TR: 9/3-9/7 2014, Windigo to Malone

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hooky
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TR: 9/3-9/7 2014, Windigo to Malone

Post by hooky » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:58 pm

This was my first trip to the west side of the island and I was struck by how different it was compared to what i'd seen on the east end.

I stayed at Rydens and took the Voyager to Windigo. After the LNT talk and filing my itinerary, it was off to Feldtman Lake for my first night. The trail was well marked and was an enjoyable hike. I got my first taste of thimbleberries along the way and enjoyed their tart taste every day while I was there. Along the way I found a moose kill site that had been visited by Rolf or his team. The femur had been cut and the bones were arranged in an orderly fashion. I also saw wolf tracks along the trail at several points. I had passed two groups on the trail who were on their way to the lake and I was the first person there. I found a site that would accommodate my hammock and set up camp. The lake was smooth as glass while I filtered water and made dinner.

I shared the campground with a husband and wife who were on a different itinerary and 2 young ladies (Amy and Alisha) who were on the same one that I was on. After dinner and as the sun was getting lower, all 5 of us found our way to Rainbow Cove for a great sunset. Amy, Alisha and I stayed just a little longer than the husband and wife did. Walking back in the dark the 3 of us had a run in with a moose that was not happy about our presence. Lots of snorting and stomping, but we couldn't see it. We tried to tell the moose that we wished it no harm, but it didn't believe us. We gave it about 10 minutes to move on and then we started back down the trail. It hadn't really gone anywhere and began snorting and stomping within 10 or 15 feet of us. Brush began cracking and shaking to my right and the 3 of us were looking for trees to get behind. I think I almost knocked over one of the ladies as I turned and dove off the trail. :oops:

The moose finally took off and I realized that we had it pinned against a drop off and it had nowhere to go to get away from us. Lesson learned, don't corner a moose in the dark. I'm still amazed that we were that close to such a large animal and we never saw it, despite the 3 of us shining lights where we were hearing it.

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Storms stayed south of me the first night. There was just a little rain with thunder and lightening in the distance. The morning dawned clear, but the wind had shifted. I farted around and took my time breaking down camp while fixing breakfast. Clouds rolled in and it was thundering when I put my pack on to head for Siskiwit. I was listening to the thunder out on Superior and watching for lightening. I didn't want to get caught out in the open on the ridge if there was lightning. I busted my tail and didn't really take many opportunities to get photos. I really wanted to climb the tower and get pictures, but there was no way i was going to climb it while I could still hear thunder. At times during the first couple of hours, the thunder was so powerful that I could feel it reverberate in my chest.

It cleared up after i got off the ridge the last couple of miles were in the sun. I hit Siskiwit around 2:30 tried to dry my boots and socks while sitting on the dock. Fishermen had claimed both shelters. I found a site that would work for my hammock, set up camp and after getting everything on a clothesline to dry, I decided to take a cat nap. I woke up around 4:30 to a temp drop, another wind shift and fog. i could no longer see the lake from my site and it was getting thicker. I spent a damp, chilly night at Siskiwit.

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The next morning was clear and the wind had shifted yet again, this time coming out of the northwest. I didn't know it, but there was high pressure moving in and the rest of the trip would be clear skies with a few clouds getting pushed around. It would be great weather for the next 3 days. I put on my still wet boots, packed up my wet camp and headed for S. Desor under bright blue skies.

Before I hit Island Mine, I stopped on some exposed rock and tried to dry out my socks and feet. This was the second day that my feet were in wet boots. It didn't help that I'd stepped off a plank and completely submerged my left foot past my ankle. After a half hour in the sun, I still had a squishy left boot.

I checked out the mining equipment and then headed to the Island Mine campground. After filtering some water, I checked out the sites and made a mental note to include an overnight there at some point. I met my first person of the day at the trail junction where I caught the Greenstone. I had a pleasant conversation with a gentleman who had done RH to Windigo and was on his way back to RH to catch the boat on Tuesday. Gary was in his 60's and it was his first time on the island. We compared notes and he was also on his way to S Desor. We chatted a little more when he made the camp that evening.

After a couple of days of what seemed like bushwhacking on the overgrown trails between Windigo and Siskiwit, the Greenstone looked like a highway. From Island Mine to S Desor, it reminded me of the hiking here in Indiana. I made great time and got into S Desor in the early afternoon. The sites filled up before nightfall and one of them (4) ended up with 2 groups sharing it. I had #2 and it was a great site with easy access to the water. For some reason, I thought S Desor had a beach. It turns out that I wasn't the only one that thought that. Odd that multiple people thought that was the case.

