Mark Arend (arend@CENTURYINTER.NET)
Mon, 22 Jun 1998 09:01:08 -0500
Had a great trip to Isle Royale last week--everyone made it and no one eaten
by wolves or stomped by moose. Here's a report if anyone's interested.
We finally pulled out about 8 AM and arrived in Copper Harbor about 6
(Michigan time). The group sites at Ft. Wilkins State Park are a little
small; they'd be hard-pressed to fit 4 groups there. I don't think these
sites get used a lot; 3 or 4 times over the evening cars pulled in and then
backed out when they saw us--I think this part of the park is the local
"lover's lane". It was hard getting the kids to bed at 10--the sun is only
just starting to set and they want to stay up until after dark.
Got up very early to make the 8 AM boat over. We'd told the boys we wanted
to leave at 7; we actually left about 7:30--which was what I was planning on
all along. Had our first breakage before we even left; one of the
fiberglass poles for my tent split and we had to use duck tape to repair it.
The boat left right at 8 and arrived at Rock Harbor about 12:30. After
check-in & a quick lunch we hit the trail.
The trail from Rock Harbor to Daisy Farm is extremely rough (perhaps because
it's one of the most-used trails in the Park). It's mostly rocks & tree
roots with not too many stretches of soft dirt. We made the 7 1/2 miles in
about 6 hours--not really good time but good enough for us. After supper
some of the boys wanted to go swimming in Lake Superior. It was fun
watching them step into the cold water, squeal, and jump out again. They
did do some wading & splashing but no one swam.
There's a Ranger stationed at Daisy Farm and he showed us the Scout stone
there--Camp Mulni I think it said. It seems that when the 1935 Jamboree was
cancelled about 150 Scouts from Grand Rapids came up here instead and carved
a stone to memorialize the event. I suppose if we did the same thing we'd
have a big fine to pay and they'd call it "historical" in 60 years.
This day showed us who was our strongest & weakest Scouts & formed a pattern
we'd follow the whole trip. C. is not as well prepared as he ought to be--
both physically and equipment. I have a feeling he didn't really understand
what he was getting into. He soon started lagging behind and the crew chief
& I stayed back to help him along. He turned his ankle and that scared him
a bit but we kept him moving. The Crew chief is great--encouraging C. &
keeping him moving. He has a lot of patience for a 15-year-old.
We had a choice of two routes to take from Daisy Farm to West Chickenbone; a
shorter one up the Greenstone Ridge trail or a longer one without so much
climbing. After talking to several people we chose the shorter one. It
looks tougher on the map but I think was probably easier; a few ups and
downs up to the Ridge and then fairly straight until we headed down again.
It was much easier hiking than the day before. We should have carried more
water though; there's none on the Ridge and by the time we got down the
canteens were mostly empty and we were all dry. Took a detour of about a
mile to the East Chickenbone campsite to fill up again.
This was our layover day and we didn't do much of anything. We'd scheduled
a cooked breakfast (blueberry pancakes) as a treat. The boys fished &
played in the water; I mostly sat around and finally pulled out the book I'd
packed and not had time to look at.
This was the day we noticed our water filters getting hard to pump so after
supper we pulled them apart, cleaned them out, & lubed them up. We've been
filtering everything and decided that since we're not using anywhere near
the gas we'd planned on we'll boil our cooking & cleaning water and only
filter our cold drinking water. We brought 1 extra cartridge and should
have brought two; they're good for about 200 litres and I figure we're
coming close to that by now.
I woke up early and heard wolves howling before dawn. As we were packing up
a moose went past about a hundred feet from the campsite. There's moose
scat all over the place but this is the first live one we've seen.
Got going fairly early. Yesterday's rest helped and we're all hiking a
little better. Of course, we're all a little tougher and over half the food
is gone as well. This time we took plenty of extra water- -all the canteens
full + about 10 extra gallons (we used it all, too). Since we're taking the
same trail back to Daisy Farm we know what the trail's like.
