TR: 6/28-7/4 2015, McCargo to Windigo via Feldtmann Loop

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WindChill
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TR: 6/28-7/4 2015, McCargo to Windigo via Feldtmann Loop

Post by WindChill » Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:07 pm

Last week four Scouts and three adults from eastern Iowa made our first trip to the island. The trek had some big miles for our group who only backpacks once a year but we really got to see several different parts of the island. We saw lots of moose tracks but no moose. In fact the only wildlife we saw was a few squirrels, some really big spiders and a couple of snakes. The weather was nearly perfect - days were warm though a bit humid but the nights were wonderfully cool and the only rain we had was for a couple hours in the early morning of our last night.

Id like to thank everyone on the IsleRoyaleForums for the wealth of information and for answering the questions of new folks. Id also like to thank Mike T for compiling so much information into his ebook. A trip to Isle Royale is much different than other places in the country - both the logistics of getting there and the details of the trek. Mikes book took a lot of the work out of the planning.



Day 1 - A long 11 hour drive from home to GP Casino Campground. The campground is nothing special but is close to the boat, is clean, quiet and reasonably priced. Confirmed with the guy in the office what time the convenience store opens - 6am.

Day 2 - Packed tents and made sure breakfast and lunch meals were in a cloth grocery bag and not in packs. Hit the C-store for coffee and headed to the boat. Had breakfast of bagels & peanut butter at the dock. Loaded packs about half hour before departure - we were on Voyager II so packs went on top of the cabin. Packs are not accessible during the trip so make sure to have a fleece / rain gear out before they get loaded. It was pretty chilly even in the cabin so very glad to have the fleece. There was a pot of coffee in the cabin - take a couple of dollars for the donation jar. The trip out was foggy so not much to see, the lake was very smooth.

Ranger Val was waiting on the dock when we arrived at Windigo. She gathered everyone around for a quick LNT discussion then did our permit paperwork and reviewed our route, the rules etc. It was a nice touch that she picked out our group and knew who we were and where we were going off the top of her head. We were back on the boat in about 15 minutes for the ride up to McCargo Cove. At McCargo Cove we had a quick lunch right at the dock - there is a community fire ring and a couple of picnic tables. I looked around at the shelters and campsites a bit while everyone was finishing lunch and getting ready to hike.

The hike to Todd Harbor was nice; I enjoyed the birch forest. When we arrived at the campground there were a couple of guys at the dock - one had just jumped into the lake...BRRRR. We found two of the group sites occupied by one tent each - all of the shelters and non-group sites were open except one. Fortunately site 3 was open. As an aside, please dont take a group if you are not on a group permit. Since groups are _required_ to stay at the group sites, you may find someone moving in with you.

The campsite has good space for at least 4 tents and a little alcove that we used for our kitchen tarp but could also be used for a hammock. The site has a picnic table. There is a community fire ring down by the dock.

Day 3 - Had a quick breakfast of English muffins with sausage gravy then hit the trail. The Hatchet Lake trail was nice with a variety of plants and trees - one of the neatest was a yellow "lady slipper"; Ive never seen one of these before. Had lunch at the Ishpeming tower then on to South Desor campground. Found a few ripe strawberries along the way - a nice treat. The first Scout to use the latrine got a big surprise...several giant spiders. A little shoo with the broom and they scampered away but he was hesitant to return to do his business. After dinner the kids waded in the lake while the adults soaked our sore feet.

Group site 2 has good space for 4 tents. It has a nice kitchen area with a few log benches and good trees to hang a tarp. There were a couple of spots that a hammock might work; nothing great though.

Day 4 - Continued down the Greenstone and took a left on Island Mine trail. We stopped at the campsite for a while and filtered some water from the Little Siskiwit river. There was a moose shed there that we got to look at. The mosquitoes were not too bad considering how shaded the site was. We continued on down the trail and checked out the Island Mine tailings pile and well site. Totally missed the cemetery and steam boiler though. Stopped when we hit Siskiwit bay and had a bite of lunch sitting on the natural benches and staring out across the bay. It was neat how the terrain and landscape changed after we hit the bay.

We chose group site 2 - it has good space for 4 tents plus a small area that we used for a kitchen tarp but could also do a hammock. The mosquitoes were horrible here but we spent most of the afternoon and evening down at the dock. Had a nice campfire in the community area this evening.

