Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Questions about water transportation and fishing on the island.

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dougroat
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Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by dougroat » Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:41 pm

I have Isle Royale in my blood & realized, while there last Summer, I was missing a lot.

I am trying to put together a trip on using a 2 person, lite weight Weenonah canoe paddling maybe Tobin Harbor & then portaging between lakes.

Has anyone done this & can suggest a 4-5 day itinerary ? I really need experienced advice.

Or some other IR trip by canoe ?


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by jrwiesz » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:31 pm

Welcome dougroat,

Is this a solo trip? More info?
"And standing on the the crest of the Greenstone Ridge, I suddenly had this desire to retreat north to where I just come, to stay in the backcountry, to spend another day in a place where the only deadline I had was to pitch the tent before dark."
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Ingo
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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by Ingo » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:31 pm

4-5 day trips I've done:

(a) Inland lakes, Voyageur II:
- McCargoe Cove (drop off)
- Lake Richie
- Wood Lake (would spend layover day here)
- Chippewa Harbor (pick up)
McCargoe to Richie is the longest day, we got in late afternoon, a bunch of middle age, out-of-shape brothers.
Alternative would be head from Wood to Malone and get picked up there.
Siskiwit is a big lake, be prepared to wait out the weather if necessary.

(b) North Side, Voyageur II:
- Belle Isle (drop off)
- Duncan Bay or Duncan Narrows
- Rock Harbor (pick up)
Plenty of time to fish and explore, spend a night at Pickeral Cove, hike up to Mt Franklin from Lane Cove, etc.
Belle Harbor can be rough in a NE blow, but otherwise fairly protected.
Tough Duncan/Tobin portage, but my teenage girls did it and didn't hate me. The others are easy.
Time to explore Tobin Harbor before you leave.
Starting at McCargoe is iffy with the open water outside the cove.

(c) Rock Harbor, any boat:
- Paddle down and back, got plenty of choices of campsites. Caribou Island is one of my favorites.
Gives you a chance to explore the Edison Fishery, Lighthouse, and visit the Bangsund cabin--huge collection of moose antlers and bones.
Explore islands and sites in Tobin Harbor.
Day hike up the ridge from Daisy Farm, Three Mile, or Hidden Lake.
More of a history tour than a wilderness trip per se.
Rock Harbor can get rough in sustained blows. Need to be careful (very) passing the gaps in the outer islands when there's a swell off the lake.

Which I'd recommend depends on your level of experience, if you're going solo, and whether you're coming/going on a specific boat. And even the model of canoe could matter.


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by dougroat » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:38 pm

Two participants will be travelling


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by Ingo » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:03 pm

2 people is good! I wouldn't recommend paddling alone except to someone experienced in solo wilderness trips. What I didn't say before is that I wouldn't recommend doing the inland lakes when coming/going from RH in 4-5 days. It can be done, but it would be long days and not allow for weather.


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by dougroat » Sat Mar 11, 2017 2:44 pm

Thanks for the replies. The trip starts EX Copper Harbor.

I am taking the provided info & overlaying it on my IR map. I will have more questions after I wrap my ahead around what both are telling me & as I "visualize" the route.


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by dougroat » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:55 am

For Ingo: Why do you state trip for inland lakes not recommended beginning/returning Rock Harbor. What I meant is I will be leaving from Copper H & not on Voyageur II

I might be able to get a taxi to McCargo, but still need insight how relaxed the Inland Lakes would be. Don't mind working hard, but not 12 hour days.

Also thought about getting taxi to Belle Isle campground, exploring the bays, fishing, & canoeing back to RH around Blake Point. What level hazard is the point ?

Also, the only campground I have been to is Daisy Farm. Do all the campgrounds have space for lots of campers ? Is a campground less hectic during the week/talking about 1st week of August. Thanks in advance


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by Ingo » Sun Mar 12, 2017 3:19 pm

dougroat wrote:
Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:55 am
For Ingo: Why do you state trip for inland lakes not recommended beginning/returning Rock Harbor. What I meant is I will be leaving from Copper H & not on Voyageur II
Just the time and effort to get into, and then out of, Lake Richie--I was assuming that you weren't using the water taxi. Most of your trip would be 1 long paddle + 1 long portage, both twice.
Day 1, 10 mile paddle from R.H. to Moskey. That's enough for me.
Day 2, 2+ mile portage into Richie. That's enough for me (other than paddling to the campsite :))
Then 2 days returning doesn't leave much time for much else.

