One of the classic lines in horror movie history comes from the 1931 film Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein shouts in glee: IT’S ALIVE, IT’S ALIVE when his horrific creation comes to life. I felt the same way hiking through Isle Royale National Park.
Isle Royale wolf and moose
The most notorious living creatures in Isle Royale are the wolves and moose. Their symbiotic relationship is well chronicled on the island and elsewhere. The first question I have been asked since returning is did I see any moose or wolves.
Sadly, there are only 8 wolves left on the island putting their future existence in peril. I was told at a brief orientation that they are currently studying the possibility of introducing wolves on to the island and are expected to release the findings and a decision on this study later this year.
It’s alive It’s alive – the diverse species found on Isle Royale
I did not see any moose, but I did see 8 white-lined sphinx moths. I did not see any wolves, but I did see a ton of dragonflies. I did not see any fox or beaver, but I did see many red squirrels, snowshoe hares, piliated woodpeckers, and a couple hawks. Despite not seeing any of the prominent species that inhabit Isle Royale, I was impressed with the diversity of flora and fauna found on the island. The insect life was as impressive as any South American Rainforest or Asian jungle I have visited.
White-lined sphinx moths are a species that closely resembles a hummingbird and are often mistaken for the small bird as they pollinate flowers and are close in size. I have seen probably a couple of these moths my whole life. In one swamp covered with blooming flowers, I saw 8 of these insects darting around magically over brilliant blooms.
Dragonflies are another group of species found in abundance on the island. At McCargoe Cove there must have been a hundred of these big insects flitting around the dock. A mosquito did not have a chance out here.
I was surprised not to see any bald eagles or osprey, but I did see a bunch of loons. In Tobin Harbor at the beginning of my hike I sat for ten minutes and watched mom and dad feed two babies right offshore. In each outhouse in the campground they had a study on the loons in the area. It seems by what I witnessed that the loon population is doing well.
Other birds seen included a kestrel, several piliated woodpeckers, a red-breasted nuthatch, a couple other hawks, mergansers, goldeneyes, great blue herons, and herring gulls. Piliated woodpeckers are one of my favorite birds, so I was glad to see several pairs.
Isle Royale was a vibrant green
Earlier I mentioned wildflowers, the plant situation was in general off the charts. Wildflowers were in full bloom, so were the blueberries and thimbleberries. I mentioned in earlier posts about my difficulty with the heat and lack of water. I consumed vast amounts of tasty blueberries and thimbleberries,which helped me considerably.
Insects a plenty on Isle Royale
The park was alive with mosquitoes, deer flies, ankle biter flies, horse flies, and spiders. The spider situation was not too bad although one bit me on the lip while I was sleeping on the last night. I woke up with a fat lip and upon further inspection had two puncture marks consistent with a spider bit. I also discovered a medium spider on my shoulder later that morning. I am not sure if it was the guilty one. For those with arachnophobia, I did not see any really big scary spiders. They were all medium size or smaller.
The nuisance bugs were not as bad as they could have been for such a wet year and at peak season. The only really bad night was at Chickenbone Lake, which is a very swampy area. Other than that the mosquitoes and biting flies were tolerable.
Perhaps the existence of so many predators helped cull the mosquito population. As mentioned earlier, there is an army of dragonflies on the island, and I saw a few bats at night as well.
Happy with what I saw
I wish I had seen a wolf or moose, but I enjoyed checking out the array of other species found in this pristine island wilderness.
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Isle Royale is, indeed, a step back in time and a break from the modern pace of life. What a beautiful and elemental place, shaped by weather and geology!
You should note that the raspberries are not raspberries. They’re thimbleberries, which are similar in size and color, but have a much softer color, a slightly more sour taste, and make awesome jam. The giveaway, even if you’re not familiar with the fruit, is the gigantic, 5-pointed leaves of the thimbleberry.
Next, you should come back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and explore the Keweenaw, Marquette, and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Jeremy recently posted..The Youth are the Future
Thanks Jeremy for the correction. I thought tasted different than raspberries, but they looked so similar I just thought it was due to a wild variety of the berry. I made the changes in the post.
