First visit - kayak route labor day

Questions about water transportation and fishing on the island.

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moleman462
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First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by moleman462 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:48 pm

Hello,

I'm planning my first visit to IR with a friend Labor Day weekend from Friday to Wednesday. We will be kayaking. My friend is quite experienced, I am a novice having just gotten a ws tsunami 145 this year. Have taken a basic paddling course and 4 hour rescue and recovery course. I have been practicing my self rescues and getting comfortable in my boat, and been out on mostly inland lakes or rivers (some Lake Michigan paddling in 1-2 footers near shore).

I could use some advice on my planned route though it seems to be a commonly used one based on DuFrense's book which I have read. More so I'm seeking advice on how I've broken things up by day and distance.

Friday: arrive at Rock harbor at 3 on ranger iii. Paddle to daisy farm to camp
Saturday: daisy farm>moskey basin> portage to lake Richie, paddle half day on lr then camp at lr canoe
Sunday: lake le sage>Livermore>chickenbone paddle 2 hrs>portage to mc cargoe, camp at mc cargoe
Monday: mc cargoe>birch island>pickerel cove>belle isle, camp belle isle
Tuesday: belle isle>lane cove>Stockley bay>Duncan bay>Tobin harbor>rock harbor, camp at rh
Wednesday: depart on ranger iii

Sunday seems like a lot of portages but they are all pretty short. We'll have to make three trips each time though (2 people carrying 2 boats, then go back for gear). Also if we get stuck in mccargoe Monday due to weather I am worried we will run out of time to,get back to rh so we may have to double back and skip 5 fingers area. My goal is to avoid open water as much as I can. I cannot roll. My buddy can.

Any thoughts on this itinerary?

Also, are dry suits a necessity for early September? Would a wetsuit and paddling jacket with layers suffice? I don't have either but am willing to shell out if needed.

Thanks for any input you guys can provide.

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Ingo
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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by Ingo » Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:26 pm

Good route, and appropriate concerns. There is a lot of portaging on Sunday--and only short paddles in between. It felt like a long day doing 2 trips with canoes, but certainly doable. Also, I'm not sure what the current map says, but the portage between Chickenbone and McCargoe was lengthened a few years ago to eliminate the creek, so it's >1 mile now. It goes to (or near) the campground now, just to be aware.

For getting stuck at McCargoe, a valid concern--happened to me once. Paddling from McCargoe to R.H. in a day is doable if you got laid up for a day, more so than going back across the inland lakes. More than one day probably isn't likely, but possible. But you could reverse the direction of your trip--if I wasn't able to safely get across that stretch I'd rather be stuck at Pickeral Cove and backtrack through the N.E. side than through the lakes.

Or just plan to do the Five Fingers on to McCargoe (with Pickeral as the bail out option) and then back. Probably what I would do with that amount of time. But I do love that area! Either way should be a great trip, pretty much depends on how much portaging you want to do.


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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by RockRiver » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:04 am

I can't comment too much on the inland lake part of the itinerary, but it is no problem to go from RH to Moskey Basin. Same for McCargoe to Belle Harbor. pretty easy paddles. Belle Island to RH is about 14 miles. You might want to look up my trip report from this May. We paddled almost 100 miles in seven days. It will give you an idea of what is possible in a decent seakayak. You have a good boat and have been learning how to use it. If you can handle 1 to 2 foot waves on Lake Michigan, you will be fine on the open lake on the island on a decent day. Get a marine vhf radio so that you can hear the Isle Royale recreational forecast from the Houghton NOAA station. Paddling is only half of seakayaking. The other half is planning and risk assessment. Portageing a seakayak stinks. All the packing and unpacking takes a lot of time. Everyone makes a big deal about Blake Point, well sometimes it is a big deal but lots more times it is very doable. You just have to listen to the weather report and if it doesn't sound bad, go look. We have been around it four times, twice in a flat calm, once in 2 foot waves and the last time in a lot more. You can approach Blake Point from fairly sheltered water from either direction. If it looks as if the conditions are beyond your capabilities, you can turn back and quickly be safe. If you think that you are going to be scared, be scared sooner rather than later so you don't get into trouble. A wet suit and a paddling jacket are a good idea, a spray skirt is a must. Have a map and compass. A gps is real useful also. Read my trip report and you will see why.


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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by johnhens » Sat Jul 23, 2016 5:10 am

Your route is doable in the time yu describe. Assuming the weather cooperates. As Ingo said, it is not uncommon to be wind bound at McCargoe. If Birch Isle is available I would stay there to get an early start to Pickerel Cove. There is a bouy marking the entrance to McCargoe that you can see from Birch Isle.You should check it in the AM to see if it is bobbing a lot. You will hear the waves if it is rough. If the wind overrnight is from the N, NW or NE going to Pickerel could be 'interesting". The paddle to Belle is fine. When you leave Belle, the paddle across to Lane can be dicey if the winds are N or NE. Also when we got to Hill Pt. across from Dean Island, the overnight winds were stacking waves against the Pt. If you have done your homeowrk, you know the Duncan-Todd portage is long and steep if you go that way. If you decide to paddle the outside, Blake is like HIll except more exposed. The bottom comes up quickly there and 2' waves can turn into 4-5' waves. The point is to monitor the weather not just the day you paddle but the days ahead. Hope you have a great trip, if you are fishing, good luck!!!

