Troop Hikes Isle Royale National Park

posted Jul 28, 2016, 5:00 PM by Dan Lok   [ updated Mar 19, 2017, 6:58 PM ]
Members of Boy Scout Troop 355 of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Battle Creek, Mich., recently hiked Isle Royale National Park, located in the northwest corner of Lake Superior. Isle Royale is the largest island in Lake Superior, roughly 45 miles long and nine miles wide and covering 894 square miles. With virtually no roads and limited electricity and infrastructure, it is regarded as the most isolated and least visited national park in the U.S.

In preparation, the scouts spent much of the last year planning for their eight-day trek throughout this beautiful yet rugged national park. Planning consisted of weeks of research, physical conditioning for the boys and adults, route planning, fundraising, and other activities. Ultimately, the scouts prepared themselves to carry everything they would need to survive for one week in the backcountry.

Scouts also attended a one-day backpacking seminar presented by their leaders, who offer more than 30 years of combined experience in the art. Ryan Juarez, Assistant Scoutmaster, coordinated the seminar and explained: “We trained our scouts on how to prepare for extended trips like this as well as for their upcoming trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico.” During the session, scouts learned how to pack a backpack, what essentials to bring on the journey, including required clothing and other gear

On June 25th, 13 scouts and their adult leaders chartered a large ferry, the Isle Royale Queen IV, from Copper Harbor, Mich. to their destination, Rock Harbor, Isle Royale. Crossing Lake Superior amidst light rain, the boat ride took four hours. The scouts split into two groups upon arrival, with each heading to different parts of the isle.

During their week’s trek, scouts had an opportunity to learn about the history of the area and experience hiking terrain unlike anywhere else in Michigan. One group endured a torrential downpour during a 13-mile hike over two mountains, completing the arduous trip in five hours. Other activities included swimming in Lake Superior, animal tracking, rock climbing, and fishin

The scouts relied on many of their skills to complete their backpacking experience. For example, each scout was tasked with utilizing his map and compass skills to navigate the isle, hiking four to 13 miles per day. Other required skills included backpack cooking, water purification, and basic first aid. (Note: all water used was drawn from Lake Superior or inland lakes and purified before drinking.) 

Six scouts and two leaders hiked more than 50 total miles during the trip, earning them the BSA's 50-Miler Award. Completing the requirements for the award were Wyatt Betts, Jordan Beyke, Tyler Conlogue, Caleb McLouth, Skyler Sebring, Trevor Timmer, Tom Timmer, and Dan Lok.

“This is an award that is not earned by many, and it is quite the accomplishment,” said Andrew Yost, Unit Serving Executive for the Southern Shores Field Service Council. “A lot of youth, including scouts, don't have the opportunity to take high adventure trips like this, and it is a truly unique experience.”

The next trip the troop will be participating in is a 12-day backpacking trip at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. Here, the scouts hope to accomplish 100 miles of hiking during their stay

Troop 355 would like to extend a special thanks to Lee's Adventure Sport of Kalamazoo and Bivouac of Ann Arbor for their assistance and expertise in food and equipment.

Boy Scout Troop 355 at Rock Harbor on Isle Royale after their eight day trek.

Back row from left: Tom Timmer, Jordan Beyke, Skyler Sebring, Caleb McLouth, Tyler Conlogue, Greg Born, Mary Conlogue, Dan Lok
Front Row: Vinnie Born Matt McLouth, Trevor Timmer, and Erik Beyke

Scouts and Leaders on Top of Mount Siskiwit, second highest elevation on Isle Royale.

Enjoys time down by West Chickenbone Lake after a long hike.

Scouts relaxing at Daisy Farm, while filtering water to protect them from viruses and tapeworms.

Scouts getting ready to explore an abandoned mine, outside of Moskey Basin.  Most of the mine has been sealed, and a small part of it has been left for visitors to explore.