I slept well at South Lake Desor and awoke to find that the weather did not exactly match my expectations. The ten day forecast, which I had been monitoring closely in the days prior to my advent on the isle had been for lows in the 40’s and highs in the 50’s. In short, perfect hiking temps.
My shirt, my pants, my underwear and my shoes were all crusted with a thin sheet of ice when I emerged from the tent to see how much they had dried overnight. There was a layer of frosty ice on the toes of my shoes. The tent itself was filled with condensation over the entire interior and dew/frost covered on the outside. Without exaggeration it was far wetter than the day before when I had packed up in light rain. My socks – the poor things were holding so much water in the wool that they were still so wet that no ice had formed on them. As I assessed the state of my union I could hear loons calling from the lake.
To top things off for this rocky start, my right ankle hurt more than when I had gone to bed the night before and I had a raging case of chapped arse from hiking 15 miles in wet clothes.
On the bright side it wasn’t raining; I could get my tent good and dry with a little time. And my first aid/hygiene kit included a small container of Gold Bond powder, just for this happt occasion. That stuff can usually really improve some chub rub and make your day better.
I doctored my poor sore arse cheeks and then steeled myself for what needed to be done. I shed my sleeping clothes and put on all my icy wet gear from the clothesline. Best way to warm and dry it at this point.
I wiped the tent down, inside and out, with my kitchen shammy. Then I started breakfast. Hot oatmeal was joined on this day by hot coffee. I brought enough coffee packets to have it daily but until now I had abstained. This was a good time for hot coffee.
Great thing about my hiking clothes – they dry pretty well and quickly from body heat. Once the initial chill was off they got comfy fairly quickly. The only low pqiint was the socks. I brought two pairs of socks for this trip. One for hiking and one for sleeping. Now I could always change up that designation but I chose them with this in mind. Hiking socks: Darn Tough, boot cut, high wool content. They could take a week of hiking and still not stink. Wool will keep you warm even when wet. Sleeping socks: Darn Tough, boot cut, Coolmax – zero wool. They’re great for sleeping because they wick really well and keep my feet from getting too hot while still providing warmth and comfort. The hiking socks were just hoing to be wet today and that was that.
In no rush, I took my time and got the tent squared away properly and felt good knowing that at the end of the day I wouldn’t be pulling it out wet. I pulled out of camp around 9:35, with the intent of going to Siskiwit Bay. As I departed a pair of crows flew overhead; cawing loudly. The squirrel mafia was nowhere to be seen.
The mushrooms that can be found on Isle Royale astounded me on this day. My journey took me through a variety of different microclimates and many of these areas hosted numerous fungi, often larger than I thought to see in this harsh area. A few are pictured here but I took over 50 photos – and that’s just what was trailside that I didn’t miss (I miss obvious things all the time).
Departing the Greenstone Ridge I took the Island Mine trail southward. I planned to have lunch at the Island Mine campsite if it was a good site. It turned out that it wasn’t. I kept moving. About 1/4 mile after Island Mine I chose a semi-sunny rock and laid out a lunch of ground beef and tortillas.
The trail elevation steadily decreased until I found myself back at lake level. To someone who grew up close enough to the Gulf of Mexico that summer expeditions for a weekend or even a week here and there were always within reach (remember $.79/gal gasoline) it’s very odd to walk along the shore of Lake Superior, where the sand is grey and composed of rock particles, the water is chillingly cold and fresh, and water depth may plunge over a hundred feet right beside the shore.
The trail involved a LOT of boardwalk as I progressed. And several places where I had to just go walk on the rocky sand beach because the trail had been consumed in spots by marsh. The sun was out and a light breeze played amongst the scrub trees and grass as I approached the finish of my miles for the day. My left foot was now sore on the top side down by the toes and each time I lifted my foot the very minor weigh of the shoe would make me wince. My right foot no longer had pain in the tarsal area but the ankle was hurting a bit more.
After following the waterline for quite a distance the trail turned inland for a bit and then arrived at Siskiwit Bay campsite. This was another deluxe campsite equipped with picnic tables at every site. As I went down the site trail I spotted moose tracks right there in camp. I wound up at site #2 as I found site #1 was already occupied by a couple who were using hammocks as their sleep system.
I hung up my ground tarp and tent on my clothesline to allow them to dry any remaining moisture from the day’s icy start. Then I went down to the pier to fetch some water. On the way I noticed an apple tree, complete with ripe apples. I knocked one down with my trekking pole and stashed it in a pocket. Good eating. Fresh fruit is a real treat in situations like this.
I filled my water bladder completely full and headed back to my campsite. Then I got out the Dr. Bronners and proceeded to wash the muddiest and nastiest of my trail clothing including my still-damp socks. With all the items wrung out I draped them over the clothesline and got the tent set up while wearing my sleeping clothes.
Then I washed me. The water was ungodly cold. But I needed it. I poured enough on myself to get wet and lathered up with Dr Bronners. Then I rinsed and repeated the process. Declaring the process complete, I dried as well as I could with my tiny little shammy cloth and put clothes back on. When the shivering stopped I felt much much better. That cleaning was due.
I headed back down to the pier area to refill my emptied water bladder and detoured down by the fire pit on my way and discovered where someone had put a dozen apples of various sizes and ripeness on the picnic table there. I selected a very small one that looked somewhat ripe and bit into it. SOUR! I ate it with gusto.
I made my way back to my tent and cooked dinner: Mountain House lasagna. Tasty but the marinara was a little sweet to my taste. Real cheese in there.