/On the Lookout for Moose on Michigan’s Isle Royale

On the Lookout for Moose on Michigan’s Isle Royale

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with journey restrictions in place worldwide, we launched a brand new sequence — The World Through a Lens — wherein photojournalists assist transport you, nearly, to a few of our planet’s most stunning and intriguing locations. This week, Tony Cenicola, a New York Times employees photographer, shares a set of pictures from a distant island in Michigan.

Tucked away in the northern reaches of Lake Superior, far nearer to each Ontario and Minnesota than to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, lies considered one of the nation’s least visited nationwide parks: Isle Royale.

The park — which consists of the 206-square-mile Isle Royale, together with tons of of smaller adjoining islands — sees only a few guests. In 2018, the 12 months I went, simply 18,479 people visited the island portion of the park, the lowest number of any park in the contiguous 48 states. (Compare that, for example, with Grand Canyon National Park, which in 2018 drew nearly 6.4 million visitors.)

By the time I planned my trip, the only inn on the island was fully booked, so camping was my sole option. And I decided to drive from New York, because it would have been something of a nightmare to get on a plane with all my photography equipment and camping gear.

My wife and I have something of a running obsession with moose. We have moose paraphernalia in our house. There’s a local road near our home that we call the “mooseway” for no particular reason. (There are no moose in the area.) Whenever we travel to an area where there’s even the remotest possibility of sighting a moose, we’re on high alert.

And because of my minor obsession, seeing one on this trip was my top priority — and I felt both excited and relieved that it happened so quickly.

Over the course of the hour, more and more people gathered to watch the moose. He was standing near a vacant campsite, and a handful of people settled onto a nearby picnic table to watch him. Eventually the moose picked up his head and looked our way. That was enough to send several onlookers running away through the woods.

You’re only allowed to stay at the Rock Harbor campground for one night, so the next day I had to break camp and lug all my equipment and camping gear to a new site three miles away — no easy feat, since my pack weighed around 65 pounds.

I ended up hiking around 13 miles that day, through difficult terrain: wetlands, inland lakes and streams. I spotted turtles basking on logs and saw evidence of beaver activity.

At one point, realizing I didn’t have enough water in my quart-size water bottle, I began picking wild blueberries and placing them in the bottle. I’d gulp a few down with each sip. It helped extend my water supply and keep my energy level up.

At 7 p.m., once I was settled into my new campsite, I collapsed, ate the balance of my blueberries, sipped the remaining water and had a granola bar. After a few hours of rest, I woke up around 1 a.m. and went out to photograph the incredible night sky. Mars was shining so brightly it reflected in Lake Superior.

The motorized rowboat made everything so much easier, and it meant that I didn’t have to hike back to the harbor with all my equipment when leaving the island. In the end I took a seaplane to get back to the mainland — a leisurely conclusion to an otherwise tiring, and satisfying, trip.

Source link Nytimes.com

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