Hiking on Isle Royale with Parkinson’s – part 5

Monday, September 6- Wendigo to Rock Harbor

We were scheduled to depart from Windigo aboard The Voyager II at 9:00 am. We were up with the sun and soon had our sleeping bags, air mattresses, and anything else we wouldn’t need, rolled and wrapped up and in our backpacks. The rain had stopped before daybreak, but the tents were still wet and had to be shaken out before we could stow them away.  

Once our tents were packed away, we walked down to the pavilion for breakfast. Our picnic table was wet, and the clouds were promising more rain which made the pavilion look like a safer bet for a dry breakfast. We were drinking our coffee when the sky opened up and the rain really came down in force. It was a short-lived storm that ended just as quick as it started.

Around 8:30 the Voyager II pulled up to the dock and the Ranger had it secured with rope.  fifteen to twenty people got off the boat, but we weren’t allowed on until the Ranger had given them an orientation.


 We were soon on board ready for the five-hour boat ride to Rock Harbor. We had spoken to the captain about going as close as he could to the shipwreck, SS America, which had sunk in 1928 and on a clear day could be seen by ships passing by.  He said it was dangerous to get too close because the rigging of the America was close enough to the surface that it could damage the propeller and he would also be in trouble for any damage that his ship did to the sunken vessel. We came out of Washington Harbor and turned to the North passing by Thompson Island. We could see the buoys marking the spot of the shipwreck, but it was too cloudy to see beneath the waves.

The boat made good time and soon we were past the western end of Isle Royale and the captain turned the ship to the Northeast and continued in that direction for the next forty or so miles. Kayakers and canoers are warned against traveling along the north ridge of the Isle. We could see that this could indeed be dangerous in a small craft when the wind and waves are running high. Most of the north shore is high rock cliffs with only two or three landing spaces in the thirty miles between Washington Harbor and McCargoe Cove. The waves, rocks, cliffs and trees make a stark beauty and are wonderful to see as we passed by.

The ship pulled into McCargoe cove so that about ten people could get off. The Campground looked extremely rustic because of new construction which left only dirt around the shelters. No weeds, bushes or trees had yet sprung up in the construction area. Only those staying, in McCargoe Cove, could get off the boat because once everyone was off, the boat departed immediately.

We were watching for fire and smoke having seen on the news that over eight hundred acres were on fire in the northeast end of the Island.  We had seen boat loads of firefighters going from Rock Harbor to the fire. We were warned against any campfires, even in the fire rings, because of drought conditions. However, in the time we had been on the island we had had rain at least four times and hoped that this would have given the firefighters an advantage. We passed by Belle Isle and were somewhere around Five Finger Bay before we noticed the smoke. The smoke didn’t seem to be from a huge, hot fire, but more from a smoldering fire.  Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of smoke from a lot of acres, but we didn’t see any flames and the smoke was not that intense thick smoke one sees in a really hot, out of control fire.  The smoke was visible from the Five fingers Bay, around Blake Point and down to Scoville point. We were all relieved that the fire seemed to be losing its battle and we could tell that the faithful men and women who were fighting the fire were about to win.

We landed at Rock Harbor and Zachary went off to see if a shelter was available because rain and high wind, was forecast. His quick action made it possible for us to stay in Shelter Number One, which was on a hill overlooking the bay.  There was a path leading down to the water from the door of our shelter which I hoped to stroll down after dinner.

Once everything was squared away, we walked down to the Reed Stone Grill for dinner.  Larry Fabulous recommended the Pizza, claiming it was the best pizza on the Island. It was difficult to argue the point since it was the only pizza on the Island. Truthfully, it was the best pizza I have had in a long time, and beer tasted especially good as well. It’s possible that the pizza might not have tasted so good, except that it was the first food that wasn’t rehydrated with boiling water, that we had eaten in a week.

I was about halfway through my beer and was feeling completely drunk again. I felt like Parkinson’s was kicking my butt and didn’t know what I could do about it. (I suppose I could switch to a non-alcoholic beer.)

After dinner we did a little souvenir shopping at the store and the ranger station. I bought some stickers for the RV and a button for my Blue Jean jacket. After walking back to the shelter, I was still feeling the effects of the beer and laid down on my sleeping bag.  I was laying there and noticed my water bottle, which I am supposed to empty three times a day. It occurred to me that I hadn’t had anything to drink since the coffee at breakfast. I wasn’t drunk, I was dehydrated!!!

With a high wind warning out for the overnight hours we decided to hang the tent flies over the front screens since the entire front of the shelters is open to the weather, the screens keep bugs and critters out but not the wind. If there were high winds that night, I didn’t hear it. Once I fell asleep I didn’t hear a thing, until the sunrise woke me up

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