The most magical place on Earth (Sorry, Disneyland)
Huginnin Cove is on Isle Royale's north side, approximately 5 miles from Windigo. It is tent-only (no group sites), and the campsites are close to the Lake Superior shore, with views of Canada to the north. Despite this, Huginnin Cove is apparently more of a day-hiking location than an overnight destination. I had read about the rugged trail and rocky shore and was looking forward to spending a night here.
I felt very lethargic this morning, and after eating breakfast, I packed up sluggishly. Because Huginnin Cove is so close, we were not in a hurry to leave early. The sun actually came out around 10 am, and it was clear and sunny for a whole 20 minutes. Just as our spirits were lifting, it became overcast and cloudy again.
Huginnin Cove can be reached by two different trails that form a loop beginning and ending just east of Windigo. Our plan was to hike there via the East Huginnin Cove trail, taking West Huginnin Cove Trail on the way back. To reach the HC trails, we headed east past Washington Creek campground to the Minong Ridge Trail. It is necessary to hike about a mile of the Minong Ridge Trail to reach the junction with East HCT. Heading east on the Minong Ridge, the trail crosses a bridge over Washington Creek, which has a shed built next to it containing equipment to monitor the flow of the creek (I did not think to ask the reason for this, unfortunately). The junction with West HCT is located a short distance from the creek, followed by the East HCT junction a quarter-mile or so further.
Heading north on East HCT, the trail passes the remains of Wendigo mine, which operated briefly in the early 1890s. The mine closed after just two years after failing to yield a worthwhile amount of copper. The trail winds through marshes and swampy areas, which are usually good for moose-spotting, but we didn't see any on our way there.
|Waves come ashore along East Huginnin Cove Trail|
Unfortunately everything was extremely slippery due to the recent rain and the endless wet fog. We had to be very careful; the rocks were slimy with mud and wet moss, and the tree roots were like well-oiled death traps. Despite taking deliberate care with every step I made, my left foot slipped on a rock, going right out from under me and causing me to crash hard on my left side. Fortunately, I didn't fall straight forward onto my face and onto more rocks. I managed to fall on relatively soft, mossy ground to the side of the trail and was not hurt. I was very lucky.
is a wonderful, short hike – by far our favorite of the trip –
and we were both happy to be hiking on this rugged, scenic terrain.
The trail continued following close to shore, and soon we came upon
the first of two coves. The first cove is filled with enormous pieces
of driftwood – entire tree trunks that have washed into the cove
and onto shore. It looked mystical in the fog. Just past this cove,
the trail heads away from the water, winding through the woods and
around to the second cove and the campsites.
|Rocks at the beach at Huginnin Cove|
|The first of two coves on East Huginnin Cove Trail|
Hiking into camp, the trail runs close to Huginnin Creek before emerging onto the beach, directly at the center of the cove. Huginnin Cove has five sites; standing at the center of the cove, we looked to the right to see Site #1 located just offshore on the spit of land that creates the cove's east border. Sites 2-5 are to the left and in the woods off the beach. Lucky for us, no one else was here at this time, so after a quick walk-through of the sites, we set up camp at Site #1, which is far and away the best. This site has one half of the cove to itself, including the large boulders at its eastern tip, where it is possible to sit and watch the lake for hours.
had been persistently foggy and overcast during our hike, and we were
still unsure which way the weather was going to turn. We set up our
tent and changed into warmer clothes quickly in case things took a
turn for the worse. Our luck continued, however, and the sky cleared
suddenly around 3:00 pm. The sun shone warmly, and fluffy white
clouds floated overhead in a gorgeous blue sky. We had almost
forgotten what that looked like.
|Campsite #1 at Huginnin Cove|
|The view north from Campsite #1 at Huginnin Cove|
We waded in the cove for a while, and Craig eventually returned to the tent to take a nap. There was no way I was going to spend any time inside if I didn't have to, and I sat on the beach sifting through rocks and just enjoying the view and weather for a couple of hours. At some point, two more hikers had shown up and set up camp at other sites. Sites 2-5 are not visible from the water, but are relatively close to shore. Site #2 is probably the next best site after #1. It is close to the beach, though not directly on it.
|Campsite #1 at Huginnin Cove|
After eating, we returned to the boulders to watch the lake and explore a bit more. Craig climbed over the rocks and over to the adjacent cove, while I took photographs of the area in the pre-sunset waning light. Unfortunately, a wall of clouds appeared just as the sun was about to set. The sun sank behind it, preventing the spectacular sunset I was hoping for. I was too happy to be disappointed by this, however. Today had been a wonderful day.
We stayed up as long as we could, turning in only when we couldn't stay awake anymore. I didn't even try to read; I laid in my sleeping bag listening to waves washing on shore in the moonlit cove and trying to make the moments last as long as possible. I drifted in and out of a light sleep, eventually hearing a light rain gently falling on our tent later in the night.