Isle Royale National Park Greenstone Ridge Trail Part 4
Lane Cove to Daisy Farm
Approximate miles hiked- 7
Here’s our route- Michigan Road Trip- Summer 2012
We again woke up to the sunrise and were excited for another day on Isle Royale. The morning air was cool as we made our coffee and hot chocolate to have with grits. I had brought along home made clarified butter to go with the grits and it was delicious. Usually purchased in the Indian food section as Ghee, this was my first time making it at home and it worked great! I just poured it into a Nalgene Wide Mouth Round Container and it held up great on the trail. It is a nice bonus to be able to flavor foods with butter in the backcountry since I hate the taste and idea of margarine. Once we finished breakfast and cleaned our dishes, we started packing up our camp. Naomi and I quickly got our backpacks loaded and hit the trail.
We were hiking 7 miles to Daisy Farm on the southern shore of the island. The plan was for Naomi and I to hike at a fast pace to Daisy Farm so we could get a shelter site. With the exception of Lane Cove, all the shoreline camping spots have several shelters to camp in. They are three walled structures with a screen wall covering the front and one of the best things about them is protection from the flies and mosquitoes. We were all hoping for a shelter spot so we wanted to hike there as quick as possible to improve our chances of securing one since Daisy Farm is a bustling campground due to its proximity to Rock Harbor. While we were hiking, Dave and the other kids would finish packing up the rest of the gear and follow us at Maya and Garrett’s pace.
Naomi and I quickly hiked up the steep incline of the Lane Cove Trail for 2.5 miles until we reached the Greenstone Ridge Trail. After stopping for a couple of minutes to catch our breath, we hiked the 0.3 miles up the Greenstone Ridge Trail to Mount Franklin. From several areas of the trail we could see beautiful views of Lake Superior from all sides. The trail also followed some bald rocks formations so cairns and signs were placed to help us find our way. A couple of times we lost the trail but only for a few seconds and we easily backtracked to find our way.
We continued on the Greenstone Ridge Trail for about 2.5 miles until we came to the Mount Ojibway Lookout Tower. The tower used to serve as a fire lookout but was no longer in use. Here, we climbed as far up the tower as we were allowed and took a quick water break while enjoying the beautiful views. We hadn’t seen a single person since we left the Lane Cove. Isle Royale is the least visited National Park in the lower 48 states. It’s remote location and the required planning and expense involved in reaching the island deter the large numbers of visitors found at more easily accessible parks. This remoteness is one of the things that makes a visit to Isle Royale unique and special and Naomi and I enjoyed the feeling that we were alone in the wilderness.
Climbing down from the tower, we left the Greenstone Ridge Trail and headed down the 1.7 mile Mount Ojibway Trail towards Daisy Farm. With the steady decline, the hike was pretty easy and we started to come across hikers heading towards the tower. We arrived at Daisy Farm mid morning and were happy to find several open shelters to choose from. The shelters eventually filled up so we were glad we had hiked in early. Picking one not too far from shore, we started unpacking our gear and had a fast snack. It wasn’t too long before Dave and the other kids arrived. We all ate lunch before we unpacked and then set about doing the camp chores of water filtration and meal clean up. Lunches on our backpacking trips include peanut butter, crackers, pepperoni and cheese. I found out a couple of years ago that hard cheeses are able to stay fresh for many days on the trail if kept wrapped and stored out of the direct sun and it is now a staple in our backcountry meals. At Daisy Farm we also had hummus (that I rehydrated) with pita chips. Since our hike was fairly short, we were able to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Maya and Garrett found a friend in a little girl out hiking with her parents so they spent the afternoon rock hopping and playing in the shallow water.
Since it is on the Lake Superior shore, Daisy Farm is used as a campground for both hikers and paddlers and we saw several shoreline shelters with canoes and kayaks docked in front. A park ranger also came by our shelter to check our permit and invite us to the evening ranger talk given by Rolf and Candy Peterson. One of the unique attributes of Isle Royale is the presence of wolves. Because of the isolated nature of the island the moose is the main prey of the island’s sole predator, the wolf. The predator/prey relationship between the wolves and moose has been studied for over 5 decades and the research has been an invaluable tool in other wolf reintroduction efforts including the one at Yellowstone National Park. Rolf Peterson has led the research on the island with Candy’s help since the 1970’s. They lived with their sons on Isle Royale most summers while their research was being conducted and they both continue the research effort on the island today. Click here to learn more about the wolf/moose project on Isle Royale. We were thrilled to meet them!
For dinner we made macaroni and cheese with toasted breadcrumbs sprinkled on top. On an earlier backpacking trip we were eating the packaged mac and cheese with the orange goo and I realized that real mac and cheese would not be difficult to make in the backcountry. I made the sauce with clarified butter and flour and then added reconstituted powdered milk and spices before adding the shredded cheddar. Combined with the pasta and topped with toasted breadcrumbs, it was a delicious and filling backcountry meal. We had squares of dark chocolate for dessert.
Later we walked down to the dock to wait for the ranger talk. As we were sitting, we saw Rolf and Candy paddling their canoe across the harbor from their cabin on the other side. The pulled up and unloaded their canoe of moose skulls and bones. They had just returned that day from a multi day canoe trip around the entire island and I decided right there that I want to be Candy Peterson when I grow up. Candy gave the majority of the talk and it was excellent, teaching us about more than just moose and wolves but also about how should each live a life of kindness and tolerance. She followed the talk by asking us all to stand in a circle and sing together as a community. It was a wonderful experience.
While Candy was giving the talk, an adorable little otter ran onto the shore and paddled around showing off for all of us. What happy little animals otters are!
When the talk was finished and Candy and Rolf paddled back home, we stayed on the dock for a while as the sun went down and talked about the day and the presentation we had just heard. Meeting Rolf and Candy Peterson is a highlight of a trip we will never forget. We were learning that Isle Royale is a very special place and we looked forward to our next day at Moskey Basin.
Have you heard of Candy and Rolf Peterson and the Wolf Project they work on? It was such a great experience to meet them!