August 4, 2009

Summary: Paddle 15.9 miles.. Todd Harbor to Pickeral Cove (include side trip into McCargo Cove)

Daily Journal

Travel from Todd Harbor to Pickeral Cove..

NOTE: photos are posted first then additional text, and lastly the comprehensive journals... thanks for your patience.

Here I am at the Pittsburg Mine and Isle Royale mine ruins only 100 yards from my camp site in Todd Harbor.

Efficiency is often on the paddlers mind. How long it takes to come ashore and unload to do an on land exploration was considered when I stopped at Todd Harbor. I decided to paddle the extra 6 miles from Little Todd Harbor all the way to Todd Harbor in order to take advantage of visiting the mine sites the next morning before loading up the kayak. This saved me close to two hours.

Looking out on Lake Superior from the Isle Royale mine site
An alert Seagull resting on a rock just off the small Kamloops Island. You can see the main island in the background.

As I approach the site of the sunken Kamloops ship wreck of 1927 I see there is a boat that I assume has a dive crew exploring the ship.

This image was borrowed from

Superior Trips LLC

It was a December storm in 1927 that ended the Kamloops' career along with the lives of all of her crew.  She was hauling a load of paper mill machinery, pipe, shoes, and tar paper with a deck load of fencing materials.

The Kamloops has been described as one of the Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes -- lost with all hands and few or no traces.    It was discovered 50 years later in 1977, in almost perfect condition, but what caused it to sink is still a mystery.

The recent novel by Nevada Barr called A Superior Death centers on Isle Royale and the Kamloops Shipwreck.


Diving on the Kamloops is reserved for serious professionals as the ship is located 180 to 270 feet deep. This boat was owned by Blackdog Diving LLC of Frost Minnesota.



Looking at Indian Point as I enter the mouth of McCargo Cove

McCargo Cove is one of the many special wonders of Isle Royale with the Narrow passage leading 2 mile into the center of the island.

The orientation of ridges and the tricky navigation of its mouth conspire to make McCargoe Cove fairly inaccessible for larger ships, especially during a storm. This protection has served some well, most notably Robert McCargo, for whom the cove is named. McCargo, a well-known British lake captain, did not want his ship captured by the Americans in the War of 1812. He sailed it into the cove to hide it until the end of the war. Even though Lake Superior was well traveled at this time, and Isle Royale was familiar to American lake navigators, the near-inaccessibility of the cove made his gamble a pretty sure bet.

About 1:30 PM and I am ready for a break as I approach the dock at McCargo Cove.

South Shore of McCargo Cove near the mouth

The trail leading to the Minong Mine.

On the way to the Minong Mine I passed some wonderful patches of wild flowers in an aspen forest.

Mining at McCargo Cove.

The Minong Mine was the site of the largest and most significant mine on Isle Royale. Staked out in 1872 and all mining operations ended in 1885.

Today, the Minong site provides the best place to see artifacts and ruins that the miners left behind.


Entering the Minong Mine from the North Entrance.

Miners sank two shafts along the ridge, one over 300 feet deep, but most of the mines were of the open pit type.

Remains of the mining operation. Small Rails used to support the carts

One of the many open pits mines at the Minong Mine site, this one like most have either caved in or filled with water.

The Minong mine has a story to tell with each and every piece that has been left behind.

Mining tailing piles - Looking in the direction of the town called Cove, only referenced in literature as there is no remains.

At the height of the mining in 1875 the town of Cove on the south end of McCargo Cove, contained over two dozen buildings, including a boarding house, a school, a store, a doctor's office, an office, and houses for the workers and their families. Even though it eventually played out, the Minong mine was the most prosperous on the island, producing more than twice as much as any other of the island's mines

The fireweed is distinguished by its lavender color and four-lobe flower arranged in a showy cluster on a slender stalk.

Aspen canopy

Looking from the Mccargo Cove dock towards the smallest end of the Cove.

Leaving McCargo Cove

I encountered the pair of common loons as I paddled out of McCargo Cove. I obtained video of the female feeding a young a small fish.

Common loons are migratory birds which breed in forested lakes and large ponds in northern North America and parts of Greenland and Iceland. They winter all along North America’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts as well as in Europe and Iceland.

End of the day at Pickeral Cove. Setting up camp and portaging the kayak.

Moon rising over the rock outcropping as seen from Pickeral Cove

Sunset from the north side of Pickeral Cove looking out towards Herring Bay.


Look for the companion complete journal entries and memoirs of the trip on these pages in the weeks to come.