In early September, 2006, a touch of fall had come to the high ridges of the island. That's not so strange, but there was more color than usual, at least in my memory. The splash of color along the Greenstone Ridge, the spine of the island, was brought about by the maples turning early in 2006. This shot was taken on a wonderfully cool, sunny late afternoon on the trail from Daisy Farm to Mount Ojibway. It's a nice trail that gives you just about every kind of terrain found on Isle Royale in a two-mile hike -- ridge, forest, swamp. And there is the reward of the view at the end, that great vista to be seen from the Ojibway Fire Tower.
Oh what an evening it was! This shot was taken from the Tooker's Island dock one August evening, at about 10:00. That's Inner Hill Island in the distance and Rock Harbor to the right. Open Lake Superior is on the left, out of the picture. My Dad used to say always that one of the special moments on the Big Lake is when the moonbeams fall across the water. And here they are, caught on film. You can order this as a large print from me. I can even frame it for you. My daughter Miranda and I are going to be putting up an Isle Royale Store some time soon, with clothing and photos and other IR items.
The M/V Sandy passing by on Rock Harbor. The Sandy is the touring vessel of the Rock Harbor Lodge. It makes trips to various locations, near and far, on the northeast end of Isle Royale. I've taken many trips on the Sandy over the years and have always enjoyed Captain Ron Jeddda's narrations. The Sandy also makes a few trips up and down Rock Harbor as a water taxi, though the Lodge uses other, smaller, faster boats for that service more often. They can reach locations farther out on the island with their fast boats.
Along the Rock Harbor trail, late August. Here's a good look at harborside trail conditions nowadays on the island. You frequently come across long sections of trail that are criss-crossed with roots and dotted with rather good-sized rocks. Wear good ankle-high boots is my recommendation. This part of the RH trail is directly across from Mott Island and close to the old Siskiwit Mine, which is still a very interesting place to explore in the dense thickets surrounding the old mine shafts. The area has become increasing overgrown in the past couple decades, so it must look completely different from how it looked in the late 1800s, when miners worked along Rock Harbor. Rather hard to believe any longer that mining ever took place out here, so far have we come from the copper mining boom days of long ago.
A thicket. Sometimes you want to go off trail to find some berries or inspect a patch of wild flowers or to get a wider view. And often as not you wind up working your butt off scratching your way through thickets like this one, on Inner Hill Island on Rock Harbor. The forests of Isle Royale are often daunting, mostly because of downed trees. The reason there are so many downed trees: the soil is thin, the trees don't put down deep roots, the island is exposed to heavy winds off Lake Superior, and, as consequence of these conditions, many trees, large and small, get blown down before their time and wind up creating difficult tangles in the woods.
I promised to get back to the island's berry crop. Here's a shot of some of the wild blueberries that I picked one day in mid-August. The blueberry season was very short. It was just too dry. But the berries were excellent, large and abundant, for a brief time, as you can see from the photo. Berry season is always a favorite time for me and other members of the family, especially my brother Captain Don Kilpela, who loves Isle Royale thimbleberries, which come out near the end of August on the island. That's almost a month after the thimbleberries come out in force on the Michigan mainland.
Two backpackers passing on the Rock Harbor Trail. It's been so dry the hiking was generally excellent on the island this past summer. The only problem was the dust. Hikers tramped on the ground without rain for so long that a thin layer of very fine dirt formed along many long stretches of trail. That's nothing to complain about, but it was certainly a little odd. I did a lot of hiking on my days at the island this year. I've been spending most of my time in my canoe in recent years, but I might try to get in a little more hiking since I enjoyed the walks I took so much.
It was a somewhat dark and blustery afternoon in early September when I went down to the historic Edison fishery for a visit. The fisherman and his wife were gone to Mott for supplies, so I was there alone. Walking back to the visitor's dock to get in my boat, I stopped by the main house and found this patch of day lilies blooming by the back door. You never know when flowers will bloom on the island, and there are often surprises late in the season. Before I saw this shot, I had spent some time over at the Rock Harbor Lighthouse, which is close by, but I couldn't get my boat up on the stone beach there, as is my usual parking practice, because of the heavy seas rolling into Middle Island Passage.