Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Questions about water transportation and fishing on the island.

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solo1
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Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by solo1 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:29 am

Would sincerely be grateful for any ideas/suggestions for the most easy,
shortest portages and safest routes for solo kayaking the inland lakes.
I have wilderness experience and skills in many areas.
Have not been to Isle Royale yet.
Would also be open to a kayaking companion to make things easier---
if anyone is interested, my plan is to go in early September when bugs
and people are down.
Thank you for any positive input from those who have been there.

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jrwiesz
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Re: Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by jrwiesz » Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:13 am

Welcome to the forum,

It would be of help to offer advice, if one were to know from where you would be entering the park; perhaps, how many days your visit will be?

After that info, I'm sure there will be plenty of trip plans that can be offered as suggestions.
"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."
Jim DuFresne

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Tom
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Re: Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by Tom » Tue Jun 27, 2017 1:09 pm

I would say the most common inland water route, because of the way the ferry (Voyageur II) works, is as follows. Bodies of water listed.
(* = Has a campsite available.)

McCargoe Cove*-->Chickenbone**-->Livermore-->LeSage-->Ritchie**-->Intermediate*-->Siskiwit-->Wood*-->Whittlesey*-->Chippewa Harbor*

The first set of five bodies is pretty static. Really no other path through them. Once at Ritchie, you could jump direct to Chippewa if you wanted, but that's a doozy of a portage.
Once at Siskiwit, you could head to Malone, and with a kayak, that's pretty doable.
BTW, these routes are all on designated portages, so no bushwhacking.

The Voyageur II has stops at McCargoe Cove, Chippewa, and Malone, which makes this an inland route that never requires a paddler to get out on the big lake. With the exception of Siskiwit, which has a long fetch from the SW, the lakes are generally protected enough for the average paddler.


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Re: Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by Redbad » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:31 am

One thing to keep in mind is that the portages on ISRO were made with canoes in mind and it may be challenging to portage a kayak, especially on the Chippewa Harbor/ Lake Whittlesey portage, the Lake LaSage/ Lake Ritchie portage, the Chippewa Harbor/ Lake Ritchie portage, and the Moskey Basin/ Lake Ritchie portage. If you wind up soloing, you probably will be making 3 trips per portage -- trip 1, portage kayak; trip 2 return; trip 3 portage gear...

Another thing to keep in mind that the number of people on ISRO is pretty low to begin with and that outside of Rock Harbor there are few people. This is especially true on the interior lakes canoe campgrounds. I had Lake Ritchie canoe and Wood Lake to myself last year in late August/ early September and Intermediate Lake was empty when I passed by. Lake Whittlesey had two persons, primarily due to the fishing.

Ferry schedules become important in September as does weather planning (ferries will not run in severe weather -- Lake Superior waves greater than 6 feet or so). Rock Harbor can also get rough, so depending on how you access ISRO and the interior chain of lakes, you might get weathered in. The lodge and the store also close after Labor day, so resupply could be an issue if you have weather delays. Weather is also an issue on Siskiwit Lake, especially if there is a strong SW breeze.


treeplanter
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Re: Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by treeplanter » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:12 am

What kind of kayak? Length and weight of your kayak will be your culprits when portaging. And depending on the amount of supplies you pack in your boat, portaging can take a few hours.

We portaged over from Malone bay to Siskiwit Lake many years back. Between two kayaks and our gear, it took several trips. Doable, but hardly enjoyable. If you can find a kayak buddy, portaging will be much more tolerable.

Tom’s route suggestion from McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor is a good one. Either solo, or with a partner, you should have a good time.

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Ingo
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Re: Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by Ingo » Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:41 pm

If you plan to, or can, take the Voyageur II then Tom nailed it. It avoids the 3 hardest portages on the island (Moskey/Richie, Richie/Chippewa, and Tobin/Duncan). The last day for a drop-off at McCargoe is 9/16 (somewhat assured). After that if the weather's bad they'll go up the south side of the island instead.

