Day 41 – 2nd Day on Isle Royale

We have only 5 miles to hike today to the camp in Siskiwit Bay, so we take our time getting started. The one odd thing about these trails – luckily the ranger warned us – is that there are no blazes on the trails. There are posts marking trail junctions and campgrounds but otherwise you’re either on the trail or you’re not and it’s up to us to make sure we’re on the trail. For the most part that means the trail is ridiculously easy to follow, which is very nice.

However, as we come down the ridge, we start to run into the “lush trail conditions” and the foliage is not just growing into the trail, it’s actually obscuring it. As we descend down to the bay, it actually gets worse to the point where the grasses are so tall and thick that we can’t see our feet. The only thing saving us is that a lot of people use the trail, so our feet meet no resistance. We walk the last mile or so down to the campground, essentially feeling our way through the trail, pushing aside grasses to make our way.

At one point, the trail pops out onto the beach and we say hi to a family of four standing nearby. “We’ve lost our way,” says the mother. “Where are you headed?” I ask. “Island Mine.” I point back to the trail we’ve just come from. “That’s where we just came from.” We’re still not sure how they couldn’t find a trail that was maybe 12 feet from them and we wished we knew if they actually made it to Island Mine without any more mishaps.

Anyway, we make it to camp in the early afternoon so we set up camp and decide to take our inflatable mattress pads down to the bay, unfortunately not to float. We both have slow leaks in our air mattresses and keep waking up at night, hips hitting the ground, and re-inflate them. Mine first sprung a leak in Maine, which we fixed. Walt’s sprung a leak on La Cloche, which we also fixed. But we both have leaks that we tried to find on La Cloche and couldn’t. It’s actually not so much the hitting the hard ground that’s our problem, it’s that the ground is cold and it just pulls the heat out us while we’re sleeping.

So here’s Walt in water up to his calves, getting bit by black flies, trying to find the leak in his while I’m laying on the dock leaning over the water and trying to find the leak in mine. We spend the better part of an hour before giving up.

The beautiful, sunny day has given way to some ominous black clouds headed our way, so we head back to our camp and tuck in our tent just as brief rain shower hits. We read and doze until it passes, then come out to make dinner and head back down to the bay to refill our water bladders and enjoy the view. There are a bunch of other hikers doing the same thing and we realize that four of them were on the same boat as us but are doing the loop counterclockwise (we’re doing it clockwise). We exchange warnings about the “lush trail conditions,” one of the guys remarking that if he’d known, he would’ve brought a machete. Apparently Walt and I are in for more of the same tomorrow morning, which is not an auspicious way to start our longest day – 10.5 miles – on the loop.

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View from the dock at Siskiwit Bay

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