There have been big doings this week on the island, in fact unprecedented. There was a wolf kill of a moose in Moskey Basin Campground on Monday night, according to reports flying about the whole island. Apparently, the wolves pursued a wounded moose into the campground, near one of the shoreline shelters there. That's never happened in my memory or in my reading. The moose went into the water, but was too far gone to save itself. After the moose died, the wolves dragged it ashore. Other wolves of the Chippewa Harbor pack then came into the camp. This was discovered by a ranger. The camp was then evacuated in order to protect both the wolves and backpackers, though I don't believe there was any immediate danger. Lots of rumors about what happened have been zooming all around the island, but it seems the situation was not quite so dramatic as the rumor-embellished stories had it. All is back to normal now, and the NPS has reopened the Moskey Basin camp as of Sunday. The photo has nothing to do with any of this, except that the wolf kill occured in good weather, the kind of July conditions that are just plain perfect, the halcyon days of summer. This photo was actually taken last year when I was canoeing along the outer islands of Rock Harbor south of Scoville Point. We've had more than a week of similar perfect days lately. I'll try to get more information on the moose attack and deliver it on to you soon.
The family made a trip over to the island for an overnight camp-out this past week. My wife Marsha and my boys, Logan and Drew, agreed to camp, which is not something Marsh has done a lot of. But she had a fine time, proof that anyone can enjoy Isle Royale. I kept telling her that my new advertsing campaign would be: "If Marsha can do it and have fun, anyone can." The skeeters were abundant and busy and aggressive, but we survived well with bug dope of sufficient strength. The night was cool, but not too bad. We camped at Three Mile in Rock Harbor. The loons were calling along Rock Harbor almost all night. That was wonderful. It rained overnight, but the rain caused us no problems. The photo is of my older son Logan, now 15, scooting through a sea tunnel on the edge of Conglomerate Bay down the coast from the Middle Island Passage entrance to Rock Harbor. There are some high cliffs on the north side of Conglomerate, and Lake Superior has carved a number into the cliffs many interesting formations. I hadn't noticed this sea cave before. It was lined with moss. Logan was trrying to go through it and then along the base of the very high cliff on the far side of the tunnel. But the water was too deep on the far side of the tunnel for him to walk in; so he had to come back through the tunnel, which was a challenge because of the moss. I gave it a try, too, but also failed to make it to the far side.
We had a very bouncy crossing last Sunday, an unusual occurence for July on Lake Superior. The best marine weather is always in July, and yet gale warnings were posted and came to fruition earlier on this day I took this photo of the coast outside Rock Harbor from the Isle Royale Queen IV at a distance of about 8 miles. Those are some of the islands that form the south side of Rock Harbor in the distance. The Greenstone Ridge is lost to sight behind the brief rain shower that was passing over Middle Island Passage as the Queen IV approached the island (I was captain of the Queen on that day). The rain shower stopped just 5 minutes after I took the photo. It turned out to be another beautiful evening on Isle Royale for its visitors. The winds settled down and the rains moved on east to open Lake Superior.
This photo was taken along the Rock Harbr Trail near Three Mile Campground about a week ago. A group of backpackers heading out into the backcountry for 4 or 5 days was coming down the trail toward me. I was standing on the edge of a swamp that the broadwalk bridges. You can see that the ferns in the swamp have only recently emgered -- and in late June! It is summer, but late spring would be a better description of the some of the micro-climates that are near the shores of harbors and lakes in the national park. The many boardwalks on the island are important in protecting the swampy areas of the island, which have there own partucular charms, especially concerning the varieties of flowers and plants that do best in low-lying damp areas.
I have certainly been striking out on the big wildlife lately on the island, but our customers, the folks we transport to Isle Royale on the Isle Royale Queen IV, have reported seeing moose, both cows and calves, regularly. I just had one sighting so far this summer, and it happened so quickly that I couldn't even get a photo, as I explained in a previous post. Here's a shot of te best of my wildlife encounters so far, a placid red squirrel on the Tobin Harbor trail a few days ago. Usually, these fellows are cackling at you as soon as they see you coming up the trail toward their nests. But this little fellow was standing on a downed log just a few feet to the side of the trail and showed no anxiety or anger or any desire to get away. He was nibbling busily on a spruce nut of some sort. I left him to his business. But if you're coming to IR this summer, don't despair. From all reports, it seems that the wildlife viewing could be excellent this year. There have been a couple of wolf sightings in the Rock Harbor area as well.