August 6, 2009

Summary: Paddle 12.6 miles.. Pickeral Cove around Blake Point to Merritt Lane

Daily Journal

Travel from Pickeral Cove to Merritt Lane

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

Morning of Aug 6, looking out my tent door at the kayak and Pickeral Cove. Today will be overcast and I already know ahead of time that I will soon feel the seriousness of paddling Lake Superior as I leave my sanctuary this morning after a full day rest and head back out onto Lake Superior.


Notice the lighting fall on the same rock outcropping as the morning sun shines through the overcast day for just a few minutes. This was my signal it was time to go.
Off on Pickeral Cove by 9:00 am, excited to be back on the move and I soon come to remember that, a rest was welcome, but I am really wired (mentally) to travel. I guess this is the main reason I travel solo as most people want to stay in one place and "camp". I need to forge ahead and explore.

Sights as I leave Pickeral Cove

Pickeral Cove - heading NW


This cedar tree finds the life nurturing soil tucked deep inside the crack in the granite while it precariously hangs out over Lake Superior and claims witness to at least 100 years of time.... wind, waves, sun, rain, ice, snow, life, death and more than we know.

That was my thought at this very moment, then the light changed and the thought disappeared as fast and real as it had appeared.... I paddled on once again....

Now out of Pickeral Cove I head into less protected waters and feel alive again.

As I approach the protected side of Clay Island I spot what looks like an old hand built staircase from the days of commercial fishing. Was there more to find? one forgets momentarily about the entire outside world as such a discovery is underway.

Cabin on Clay Island... What stories it could tell... What fishing family was here? How I wish I could know...


at about 10:00 am and shortly after leaving Clay Island and the discovery of the abandoned cabin. I approach another Cabin on Johnson Island.... This one looks like it has been kept operational.

Cabin Lease Holders, Mr. Anderson (3rd Generation) and Ms. Carla Anderson (4th Generation Fishing Family, and myself in the blue drysuit.

I learned how the Family came to own and then later when the Federal government acquired (stole) the property and the Andersons now were not the owners but came to be known as "term leaseholders" by the stroke of the pen.

Interestingly the National Park Service, has begun contemplating the concept of allowing leaseholders to pass down the leases to another generation in order to preserve the natural history, for now when Mr Anderson passes this property reverts to the NPS, but maybe by then the NPS will allow Carla to take the helm and a sliver of history can be kept alive for others to see for another generation... I fear that when we loose the gatekeepers like Carla we will be left with the Bureaucracy of the Federal Government and whom do you think will take better care of the history?

Carla Invites me into the cabin and show me photo's of her grand father and great grandfather.

Unlike the abandoned cabin I just explored on Horner Island this one has the stories, and Carla was the historian as she told me what she knew of her heritage and what it meat to be a fishing family.

I would describe Carla as the gatekeeper for this family's history and I could feel how important that was to her as she told me stories, one of which tugged at my heart as she described her great grandmother whom lost her young boy to the lake on the very shore I landed my kayak as Carla pointed to old photographs,

A photo one may find in collections titled "an old fishing boat on Johnson Island" made of wood used to carve out a life for generations of the Johnson / Anderson family's

Having spent about an hour visiting my new friends the "Andersons" on Johnson Island I paddle towards Lane Cove which is just around the corner and through these un-named islands.

At aproximately 2:00 PM I can see Blake point, the northern most part of the Island

At 2:30 I am resting directly in fron of Blake Point, now crossing what is the halfway point. The stories I have heard talk of the north side of Isle Royale being the most unpredictable. I an now entering Merritt Lane area which is protected by many islands and acessable from Rock Harbor another 6 mile paddle from here.

Rock shore line of the Merritt Lane side of Blake point.

Group of 4 Michigan Tech geology students doing vacation / research on the Island. They were interesting to visit with as they were already camped at Merritt Lane.

Don and his wife Dianne, a couple I bumped into at Pickeral Cove and a number of other places, seemed to be both pushing their limits and enjoying them selves at the same time. I spend some time visiting with them and enjoyed their company. They also camped at Merritt and we shared food and made a meal together.

I have anticipated camping at Merritt Lane camp site, knowing full well my isolation will be over for the next couple of days and I try to accept the idea.

With the 4 college boys, Don and Dianne, myself, and just before dark two sea kayakers from Grand Portage Arrived. There were 9 of us in all and I felt like I was in a traffic jam, but I survived.


This turned out to be a wonderful sunset evening with crystal calm water. In the end I did enjoy the company of the 8 others I shared the camp site with.