But using the water taxi, both of your ideas are good. Here's a trip log from a McCargoe->Chippewa trip, with approx. times http://moskeybasin.com/Isle_Royale/IR_Log_2002.html. Note that the portage from McCargoe to Chickenbone now starts at the McCargoe dock--no more paddling up the creek. Longest day was about 6 1/2 hrs. I'm guessing you might head from Richie->Moskey->Rock Harbor, avoiding using the water taxi twice.
Also thought about getting taxi to Belle Isle campground, exploring the bays, fishing, & canoeing back to RH around Blake Point. What level hazard is the point ?
But do the Duncan Bay->Tobin portage instead of Blake Pt--you may be tired, but you'll still be with us :). I'd rather to it than the 2+ mile Richie->Moskey one. But the area is more susceptible to the wind and weather on Lake Superior than the inland lakes, so I'd recommend a good weather radio if not a VHF. Here's a log of a similar trip (although starting at McCargoe, something I wouldn't recommend). http://moskeybasin.com/Isle_Royale/IR_Log_2009.html
Also, the only campground I have been to is Daisy Farm. Do all the campgrounds have space for lots of campers ? Is a campground less hectic during the week/talking about 1st week of August.
It is getting busier (relatively) that time of year, but you don't need to worry. Folks will double up on campsites and even offer to share a shelter. And you never know, I was at Daisy Farm the 1st week of Aug and there were only 3 parties there. And last year a full Caribou the 3rd week of Sept.


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by dougroat » Mon Jun 05, 2017 2:42 pm

IR CANOE TRIP PLANNED END OF JULY

Ingo: Earlier you provided really good advice. I am planning a 2 person canoe trip using your suggested route from McCargoe Cove portaging through the inland lakes to Chippewa Harbor for a taxi pick up. <br /><br />At least that is the current plan. <br /><br />Question/s:<br /><br />•. how do you carry gear/supplies in waterproof bags &amp; how does that interface with backpacking (?) gear when portaging ?<br /><br />Do you place your backpack in the duffel or some other arrangement ?<br /><br />• what weight limit per person do you use for gear ?<br /><br />• do you carry a tent ?<br /><br />• does the portage from McCargoe to Chickenbone start at the McC campground ? &amp; do you take the campground or Portage trail ?<br /><br />• from Chickenbone to Ritchie looks the longest. Do you have a preference for Lake Ritchie campgrounds ?<br /><br />• looks like one can canoe from Sisk to Lake Sholts. Correct ?<br /><br />• do you prefer Malone Bay as a pickup point or Chippewa, &amp; what are the differences between the two experiences ?<br /><br />I love IR; canoeing a new experience &amp; I appreciate your answering this barrage of questions. <br /><br />Your facts &amp; knowledge provide "planning comfort ". <br /><br /><br />Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk



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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by Redbad » Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:20 pm

I am not Ingo, but I did the route that you describe last year, so I might be of assistance --

There are waterproof stuff sacks with shoulder straps. There are also packs called Duluth packs which are made for canoe portaging. You could also pack your backpack as normal, perhaps with a waterproof stuff sack inside, and then place it in your canoe.

Gear weight -- lighter tends to be better after the first few miles or so...

Portage from McCargo to Chickenbone -- the portage starts essentially at the McCargo cove camp ground. Do NOT cut the portage short at Chickenbone! You will end up having to pull your boat over a mass of fallen trees/ Beaver dam before you get to Chickenbone lake proper if you do (personal experience). The trail and the portage are otherwise well marked -- go right at the intersection.

I have stayed at Lake Ritchie canoe the two times that I camped at Lake Ritchie. Very nice campground.

Not sure about Lake Sholts. Wood lake is a protected bay of Siskiwit Lake -- no portage.

My experience is with Chippewa Harbor. Chippewa Harbor gets boat traffic in the afternoon but all campgrounds with docks get boat traffic.

Get experience canoeing and portaging before you get to ISRO.

Enjoy your trip!


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by 3MTA3 » Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:29 am

My first trip to the island was a canoe trip that looked like this:

-Arrive at Rock Harbor.
-Take Voyageur II to Malone Bay. Portage to Sikiwit Lake, paddle to Wood Lake campground.
-Day paddle around Whittlesey. (Great walleye in there!)
-Portage/ paddle Intermediate Lake/ portage/ paddle to Lake Ritchey canoe campground.
-Day hike to McCargoe and back.
-Portage to Moskey Basin.
-Wake up early & paddle to Rock Harbor.

I'd recommend Wood Lake and Lake Ritchey canoe campgrounds to anyone. I really enjoyed them.


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by Midwest Ed » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:04 pm

Dougrote:

After hiking most of the trails, I took a canoe trip with a friend. We were both paddling novices and we did just fine with a borrowed canoe, but we also stayed off of Lake Superior except for the Rock Island Channel from Rock Harbor Lodge to Moskey Basin. As stated by others, a 4 day canoe trip is a bit impractical starting and ending in Rock Harbor. Although you could have a great time just paddling in and around Rock Harbor and Tobin Harbor and making in some day hikes from Daisy Farm and Hidden Lake. Otherwise the water taxi or maybe the Voyageur are options for you. Is taking the Voyageur II from Minnesota out of the question?

