Island is definitely a unique destination
reached either by private watercraft or
by taking two ferries from the "mainland"
at Gills Rock.
of the 40 campsites are less than a quarter
mile from the ferry landing, while others
are close to two miles away.
can be reserved by clicking here.
Technically, this was not really a backcountry
trip, but since it was our first time carrying our gear
on our backs, and since we were on an island...what theheck.
A little background is in order. This trip was meant to
be a test run for our Glacier trip planned for the next July. Gear was purchased only
a few weeks prior, and along with things that I already
had, we figured we'd be in pretty good shape. Hey, it was
only for one night, right?
Getting to Rock Island is half the fun.
We departed Manitowoc early the morning of September. Our
first stop would be to the tip of Door County at Gills Rock
to catch the Washington Island Ferry. the drive up highway
57 was pleasant as the sun was shining and a few clouds
dotted the sky. At least we probably wouldn't freeze tonight.
By 11:00 Am we were at the dock and boarded
the ferry a few minutes later. Perfectly timed. The cruise
across "Death's Door" proved to be uneventful.
I had been on the Island about 20 years prior and had forgotten
about the many islands and shoals that dotted the bay.
We drove off the ferry and sprinted across
Washington Island so that we could catch the 1:30 Rock Island
ferry, but came up just short. We killed our idle time by
munching on snacks from the dilapidated snack bar adjacent
to the dock. By 2:00 we were loaded and casting off toward
The island is not that far from Washington
Island. In fact, the water level in Lake Michigan was so
low it almost looked like you could walk a shoal from one
island to another.We arrived and confirmed which camp site
would be ours for the night with the ranger, filled our
water jug and walked the 1/2 mile to our campsite. Our site
was fabulous. A mere 75' from the lake, we were nestled
in the woods protected from the wind. Just about perfect.
We quickly set up the tent, unstuffed our sleeping bags
and gathered some firewood for later.
of Washington Island from the lighthouse trail.
We spent most of the afternoon walking
along the shoreline taking in the sights the island had
to offer. later on we decided to walk the two miles to the
light house. this was a bit disappointing as the building
was being renovated and we couldn't get a look. Undaunted,
we hiked back to the boathouse/museum to check that out.
Even though we didn't get to see the lighthouse, I discovered
one thing: I needed to get into shape before going to Glacier
or I was going to die in the mountains.
Dinner was uneventful in that my ancient
Svea 123 fired right up and efficiently boiled water for
our Yummy Mountain House dinner. Like I said, we were there
to test things out. After dinner we went back over to the
boathouse where a volunteer entertained us on the history
of the Island. Very interesting stuff even with the bats
buzzing our heads every few minutes. The sunset was gorgeous,
the night warm
When we got back to the tent, we made
a fire and relaxed. After about an hour we decided to hit
the sack. Sleep came fairly easy, but that wouldn't last.
Our foam pads were not up to the task of handling the Rock
Island rocks. Once we woke up, it was very difficult to
get comfortable enogugh to get back to sleep. Note to selves:
When we finally got up, we were stiff
and sore. I managed to get breakfast ready---more MH meals
and oatmeal. After the dishes were done we decided to take
a walk to the east side of the Island before packing up
and catching the ferry back to Washington Island. We wanted
to catch the 10:00 ferry so that we wouldn't have to wait
until noon to catch the next one. The island was nice, but
not too substantial.
We got packed and walked back to the
dock. It looked like there were already 200 people at the
dock, but we managed to squeeze on anyway.
Overall, Rock Island is a nice place
to get away for a weekend, though a bit of a hassle and
pricey to get there.