There were a couple of guys in site 1 that were on their way to Windigo and would be on the boat back with me. We ended up having dinner together. I shared some bourbon and we smoked cigars while having a nice visit. It was a very enjoyable evening with a stiff breeze drying out all of my wet gear. I went to bed under a full moon that actually drowned out a lot of the stars.

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Siskiwit Bay on the way to Island Mine

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Light chop on Lake Desor

My last day of hiking dawned clear and breezy. I took my time breaking camp and was the last one to leave the lake. I struck out for Malone and enjoyed the hike. I met the ladies on their first break about an hour into the hike and they caught up to me while I was taking a break at the Ipsheming tower. I passed them again on way down off the ridge. It was the most trail interaction I'd had with anyone the entire time. I'd passed them and the husband and wife early on day 1, but other than Gary later on day 3, I hadn't seen anyone else on the trails. It seemed like I the whole island to myself while on the trails.

Once I got to down to where the trail followed the shoreline of Siskiwit Lake, I started lollygagging. I took a bunch of pictures, explored off trail at one point and ended up washing 4 days of trail off in Siskiwit falls. The off trail exploration was while I was looking for the head off of a moose kill that was along the trail. I have no idea how old it was. It had been picked clean other than some fur that was left on the front legs. The skull was missing, so I went looking for it. After spending about 30 minutes without seeing it, I gave up and kept going.

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When I got to Malone, all the shelters were full and the group sites had no suitable trees for my hammock. Amy and Alisha had caught up to me and passed me while I was investigating Siskiwit falls. They offered up a space in the shelter, but there were a couple of trees next to it that worked. I staked out my tarp using some rocks and 2 small trees, since I couldn't get a stake in the ground without hitting rock. We had dinner together and they used my pot to make some apple cobbler that was delicious.

I explored the shoreline and talked to some of the folks that were there fishing. There was actually very little fishing that was done due to the wind. Lake Siskiwit had been whitecapping 4 days in a row, so they were basically just camping in place.

The sunset was beautiful.

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I slept like a rock that night and then caught the boat the next day.

More pictures here.


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Re: TR 9/3-9/7 Windigo to Malone

Post by Donk_67 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:51 pm

Great report. I love the photos, especially Siski and Rainbow; it shows me what I missed when I had to shorten my trip. Thanks for posting.

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Re: TR 9/3-9/7 Windigo to Malone

Post by IncaRoads » Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:36 pm

hooky wrote:For some reason, I thought S Desor had a beach. It turns out that I wasn't the only one that thought that. Odd that multiple people thought that was the case.
If I remember correctly, the swimming/bathing beach at South Desor is over by the group campsites.

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Re: TR 9/3-9/7 Windigo to Malone

Post by fonixmunkee » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:50 pm

*Sigh*. Living vicariously on IR via your trip report. Thank you for sharing.
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hooky
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Re: TR 9/3-9/7 Windigo to Malone

Post by hooky » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:34 pm

IncaRoads wrote:
hooky wrote:For some reason, I thought S Desor had a beach. It turns out that I wasn't the only one that thought that. Odd that multiple people thought that was the case.
If I remember correctly, the swimming/bathing beach at South Desor is over by the group campsites.
I checked out the group sites, but not their water access. That campsite is really spread out.

Glad the report is appreciated.

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Re: TR 9/3-9/7 Windigo to Malone

Post by NancyT » Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:34 am

For some reason, I thought S Desor had a beach. It turns out that I wasn't the only one that thought that. Odd that multiple people thought that was the case.

There is….We stayed there, we had a bull and a cow mating on that beach!! It’s quite a walk to the right, the sites you were at were to the left. However, the water level is much higher this year so the beach was probably under water. At Merrit this year, all the beaches we were able to walk two years ago were under water.
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hooky
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Re: TR 9/3-9/7 Windigo to Malone

Post by hooky » Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:52 am

NancyT wrote:
For some reason, I thought S Desor had a beach. It turns out that I wasn't the only one that thought that. Odd that multiple people thought that was the case.

There is….We stayed there, we had a bull and a cow mating on that beach!! It’s quite a walk to the right, the sites you were at were to the left. However, the water level is much higher this year so the beach was probably under water. At Merrit this year, all the beaches we were able to walk two years ago were under water.
Nancy, I think you were right about the water levels. At siskiwit, one of the ladies on the same itinerary said that she'd been there 2 years earlier and her "reading rock" was now underwater. I'm assuming if the lady was up, all the lakes on the island would be up too.

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