Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back from the Wilderness

We're back! It was a beautiful place to visit -- and the only way to see it is to either kayak or backpack. We were in the "backcountry" for four days, hiking or backpacking on three of them. As you know, I had never backpacked before so it was quite an experience. The good news: I was able to use pit toilets and spare myself the whole pooping-in-the-woods thing. (There, I got that out of the way. I know you were all wondering.)

After a 10 1/2 hour drive, we spent the night in Copper Harbor -- the northenmost part of Michigan. Then we took the 3 hour ferry to Isle Royale. M was excited that it looked just like it used to look when he was a teenager, only smaller (as most things do as we grow up!) We got our packs on and headed over to the water taxi, which took us to Daisy Farm. Daisy Farm would be our home for two nights. The water taxi dropped us off at the dock and the boys and M checked out the map to see where we'd sleep for the night.
We basically had to walk around the campsite to find an open site. If no one was there, we could have it. We were lucky to not only find a site, but to find a shelter! I was so excited -- in addition, it was just a stone's throw from the lake (Lake Superior, that is.) We set up our two 2-man tents in the shelter just in case it rained (you can see the tent through the screen of the shelter in the picture.)

This is taken from the picnic table in our site looking towards the lake. M and R were filtering water when I took this picture. We filtered water twice a day so that we would each have 2-3 liters of water a day to drink, plus enough to cook and wash dishes with.

Now, about our backpacks. T carried about 14 pounds when we added his water for the day. We each carried our own sleeping bag, clothes, extra pair of shoes, and our own water -- plus food. (M and I carried the tents and cooking gear. The picture below shows what T carried: two ziplock bags with his clothes (one for shirts, undies, socks, and one for pants/shorts.) He also carried two dinners (dehydrated minestrone soup and beef strongenoff) and the hot drink bag (instant coffee, tea bags, cocoa bags, creamers, and splenda) and his fishing pole and reel.

R carried similar things to T, but a bit more. His food included some heavier things -- granola bars and oatmeal for each day. He also carried my air mattress, which I'm forever grateful.

After we got our camp squared away, we hit the lake. Both boys went swimming in their skivvies as did all of the other backpackers out on the dock. R stayed in the water for almost an hour and loved running and jumping off the pier. T was in the water too, but got out often to warm up on the dock.

After dinner ("Daisy Farm Tuna Mac" named by M) the boys and I played a mean game of Crazy Eights.

M and the boys tried their hand at fishing a few times, but with no luck. Later in the trip, we heard that it was a really bad year for trout.

The next day was our day hike up to Mount Ojibiway. It was a little more than six miles round trip. With the incline to get to the top, we were glad that we didn't have our packs with us. M carried T's pack as a daypack for our lunch (PB&J on tortillas) and water. R carried a hip pack with our first aid kit in it.

Some times we hiked through swamps, so the forest rangers built these boardwalks, which I loved.

The view from the top was stunning. We could see Canada, which was what the boys were hoping would be the case.

The next day we headed out for our second camp, Three Mile. It was a four mile hike with full packs. The last mile was a BEAR, and the first three miles weren't that easy either. The trail was clearly marked, but there were tons of tree roots and rocks just waiting to twist an ankle. The last mile was up and down over boulders. We were thrilled to arrive at the campsite and even more thrilled to get a shelter right on the water again.

Setting out on the trip at 9 AM, we were all in good spirits. R and T stop for a water break using our hydration bladders in our packs.
A few hours later they weren't so happy and fresh. They hung in there, but were glad to have a break. T rarely got tired, he was always raring to go. R got pretty tired and not so happy at times. Funny how that turned out...
With a little more hiking to do, we made it to our great camping spot for the night.

We woke up to see the sunrise and get an early start the next day. We had showers and comfy beds on our minds, and wanted to get to them as soon as we could. T took this picture of the sunrise at our campsite. Beautiful.

It's amazing how a swim, good dinner, and good night sleep can be so refreshing. The boys donned their bandannas and we took off for the Lodge -- 4 miles away.

Here's a view of the Lodge from the water - it's very quaint. It looks nicer than it is -- the rooms are like a Motel 6 room. It didn't have a TV, but it had a bath and a shower and two comfy beds. That's all we needed!

Here we are all cleaned up and ready say good bye to the island and take the ferry back to the mainland.


CaliforniaGrammy said...

What an awesome adventure, I'm so proud of all of you! With tears streaming down my face with pride as I was reading your post, I thought of each and every one of you hiking with sweat rolling down your cheeks but persevering 'til you got to your destination each day. Y'all did fantastic, and I know this will be one of those treasured memories that will last forever!

Ken said...

What a great trip!!! I will be a great memory and the hike will get easer as time passes. Hip Hip Hooray for all of you.

jennavar said...

What a beautiful place to spend time with Gods Glorious Backyard! Absolutely beautiful. I'm very proud of you all. Definite memories!

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I just wanted to let T know that the composition of his sunrise picture is gorgeous. I love the way the trees on the left act as a frame as the sun is rising over the lake. Nice job with an artistic eye for a good picture!

A.J. said...

I'm so glad you're back! I would look at those maps you sent, the ones saying, "Can you find us?" and it looked as if you were at the end of the earth! Each one farther and farther away! Til you really couldn't go farther! And I just wanted you to get back home! So I was relieved to see the map with roads and highways, etc.
But what a great time you had. I'll bet it was so quiet except for nature sounds. So pretty, and you are all such troopers!
You all really should do it again, what with all that equipment you've acquired! You had the equipment! Loved the pics and stories.

Aunt Patty said...

Yes, y'all did do fantastic, I'm amazed how well you all did, especially that little T, what a trooper!! Great pictures, great blog, great adventure, great memories for all of you. I know M must be happy to have gone back to all those memories with his great family. Love the pics, the whole story. Your the real trooper S!!

grandmaonthelake said...

Wow… Awesome… Beautiful…

So happy you had such a wonderful summer adventure together.
Thanks for sharing those “tell it” all pictures. They made me feel like I was there too! What a special mom you are to go on such an adventure in the wilderness with your guys. I don’t think any of you will ever forget this trip.
xoxoxo, Grandmaonthelake
PS. Had trouble getting on again but fixed it now.