Marquette Isle Royale
Dates: August 20-25, 2021
People: Mark, David
8-20 (Travel Day)
8-21 (Marquette Trail 50 Race)
8-22 (Isle Royale 1)
8-23 (Isle Royale 2)
8-24 (Isle Royale 3)
8-25 (Travel Day)
FRIDAY AUGUST 20
For my brother the trip began yesterday with a long day of flights. His flight from Little Rock on American was delayed two hours. Thankfully he had a long layover scheduled in Charlotte. The delays ate up almost all the layover He was also delayed leaving Charlotte (thanks a lot American!). He finally got into Detroit at almost 2am. I had already gone to bed (intentionally) for an hour and a half to get a head start on sleep. I then got up to go pick him up.
We made a short night of it as it was basically 3am when we got back and hit the hay and about 7:15a when we were back up to get ready to hit the road. We didn't want to leave home too late as we wanted to be some of the traffic heading north. We left the house 815am. The first several hours passed great as good conversation kept things moving. Minimal traffic also helped. Our first stop was in Grayling where we grabbed an early lunch. We made a gas stop before hitting Mackinac City wanting to bring a full tank into the UP.
We hit the bridge around 1pm and David enjoyed his first time seeing the Mighty Mac. We made our way up towards Munising making good time. We got up there just after 3pm and decided to show David some of Pictured Rocks. We headed to the Miners Castle overlooks and took some pics in and made a short little hike on the North Country Trail. We also hit the Munising Falls Visitor Center for David to get a passport stamp for him.
We made the rest of the drive, another hour, to Marquette and went first to the Forestville Trailhead to do the race check-in for my 50-miler. There was a bit of a line but we enjoyed it talking to another runner about previous races and adventures. She had already done the John Muir Trail and it was fun to hear about that.
After race check-in we headed over to Sugarloaf to check it out and made the hike to the top. We were surprised how many roots and how many sets of stairs it took to get to the top. I was realizing just how big he climbs would be in the morning.
We headed into town and grabbed Subway subs for supper and took them to camp to eat. We were camping the night at the Marquette Tourist Park campground. It had a great location and was a nice enough place for our night. I spent time getting my stuff ready for the race and we tried to hit the hay early after the long day.
SATURDAY AUGUST 21
It was a 4am wakeup for me to get ready for the race today. It was a 5:30am start and we wanted to be there at least 30 minutes early. David was gracious enough to wake up on his own about 4:20am and we were able to hit the road 4:30am. I grabbed some breakfast snacks and had my pack and drop bag all ready to go. David drove towards the Forestville trailhead where about a quarter mile down the hill they had parking attendants directing everyone. As a 50-mile runner we could have used the main parking and at this time of the day there were a ton of spaces. But since David was heading back to our campsite he dropped me off and headed back. I walked the short bit up the hill to the race start.
When David and I parted ways after Hogback during the race he had to hike all the way back over to Sugarloaf while I finished my DNF. I probably had 20-30 minutes at the finish line before he made it over to pick me up. It kinda worked out as it gave me time to eat and drink a bit and begin to digest everything.
After pickup we headed back to our campground to use the showers and get cleaned up. Since I ended my race early we had some extra time we hadn't anticipated and showering was definitely the best use of it. We then headed into town and grabbed a 4pm "lunch" at Culver's. We also hit up meijer for beer and more food and then hit the road for Copper Harbor. David did all the driving which allowed me to catch a quick cat nap on the way.
We hit Copper Harbor at 7pm and proceed on to Fort Wilkins State Park to setup camp. It was windy up there but temps still fairly reasonable. After camp setup we debated supper options which were far and few between. We headed into town hoping to hit the Mariner North for pizza but they were very busy and couldn't give us a carryout. There were no quick options anywhere and we just weren't interested in a lengthy sit down. We finally decided to hit up the grocery story looking for some kind of desperate hot option. We sorta found it. They had hot pockets in their freezer and a microwave so we bought and nuked, standing in the parking lot outside eating our supper.
That was our evening. We headed back to camp and just settled in for the evening getting ready for backpacking in the morning.
SUNDAY AUGUST 22
We were up 6:15am today to strike camp at Fort Wilkins State Park. We didn't tidy my Half Dome 4 tent up too tight as it had a small bit of moisture. We left things loose in the car with the plans to set them out further once we had packed. We grabbed breakfast at camp and swiftly made ready for the day. We needed to be at the Queen IV dock by 7:15am and we were actually a few minutes early. Unfortunately as we pulled up to park they told us wind on Lake Superior was going to delay things by 2 hours. They wouldn't start parking til 9am. So we had two hours to kill. We put the car at a nearby park along the shore and basically walked around for those two hours. We hit the coffee shop at the Queen IV dock and checked things out there for some of the time. When parking did open at 9am we hopped in and got the car situated. They organize their lot based on how long each car is going to be there. After parking we headed towards the ship and they were also loading everyone's packs and kayaks on board. It was about 9:30a when they started boarding after the captain gave a quick talk and tutorial to everyone. We left at 9:50am.
MONDAY AUGUST 23
TUESDAY AUGUST 24
It was 6:15p when the Queen IV pulled into Copper Harbor. We were off the boat pretty quick and our packs were some of the first to be unloaded so we hit the car quickly to start the drive. I started our driving and got us going south down the Keweenah. Things moved well for us and the time flew. We stopped for a good gas deal in Baraga and also found some more good UP beers to bring home with us. We did supper at a McDonalds in Ispheming as the options were ultimately few.
We spent driving time doing searches and discussing our camping options for the night. We considered a shorter drive and camping at the Tourist Park in Munising but they wanted almost $40 for a tent site so we bailed on that. I was voting for a slightly longer drive tonight to hit one of the State Forest Campgrounds not far from St. Ignace. We ultimately settled on this.
We targeted Hog Island and were just hoping they would have a site open when we arrived. It was just after 11:45p when we pulled up there after plenty of good driving. The campground was just off the highway and site #1 was open and we took it. We were no more than a 100 feet of the highway and pleased this all worked out. We setup the tent in the dark and dropped our $15 in one of the self-pay envelopes. Things were still warm outside but it was late enough and we were tired enough we found some sleep.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 25
Last day so one more early start. We just had to pack up camp and finish the drive home. We were up 6:40a and on the road by 7:15am. It was already quite warm and it never cooled much overnight. Probably a low of 69 overnight with no air movement. Made for a muggy night in the tent.
It was cloudy to start and left little views from the Mackinac Bridge as we made our crossing. We made a gas stop near Bay City but otherwise kept moving. We listened to a handful of podcasts today to keep the drive entertaining and move the time along. As we neared the Metro area I considered heading east on 96 over to 275 to come down and maybe hit the Chick-fil-A in Novi for lunch. Ultimately decided against this as we just wanted to avoid traffic and get home. So instead we kept on 23 by Ann Arbor. We hit the Taco Bell in Milan for lunch before making our way the rest of the way home. It was just before 1pm when we hit the house.
As a bonus to our trip, and to show my brother more of the outdoor fun of Michigan, I took him out for some kayaking on the river in the afternoon. HE was also able to get one more passport stamp at the Raisin National Battlefield Park