Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rain and Fog, Isle Royale NP

Isle Royale continued:

After our day off and my very enjoyable hike to Rock Harbor with my new BFF Mary, I slept like a baby. John had caught wind of my chilly nights and gave me a wool blanket--what a difference! I woke at 6 am, and lay in my bag for a while enjoying being warm. I waited too long, though, and it started to rain. Not hard, but in a tent any rain sounds like a downpour. I crawled out of my bag, got dressed and donned my rain gear, and headed to the cabin for breakfast.

The rain never amounted to much, so I spent Saturday working with Mike, Jim and Bob at the Kemmer cottage, painting the boat house.

Mike behind the Kemmer cottage. Mrs. Kemmer, who wintered in Hawaii, kept gardens at her cottage, which are now overgrown.

Jim paints the boat house. 

We got a full day of work in, although by the end of the day a light rain was falling along with the temperature, and I could see my breath. After dinner we had a brief, heavy rain, and we started a fire in the fireplace to knock the chill back. Out of nowhere the wind started to howl. The sun had come out and we were taken aback by the sudden gusts. I grabbed my camera and ran outside. The wind was blowing up Tobin Harbor from the southwest, and menacing clouds plowed across the sky to the north and east.

Storm clouds pass to our north.

It was still clear to our west, so the sun lit the small islands, producing a beautiful juxtaposition with the grey sky and steely water.

As quickly as it had come up, the wind died back down. I sat and watched the weather for some time before fog started to roll in from the west, dimming the sun. Big swells were pushing in from the northeast, indicating weather and wind far out over Superior. It was eerie, since the surface of the water had calmed, but the swells were crashing against the rocks below me.

Fog and low clouds obscure the sun.

Just like that, visibility dropped to less than a half mile. I was struck by how quickly the weather changed, so dynamic near such a large body of cold water.

Scoville Point across the cove from Dassler cabin in the thickening fog.

Fog descends on the Stack cottage on Minong Island.

The bench overlooking Tobin Harbor, the Dassler cabin in the background.

Finally, around 4:30 Sunday morning, the storms caught us. Lightening flashed and thunder boomed, and I lay there trying to remember if there were any trees nearby large enough to reach my tent. By the time I got up at 6:30 the storms had passed and the sky was clearing.

Dawn from my tent.

We headed back to the Kemmer cottage Sunday morning. John was talking about sending us newbies over to visit with Rolf and Candy Peterson, who have been studying the wolves and moose on the island for nearly 50 years, after lunch. But I didn't have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the weather--it felt unsettled to me--and the morning forecast confirmed a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. I told John to count me out.

We worked on the boat house until lunch, then returned to Dassler. The sky began to darken, clouds chasing us across the harbor, and it started raining around 1:30 pm. It didn't let up until nearly 4:30, so no more work got done that day, and no one went to see the Petersons. We decided we would try for Monday afternoon.

Storms loom over Tobin Harbor, with the old pilings for the Dassler dock in the foreground. Due to the location of this dock, it was constantly getting ripped apart by ice and waves, and so has not been replaced.

After the rain passed I went down to the cove to fetch water to filter. A pair of Spotted sandpipers were making their way around the steaming rocks, which were now warming in the sun.

Scoville Point after the rain.

Spotted sandpiper looking for goodies.

Trees near Dassler cabin.

It was not long, though, before the fog pushed in again, thicker than the day before. I stayed in the cabin for a while, writing in my journal and sketching the layout of the cabin as well as a map showing the immediate area with the names of the small islands. (My plan, though I may not get to it, is to set up a page with my journal entries and I'll include those sketches there.)

Fog around Scoville Point

Next: Finishing the Kemmer boat house, and a trip to visit the Peterson's

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