Isle Royale National Park June 2015 – Day 2 – Three Mile to Moskey Basin

Previous: Rock Harbor to Three Mile

Today’s Miles: 8.3    Total Miles: 11

We woke up at 5:30 in the morning to the girls in the shelter next to us moving around and talking loudly.   Someone loudly yelling “oh look a bunny!” isn’t my favorite thing to wake up to, though I did enjoy seeing the palest of sunrises from the shelter.  I immediately then fell back asleep and slept through Andrew’s alarm.

We wound up waking up around 8 and staying in our warm sleeping bags until almost 9 AM.  It’s so difficult to get out of the snuggly down bag, especially with a great view of Lake Superior.

Checking out the morning light

We ate some oatmeal for breakfast, with instant coffee for Andrew, and started off around 9:30.

Cooking Breakfast

Cooking Breakfast

We were back on the Rock Harbor Trail, which was very similar to the section from Rock Harbor to Three Mile (rocky) for the first mile or so.  But then it turned into mud.  I hate rocks, and Andrew hates mud, so both of us were a little weary by the time we’d made it to Daisy Farm and stopped for lunch.

Muddy trail

Muddy trail

Some of the muddiest areas of the trail have plank boardwalks.  They were a welcome reprieve from muddy, squishy, mosquito filled swamp.


We did pass some pretty cool scenery on our way, though!  Isle Royale has a history of mining, and we passed by one of the mines from the late 1800s, Siskowit Mine.  We also passed by the Rock Harbor Lighthouse (see the featured image from this post), the Edison Fishery, and a few loons.


Loon, with the Edison Fishery in the background

We got to Daisy Farm around 11:30 and hung out for nearly an hour.  There was a group of three girls that’d we’d briefly met on the Ranger III that we chatted with for a bit.  They were on their way to Moskey Basin as well.  We had one of my favorite trail lunches – Manchego cheese and crackers.  Manchego is a hard cheese that doesn’t spoil over the course of a few days and stays really firm and not-sweaty.  It’s got a slightly softer texture than Parmesan, and is more mild.  It goes great with pita or Triscuits, and is energy dense and easy to cut.  I know I may be over hyping this cheese, but try carrying it on your next backpacking trip and tell me you’re not a convert.

Our lunch spot - the Daisy Farm dock.

Our lunch spot – the Daisy Farm dock

We got our first taste of Daisy Farm, the largest campsite at Isle Royale, with 16 shelters, a ranger residence, and six tent shelters.  We had plans to come back in a few days, so it was cool to get a bit of a preview.

The weather was still clear and sunny as we started up the last few miles of the Rock Harbor trail, which leads to Moskey Basin.  The first part of the trail goes up to a ridge and then goes over – who would’ve guessed – more rocks.


Day 2 path in blue

This is an exhausting part of the trail – there’s two miles of carin-marked trail through rocks that go up and down.  10 feet up, 15 feet down, 25 feet up, 5 down.  Very grueling.  I ate my first energy goo, which replenishes some of your electrolytes.  I hadn’t eaten much yet on the trip, so it was a nice energy boost.  It was borderline hot on the ridge, and it didn’t help that there were very few clouds on the exposed rocks.  It took us a while to get through the rocky area, but once we got passed it, there was a pleasant downhill section down to Moskey Basin.  We saw lots of moose droppings, but no moose.

We got to Moskey Basin around 3 PM, and all of the shelters were taken, so we wound up at tent site 5.  I had heard from several people that Moskey Basin was their favorite campground, but unfortunately, the weather wasn’t conducive to great views.  Down off of the ridge, it was a good fifteen degrees colder, and it was very cloudy.  Most of the shelters were right on the bay, less than 20 feet of the water, and the wind was pretty strong, so it was probably better that we were in our tent!  I think that in the right weather, it would be nice, but I preferred Three Mile.

Cooking dinner at Moskey Basin

Cooking dinner at Moskey Basin

Moskey Basin does have a large dock that we sunbathed on for a bit.  It is also much quieter than the areas of the park we’d explored thus far, partially because it is a “no wake zone” for boats.  We really hoped to see a moose, but no such luck.  We did have some very curious squirrels at the campsite though!  The water in the areas seems prime for exploring via canoe or kayak.  We saw a family in one of the shelters that had two kayaks out in front of it, and I have to admit, I was a bit jealous!

Weather not quite as beautiful at Moskey Basin, but the water was calm

Weather not quite as beautiful at Moskey Basin, but the water was calm

We ate some Trader Joe’s dried tortellini for dinner, which was easy and tasty.  I ate it with olive oil, and Andrew ate his with some marinara sauce.  We hung out in our tent for much of the evening, and hung some of our sweaty clothes up on a line to dry them out a bit.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

We spent our evening reading and relaxing.  I finished my first book of the trip on my Kindle, Ready Player One, and started my second, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.  We talked about what our plan was for the next day.  Our initial plan had been to go to McCargoe Cove, but we decided it would likely be too strenuous after a long day, crossing over several ridges.  It would also have forced us to have our last two days be at least eight miles, and we hadn’t heard a weather report in several days.  We decided to return to Daisy Farm the next day.  Tired, and just a smidge sore from our long day, we went to bed as a light rain just started to fall on our tent.

View from our tent

View of the bay from our tent

Continue to Day 3

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