Isle Royale, May 2005

Day 7

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Once again, my alarm went off at 7:30 a.m. Ken thought he heard a boat but wasn't sure. I said, "It's only 7:30 a.m., do you think he'd be here this early?" Not five seconds after I asked that question, Bob yelled out, "Boat!" About three seconds after that, a long blast of the horn reverberated throughout the harbor, crushing the soothing morning silence. Bob had already been up for a bit and was in the process of packing when he thought he heard the hum of an engine coming down the harbor. He walked down to the water just in time to see the Voyager several yards away from the dock. Bob ran back to his shelter to retrieve his gear and Ken ran down to the dock to speak with the captain. Ken told Captain Fritz that we'd be ready in about five minutes, to which he replied, "Take your time! I'm here a little early anyway." We packed away our sleeping bags, threw on our boots and rushed down to the dock. Last night had not been quite as windy as the previous night but the temperature seemed a bit colder to me. However, the chilly morning air didn't seem to bother me at this point because I knew we would be leaving today for sure. By 8:00 a.m. the three of us were on the boat, our gear had been stowed away and we were pulling away from the dock. As we were leaving Chippewa Harbor and entering the waters of Lake Superior I saw an eagle gliding silently through the air just over the tops of the trees near the mouth of the harbor. It was a great sight and a good way to end the trip.

For our return trip we had a cloudy sky, the temperature was chilly but not cold and the lake was virtually waveless. When the Voyager left Chippewa Harbor it sailed over to Malone Bay where we made a ten minute stop to pick up a couple researchers and their gear. The next stop was the dock at Windigo to pick up the backpackers who were waiting there for their ride back to the mainland. Since we were a day late nobody was allowed to get off the boat. Ranger Valerie met us on the boat, collected our hiking permits and with her usual cheery smile, said goodbye and wished us a safe and calm ride back. During our cruise from Chippewa Harbor to Windigo we passed the Isle Royale Lighthouse on Menagerie Island and saw the Rock of Ages Lighthouse, which is about six miles off the west coast of the island. Before leaving Washington Harbor the captain maneuvered the Voyager directly over the top of the America, a boat that sank here in 1928. One portion of the ship is only 3-4 feet below the surface of the water. It is an eerie shape lurking just below the waves which disappears into the cold water as you look further away from the bow. If you look closely at the picture I took you can plainly see the boat near the upper third of the frame and can see it gradually disappear as you look toward the middle of the picture.

During our trip over to Isle Royale, six days ago, we discovered that several people from Rolf Peterson's research group were accompanying us. We also learned that the moose population had dropped by 200 moose and now stood at around 500. The sharp decline was attributed to heavy tick infestations and thick snow during the winter months. Conversely, the wolf population was doing fairly well with a total of 30 wolves in three different packs.

When we had a chance to speak with Captain Fritz he revealed the reason for not sailing yesterday and why the transportation company could not get in touch with him. Fritz told us the weather reports for yesterday had not been good. He also told us that he took the Voyager out to the buoy near Rock Harbor and discovered the waves were eight to ten feet tall so he chose to stay anchored at Rock Harbor and try again today. Captain Fritz carries his cell phone with him and the Voyager is loaded with all the necessary marine-band radios and equipment that it should have. So, why couldn't anyone make contact with him? Well, the phone number we had was the one for the main office in Duluth (or someplace like that) and not to the office in Grand Portage by the dock. The main office only had his cell phone number and not a marine radio and when they tried to call his phone they couldn't make a connection. I guess we should have realized there was a good reason why he didn't sail yesterday even though it didn't appear to be that bad from where we were standing. Better safe than sorry!

Final count for the day: A lone Bald Eagle flying effortlessly over Chippewa Harbor and many memories of another great trip.

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