Andy, Dave, and I went up to Isle Royale with Michael Gray. Michael runs Uncommon Adventure and led 4 trips to Isle Royale this year - ours was his 41st trip there. Michael is an excellent cook and provided all of the meals - I had taken a camp cooking class with him at the NWIPA symposium and had bought his book "I'd Eat that at Home".
We paddled for 8 days at Isle Royale on the trip that Dave and I joined. We added an extra paddle at Agate Bay (about 10 miles west of Copper Harbor) before joining up with the rest of the group.
My pictures and trip commentary are at:
Dave's Pictures are posted at:
Trip Report -
Day 0 (5.7 miles kayaked) - Dave and I drove up in 2 days from Indianapolis so that we got to the Keweenaw Peninsula by Noon. Therefore, we paddled Agate Bay which is about 10 miles west of Copper Harbor – Interesting paddle with interesting islands - Dave said that it reminded him of the Maine Coast. We kept this short because rain/thunderstorms and rain were supposed to settle between 2 and 3 pm..
Day 1 (6.1 miles): We took the ferry into Rock Harbor this morning. It is a 3.5 hour trip so we got in around noon. After getting our gear and boats, we paddled into Caribou island where we camped. Amazingly, we had the campsite to ourselves.
Day 2 (2.3 miles): The next day was rainy so we stayed over in Caribou and paddled over to the Edisen Fishery, Rock Harbor lighthouse, and moose research center just SW of Caribou. We tour A short paddling day but we got to meet the peoople who work on the islands. The moose research center was interesting and indicated that will reintroduced wolves by next spring.
Day 3 (10,8 mile + 3.5 mile bonus paddle): We paddled fup Rock Harbor from Caribou Island to Merritt’s Lane near Blake Point. A nice site but not as easy to get boats into camp. After setting up camp, Dave and I explored the islands around here. There were a series of cube shaped island that were curious (Michael referred to them as the Collective). While going to sleep, we heard a moose stomp through the wood behind our site and then wade through the water.
Day 4 (10.1 miles): Rounded Blake Point in almost calm conditions and went along the Pallisade to Belle Isle. Belle Isle is really a beautiful and we stayed here 3 nights. Interesting paddle through the island on the North side of Isle Royale.
Day 5 (14.3 miles): We paddled from Belle Isle down into Pickerell Bay and back. Michael hiked up to Lake Eva and caught 3 pike which he prepared for dinner. Angela and I paddled back by way of Lane Cove to search for berries while Michael was fishhing. Great sunset from the rock promontory above the campground.
Day 6 (10.9 miles): Paddled around Amygdaloid Island. The north side of the island was inteesting and rock features to play near. We stopped at the ranger station on the SW corner and had lunch. We then paddled along the south side where we hiked up to the peak of the island where we could see both sides. After hiking, we paddled back to campground through the "key hole" between the west end of Belle Island and a peninsula jutting off of Isle Royale.
Day 7 (11.5 mile): The wind was brisk (10-15 knots) and from the S or SE so we paddled from Belle Isle to the camp at the back of Duncan Bay. This was a great site located on a point - we had a clear view in 3 directions.
Day 8 (10.6 miles): Wind brisk from the South – 10-20 knots. We got an early start and passed Point Blake at around 10:30 paddling into 4-5’ waves. No real control issues since they were head-on and not breaking - Michael emphasized that we needed to power through these waves to maintain control.
To avoid the front-quarteing wind/waves and to make better speed we went back to Rock Harbor via the shelter in Tobin Bay. We carried boats/gear from the Sea Plane ramp in Tobin Bay to the ferry dock .Given the conditions, the Ferry ride on the way in was burmpy for the first half.
An amazing area -
The Ferry - We took the Ferry from Copper Harbor. This is a 3.5 hour ride out to the island. We largely emptied our boats because these were hoisted and stowed on the top of the Ferry. Gear should be organized in larger bags since baggage/gear is stored during the trip. Gas bottles need to be pulled out and stored in a separate storage area on the way out to the island. There are two other ferries that run out Isle Royale and I will have to study the pros and cons of each.
Campsites and Group Size - Campsites on Isle Royale cannot be reserved and are available on a first come-first served basis. We went after school was back in session so they were not too crowded but campsites close to Rock Harbor or serviced directly by Ferry can fill up quickly during the summer. If a campsite is full, you have to journey on to the next site. Plan on getting into sites early. Primitive permits are available and may be necessary if thinking about circumnavigation - these are separate for the regular camping permit. '
Most sites had 3-sided shelters. If a site has a shelter, you are not allowed to pitch tents there. On tent sites, you are required to camp in the developed area within the campsite. Sites are restricted to 6 people. My take is that you probably would want less than that during peak season.
Kayak Landing Sites - Sometimes, these were obvious and there was shore to land on. Normally, they were rocky and you had to carry boats up to shore to load/unload them. We did 4-person carries of the loaded boats. It always worked so no problem.