Life in Windigo has taken on a sleepy pace. Windigo itself is vastly different from Rock Harbor. There is much less infrastructure and fewer people seem to be starting their trips here. What it does have in droves are day trippers who have zipped over on the Sea Hunter III from Grand Portage, only to take a picture in front of the sign, climb the hill to the store, visit the ranger station, and listen to an interpretive presentation on lighthouses. The ambitious seem to take up the nature walk that travels a one mile path around Windigo. Then they load back on the ferry, stamp punched, and off they go having “seen” Isle Royale. I’m glad they want to visit but feel sorry that they don’t have time or the skill set to experience the island more deeply and meaningfully.
We have done a lot of people watching while in Windigo and have befriended the famous Eileen, who has sold cold treats and salty, crunchy snacks to hikers for over 20 years. She was a wealth of institutional knowledge of the inner going ons of the island. We learned of the cold storage, new store, rivalry between Rock Harbor and the “Windigo whiners”, the moose study interns, and much much more. We were the inaugural audience for Ranger Caden’s first presentation on lighthouses and wrecks of Isle Royale. He only survived student teaching 9th grade history before throwing in the towel and heading for the woods. Good for him. We played nice as his first audience and gave him a standing ovation for his beautiful conclusion about the rainbows casts by the Fresnel glass each morning being some kind of tribute to the lost souls of Isle Royale...or something poetic like that.
We reveled in a 5 minute shower, slept in and sipped coffee leisurely on the porch of our tiny cabin, ate frozen pizza from the store as if it were a delicacy, chatted with new trail friends, and let our feet and aching joints try to heal before the next week long trek.