Day 5 - Had a bit of a treat for breakfast: scrambled eggs and bacon. We tried the Ova Easy brand powered eggs for the first time - pretty darn good. We were very happy to get on the trail and away from the mosquitoes - or not.... Things changed when we left Siskiwit Bay. The under growth was huge and crowded the trail to the point where we nearly lost the trail in a few places. And the skeeters were worse here than anyplace else we had been. We took about 30 minutes at the "old" watch tower location just resting and looking around. Took a short break at the "new" tower and walked up as far as we could - what a view and the cool breeze felt great!

At Feldtmann Lake we took group site 1. It is quite large with space for 5-6 tents and a good area for a kitchen tarp with some log benches. The lake is just across the trail with a nice log and some roots to sit on and a good beach area for sitting or wading.

Day 6 - Up and out of camp quickly and kept a good pace to make sure we were back to Windigo early. The trail was quite nice, coming down the north side of Grace Ridge was not near as tough as going up it would have been; it was nice and shady. We came to the harbor at the same time Sea Hunter was coming in and also got to see a sea plane land then take off as we hiked along.

Got to Windigo about 3 hours before the boat left so had plenty of time for some lunch and a look around at the info center, the store and the moose enclosure. Also got to talk to a group of young ladies from a wilderness camp in Wisconsin. They had hiked down from Rock Harbor. One of their members had injured her ankle and walked the last 3 miles with it wrapped in a sleeping pad using lashed-together crutches. She went out on the boat with us; the rest of the group was headed back to Rock Harbor. Their packs were big and based on the food they were making for lunch must have been quite heavy, but they looked fresh and in good spirits.

After we loaded packs but before we loaded people, Ranger Val did a short moose presentation. She described how the researchers collect bones and what the bones tell them. It was very interesting.

The Sea Hunter was standing room only going back to Grand Portage, and it was wet if you were on the rear deck. Again, be sure to keep a fleece and rain gear out as the packs are stowed below the cabin and not accessible.

After paying our parking fee we headed down the road to Judge Magney state park. A typical state park - small sites close together but clean and very quiet.

Day 7 - On the road heading for home. We planned to stop in Grand Marais for breakfast and found Blue Water Cafe (and most everything else) not open yet at 7am. The Worlds Best Donuts was open so we loaded up on sugar and coffee before the long ride. Sugar and caffeine were no match for the week we had and everyone got a couple of good naps in.

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IncaRoads
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Re: TR: 6/28-7/4, McCargo to Windigo via Feldtmann Loop

Post by IncaRoads » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:44 am

Thanks for the trip report. After all the preparation, it is nice to hear how things went for you and the scouts.

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trailgoat_70
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Re: TR: 6/28-7/4, McCargo to Windigo via Feldtmann Loop

Post by trailgoat_70 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:19 pm

Thanks for taking the time to post your report. Much appreciated! Glad to hear you had a nice, safe trip with the scouts.
"I am a happy camper so I guess I’m doing something right."

- Henry David Thoreau

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MikeT
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Re: TR: 6/28-7/4, McCargo to Windigo via Feldtmann Loop

Post by MikeT » Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:33 am

Nice report, glad the book and forums helped you out. Thanks for sharing!
Mike T.
"Isle Royale Info - A Comprehensive Guide to Isle Royale National Park" available at: http://www.isleroyale.info
"Isle Royale Itinerary Generator" an intuitive program to create and manage itineraries. Description at: http://www.isleroyale.info/ig_description.html
"Half the fun is in the planning"

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fonixmunkee
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Re: TR: 6/28-7/4, McCargo to Windigo via Feldtmann Loop

Post by fonixmunkee » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:35 am

Thank you VERY much for sharing your trip report and bug report (you should post in that thread, too.) I'm amazed at how low the bug count is this year. Maybe annoying bugs are going extinct, along with everything else.

Glad you found the forums useful for your trip...it's our job, and we always appreciate hearing that we were able to help. Your trip report will now help others, so you've just became one of the people here who help each other out via the forums.

Also, yes: Mike T's book is great. He does a dynamite job, and I accredit him for a lot of help & saves for many of our trips. Fun fact: he's the original founder of the Isle Royale Forums, too.

Windchill, I hope you continue your treks to Isle Royale and continue to be active on the forums. Thanks for your contribution.
Sometimes you feel like a nut :: http://twitter.com/fonixmunkee


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WindChill
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Re: TR: 6/28-7/4, McCargo to Windigo via Feldtmann Loop

Post by WindChill » Mon Jul 13, 2015 1:06 pm

Thanks fonixmunkee. Dont know if/when Ill make it back to ISRO, but I will continue to at least lurk around here for a while. You have a great community here.

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