Isle Royale National Park Greenstone Ridge Trail Part 6
Moskey Basin to West Chickenbone Lake
Approximate miles hiked- 7
Summer road trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Here’s our driving route for our full itinerary- Michigan Road Trip
I woke at dawn again and quietly left the shelter to see the beautiful Moskey Basin sunrise. A sailboat was anchored in the middle of the basin as the sun peeked over the horizon and the scene looked like a postcard. The water was perfectly flat and everything was quiet except the sounds of birds. I sat on the flat rock in front of our shelter and made coffee while I enjoyed the sunrise.
Our family will always remember Moskey Basin as an enchanted place and we were sad to leave when we started getting ready for our 7 mile hike to West Chickenbone Lake. We made a good breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, rehydrated peppers and cheese in tortillas and enjoyed it very much while we still chattered about hearing the wolves the night before. We all felt lucky to be in such a special place.
The sun was bright and hot already at this early hour so we made sure to have plenty of water filtered to take with us and we set off on the 2 mile hike to Lake Richie down the Lake Richie Trail. The trail isn’t especially difficult here, but the heat made the hiking tough and we were ready for a break when we arrived at Lake Richie. There is not a lot of shade along the Lake Richie shore, but we found a little grove of trees and stopped for a short break after chatting with a group of boy scouts out fishing. Garrett decided he wanted to try to fish for a while too so we got out the pole so he could fish for a bit. The rest of us rested in the shade and Maya decided to wade in the water a bit to cool off. Garrett hadn’t had any bites after a half hour or so we decided to head on down the trail.
That’s when we discovered that the mud Maya was having trouble washing off her feet was not stubborn dirt but in fact two leeches stuck to her. LEECHES! Maya started screaming along with everyone else so I went in to calm nurse mode and pretended I was not at all freaked out by pulling sucking leeches off my baby girl’s feet. Once they were pulled off, I cleaned her feet and she put her boots back on but not before the kids took a re-enactment photo.
We now started off down the Indian Portage Trail and the weather was HOT! Even for July, the weather was unseasonably warm. We passed one canoeist portaging to Lake LeSage which seemed like a ton of work. Portaging required that he leapfrog his gear and then his canoe back and forth until it was all at the lake. I hope he caught plenty of fish after doing all that work. Because of the rolling nature of the Indian Portage Trail and the fact that it passes by several pretty lakes, the views were beautiful.
Our whole family hiked together this day and the time passed pretty quickly as we soon hiked past Lake LeSage and Lake Livermore. Along the trail, Naomi pointed out some moose bones off to the side which was another reminder of how unique Isle Royale is. I haven’t been many places where moose bones are laying around.
The heat of the day eventually wore on us and required us to take several breaks. It also made the boggy areas of the trail feel especially humid and oppressive. We were all pretty tired. Naomi joked that she could barely even get off the ground after one of our breaks but she eventually made it up on her feet with Garrett’s help.
Eventually after what felt like forever, we made it to the Greenstone Ridge Trail and the spur trail which led to the West Chickenbone Campground. Click here to see a more detailed map showing the locations of various campgrounds and trails across the island and where we hiked this day. We climbed down the trail and found a camping spot. Several other sites were filled with other hikers and we chatted with a few of them. We found out later that one of the guys we talked to ended up falling early the next morning and broke his arm. Instead of hiking the Greenstone to Windigo as we were doing, he had to hike the 3 mile trail to McCargoe Cove on the Lake Superior shore in order to be boated out by some fishermen. We ran into them at Windigo two days later as he was just then getting on a ferry to Grand Portage. He still hadn’t been able to get to a doctor!
We were all pretty beat and getting the camp chores done felt very much like work as we set up our tents and started making dinner. While Chickenbone Lake is definitely pretty, it was not nearly as spectacular as our last three camp sites. The lake water was brown tinged even after filtering and there were bugs flying all around biting us if we sat still for more than 10 seconds. Sophie set about documenting our misery and I will include this for honesty’s sake- no backpacking trip is complete without a little misery! If there was no misery, the amazing might feel slightly less so.
The first thing I did after setting up the tents was get a bucket of water from the lake and washed my hair and cleaned myself up. The day had been hot and sweaty and I had to get the trail grime off of me. After that I felt MUCH better and I don’t think pictures of me would be quite so scary! Dinner was angel hair pasta with pesto and shredded parmesan cheese with squares of dark chocolate for dessert. Delicious! The kids also picked tons of thimbleberries around the camp and we ate them as well. It’s amazing how much a bath and a good meal improves morale! Around this time we saw a FAMILY walk through camp! It is not very often, actually never, that we have met another family with several young children out on the trail. Out kids were excited and as kids do, they went and introduced themselves. Crazy enough, our new friends had 3 girls and 1 boy including a set of boy/girl twins just like us! In addition, their plans matched ours for the rest of the time at Isle Royale so we were lucky to get to know them during our stay.
I also met several new friends down at the lake when I went to collect water. Oddly enough the kids decided not to swim here. I mean really, have you ever seen a leech that big? Yuck.
It had been an eventful day for us and we were tired when we settled in to our tents at sunset and all fell asleep pretty quickly listening to the sounds of loons on West Chickenbone Lake. We left our tent fly off so we could see all the stars and it was beautiful! Tomorrow we would continue on the Greenstone Ridge Trail on our way to Windigo.
Do you agree that a little bit of misery adds spice to a trip? I sure do!