Our trip was Voyageur II to Rock Harbor.

Night 1 - Caribou Island
Night 2 - Moskey Basin (longest but fairly flat, 2.5 mile portage)
Night 3 - Lake Ritchie Canoe CG
Night 4 - Wood Lake (via Intermediate Lake)
Night 5 - Lake Whittelsey
Night 6 - Chippewa Harbor (then pick by Voyageur on day 7)

We could have easily shortened this to fewer nights skipping one or more campgrounds. A drop off and pickup from either Chippewa Harbor or Malone Bay can be scheduled via the Voyageur or water taxi that would allow reaching several lakes in just 3 or 4 days with minimal portages. The water taxi is quite expensive but offers a lot of flexibility.

Personally, with only 4 days I would paddle around Tobin Harbor and Rock Harbor Channel with hikes to Mt. Ojibway from Daisy Farm CG or Three Mile CG. Trips to the Edisen Fishery, Rock Harbor Light House and Bangsund Cabin (you might get to meet Rolf and/or Candy Peterson). Paddle to Hidden Lake and hike to Lookout Louise. Overnights possible are at Rock Harbor, Tookers Island, Caribou Island, Daisy Farm and maybe Moskey Basin. I'd advise against Merritt Lane as there is some exposure to open lake. Even if the weather is good you might get stuck there for a day or 2. Also take note that a steady wind from the southwest or or northeast can make the going very slow heading into it and a southeast wind can make Rock Harbor very choppy in spots.

Lastly, Google "dry bags". They come in all sizes with and without carrying straps.The reliable ones are not very light though, the last time I looked. And remember to have decently fitting and comfortable personal flotation vests, signaling devices (visual and audible) and I would have an inexpensive portable marine transceiver with weather channels.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by dougroat » Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:12 pm

First of all my appreciation for the experiences shared & advice.

Very helpful

Anyway, my trip, the last week of July, is approaching & I have a few questions for those who have related experience & insight.

From McCargoe Coce to Lake Ritchie, there are two trails. Is one better/easier/preferred ?

The longer trail appears to be 1.5-2.0 miles. Am I correct ?

Ritchie has two campgrounds, does one have better prospect or facilities than the other ?

Chicken bone Lake, the two campgrounds, is either the prospect or facilities better in one ?

VHF, one must be on water to send a distress signal. Is sending from an inland small lake OK ?

Would there be interference from shoreline vegatation transmitting from inland lakes ?

All comments welcome.



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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by Ingo » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:25 pm

dougroat wrote:
Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:12 pm
From McCargoe Coce to Lake Ritchie, there are two trails. Is one better/easier/preferred ?
The longer trail appears to be 1.5-2.0 miles. Am I correct ?
Not sure what you're referring to here, since the route from McCargoe to Richie goes through Chickenbone, Livermore, and Lesage. The first portage to Chickenbone shares the Indian Portage Trail towards the West Chickenbone campground. However you put in as soon as you reach the lake. My older map is not real clear on this--don't know if it's any more evident on the latest.
dougroat wrote:
Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:12 pm
Ritchie has two campgrounds, does one have better prospect or facilities than the other ?
The canoe campground is more isolated since it's accessible only by water. Stay there! It's a great site, although I haven't stayed at the trail CG for comparison.
dougroat wrote:
Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:12 pm
Chicken bone Lake, the two campgrounds, is either the prospect or facilities better in one ?
Definitely West Chickenbone. It's right on the water. East Chickenbone is a ways inland from the lake.
dougroat wrote:
Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:12 pm
VHF, one must be on water to send a distress signal. Is sending from an inland small lake OK ?
Would there be interference from shoreline vegatation transmitting from inland lakes ?
In an emergency it doesn't matter if you're on water or not. And I don't know of any restriction on the size of the body of water. But I doubt it would do much good on the inland lakes. The range of handheld ones is maybe 5 miles max over water, and yes, anything in between will interfere. You might get lucky and hail a boat passing on L. Superior from Wood/Siskiwit, Whittlesey, or Chippewa Harbor, but I'd be really surprised on any other inland lake.


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Re: Trying to plan a first time canoe/portage trip

Post by dougroat » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:12 am

Which, Ritchie--east or west, is "the canoe campground" ?

New topic: in your opinion, do I need a canoe flotation device ?

I am not going to be in L Superior much, & I would think the inland lake swell would generally be less high & hazardous.

Next, what are my best safety signaling protections ?

My radio transmits at 1,3, or 6 watts.

Your commenting on only a 5 mile range limit seems very limiting. Wondering if what use the radio is for inland lakes.

Do you know, does the IR Ranger station receive distress calls ?


BTW, I am very grateful for your responses.


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