Isle Royale in Lake Superior

October 23, 2010


Greenstones, Wolves, Moose and Thimbleberries

On the map, Isle Royale looks like the eye in the wolf’s head shape of Lake Superior, with Duluth its snout and the Keweenaw Peninsula its mouth. It is precious since there are few places left on this planet that have been preserved like this. It is unique; some of the oldest rocks on this planet form Isle Royale, its plants and animals and minerals. There are copper mining pits on the Island where native Americans dug rich veins of copper long ago.

When I think of Isle Royale, I think of Eden, a place away from cars and the noise of machinery. There is no traffic on Isle Royale; only hiking trails. The sounds of Isle Royale are of bugling moose, the silvery songs of northern songbirds, the lapping of waves on rocks and the quavering voices of loons. Sometimes there is the slap of a beaver’s tail. The resident pack of wolves is elusive and seldom seen. We did not hear them at all.

My husband and I hiked the trails there and I’ll never forget the thimbleberries higher than our heads along a trail. We picked the large berries like none other I have ever tasted, copper color, tangy and delicious.

We found greenstones, Michigan’s semi-precious stone. We stayed on Isle Royale for a week and every day we took a different hiking trail. We watched a diving duck teaching her young to dive. We saw a fox near its den, and had a close encounter with a moose. As we hiked, my husband Norm said, “I smell a moose.” I didn’t believe him, but as we came around the bend, there it was, bigger than life, standing athwart our trail. We kept a respectful distance and it casually strolled off.

We did not fish, but the rocks off of the island are the place where the Isle Royale redfin lake trout spawn as they have for millennia. This is an endemic species and its good to know it is still returning to Isle Royale every year before returning to the depths of Lake Superior.

Also published on the Great Lakes Town Hall

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2 Responses to “Isle Royale in Lake Superior”

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