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!