Isle Royale National Park: Day 2

Continued from Isle Royale National Park: Day 1

Morning at Lane Cove. The red light from the morning sun faintly illuminated Sleeping Giant in Ontario, Canada. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

On Saturday morning the rain had stopped, but the wind off of Lake Superior at Lane Cove was brisk. I put on an extra layer and headed down the rocky shore alone.

Rocky shore along Lane Cove. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

The wet cobbles were slick, making progress a bit tricky. Most of the rocks on Isle Royale are basalt, members of the Portage Lake Lava series. These thick beds were formed by huge volumes of lava that spewed from a rift in this region almost 1.2 billion years ago. Over hundreds of millions of years this area was buried by younger sediment, only to be exposed again by uplift and erosion. In more recent geologic time several glacial periods worked to carve the rocks. The last ice sheets retreated around 10,000 years ago, leaving Isle Royale in its present state. The meltwater also left it surrounded by the massive Lake Superior, which itself has polished many of the shoreline rocks into smooth, round shapes.

Amygdaloidal basalt of the Portage Lake Volcanics along the shore at Lane Cove. Blackberry for scale. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

I stared at the rocks here for quite some time. Partly this was because they were really cool, and partly this was because I didn’t want to trip and fall. Before long I was distracted by something else. A trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator, Anatidae) approached from the distance, flying low over the water before splashing down nearby. I sat down to watch and it calmly swam past me, occasionally honking softly or dipping its head in the water for a snack.

Trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator, Anatidae) at Lane Cove. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Before long my friend Jim was awake and we got moving, somewhat eager to escape the cold wind off the lake. From Lane Cove we headed back towards Greenstone Ridge.

Lane Cove Trail. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

We soon came across more evidence of the moose on the island:  Giant hoofprints.

Moose track along the Lane Cove Trail. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Further evidence of moose was provided by young quaking aspen trees (Populus tremuloides, Salicaceae) that were growing in many of the forest openings. In some places the tender leaves and twigs were stripped by foraging moose.

Young quaking aspen tree (Populus tremuloides, Salicaceae) on the Lane Cove Trail. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

When we descended the approximately 400 feet from the Greenstone Ridge to Lane Cove the previous evening, we had little appreciation for the elevation change. Going back up that morning proved a little more challenging. Over the last half mile the trail was really steep.

Part of the Lane Cove Trail near the Greenstone Ridge. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Soon after we got back on the Greenstone Ridge Trail, we arrived at Mount Franklin. This was about 500 feet above our campsite at Lane Cove along Lake Superior. It was hard to believe less than two hours earlier we were at the water along the right side of this shot:

Overlooking Lane Cove from Mount Franklin. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Mount Franklin itself is a prominent, steep cliff that provides great views of the northeastern section of the island.

The author at Mount Franklin. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

As we continued west on Greenstone Ridge, the weather was warm and partly sunny. Many of the openings were filled with a variety of insects:

White butterfly photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Butterfly along Greenstone Ridge. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

We soon caught sight of our next waypoint:  The fire tower on top of Mount Ojibway. If you squint you can see it here:

Mount Ojibway fire tower. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

After a while we finally got to the tower, and the views of the western reaches of the island were great. This would be the westernmost extent of our travel, however. The western reaches would have to wait for a future trip.

Looking west from the Mount Ojibway fire tower. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royal National Park.

Looking west from the Mount Ojibway fire tower. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royal National Park.

From here we headed south on the Mount Ojibway Trail toward the Daisy Farm Campground. After descending from Greenstone Ridge, the trail went back up over Ransom Hill before descending again.

Heading up Ransom Hill on the Mount Ojibway Trail. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

There were still more insects:

Ants scavenging a dead beetle. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

After descending Ransom Hill, the trail leveled off as we approached Daisy Farm:

Mount Ojibway Trail near Daisy Farm. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

We had originally intended to push on to the Moskey Basin campground, but with heavy rain in the forecast we didn’t want to overextend ourselves.  After dropping our packs in a shelter, we headed down to the lakeshore to filter water:

Lake Superior shoreline near Daisy Farm. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

With ample daylight remaining, I made an exploratory hike down the Daisy Farm Trail while my friend Jim ventured down the Rock Harbor Trail toward Moskey Basin.  We were still intent on seeing a moose, and thought we could increase our chances by splitting up.  I didn’t see a moose, but the trail was still nice:

Part of the Daisy Farm Trail. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

I even stumbled across a jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum, Araceae):

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum, Araceae), photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum, Araceae), photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Jim didn’t see a moose on his solo hike either, so we decided to head back up Ransom Hill to spot for them before dusk.  The vantage point we had gave views of open spots on Greenstone Ridge and the valley below.  We could even see the Mount Ojibway fire tower from here:

View of Greenstone Ridge and the Mount Ojibway fire tower from Ransom Hill. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Before long I got bored and started photographing the interesting plants at this spot:

Unknown plant on Ransom Hill. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Unknown plant on Ransom Hill. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Unknown plant on Ransom Hill. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

Although we didn’t see a moose, on the way back to camp we came across an American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, Sciuridae) chomping on some of the plants:

American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, Sciuridae) near Ransom Hill. Photographed 05/26/2012 at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan.

We saw a ton of these on the island; they’re probably one of the most common mammals there.  Even when you don’t see them, you can frequently hear their shrill calls from the trees.

After getting to sleep, we were awoken around 3am by a pretty strong thunderstorm that lasted for over an hour.  The torrential rain made us glad we opted for one of the wooden shelters at this campground.  Although we managed to again fall asleep amid the thunder and lightning, the rain would still be coming down in the morning.

Day 2 Summary:
1)  Lane Cove Campground to Greenstone Ridge via the Lane Cove Trail (2.4 miles, about 400 feet of elevation gain)
2)  Lane Cove Trail to Mount Frankling via the Greenstone Ridge Trail (0.3 miles, about 100 feet of elevation gain)
3)  Mount Franklin to Mount Ojibway via the Greenstone Ridge Trail (2.5 miles, about 100 feet of elevation gain)
4)  Mount Ojibway to the Daisy Farm Campground via the Mount Ojibway Trail (1.7 miles, about 600 feet of elevation loss)
5)  Camp at Daisy Farm Campground
6)  Short hike up the Daisy Farm Trail (about 1 mile)
7)  Hike back up Ransom Hill on the Mount Ojibway Trail (about 1 mile)
Total:   8.9 miles, 600 feet of elevation gain, 600 feet of elevation loss

Continued with Isle Royale National Park: Day 3

Advertisements

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Geology, National Parks, Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Isle Royale National Park: Day 2

  1. why such heavy packs on such a small island?

    Like

  2. Jeremy Sell says:

    It was our first time backpacking and didn’t really know what we needed. Aside from lightweight tents and sleeping bags, most of our weight was water and food. Ended up bringing a little more than we needed for four days, but didn’t have any regrets. We have strong backs.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s