Wolverine Traveler: Chapter 3
In Ishpeming where we had stopped for coffee a few days ago, Erica at the bar told us about “the road to the end of the earth” up near Copper Harbor. Again everywhere here seemed to feel like the edge of the earth to folks living on the Peninsula, which at times felt more like an Island itself. She said to take the road up Brockway Mountain on our way north, that we might be able to catch a glimpse of Isle Royal in the distance on a clear day.
It’s a great way to enter Copper Harbor - coming down off of Brockway Mountain, the harbor village laid out before you, pressed up against the shore of Superior. As we settled into our hotel the Copper King for the night the town started to fill up in preparation for the fishing derby starting in the morning. Groups of old men and their sons stood out on the piers late into the evening “practicing” - or as we joked with them, “getting a head start.” We wandered the empty streets for a while once the sun set before retiring ourselves in preparation for heading out to Isle Royal in the morning.
In trying to take our time everywhere, we figured we’d take the least direct route back down to Houghton for our flight to Isle Royale. A small line on our map that wound its way to the edge of the peninsula; we figured it was worth a shot. The road started out as packed dirt and quickly turned to mud and more a series of ruts to follow through the forest. We pressed on, fording small rivers, occasionally stepping out to check the clearance of certain rocks to our car. As we again almost bit off more than we could chew, we finally made it out to High Rocks Harbor and Gill Lake on the very northern tip of the UP.
We made it back to Houghton just in time for our flight out to Isle Royal. We’d arranged passage on a 1974 Cessna 206 operated by the Royal Air Service that does daily runs to Royale. We packed all our equipment into dry bags and climbed aboard, excited for our last leg of our trip and the 30+ minute flight over the edge of the UP and Lake Superior. However our plans changed - as we made our way over the water, a light mist appeared on the windshield Dave muttered a curse under his breath as looking ahead all we saw was a wall of white advancing towards us.
We pressed on for a few more miles until we were almost in the thick of it and were finally forced to turn back. Dave apologized and explaining that he could fly us out there but legally wasn’t allowed to fly us in those conditions. So we were forced to return to the mainland and spent the afternoon in limbo in the Pilots Lounge while he made a few calls deciding what to do. Eventually getting the okay, Dave agreed to fly us out the next day on his day off on the condition that we do it early enough so he could make it to a father's day dinner down in Duluth for his pop, who was 80. Dave figured he could take us out to the island first thing, then swap planes to his own Cessna parked in the hanger and quickly head south. We promised to be back ready to go at 7am. Thanking him, we headed into downtown Houghton to find a room for the night.Wolverine Traveler: The Upper Peninsula
Photography & Text: Mikael Kennedy
Co-Pilot: Blaine Davis