The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Icicles on Isle Royale

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


This year I hiked my third Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale. 
All three took place in May. This year was early in the month and there was still snow and even icicles in secluded places on the island.

Here, a rock wall is decorated with delicate, melting icicles.







Thursday, June 22, 2017

Islands around an island

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


This year I hiked my third Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale. This island is actually an island surrounded by hundreds of tiny islands.
The central island is about 45 miles long and 9 miles at the widest point.
Smaller islands hug the coast of Isle Royale or float a little ways offshore.
Here's a glimpse of a few of the islands in this archipelago:













Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pictographs from the Past

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


I drove the northern edge of Lake Superior on my way to catch the ferry to Isle Royale this May. 
Ontario's side of Lake Superior is rocky and wild.
I took some short hikes to explore.

Lake Superior Provincial Park protects almost 600 square miles on the eastern edge of the lake.


Rock wall rises

This park has some art from the Ojibwe people on a rock wall [Agawa Rock] along the lake edge.

Pictographs from the past


Some faded pictographs

video

Some video from this site (above).

Interpretive sign showing all pictographs


Sunday, June 11, 2017

BIG Moose

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


My Moosewatch Team found lots of moose bones this May. Our best find, though, was the submerged, antlered skull located by teammate Hal.


The skull is there...do you see it?



The liberated skull


Mark studies skull


Vertebrae from this bull moose


Hal holds the gorgeous antlered skull at Malone Bay


Our victorious team


Jenny gets cheeky with moose skull


All the bones from this find


video
Working to free the skull

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fungus among-us

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com



There are many types of fungi growing on Isle Royale, thriving in the leaf litter, attached to live or dead trees. 
Check out the variety:

Pudding cup fungus


Small herd of fungi


Colorful tree fungus


My hand in the shot for scale...it's a big one!


Fungus!


feasting on the fallen


Monster fungus (hand for scale)


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Balsam Fir Trees

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


This year I hiked my third Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale. 
In addition to gathering moose bones, teams also gathered data from shed antlers, and tallied  sightings of gray jays and snowshoe hares.

Gray jay

Snowshoe hare


Another important assessment in the field was the availability of winter browse for moose.
In the winter, moose eat primarily balsam fir trees.


Tiny, munchable balsam firs populate the island


As the moose population grows on Isle Royale (with only 2 wolves left on the island, there is no predator pressure to stabilize the moose population), there are more moose mouths to feed during the long winters. 



Moose will repeatedly munch these trees. Some tiny trees are actually decades old!

This poor tree has had its top munched off multiple times leading to this crazy growth pattern.



It's rare to see tall balsam fir here, but my team found some trees that had evaded browsing long enough for them to reach over two meters tall! They were luckier than the trees in these photos.



Saturday, May 27, 2017

Moose...in a Jar??

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com

The primary purpose of Moosewatch Expeditions on Isle Royale is to locate moose bones and carry them back to the scientists.
On this year's hike, our team found something unique: an entire moose skeleton that fit in a jar. 

Rolf Peterson holds the "Moose in a Jar"

We found these tiny bones on a hillside near Dustin Lake. They were near a large ant hill and had all been meticulously cleaned...presumably by the hard working ants.

Tiny bones...


It took us some time to figure out what creature these bones were from. They were not fully ossified, so we wondered if they were avian...or some small mammal. 
But then we found a tooth.

Tiny tooth

It was a molar from a herbivore, and there is only one herbivore on Isle Royale...
MOOSE.


Tiny MOOSE bones

We deducted that this was a moose miscarriage, one that happened during the winter, of a fetus still a few months shy of fully formed. 


Adult moose molar next to the fetal molar


Fetal bone


A bull moose skull can weigh around 10 pounds. If the antlers are attached, it can weigh over 20 pounds. 
It was amusing to present Dr. Peterson with this unique find: a moose in a jar.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Little Greenstone Beach

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


This year I hiked my third Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale. I was on a wonderful team led by Chris Woeltje from Illinois. 
This wildlife study draws people from all over the US...and the WORLD.
I've hiked alongside people from many states (IL, OK, WI, MI, MN, CO), and from a couple of other countries (Costa Rica and Canada). 

This year we had our basecamp on the shores of Lake Superior for part of the week. We pitched our tents near Little Greenstone Beach on the southern edge of Isle Royale.

Here are some photos from this special place:







The moon shines through the birch trees



Flecks of native copper within a stone