Isle Royale National Park Greenstone Ridge Trail Part 7
Hike from West Chickenbone Lake to Hatchet Lake
Approximate miles hiked- 8 miles
Here’s our driving route- Michigan Road Trip- Summer 2012
We woke up at our camp in West Chickenbone Lake to another beautiful morning. Several times throughout the night I woke to the eerie sound of Loon cries across the lake. What a wonderful sound to wake up to! Once it was light, I slipped out of the tent to check out the lake view in the early morning and I was also hoping to see wildlife. The lake was misty and calm and I was hoping a moose would find it a peaceful place to hang out as well, but I didn’t see any.
The sun was sparkling and warm and we ate a fast breakfast of Clif Bars and coffee so we could get on the trail before it got too hot. We packed quickly with all of the kids helping and waved good-bye to our new friends telling them we would see them later at Hatchet Lake. The 0.2 mile spur to get back to the Greenstone Ridge Trail was quite a climb so we warmed up quickly. It was clear that the other trails we had been hiking on were much more traveled than this section of the Greenstone as vegetation grew almost completely over the trail in many parts and brushed against our arms and legs as we hiked through. The mosquitoes and flies were also much more bothersome on this section of the trail so a few of us used head nets to keep the bugs off of our faces.
It felt great hiking today since we had eaten much of the weight in our packs and the scenery also helped pass the time. I was especially thankful for the lighter load this section of the trail as it had several big climbs. But as always, hard work brings rewards and we definitely enjoyed the views. Around 11 or so, we reached Mount Siskiwit and stopped for lunch in the shade of some shrubs on the rocky crest. From our vantage point the lakes looked wonderfully blue next to all the greenery.
After lunch of peanut butter and crackers and trail mix, we got back on the trail. The trail was pretty tough in this section with several big climbs and dips and hard rock as our footpath. Luckily, much of it was in the shade so we had some protection from the hot sun. We were also happy to have lots of thimbleberries to munch on as the kids especially loved their sweet/sour taste. Dave, Sophie and Naomi also were lucky enough to see a mama moose and her twins run off into the thicket before I came around the corner with our own twins. We were bummed to have missed them!
We were all very grateful when we reached the signpost for the Hatchet Lake Campground spur trail early in the afternoon, although we definitely grumbled about the steep descent during the 0.5 mile trek to our campsite knowing it would be a difficult start for the next morning. The first thing we did when we got to our site was take off our boots. Our feet were aching from hiking on the hard rock trail that was the Greenstone for most of the day.
Hatchet Lake is another pretty inland lake and we set up camp quickly so we could go explore. We chose Site 2 because it had easy lake access down a short but steep trail. There was much shrubbery and trees throughout all the sites at this camp and tiny Isle Royale squirrels chattered and fussed at us as the ran about the trees.
Once camp was set up, we all walked down to the lake to sit in the shade. The water looked very inviting after the heat of the day and we met an older couple with their adult daughter as they took a swim. We all were worried about leeches since Maya’s encounter at Lake Richie but when the three of them came out of the water unscathed, the kids decided it was worth the risk and they all jumped in with Dave. Being the overly cautious type, I decided to just watch though it did look like fun. Garrett climbed out of the water first, and no leeches! We all breathed a sigh of relief until Sophie crawled out and we saw two big black leeches attached to her legs. AHHHH! Pandemonium broke out as the rest of the family rushed to get out of the water. Two on Naomi and two more on Maya. Dave was lucky enough to have none attached to him. I pulled them all off as quickly as I could amidst the panic and screaming as I was trying not to laugh. As a side note, we talked to a group of guys the next afternoon out on the trail and one of them had to spend two hours pulling of the 16 leeches attached to him after his dip in Lake Hatchet a few days prior. Ick!!! Once everyone had checked and double checked their bodies for the little blood suckers, we went back to our site to cook dinner.
For dinner we had chili with corncakes. You can click here for the recipe! Oh my goodness this meal was so good! I had dehydrated all the components of a good pot of chili- tomatoes, ground beef, green chilies, pinto beans, black beans, and corn and combined them all with water and spices to make a delicious fresh tasting chili. I fried corn cakes with butter and honey to go with it and it was my favorite meal of the whole trip. Happy and full we walked around the camp and hung out with our new friends who had arrived at camp right when we were busy pulling leeches off each other. It was a beautiful night in a beautiful place and we all felt blessed.
We planned get to bed early so we would be ready to hike another 8 miles to South Lake Desor the next morning. We didn’t know it yet, but Isle Royale had different plans for us!
Have you been to Hatchet Lake? Hope no leeches bothered you!