Isle Royale – Day 6
Thursday, May 27
Hot day, newly-replenished packs (back up to a nice, solid 50 pounds), and another long hike ahead of us. Only this time – no water sources along the way!
Normally, we would filter water from streams and lakes along the way using a ceramic filter similar to this:
These things are heavy as tanks, and sort of delicate – if you break the ceramic part then you’re hosed. And in fact, we did break the handle on one of the ones we were carrying. Not a big deal, fortunately, since we had a second for back up. The nice thing about these ceramic filters is how easy they are to clean. You just slip out the ceramic filter, scrub it clean, and then you are good to go again.
Every once in a while, we used Tom’s nifty Steri-Pen:
Two cool things about these – first is that it’s a mini-lightsaber vs. giardia and cryptosporidium. UV rays come out of the clear wand at the narrow end to kill whatever is in your water. Actually, it doesn’t kill those little things – it just completely disrupts their DNA structures to make them unable to reproduce, and it’s apparently their reproduction that makes you sick. Thank you, science! The other cool thing is that it’s tiny and lightweight. Two not-cool parts: you need to use batteries and although the water may not make you sick, it has not been filtered. So if there’s gunk or funk in the water – it’s still there. This is apparently where hankies or coffee filters make a difference.
Anyway, neither ceramic nor UV were a necessary option, since there wasn’t any water on our trail. We were hiking the spine of the Greenstone Trail, and the closest body of water was Angleworm Lake:
To reach the Angleworm would have required some serious bushwhacking. Pretty view, though, isn’t it? No, it was better that we forge on.
And through the magic of written narrative, we next arrive at the water hole!
We could see that we were coming up on a swamp, but it looked green and algae-ridden and rather icky. Brave Tom told us it wasn’t as bad as it looked, and even if it did look greener than the last time he had seen it, we should at least go down to have look. So we did.
And what a good thing we did.
The Sandhill Crane was actually the first thing we saw here. There was a pair, and neither was terribly happy to see us. Then we turned and saw the moose. Wow – this swamp turned out to be a very cool place to get water. I flipped the camera setting over to video, and took a quick video of the moose and the crane, but neither video turned out well. Oh well.
The moose ran off, and the cranes were agitated, so we backed off and continued along down the trail for a little while until we found a place where we could get some manky water without bothering anyone. Here’s Tom, trying to get the least amount of goop in our drinking water as possible:
We used the ceramic filter on this water, and had a coffee filter rubber-banded over the intake port that we kept moving to get a clean spot. Eventually, we all had about 4 ounces of clean water, and it didn’t even taste bad.
Since we had stopped for water, we had another school break. This time, we went over the next rise for a unit on bog ecology. I like bogs.
We all found a bog cranberry to taste (they were good!) and found some pitcher plant flowers. Naive me, I didn’t realize pitcher plants had flowers. Doesn’t it remind you of a lotus?
And then we took the boardwalk out of the bog, and on to Daisy Farm:
Next Up: Daisy Farm and the Edisen Fishery.