Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fifty Lakes - One Island

As a Lake Superior nut, a GitcheeGumeeGuy, I've always been fascinated with Isle Royale. I first visited in 1974 and was hiking the island when President Nixon resigned. It was quite a surprise when I got back on the boat to Houghton and heard about it since I'd been out there for 10 days. The hazy image above of some of the island's lakes was taken on that very trip with the reliable Kodak Instamatic 104. I've only kayaked there one time and have the island on the very short list for next season. It's relatively inaccessibility, retained wilderness flavor, the continuing moose/wolf drama, and the continuing NPS/historical stakeholders drama make it one of the most interesting places on Lake Superior on a number of levels. One other feature of Isle Royale that people tend to overlook are the numerous inland lakes. Some are classic eutrophic lakes with weeds, algae, northern pike and warm water species and others are clear, cold, nutrient poor lakes with lake trout, cisco, and those type of fish. The Michigan DNR has not messed with these lakes at all. There is a fellow, possibly out there right now, named George Desort from Houghton, MI that is filming and writing about those very lakes on the largest island on the largest lake in the world.

I was made aware of this project by a noted Washburn, WI paddler, pictured lurking in a tree in the image left. You can read about the project and donate to it in this link. For the next two weeks there are matching funds available so pull the trigger if you want to get in and support this project. One of the more interesting trips that can be done on Isle Royale is to portage the width of the island from lake to lake. The ferry service out of Grand Portage will drop people off, along with their canoes or kayaks, at a number of spots on the island. One of the more interesting routs is from McCargo Cove to Chippewa Harbor via Chickenbone, Livermore, and Ritchie lakes. It takes a determined paddler to hauls their boat over the Greenstone Ridge but it can and has been done. I'm really looking forward to the results of Georges project.

The VOR and I are headed to Marquette for the Labor Day weekend and I'll be taking off for the Canadian North Shore Tuesday. If the weather cooperates, Isle Royale will be clearly visible to the east of our paddling location, just as it is above. Blog posts may be few and far between but, as the tag line on my business emails has warned for the past week, "I will be in an area refreshingly free of wifi or cell towers so please contact Customer Service if you have an issue that can't wait. Enjoy the long weekend".

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