2013 B&P Holiday Gift guide: An Island

Islands comes in many different forms.  What they have in common is also their primary virtues: isolation from everyday life, and time alone with something new.

When it comes to backpacking, Isle Royale is my favorite island.

Getting out into the center of Lake Superior is a costly nuisance, which is how traveling to an island should be.  Not too many folks make it out to Isle Royale, and those who do are in my experience quite a bit more contemplative and well behaved than the average daily ruffian. 

I’d like to go again, in either the very early or very late season. Due to ferry schedules, early means early May, and late means late September going into the first week of October. Spring would mean more daylight and enhanced animal activity, fall would mean changing foliage. Either would do.

A big part of what I find appealing about Isle Royale is how big the fairly small island feels. The terrain is impressively convoluted, with many ridges which are hard to see for all the trees. The bogs and swamps make off-trail travel intimidating, or at least so I think, as I’ve never tried it. My ideal backpacking trip would sample some of the easy trails on the island, some of the hard ones, some bushwacking, and have plenty of packrafting. It would need to be doable in right around a week, as the early and late season ferrys do not run everyday. Here’s a rough sketch of what I have in mind.

Our flight in years ago (first video, above) revealed that a bunch of the coast south of Rainbow Cove is walkable beach. I’d like to see if there are game trails around the rock headlands, or if you’d need to float around them. It seems like Red Oak Ridge has to have game trail along it, and the western Minog is worth hiking twice. Lake hopping in the eastern part of the island should be really fun.

There are other islands out there, both literal and figurative, which are worth visiting. Go find one.

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2 thoughts on “2013 B&P Holiday Gift guide: An Island

  1. Thank you for the post and your suggested trip route. It has been on my to-do list for over 20 years, but the travel, even from MSP, always put me off.

  2. Dave, my gift to give would be the Lake itself and all its rugged, encompassing topography… that is my ‘island’. The Lake Superior/Canadian Shield area is a uniquely wild area that has a character all its own, much like its inverse and my other island – the Utah’s desert. The east and north shore of Lake Superior defy description and one should take the time to experience each season there. If you ever find yourself with a free week or two, you and M should spend time circumnavigating the Big Lake. I think you would find the potential for packraft adventures would be second only to Alaska. Hap Wilson (http://hapwilson.com/) has authored several books on the region and The Temagami Canoe guide could be a revelation for your future packrafting pursuits.

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