The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Head to the Lakeshore

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/




The best way to beat the heat is to head to the lakeshore...and I live very close to one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the Great Lakes:


Today I went to one of my favorite beaches on Sleeping Bear Bay. With Lake Michigan nearing an all-time high level, the amount of beach here was reduced. 

Some sandy beach in places

Wading was a great way to beat the heat.

Enjoy these photos from today:


North Manitou Island shrouded in fog


Small waves broke on the shoreline



Sunday, July 7, 2019

Antlers! (8th in a series about Isle Royale)

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/




The primary objective on a Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale is to find and gather moose bones.
But teams also gather data from the antlers moose shed every winter. 

Today, there are over 2,000 moose on the island and about half of them are bulls. Bulls grow a fresh set of antlers every year. Antlers are fast-growing and are covered in "velvet" in the spring. This covering conveys blood and nutrients to the growing bone (yes, antlers are classified as bone tissue). Once they are fully formed, moose will scrape off the velvet and get ready to spar with other males for the right to pass on their genes.

Then, at the end of the year, bull moose shed their antlers. They are scattered all over Isle Royale. This year, my team found 38 shed antlers including several matched pair.

Teams measure and mark all found antlers (Julie and Joceline)


Joceline holds a classic matched set of antlers

And April holds another pair!






Sometimes, teams find a skull with antlers still attached 

(This team was the first all-women team to hike a Moosewatch Expedition!)


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Curious Sights on Isle Royale (7th in a series about Isle Royale)

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/





This May, I hiked my fifth Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale. 
And this time, I was thrilled to be a team leader.

Before we hiked out of Windigo into the wild island, I told my team, "Be curious. Be observant. If you see something cool, gather the team."

There is so much to see on the island. 
Over 700 types of lichen grow there!

Check out these curious things we noticed:

This strange growth on a tree was curious...


Fungi? Extrusion of sap? Alien life form?


Enormous bracket fungi (notice foot for scale!)


The garter snakes were waking in May


HUGE burl (a deformity on a tree caused by stress or injury)


A beaver cut this tree off about 4 feet up...did they stand on each other's shoulders? Use a little ladder?? Just extremely tall beaver???


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Camp Life on Isle Royale (6th in a series about Isle Royale)

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/




This May, I hiked my fifth Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale. 


And this time, I was thrilled to be the leader of the first all-women team (in photo below: Joceline, April, Me, and Julie).






Our team covered 45 miles and had three basecamps for the week. Here's a glimpse into camp life on Isle Royale:

Heating water on the Solo Stove for morning coffee is the best way to wake the team!

Breakfast oatmeal fuels us of the day


Hot bevs are essential in the morning


Fun conversations happen in the camp 'kitchen'



Our last day, we hiked 11 miles and got back to camp around sundown...we ate our dinner at dusk and turned on headlamps to make pudding for dessert










Wednesday, June 19, 2019

In Search of Moose Bones (5th in a series about Isle Royale)

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/




This year, Moosewatch Teams had GPS data from collared wolves newly introduced to the island. While not all of these data points were kill sites, when there was a moose kill it was pretty fresh.

The recent kills that our all-women team found still had some fur on the lower legs and all hooves were still present. You know how your dog loves to chew on hoof trimmings? So do wolves, and they'll be back for them.


First kill site


Hooves still present


Recent kills still have moose ticks hanging around


Skull


pelvis of yearling moose 


Second kill site



Lower moose jaw held by my excellent team (April, Joceline, and Julie)







Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Importance of Balsam Fir (4th in a series about Isle Royale)

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/





It's difficult to imagine how Isle Royale would look if the 2,000 moose weren't there, each munching 40 pounds of vegetation every single day. And in the winter, they primarily munch the soft needles of the balsam fir trees on the island.

There is a place where you can get a glimpse of how moose impact these trees: the exclosure at Windigo. Here, the NPS set up a fenced area to keep moose out.




Inside the exclosure, balsam fir tower above. They can reach heights of 70 feet tall if unmolested by moose.



Balsam fir tower overhead inside the exclosure


Large trunk of balsam fir in exclosure


These trees are all over the island, but most look like the ones in the photos below due to winter browsing by moose. Most of these trees are browsed off at a height of a couple of feet. 


Munched by moose



This balsam fir is denuded of needles as far up as moose can reach (walking stick is about 5-feet tall)















Sunday, June 9, 2019

Into the Wilds (3rd in a series about Isle Royale)


Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/




This May, I was honored to lead the first organized all-women team on a Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale.

My team: Me, April Wilbur, Julie Timmer, Joceline Pasaylo

I have hiked on an expedition four times. This was my first time as team leader.


We cooked dinner and breakfast in camp


This island is a National Park. It is remote and wild. Teams do most of their hiking off-trail and camp in remote areas. 



The island has a mixture of trees


It's difficult to convey how wild and rugged this island is. Rock ridges run the length of the island, often rising hundreds of feet like in the photo below.


My team gives scale to this place

The hiking here is rugged. The views magnificent.


We hiked to the northern shore and had views of Lake Superior at our second camp


In May, snow and ice still persist. 


This stream still wears a cap of snow


We hiked through an area that had burned years ago along the Minong Trail.



Burn area on the Minong


We had some amazing sunsets during our week.


Sunset on the north shore




Friday, June 7, 2019

Isle Royale Boots

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/


I have hiked five Moosewatch Expeditions on Isle Royale. This island is rugged, rocky, and rugged.

My "Isle Royale boots" have served me well, but I have to retire them now. 



These KEEN boots have over 300 rocky miles on them. They're still comfortable and I'll take them on more gentle hikes.



 I have hiked over 3,000 miles in KEEN boots. 
One thing I know about long-distance hiking: you've got to keep your feet happy.


And KEENs keep my feet SOOOOO happy.
Check out their full line of footwear here:











Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Gearing Up (2nd in a series about Isle Royale)

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/




Over twenty hikers traveled to Isle Royale for the first week of Moosewatch Expeditions this May (there are four weeks of expeditions each year).
Once everyone is on the island, team leaders distribute gear and food for the week in the wild.

Teams gather to gear up 



My team (L>R) Me, April Wilbur, Julie Timmer, Joceline Pasaylo

Backpacks can weigh over 40 pounds when heading out for a week in the wild.

This year was unique because over a dozen wolves released this past winter on the island wear radio collars.
The data from these collars indicate where the wolves spend their time and where they hang out for awhile, possibly at a kill site.
These data points were distributed to teams and this year we hiked to those sites.


GPS points of interest from wolf movement on island
 


Dr. Rolf Peterson (in red hat) gives team leaders their assignments

 In my next post, I'll take you into the wilds of Isle Royale in search of moose bones.


Heating water for coffee in morning