he was staying there to make some repairs. Prior to leaving the harbor the captain pointed out several old homes and another old building, which used to be a hotel. They were remnants of a much different time, a time when Isle Royale was bustling with activity from large passenger ships and it's use as a resort get-away, a time far removed from it's current status as a biosphere reserve, the backdrop for scientific studies of it's animals and environment and a place for people to escape the hustle and bustle of their hectic lives. On the way back to Grand Portage the captain took the boat past the Rock of Ages lighthouse, explained a bit of its history and slowed down for us to take pictures.

We arrived back in Grand Portage at 6:00 p.m. The sky was very overcast and it was quite windy. After the boat was unloaded we asked one of the crew members for a ride back to our car which was at the Voyager's dock a mile or two away. We were very grateful that we didn't have to make a final hike to get back to the car. We thanked him for the ride, put our gear in the car and went in search of something to satisfy our craving for fast food and sweets.

Miles covered today: .3
Total trip miles: 32.3

This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:23 AM