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#IsleRoyale8,738 POSTS

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We had time for one hike on Isle Royale and we picked the Stoll Trail, primarily because a ranger told us there were a bunch of moose hanging around it and we'd probably see one. We did not see one. We didn't even see half of one. But the trail itself was just lovely--all pines and loamy earth and glacier-polished boulders. It misted a bit and the birds were raucous and we were all just digging being alive.
The Rock Harbor Lighthouse is the oldest of the Isle Royale lighthouses and the most accessible - despite still requiring a boat ride. I liked the serendipity of the single tree shadow. #findyourpark #isleroyale #nationalpark #isleroyalenationalpark #michigan #puremichigan
After our long boat ride, we landed at Rock Harbor and started to explore. Isle Royale is made up of more than 400 little islands, all of them layers of basalt that cracked and thrust upward millions of years ago, so that when the area's glaciers melted and became Lake Superior, these ridged peaks stayed above the water line. This little archipelago is super isolated, which means the plants and animals here are genetically unique, having evolved separately from their mainland counterparts. So, for example, the red squirrels here are smaller and make different sounds than other red squirrels, so they're considered a subspecies that exists nowhere else on earth. This kind of thing made squirrel sightings infinitely more exciting 😉.
Mamas boy all the way...or at least when daddy isn’t around!
The longest continuous wildlife study in the world, the study of the predator-prey population interaction of the wolves and moose on Isle Royale has been going on for more than five decades. The population variation is well captured by a system of differential equations. Back in college I first heard of Isle Royale in math class through those equations. At that time, I had no idea where the place was located. #findyourpark #isleroyale #nationalpark #isleroyalenationalpark #michigan #puremichigan
Morning light, and this girl in my arms. Doing this trip with kids means we didn't camp for a week in the isolated island backcountry; we move slowly, cover fewer miles, field dozens of requests every hour for snacks and water; we coax and prod and stop for each caterpillar. But we also hold small, dimpled hands wherever we walk; we play games and tell stories and make jokes about nonsense things, silly a good 80% of the time; and we carry warm, sleepy bodies back to our little home at the end of every day and recount how the wonders of the world keep presenting themselves, moment by moment, whenever we're watching for them.
Isle Royale National Park gave us some stress. The park sits isolated in the middle of Lake Superior and requires a long ferry ride from either Minnesota or Michigan's upper peninsula to reach it. But the ferry service trickles off significantly after Labor Day, and by the time we arrived, we had only two options: camp on the island for a week, or do a day trip.
We definitely wanted to spend a few days, but a week (with heavy thunderstorms and a cold front forecast) wasn't in the cards for us. So this one was our shortest national park visit ever: 7 hours on the boat and 3 hours on the island. Not ideal, but fortunately we had great weather with only a little drizzle and we enjoyed the heck out of the time we had, beginning with watching sunrise over Copper Harbor, MI as our boat started off for the day.
My fall backpacking plans fell though this year, but at least i can look back on my summer and remember this awesome trip. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Sometimes, things aren't supposed to happen at all, even though it can feel like that's all you ever really wanted. I'll be back for you someday Isle Royale. #isleroyalenationalpark #isleroyale #nationalparks #outdoors #nature #outdoorphotography #naturephotography #hiking #backpacking #adventure #greatlakes #lakesuperior #northernmichigan #puremichigan #upperpenninsula
Net house window reflection, Edisen Fishery. Although it is on Isle Royale, there is no access to the historic commercial fishery from the trail system, so it can be visited only by boat. #findyourpark #isleroyale #nationalpark #isleroyalenationalpark #michigan #puremichigan