August 7, 2009

Summary: Paddle 13.3 miles.. Merritt Lane to Rock Harbor to Daisy Farm

Daily Journal

Travel from Merritt Lane to Rock Harbor to Daisy Farm..

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

I woke around 5:40 am, looked out my tent door and was greeted by a sunrise that was vigorously burning away at the fog and revealing a special light on the water that was as smooth as glass reflecting the rise.

Leaving Merritt Lane after a quick breakfast, On the water by 8:00 am. I was anxious to be on my way. Some days I feel like taking my time getting going, but today I was ready, maybe enough company, not quite sure.
The early morning light, wow what wonders you can create when you are ready with camera before the sun gets too high.

As I enter Tobin Harbor for a quick look, I observe many cabins and homes in various states of repair, some look their age and others are well kept.

During the 20's, 30's there was an abundance of summer vacationers owning land on Isle Royale and most of the remaining cabins are nestled in amongst the south shore from Rock Harbor to Tobin Harbor, likely due to the protected waters.


Cabin in Tobin Harbor

The remains of a sunken rock pile, typical method to construct docks



Rock Harbor

Rock Harbor is a drop off point for the 100 passenger ship the Isle Royale Queen which ferries visitors from Copper Harbor Michigan to the Island, and this ship was just arriving when I was paddling out of Rock Harbor after my almost 2 hour stay

Rock Harbor - Lodge / Restaurant

Time for a rest


My only beer and hamburger during the trip.

Mott Island and the NPS headquarters

Cemetery Island -

The cemetery had both a peaceful and eery feeing lumped into one place. At least 6 family burial sites each separated with weathered picket fence enclosing about 8 foot by 8 feet. 

Most of the family sites had multiple grave markers and they all were constructed similar in nature out of wood markers shaped like a cathedral dome.  The dates were in the mid to late 1800’s.  There were spruce trees 10” and larger in diameter growing right out of a few of the graves

The large pines growing in the middle of the fenced areas, some of which were easily 30-50 years old, told the story of a cemetery that has let nature begin to reclaim itself.

I find an archipelago similar to a rain forest with moss hang on the spruce trees setting a somber tone then I see the grave sites; like nothing I have ever seen.  and the entire forest floor was covered with a thick green leafy underbrush like ferns that one could walk through but not see the ground underfoot.  I found myself pushing the ferns aside to see the footing before taking a step as the thought of falling into a hole occurred to me.  I felt a unique peace while standing amongst these sacred resting places of people’s that were true Isle Royale residents.  I hoped my thoughts admiring their perseverance were felt by them.

I found there was a full museum and it was open “self serve style” and the stairway to the lighthouse was open as well.  The sign on the door read, “please respect this place” and I was grateful that the contemporary security measures were was not necessary here, apparently everyone did show respect and nothing seemed out of place.  I took photos and video here and felt truly privileged to be able to witness this place at my own pace with no other sole around, (except for the caretaker back at the Edisen, whom I never did see).

Standing on the shore of the Rock Harbor Light House. I was able to spend about 2 hours exploring the light house and the Fishery

View from the light house

View from the light house

View over the treacherous channel ships used to navigate into Rock Harbor

The Historic Edisen Fishery. A wonderful collection like a time capsule, everything left as it was when Pete and Laura operated it.

click here to learn more about the Edisen fishery

Standing on the Dock at the Edisen Fishery. The main fish house off to the left.