Isle Royale National Park
May 2010

Day 3

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Once my eyes closed last night they didn't reopen until 7:45 a.m. this morning. The new day brought with it brilliant sunlight, blue sky, a couple small, puffy clouds and trees filled with singing birds. We ate breakfast, filtered water and then Ken fished the lake again for a few minutes. Unfortunately, the fish still weren't biting so we packed away our gear and headed out on the .8 mile side trail to Rainbow Cove around 9:20 a.m.

The short walk to the cove was easy-going and relaxing, especially since we left our packs back at the camp site. The air was still cool and the tranquil breeze carried various aromas of the great outdoors across our path. Within 20 minutes the soft dirt trail had faded away and we were walking on the familiar small, reddish-colored pebbles of the wide-open cove. After visiting almost every trailed part of the island, Rainbow Cove is still near the top of the list in terms of my favorite places on the island. This place, at least to me, is so peaceful that it could provide a weary hiker with the ultimate therapy at the end of a long day on the trail - a sort of great outdoors spa. When you lay down, the rocks are small enough that if you wiggle your arms, legs and torso they conform to the contour of your body, much like one of those pricey, space-age mattresses. Because of their dark color they absorb the sun's heat which is then released into your body making you feel as if you're laying on a giant, heated bean bag. Additionally, there's no need for fancy white noise soundtracks, instrumental music or aroma therapy because those are naturally supplied by the waves rhythmically breaking on the shore and the scent of the cool Lake Superior breeze blowing past your face, both of which help sooth away the aches of the day and the distractions of life, even if only for a short time.

We spent some time relaxing at the cove and admiring the magnificent scenery before heading back to the campsite, shouldering our packs and heading down the trail at 11:15 a.m. We crossed several small, trickling streams as we traveled east and about halfway between our previous night's site and the Feldtmann ranger tower I noticed a small waterfall behind a boulder just off the trail. We stopped only long enough for me to capture a few photos before we continued on. The trail maintained a gradual but constant, uphill grade all the way to the Feldtmann tower with only a couple steeper climbs. Eventually we observed the ranger tower peeking over the top of a distant copse of trees. The tower appeared to grow in size until it was looming over us as we stood at its base. It was now 1:40 p.m. and we were pretty hungry. Since the tower was almost half-way between where we started and Siskiwit Bay where we would be calling it a night, it only seemed to make sense that we stop here for lunch and an extended break.

With much anticipation I unsnapped the buckles and eased my backpack to the ground; the instant weight loss made me feel like I was only 30 pounds and walking on a cloud. Sensing an instant burst of energy I sprinted up the stairs as far as they would take me and stood on the decking admiring the view in all directions. It wasn't long before the swift, unobstructed breeze had me cooled down to the point of being chilled. It may have been cool up on the tower but, back down at its base, the sun reflected off of the exposed bedrock and warmed us to a more agreeable temperature. After lunch we each found our own comfortable patch of soft grass where we could take a short nap. I hung my shirt over a nearby shrub to finish drying, put on a thermal shirt and took off my boots and socks. I didn't fall asleep but, the wind rushing through the distant trees and the sun's warm, soothing rays rejuvenated me so I was ready for the remainder of our journey to Siskiwit Bay.

We left the tower around 3:05 p.m. and continued on toward Siskiwit Bay. The first ½ mile was mostly uphill hiking which ended when we came to the remains of the old Feldtmann ranger tower. The cement footings are still clearly visible in the grass on one side of the trail, while the old structural timbers are lying in a haphazard pile on the opposite side. From this point on the trail was very kind to us as the terrain was either level or downhill and not long before we arrived at Siskiwit Bay the landscape opened up to reveal a large, grassy area on the north side of the trail.

Since we had abandoned our initial plan of hiking the shoreline east from Rainbow Cove we contemplated another option throughout the course of the day. What if we left the Feldtmann Trail and hiked south to Lake Halloran? When we reached the general area where we would have to go off-trail we stopped and gave serious consideration to this newest plan because it seemed no matter where we looked to the south, the land was either under a good deal of water or, the vegetation was so thick that cross-country travel would have been miserable, at best. We surmised that our most probable route may not have been too bad once we passed a certain point but, there was no way for us to know where "that point" may be, if it existed at all. The uncertainty of the terrain and the fact that we were getting a bit tired caused us to err on the side of caution, once again, and stick with the path of least resistance - the trail.

At 5:40 p.m., almost six and a half hours after we left Feldtmann Lake, we passed by a sign showing the layout of the camp area. Siskiwit Bay is a beautiful, wide-open bay with tiny red rocks, similar to those at Rainbow Cove. However, unlike Rainbow Cove, Siskiwit Bay is easily accessible by boaters due to its breakwater and large cement pier with tie-off cleats. There are only two shelters at this campsite - one is reserved for hikers and the other is specifically for boaters, if there are boaters present. We knew this from our previous visit so we weren't sure if we would find an unoccupied shelter or not. After all, we knew that the couple from Feldtmann Lake had beat us here, meaning that only one shelter remained. As the shelters came into view we immediately noticed clothing and gear outside the one farthest to the east - obviously it was occupied. As for the second one, we just couldn't tell whether or not it was available. Was there someone inside and they just didn't have any gear or clothing within view from where we were standing, or was it unoccupied and we were going to be enjoying a much more comfortable, convenient evening? With each step closer to the shelter I could feel the tension rising. Finally, we rounded the leading corner and noticed that there was no permit hanging from the door and no gear or people to be seen anywhere. Relief! In the grand scheme of things, it really was a trivial concern, but sometimes the simplest things in the outdoors are the most relished.

After removing our packs we spoke briefly with the other couple as they were leaving their shelter. They explained that they had left Feldtmann Lake around 7:00 a.m. and had stopped on the ridge to eat breakfast and watch the sunrise. They hadn't seen a single person all day. Now they were walking down to the bridge over the Big Siskiwit River hopefully to see some moose coming out to graze in the dimming evening light.

After getting things situated we filtered a new supply of water and then sat at the picnic table in our shelter recounting the day's sights and experiences. We ate dinner around 8:00 p.m. and then I spent some time writing in my journal. It wasn't long after we finished eating that the temperature really began to drop. Even before the sun was completely down I was able to see my breath inside the shelter so, I got into my sleeping bag to warm up while I finished writing with the aid of the pale, flickering light from my candle lantern.

The curtains were now closing on another excellent day. The temperature probably reached 65 or 70 degrees, the sky had been a brilliant shade of blue and there had been a nice breeze for most of the day. We had encountered virtually no mosquitoes or other bugs and we traversed mostly easy trails. But, it was now 10:15 p.m. and I was ready for bed. As I layed in my warm fabric cocoon with the cool night air surrounding my face I could feel my body unwinding and my mind slowly succumbing to the comatose state that was about to follow. There was no use fighting it. It was inevitable. The lapping waves, chirping crickets and the cries of a single loon echoing throughout the bay dealt the coup de grâce to my weary conscious state. Another day had come to an end.

Final count for the day: One blue jay, several goldeneyes, some seagulls, a garter snake, one squirrel, one loon, and with the exception of the couple in the next shelter, not a single person.

Miles Covered Today: 11.8
Total Trip Miles: 20.3

Day 4

This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:27 AM