C. is still struggling but I think he's finally beginning to realize that
we're going to get him through this one way or another.
Clouds started coming up after lunch and we really pushed it. The weather
up to now has been steady--clear, blue skies and warm temperatures. I
understand that this is unusual and that we should have had rain but so far
it's all been beautiful. This evening was cold and windy--no one wanted to
spend time at the Lake or go swimming. We got the boys to bed shortly after
9 and they actually went to sleep quickly--surprising but I'm happy since
we're getting up early tomorrow.
Got up about 5:30 to a cold, rainy morning. Not too much rain--just enough
to make the tents wet & heavy. Luckily the rain stopped and although it
didn't clear up we had mostly dry hiking.
It's that rough trail again and was sure hard hiking. C. banged a knee
climbing under a tree across the trail and I thought we'd have trouble for a
while but he managed to make it. He keeps plugging away.
Made it back to Rock Harbor right about Noon. The showers were somewhat
grubby & overpriced but everyone wanted one. After lunch the boys had a
little time to sit around & buy overpriced candy & junk at the gift shops.
The morning's boat ride was rough & we'd heard that some people had a hard
time of it so we were warned. The boys enjoyed it for the first half hour
or so but after that the roller coaster got to even them and everyone
settled down. No one got sick, quite, but some of us may have come close.
It's surprising how soon after hitting shore you can get hungry again. As
soon as we landed I checked us into our motel. I made a good choice here.
Not only is the King Copper right next to the dock but the manager said that
since things were so slow she'd give us an extra room for free so we got
four rooms for the price of three. Plain rooms with no frills but clean &
Right after I got the keys we walked up to the restaurant; they were
surprised to see 10 of us walk in so late (after 8). We filled the boys up
and then went to yet another souvenir shop across the street. It had quite
a variety of stock--touristy junk, flea market stuff, some genuine antiques,
& a gemstones.
Got them back to the motel about 10 with quiet time right away. Told them
they could stay up as late as they wanted as long as they were quiet and
threatened them: any noise & we'd be back to 3 rooms with an adult in each
room. Either the soundproofing was superb or it worked because we heard
nothing all night.
Up about 6 and on the road by 7:30. Bruce had a great idea: instead of a
restaurant in Copper Harbor we'd head out early and stop at the McDonald's
in Houghton for breakfast. It worked well & I'm sure the kids preferred it.
A long, uneventful drive back home. Pulled into the Church lot just about 4.
It's been a great trip. This group came together real well & worked
together. There was some bickering, of course, but less than on an ordinary
campout and no big blow-ups. They probably realized that it wouldn't do any
good; that they're stuck here regardless.
TIPS, TRICKS, & ADVICE
Group size: 7 Scouts & 3 adults
Stoves: MSR Whisperlite (2)
Filters: Pur Voyager (2)
Bring Duck tape. It's great for fixing all sorts of things.
Make sure you get plenty of shakedown & practice hikes in. The more
prepared everyone is (both physically and equipment) the better off you'll
Bring extra filter cartridges. We'd brought 2 filters & 1 extra cartridge
and probably should have brought 2. They're good for about 200 litres each
which sounds like a lot but we were probably pushing the limit by mid-week.
We carried a mixture of commercial backpacking food and home-dehydrated &
store-bought foods. Three of the four suppers were commercial; the other
meals we put together ourselves. Several families spent a lot of time
Based on prior calculations we figured we'd use almost two cans of gas each
day; we actually used about one.
Decide ahead of time if you're going to use filtered or boiled water for
cooking, cleanup, etc. We started out filtering everything. About mid-week
the filters were getting harder to pump & we saw how little gas we were
using so we started boiling our cooking & cleaning water and only filtering
the cold drinking water.
Mark W. Arend
Beaver Dam Community Library
311 N. Spring St. Outside of a dog, a book is
Beaver Dam, Wisc. 53916 man's best friend. Inside of
(920) 887-4631 (fax 887-4633) a dog it's too dark to read.
Scoutmaster, Troop 736
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City