Road Crew

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Moose Tracks


I will spare you searching Google Maps and tell you Isle Royale is a large island in the middle of Lake Superior.  Not the easiest place to get to which is why it claims the title of least visited park. The ferries have a very short season and the boat carrying about 30 passengers doesn’t go out every day.  What occurred to me on this trip is that I am getting down to the more complicated parks.  By that I mean getting there requires a graduate level degree in logistics to coordinate cars, planes, boats and trains and requires no small investment of time just to get there.  A travel agent’s dream! (Do they still exist?)  Once there you will find yourself on an island so remote even boarder patrol doesn’t bother even though anyone that goes there these days probably contemplates the very short swim to Canada.
This was my first “camping” trip, as in no teardrop in tow.  That meant no down comforter, memory foam mattress or convenient kitchen.  That also meant I had a lot to learn.  I made multiple trips to REI where I personally upped the quarterly revenue.  My impression of camping is that it seems to be one of those last hold outs where they don’t bother with froofroo differences to make it “men’s” or “women’s”.  Everyone needs to be warm, dry and fed and have it be as light as possible.  In other words, there are no pink tents.  I could get used to this.  I borrowed a lot of gear from a friend including a much appreciated air mattress and camp stove.  Like any good novice, I proceeded to over pack until I could barely lift the back pack off the floor.  It was good fortune that on my first trip out I wouldn’t actually need to carry it very far.
Once there you will find yourself on a densely forested island where the entertainment consists entirely of moose watching.  Fortunately this can be done from the comfort and warmth of your sleeping bag because the endless rain put a real damper on going out in search of the beasts.  The campground is on the edge of an inlet where the moose tend to come down and feed in the evenings.  I like to think that we had dinner together: ramen noodles for me and aquatic detritus for him. "Royale" did not refer to the dining. Fortunately a small camp store stocked NutterButters.  It turns out they work well for breakfast, appetizer, dessert, pad thai topping and, well, everything. 
At one point the island also had a large population of wolves but they are unfortunately down to two due to a canine virus.  I guess that answers the question that if you are stuck on an island with the last remaining member of your species, procreation is not your first instinct.

My only disappointment is that I did not have the opportunity to traverse the entire length of this 40 mile island.  That just means I will have to contribute to another one of the park’s statistics: it is one of the most re-visited parks!

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