I would have explored the Keweenaw a little more when I was up there, but I met a fried for some canoeing in northern Wisconsin. I love that whole region up there.
When you make it back to the shore of Superior, give me a shout and I’ll gladly get you on the water in a sea kayak!
Also, my original comment should have read, “…they have a much softer texture, similar color, and…” Apparently, my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.
Jeremy recently posted..The Youth are the Future
Yea, and I met a fried instead of a friend in Wisconsin. I am getting my coffee right now 🙂 I would love to take you up on that offer. Thanks!
lovely red squirrel picture
Jeff recently posted..5 Credit Card Tips that will Help Consumers Avoid Excessive Debt
Thanks, it is cute 🙂
well luckily you didn’t bump into Frankenstein ted! LOL. the park looks harmless.. lovely in fact! Wish I could explore a place like that too!
ciki recently posted..Appu Uncle Curry House @ Section 19
Yes, it is very harmless. Wolves and moose will definitely leave you alone, although an occasional spider might bite your lip.
Too bad there are so few wolves left… And we don’t envy you your spider bite. But it sounds like a wonderful pristine wilderness island, as you say…
Sand In My Suitcase recently posted..Italy: Holidays with sparkle
It was not much of a bite. It swelled up and then turned into a scab and was gone in a week.
The park seems to be a perfect haven for nature lovers! Quite a variety of species.
Renuka recently posted..Why I Like Travelling ‘Solo’
It is an amazing place that is almost completely wild. The park is probably 95% wilderness. It only has two little pockets of civilization and a few campgrounds where people congregate.
I always consider it a privilege if I see any large wildlife but I get a lot of pleasure looking for the smaller things. I think we’re on the same wavelength here. Your sphinx moth photos are great.
Leigh recently posted..Our 5th & Final Day on the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa National Park
I think we are on the same wave lengths in a lot of things. I don’t get too excited about seeing squirrels, but anything that is different from what I can see in the backyard interests me.
Hmm. this post reminds me that overnight camping for me is best at cold temperatures and high altitudes… I would not be able to recognize most flora or fauna so I commend you for the knowledge. Great pix, btw.
Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..My First Real Hike: to Pawnee Pass in the Rockies
Most of the flora and fauna here are harmless. The mosquitoes are a nuisance, but with long clothing and repellant can be controlled. I agree though, camping is best when it is cooler.
Never heard of thimbleberry but it looks yummy!
@mrsoaroundworld recently posted..My hOtel: Rancho Valencia in San Diego, California @ranchovalencia @relaischateaux
It is a little tart, but it hit the spot when it was so hot and sweating was taking away precious liquids and energy.
Your nature photos are amazing! So funny, but right now I am reading Hatchet with my class, so this post really resonated with me. 🙂
Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..My Top Three.
I am not familiar with Hatchet. I will have to check it out.
I’m trying to figure out how to say thimbleberry in Polish… Looks delicious though!
Nice wildlife photos – I didn’t think I’d get a kick out of bird-watching until once I accidentally did somewhere in the Midwest. Never say never…
Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Bridge jumping (puenting) in Baños, Ecuador
I find it interesting to note the different species one sees here in the Midwest compared to places around the world. I am not a huge birdwatcher, but when I am outdoors I am on the lookout for them.
please forgive me but moths/butterflies/any winged creatures are among my worst fears so i skipped down to the bit about the cute squirrel. NO OFFENSE.
the lazy travelers recently posted..style spotter: english puddlejumping
None taken, but lookout for your own post. I saw a big hairy spider on it.
hahaha Lazy Travelers! i liked the dragonfly!!
lola recently posted..Staying Laid-back Chic at Bahia Hotel, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
You can laugh at the Lazy Travelers, but did you see the big ugly spider on their Cambodia post?
Beautiful Images. Thank you for sharing your adventure.
No problem, thanks Mary Anne for checking it out.
Who knew you were such a wildlife expert? Exactly how are you able to identify that moth specifically, and moose still sounds weird for multiples.
Leah recently posted..10 Things to Know before Visiting Texas
I am not much of an expert, but I take photos and then identify them online when I get home. I did not know the name of the moth, but I was aware of them because they resemble hummingbirds. A quick google search bridged the knowledge gap.