Back in the glowing blush of fall 2017, armed with an unshakeable spirit (and arguably misguided optimism), I set out to conquer the elusive Isle Royale. But, after an 11-hour car experiencing rivalling a flight to Japan in duration, I found myself standing at the ferry check-in, only to learn that not just that day’s ferry, but the entire season’s schedule had been scrapped due to a weather tantrum. The level of fury that brewed within me could’ve given a tempest a run for its money. Nevertheless, I’ve never been one to let adversity sink my ship, and so, older and decidedly more determined, I charted my course back to the island and finally tasted sweet victory this year.
Isle Royale, stretching 45 miles long and 9 miles wide, is the Bermuda Triangle of National Parks – one could get deliciously lost in its vastness. So, if you have a distaste for the usual tourist trap shenanigans – selfie-sticks, drones, and tour buses filled with louder-than-necessary sightseers – you’re in for a treat! Here, it’s just you, the wild, and possibly an equally introverted wanderer or two trying to dodge civilization’s riff-raff.
Established as a National Park since 1940, the Park has had a game of musical chairs with its chief residents. Currently, it’s the moose’s turn. In a bizarre twist of events that reeks of man’s incessant need to meddle, humans reportedly introduced the moose to the island for a private hunting shindig. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out.
But as they say, when life gives you moose, it also throws in a pack of wolves. Nature’s own soap opera played out on Isle Royale for the next 60 years, serving as one of the most scrutinized predator-prey dynamics globally.
Sadly, the plot has thickened. Due to a dating pool shallower than a kiddie’s paddling pool, the island’s wolves have resorted to inbreeding, leaving just two of their kind behind. Meanwhile, the moose population is booming like the dot-com bubble.
To avoid a full-blown “Moosemageddon,” park officials are trying to airlift more wolves into this reality show. The first one parachuted in last February, with more expected to join in the coming seasons.
With an extensive network of tranquil hiking trails and virtually untouched wilderness, Isle Royale is a haven for the solitary wanderer. And with this triumphant visit, I’ve officially crossed off every National Park in the lower 48 States off my list. Alaska, you’re up next!
Here are my photos from this park:
The site of the previous years rejection- no storm in sight!
Categories: US National Parks