An Open Letter to the Moose of Isle Royale

Dear Moose of Isle Royale,

Let’s be honest with each other.

The only reason we really came to Isle Royale National Park was to see you.

Mr. Moose, we needed to see you for many reasons, among them to illustrate you.
Mr. Moose, we needed to see you for many reasons, among them to illustrate you.

As you might have seen from the photos of our previous park visits, Andres and I love wildlife. In fact, most of the stars in the Centennial Posters have featured some furry friends you might like too. We almost made you the star of our Grand Teton poster, but we let Grizzly 399 and her dearly departed cub Snowy take your place.

After all, they say there are 1,300 of you on Isle Royale, and if the island is 850 square miles, we expected to see 1.5 of you about every mile.

So where were you?



We hoped to see you from the Greenstone Ridge Trail, too bad the map couldn't tell us where you were hanging out.
Searching high and low – we hoped to see you from the Greenstone Ridge Trail, too bad the map couldn’t tell us where you were hanging out.

We got off the Ranger III on a sunny day; our five days of backpacking ahead were full of bright potential. Even when it began to rain the next day we were determined to find you. At Daisy Farm they told us you might be hanging around some of the inland lakes, especially around a pond where your favorite food grows.

Why weren’t you there eating your favorite food?

Then they told us you’d been spotted near Moskey Basin, so we trudged 12 miles through rain that day to catch you giving your calf a nightly bath. I guess it wasn’t bath day, because you weren’t there.

Every bend on the trail seemed like the perfect spot for you to stretch your long legs and say hello. We filled ourselves to the brink with thimbleberries, wondering why you weren’t there to enjoy the sweet tangy delight of these fruits. If we were you, we’d gather them all up to bake a thimbleberry pie.

It’s too bad you didn’t want to share our berries, but surely you would have loved our campsite at McCargoe Cove. Really, you must have been pretty wet after all that rain and we found the perfect site where pines formed a small dry shelter. We would have shared, you know.


Looking for you, no sign.
Looking for you, no sign.
Great place for you to hang out, but you weren't there.
Great place for you to hang out, but you weren’t there.
See how dry the ground is?
See how dry the ground is?

So why were you sleeping out in the wet forest, when you could have been sleeping next to us?

By day four we began to lose hope.

We made it back to Rock Harbor and felt a bit consoled when your friend the fox came to greet us. He even left his #2 in the middle of our campsite, but let’s be honest again. We wished it had been your #2.

By day five it was time to leave.

Ranger III waiting, three hours to go and still no sign of you.

Ranger III Waiting at the dock, three hours until we depart and still no sign of you.

The ship greeted us somberly in the early morning light reflecting our sadness. We decided to take those last few hours to make one more attempt. You were on that island and we just couldn’t leave without saying hello. It would have been too rude, like visiting a friend and lingering on the front porch without actually ringing the doorbell.

Our feet were sore. Our bodies tired after 50+ miles of backpacking to find you. Don’t take that as a complaint though, because we truly enjoyed seeing your home. You’re lucky to live in such a big mansion. Really, your interior designer did a great job. We just wished you’d been there to give us the tour.

We left at 6 AM to hike part of the Scoville Point Loop trail, which we’d completed the previous day. It seemed like the most populated trail considering its proximity to the harbor, so we didn’t expect to see you. But maybe, just maybe 6 AM is your social hour.

I was losing hope by 7:30 AM. Okay, I was grumpy beyond reason. I told Andres, “You go ahead, I’ll wait here, but hurry up! The boat leaves at 9 AM.”

We even cooked dinner at Scoville Point the previous day, hoping you'd join us.
We even cooked dinner at Scoville Point the previous day, making extra for you.


I would never have believed what happened next without the photographic proof.

Andres was just giving up his last shred of hope too, when suddenly he heard a noise. There out of the thick forest foliage a great black wall emerged. You! No offense, but you were so large he thought you were a wall. You lumbered slowly onto the trail, barely making a sound. Then you stopped and stared. Andres stared back, his heart pounding harder than it ever had before.

The moose who greeted Andres along the Scoville Point Loop Trail.


We knew you were a good guy, Mr. Moose. You wouldn’t let us leave without saying hello after all.

You walked slowly toward Andres as he stepped slowly back, suddenly feeling nervous. Sure, he wanted to greet you, but we know you’re pretty reserved and appreciate your space. The last thing we’d want to do is offend you in your own home.

But let’s not forget that you’re a star, so with respect Andres took his paparazzi moment and photographed you from the distance. Then he watched you in silence a bit more before saying goodbye. It was a quiet, magical moment. That inspiration is how we illustrated our latest poster.

We hope you like your portrait, let us know if you want a copy and we’ll send it your way.

Available at our shop, Hike & Draw.
Available at our shop, click to view Hike & Draw.
Saying goodbye to your home, dear moose.
Saying goodbye to your home, dear moose.

We don’t mind that you hid from us most of the time, in fact we understand. I would probably hide too if visitors constantly came to my home uninvited.

So as we left your forested retreat I blew a farewell kiss over the waters, hoping the rain would carry it on the winds and reach your shy cheek. Thank you for having us, and we hope to see you again soon.

Your friends,

Karla & Andres

P.S. If you ever want to travel with us, consider this letter an open invitation.


  1. Thanks for inviting us along on your visit. I was on Sand Island in the Apostle Islands but no moose there, I did see bear footprints but not sure I wanted to see one. The poster came out great!

    1. Thanks for joining the journey Kathy and for your compliment! We saw signs for Apostle Islands, that looks like a beautiful place. Good thing you didn’t run into a bear there!

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