Monthly Archives: September 2015

Epilogue: Sunsets and Moon Risings Over Isle Royale

Isle Royale and its waters are wilderness and offer a spectacular and solitary experience. Whether we were anchored in the coves or sailing its coast, we crossed paths with no other boats. Considering that there is no WI-FI, e-mail, or TV, contact with the outside world is limited. I would like to say that this beautiful nature experience leads me to great self-insights, bouts of creativity, internal peace and remembrance of past lives, but not really.

But, sailing and hiking  in Isle Royale require a self-awareness and focus on one’s surroundings that I never practice at home in a city. Isle Royale means that I watch the weather forecast closely so we don’t sail into thunderstorms or gale force winds, I hang tightly to the boat’s ladder when climbing into our tippy dinghy (which I hate by the way) because I really don’t want to fall into 48 degree water. And I’m careful about how I step on the rocky, overgrown hiking trails because I don’t want a twisted ankle especially when medical help is days away. All this makes me really enjoy the boat’s evening cocktail hour, also something I never do at home.

At the ranger station in Windigo Harbor, we heard the sad story of a hiker who broke her ankle out on a trail. The hiker  had to continue walking on the broken ankle for miles in order to find a campsite with other hikers. To reach help, those hikers had to walk for two days to reach the ranger station, and then the rangers were going need another part of a day to reach her by boat. Even after being rescued, this poor lady was still facing hours of travel by boat or maybe a plane to reach a hospital.

This is not to say that Isle Royale’s wilderness is not worth the effort. Few are so privileged as to be able to go here, and this is why I write about it. In fact, I am encouraging my friends to make this trip, whether with us by sailboat or through the large ferries which transport hikers and kayakers. Just go! Be prepared for new experiences!


Sailing Through A Fog Bank

On September 1, we sailed west in the late afternoon under sunny blue skies from Chippewa Harbor on the south side of Isle Royale to Grace Harbor on its western-most end.  A dense fog bank descended on us a couple hours into the sail, covering the sun. We sailed blindly through this for hours, relying on GPS to navigate. We were not far from the Rock of Ages Lighthouse, where skeletons of past shipwrecks litter the bottom of the Lake. I could see the peril of these waters in fog and storms before modern navigational equipment came into use.  We finally arrived at Grace Harbor just as the fog cleared and the sun was setting