If you have to come from the U.P. to Rock Harbor, then you're pretty much stuck with the 2+ mile Moskey/Richie portage in and out of the inland lakes, unless you use the water taxi. It's relatively flat, but the distance is not fun, making it my least favorite portage on the island.

The water taxi from R.H. is another option, albeit pricey. It could drop you off/pick you up at McCargoe and Chippewa and you could do the common route in either direction (Chippewa -> McCargoe would be the uncommon direction). It appears that the last day for water taxi service is 9/15, but you would want to verify with the R.H. Lodge.


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solo1
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Re: Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by solo1 » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:48 am

Thank you all,for the meaningful suggestions for routes, etc;
Trying to decide which kayak to take (considering the different
variables), 12 ft. Pelican or 6+ ft. rubber inflatable.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
I totally agree that it would be much easier to have a trip partner.
Am flexible to number of days, etc;
Anyone possibly interested in joining me in late August or early Sept.??
solo1

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JavaHiker
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Re: Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by JavaHiker » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:02 pm

It's a personal preference, but I'm not a fan of portaging inflatables. Even portaging something like a packraft numerous times may really stress the material it is made of. Note that there is little trail maintenance in the backcountry late in the season: if trees blow down they will stay there until the next year. One serous tear mid-trip and you may not have a creek to be up. JMHO...

How many days are you planning? What is the weight of the Pelican and does it have a bulkhead? I've paddled a lot of rivers with a 12 foot Wilderness Systems Pungo (with rear bulkhead) and there is enough room for a tight 2-3 day trip with no portaging. My wife and I also have a 14 foot Pamlico and a 15.5 foot Carolina (both with bulkheads) that we use primarily for longer river trips. We took the latter two on a 7 day trip in the Boundary Waters several years ago because they are already pretty beat up, and were comfortable with the space and portages.

I would also be very cautious about taking any smaller vessel on some of those lakes later in the season. They can be surprisingly cool/cold and squalls can come out of nowhere, especially on Siskiwit. I would not take our sea kayaks on that lake in September without sprayskirts, wetsuits and a very promising up-to-date forecast.

Again, JMHO...
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huntertim214
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Re: Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by huntertim214 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:50 am

JavaHiker wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:02 pm
I would also be very cautious about taking any smaller vessel on some of those lakes later in the season. They can be surprisingly cool/cold and squalls can come out of nowhere, especially on Siskiwit. I would not take our sea kayaks on that lake in September without sprayskirts, wetsuits and a very promising up-to-date forecast.
I agree with this statement, a trip like this sounds great but you do need to be cautious and make sure you have the proper gear... especially if going solo. You will not have cell service or access to live weather updates so being prepared is important. For a multi-day kayak trip I would personally want a sit-in boat with bulkheads and a full spray skirt. You can't use carts or anything so obviously you will be doing double carry portages and a lighter, more manageable boat is important, but I would not sacrifice on water characteristics. And ISRO trails/portages are no joke for sure so make sure you have your portaging routine down before you get out there. Nights will be cool that time of year so just make sure that you can carry all of the gear you need and keep it all dry, as well as keeping yourself dry from weather, waves and even paddle drip. In my opinion, I don't think that Isle Royale is the place for recreational kayaks and I would go with a proper touring kayak of at least 14'. Not that it can't be done in a smaller boat or even a pack raft, but be prepared for rugged terrain and the possibilities of wind, waves, and generally pour weather. I am not trying to discourage you from your plans in the least, but just be prepared. ISRO is an amazing and beautiful place but it is extremely remote, even more so after Labor Day, and weather is always the x-factor.


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solo1
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Re: Solo Kayaking inland lakes.

Post by solo1 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:28 pm

Thank you JavaHiker and huntertim214,
Very sound (useful) advice. I had ended up with the decision
to try to find a Kayaking partner. All my friends are not the
outdoorsy/adventurous type so that in itself will be a
challenge to find between 1 and 4 people to go with.
Am not a big group person for these kinds of trips.

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