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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by MikeT » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:59 am

I agree with everyone. The first days are doable in most any conditions. I would have concern with Monday and Tuesday being the fact that you have no "swing" days. The stretch of water from McCargoe to Pickerel has a big stretch of open water with some steep shoreline. You should definitely try and stay at Birch Island because you cannot tell what the lake conditions are from McCargoe. You will have to hope for good conditions when you paddle that section and, the next day. When paddling I always plan a "swing" day because odds are you are going to have a day when you cannot safely paddle.
Also, a Marine VHF Radio is a must!

Hope you have a great trip!
Mike T.
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head2north
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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by head2north » Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:04 am

Just to make sure you are aware of Ranger III options when arriving, I will repeat. You can be dropped off at Mott Island.
This will save :

1 hour travel between Mott Island and Snug Harbor.
up to an hour of unloading all boats, luggage, materials at Snug Habor.
1 to 3 hours paddling from Snug Harbor to Daisy Farm.

So one could potentially save a day by going from Mott Island directly to Moskey Basin for the first evening.
(Not saying Daisy Farm is not worth it, but I would rather go directly to Moskey Basin and save a day.)


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moleman462
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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by moleman462 » Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:36 pm

Thanks for all of the input, it has been very helpful. I'm considering either reversing and spending more time in the five fingers to pickerel area with the possibility of making the inland lakes depending on weather, or heading back. Or also made the Mott island starting point to save some time and go with my original route but gain a weather day.

Two more questions: is the northern side going to be protected so weather is not a factor ('except maybe around belle isle)?
And how does one go abut getting dropped at Mott island? We already have tickets that say to rock harbor. Do we just let them know when boarding that we're going to Mott?

Any thoughts on wetsuit plus dry top vs paddling pants and dry top?
Thanks again!


johnhens
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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by johnhens » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:40 am

I checked the surface temps map here: http://www.coastwatch.msu.edu/superior/s2.html. I always bring my farmer john, don't always wear it. The same with a drytop. As far as paddling conditions, if you look at the map, you will be affected by a W, NW, N, NE wind. Keep an eye on the weather and have alternative paddling plans based on the expected weather. Your most exposed paddling from Belle to Lane Cove and Hill and Locke Pts if you go that way. Hope that answers your question.

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Ingo
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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by Ingo » Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:30 pm

I'd call the park office in Houghton to ask about getting off at Mott. Check NPS.gov/Isro for contact info.


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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by moleman462 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:39 pm

FYI, i called the ranger today about getting off at Mott Island. You don't need a different ticket. You just tell them when you're loading on the ranger that you're going to Mott and they tag your kayak with a different colored tag and your gear goes on a separate cart from the rock harbor passengers.

We've added two more people to our group with less kayaking experience, so are going to get dropped at Mott and spend first part of the trip paddling the interior to get everyone comfortable in their boats. Will try to get to birch island by the end of day 2 to build in a weather day.

Also, as far as paddling gear, I ordered a kokatat surge paddling suit. It zips apart at the waist so you can use the pants or top separately. Basically a drysuit but with neoprene neck gasket instead of latex. Figure it will be a bit more versatile and still offer immersion protection in open water. Will let you know how it goes.


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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by moleman462 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:15 pm

Success! I'm on my car ride home from Houghton after a great trip. We had 3 kayakers. Storms forecasted for Monday most of the day, so we kept an eye on that and used that to set the schedule.

We ended up with the following route:
Friday: dropped off at Mott island at 2:30, paddled to Moskey Basin. No shelters available so we decided to start the portage to lake Richie. Made it a third of the way with packs and boats before dropping the boats and continuing on. Camped at lake Richie.

Saturday: returned to get the kayaks and complete the portage. Horrible portage. Paddled Richie for a bit, portage to le sage, Livermore, and chickenbone. Camped at west chickenbone.

Sunday: portaged to mcCargoe, which seemed longer than expected. Met a trail marathon runner who was really nice. Paddled past birch island through to pickerel without troubles. Ran into a young lady solo kayaking the opposite way who turned around and joined us for a while. She went off on her own and we met up again later at Rock harbor . Portaged into pickerel after lunch. Paddled into robinson bay, poked out through the keyhole and back in to continue to lane cove. Portaged into Duncan bay,
Camped at Duncan bay. Met some cool fisherman from Iowa who were on their way out who left us a chunk of salmon to cook for dinner. Thanks guys, so awesome! Also met some awesome scuba divers from Minnesota who we hung with for two nights swapping stories. Two of the coolest guys.

Monday: watched the storm, had a rest and eat day. Paddled west into Duncan for a bit but then back to the dock to hang with the divers.

Tuesday: slept in and waited for the fog to dissipate a bit, then paddled around Blake point. Half meter waves, so not too bad but the fog was challenging. Made it without incident into Merritt lane and paddled around some of the small islands to see the cabins. Got to Tobin harbor dock and into rock harbor around 3 to get one of the last tent sites. Hit the showers. Hit the pub for dinner and beers, then the store for more beers and hung out at the dock with some other visitors. Slept good and up early for breakfast at the restaurant before getting on the ranger.

Overall it was a great trip. Crowded during this time. Many shelters were full each night. Met
Some awesome people. Everyone was really friendly. We of course could have used more time. The portages to the interior were difficult. I would not do them again with sea kayaks.

I may do a trip report with pics in the near future. Thanks for all your input in preparing for this trip. I had a blast!

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Ingo
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Re: First visit - kayak route labor day

Post by Ingo » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:51 pm

Enjoyed the report! Don't blame you for leaving the boats along the portage on the first day.

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