The Isle Royale 40 - Page 3
"Owww, geez," Greg grumbled, rubbing his knotted quads and calves, echoing my exact thoughts. So we stopped to savor the view: the endless lake, rolling hills and tree-lined island ridges. To rest our muscles, we walked a few steps, jogged a little, walked again and determinedly plodded onward. Inspired by the desolate beauty, we gained strength from our partnership and suffering, and, as twins, we did not need to speak. Instead we gave knowing glances as we strode side by side to complete the longest run either of us had ever done.
Greg's wife, Laura, met us at Windigo when we finished, in 7 hours 7 minutes. Greg thought our accomplishment might be an unofficial record time, since he and other long-time IRNP employees had not heard of anyone running the island's length in a day. But setting a record was not our goal.
The "Isle Royale 40" remains in my psyche as a potent motivator to explore the vastness of our National Parks in search of something greater.
Scott Drum, 40, is a professor of exercise and sport science at Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison, Colorado. He continually craves the uniqueness of National Park trails and gets his fix most summers.
Trailhead: Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Getting there. Options include a ferry or seaplane from the mainland. For ferry costs and schedules, check websites at: www.grand-isle-royale.com (Voyageur II; Grand Portage, MN); www.isleroyale.com (Isle Royale Queen; Copper Harbor, MI); and www.nps.gov/isro/ranger-iii.htm (Ranger III—the National Park Service's largest moving asset ... yes, it's a ship!—Houghton, MI). Note, ferry fees include $4-per-day park user fee.
For seaplane flights out of Houghton, Michigan, go to www.royaleairservice.com.
Permits. Backcountry permits are required to camp or dock anywhere on the island overnight (www.nps.gov/isro). No permit is needed for running continuous routes in a day. Park user fee: $4/day per person.
Accommodations. Rock Harbor is home to Rock Harbor Lodge and Marina (www.rockharborlodge.com) with a restaurant. All other accommodations are primitive campsites.
Other. Carry a water filter. There is no cell-phone coverage, so plan on being self sufficient. Sparse food/grocery odd-and-ends are available at Rock Harbor and Windigo, so plan to stockpile/bring your own food.