Isle Royale National Park Greenstone Ridge Trail Part 5
Daisy Farm to Moskey Basin
Approximate miles hiked- 4
Here’s our driving route- Michigan Road Trip- Summer 2012
When planning a vacation I like to research the area so that I know how best to visit. One book that I found invaluable in planning our Isle Royale hike was Isle Royale National Park: Foot Trails & Water Routes written by Jim DuFresne. This book gives detailed information about each trail and breaks them down into sections accurately describing the difficulty and terrain. I loved this book so much that I carried it with me the whole time we were hiking on the island knowing it was worth the weight. I also enjoy reading trip reports on the internet when planning as this allows me to get real world perspectives of the area from regular people. When researching Isle Royale, I found a great travel blog which detailed the author’s 8 day visit to the island called Black Coffee at Sunrise. I read the blog posts several times and the author’s experiences with the beautiful sunrise and encountering a pack of wolves convinced me to stay at least one night at Moskey Basin, so that was our destination for the night. An added bonus was that it was only 4 miles away from Daisy Farm so it would basically be a rest day.
I woke up early just as the sun was starting to rise so I quietly left the shelter so the others could sleep and went to soak up the view from the shore. I was the only one out on the dock as the sun came up and I felt like this moment was a present to me from God. The sounds of birds starting to chatter and the view of the vivid colors was a sensory experience I won’t forget. The sunrises on Isle Royale are breathtakingly beautiful and I hope you visit one day so you can see it yourself. I walked back to the shelter and made our breakfast of oatmeal with dried fruit and walnuts as well as coffee and hot chocolate and then woke all the sleepyheads up. Days are long on Isle Royale during the summer months with sunrise around 6 AM and sunset around 10 PM so even going to bed at sunset was later than the younger two were used to.
Our plan for the day was much like yesterday. Two of us would hike ahead to Moskey Basin to secure one of the six available shelters and the rest of us would clean up the site, finish packing, and follow from behind. This approach was working great. Not only were we securing shelter space, it allowed each of us to hike at the pace we wanted which can sometimes be difficult with 4 kids of various ages and speeds. On this day Dave and Garrett were going ahead and the rest of us would follow. They headed off down the Daisy Farm trail which would connect them to the Rock Harbor Trail which led to Moskey Basin. A detailed map of the campground and trail locations can be found here.
Our mileage for the day was only going to be about four miles so the rest of us took our time getting ready to go. Staying in the shelter made getting ready pretty simple since we didn’t have to pack up damp tents. Once packed and ready, we started on the 0.2 mile spur of the Daisy Farm Trail. When the trail connected to the Rock Harbor Trail, Sophie and Naomi asked if they could hike ahead. Since the trail was a 3.5 mile straight shot to Moskey Basin and they have hiked many trails previously, I let them go ahead. At 14 and 12, this was a first for them to be on a trail without a parent directly with them and I think they enjoyed the freedom. They are strong hikers and off they went powering down the trail with Maya and I taking up the rear. I really enjoy hiking with Maya. Even though she is the youngest, she is strong and determined. She also knows how to have a fun time while hiking and we passed the time singing songs she learned at summer camp and pretending that every sound we heard was a wolf or a moose. The sun rose hot and bright and the sky was clear and blue. The hiking was pretty easy with no major inclines but gentle rises and falls. A few times we seemed to lose the trail when traveling over the rocky portions but we were easily able to backtrack and the cairns kept us on course. You would have to really zone out to lose the trail in any real way.
Before we knew it we arrived at Moskey Basin. Dave and Garrett had arrived before any other hikers and had their pick of the shelters so we were lucky to have one with a prime view and a large playing rock right on the water. It wasn’t long before all the shelters were full and I also saw a few campers in the tent area. The shelters are spread out in such a way that you know you have neighbors, but you are not right on top of them. We ate a filling lunch of rehydrated pinto beans, salsa and peppers topped with shredded cheddar in tortillas and made quick work of the camp chores of setting up our sleeping bags, filtering water and doing “laundry” which consisted of rinsing our dusty clothes in the water and laying them on our front porch rock to dry. Since we had left Daisy Farm early and hadn’t hiked far, we basically had an entire day at Moskey Basin and we enjoyed every minute. Throwing on our bathing suits, we all swam in the relatively warm water in front of our shelter. Because this area is very shallow the sun is able to somewhat warm the water. It was definitely warmer than the ice cold water closer to the dock. For much of the afternoon we just enjoyed the day by fishing, playing chess and cards, and swimming.
After a while, we walked over a ridge to the Moskey Basin Dock. Several campers were hanging out on the dock and taking turns jumping off into the cold water so the kids decided to take a turn and jump in too. The water here was much colder and it was so clear you could see right to the bottom. It was too cold to stay in for long though!
After all the play we were hungry. Dinner was Stuffed Pita Pizzas which consisted of sautéed cured sausage, rehydrated tomato sauce and bell peppers combined with shredded mozzarella and stuffed inside pita pockets which we grilled over our little camp stove. Easy and delicious! We made instant chocolate pudding for dessert with reconstituted milk powder. After dinner, we relaxed on the large rock in front of shelter and enjoyed our evening while soaking in the view. Several birds were swimming in the basin and a momma merganser and her chicks entertained us for quite a while.
As always, the setting sun called the mosquitoes out to feast on us and we were chased into the shelter. I read several stories out loud to everyone from Haunted Lakes: Great Lakes Ghost Stories, Superstitions and Sea Serpents by Frederick Stonehouse. I had just turned out our lantern and we were all falling asleep when we heard the unmistakable sound of a wolf howl. We all sat straight up in our sleeping bags and couldn’t believe what we had just heard! Before long the silence was broken again, this time by the howls of several wolves. It has to be the most amazing animal sound I have ever heard. The back and forth wolf “conversation” went on for quite a while and we felt so fortunate to have been in Isle Royale for such an amazing experience! Listen to this YouTube video to hear how they sound. Pretty amazing, right? Eventually the night grew quiet again and we all fell asleep. Our day at Moskey Basin had been one we would never forget.
Have you ever heard the sound of wolves howling? If not, I hope you do someday. It is a sound I will NEVER forget!