TR: 7/3-7/6, 2015 [Hiking] [RH-Lane-RH]

Reports or links to reports on trips.

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gwpruitt
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TR: 7/3-7/6, 2015 [Hiking] [RH-Lane-RH]

Post by gwpruitt » Sat Jul 11, 2015 6:53 am

Hi all...here is my trip report...spelling errors and all...this is a different type of trip for the 3 of us (myself, wife, and 14yo son). We wanted to spend more time enjoying the island and not hiking miles each day. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday July 2nd
Not much to say here….the 10 hour drive to Copper Harbor. Checked in to Bella Vista motel. I noted they had a lot of cars around so must be pretty full. Said only 4 rooms left.

Friday July 3rd
Woke up to gusty winds, cloudy skies, and eventually rain. The usual morning last shower, last minute pack checks, then off to breakfast at The Pines. They open at 630AM. While eating breakfast it started to rain. Checked radar on my phone (the pines has wifi) and sent a final note off to our family. Looks like rain just near Copper Harbor. The winds died down some but I was still nervous given what I heard on forecast for SW winds. So we took some dramamine as a precaution.
Next it was off to park the car. There was a fair amount of activity. The lot had nice puddles to navigate around. We put on our rain gear and headed over to the dock. Checked in at the desk and waited just a few minutes under the awning they roll out in bad weather. Small but worked for the size of the crowd that morning. Boat was about half full. Most appeared to be heading to the lodge. All the packs were loaded inside the forward cabin (rather than on top) due to the weather. Capt Don said it was not going to be too bad which was a relief. However upon arrival at RH he noted that it was still early in the year but that was the 2nd worst crossing they had so far. Everyone survived but there were a handful of passengers that frequented the bathroom with ye ole bag. Trip was a bit longer than usual due to the fog.
As we pulled into RH the weather began to clear. No rain...just some fog. Next up was the LNT talk. Capt Don prewarned us that one of the new Rangers gives a 20 min LNT talk...sure enough we got her. Very thorough which I appreciate...but after 3 trips to the island it becomes hard to stand through.
Next it was into the Ranger station for the permit. I wanted to get a Cross Country permit to do some off trail camping east of Lane Cove. I was first in line and the male Ranger (who I had never seen before) started to help me. I explained I wanted a cross country permit and he said we can handle that on the same permit he started to right on. He pulled out the cross country zone map - which seems different than the one posted on the forums, so I will try to scan and post - even though the detail was very bad on what he provided. The Ranger had no idea where Lane Cove was and what zone that was in so I go him oriented. Then we worked through how many nights and zones...I said they would all be in that one zone and that i was aware that I had to move sites at least ½ mile each night. He put in the zone I wanted...then on the subsequent nights filled in zones randomly all around that area and said I did not need to stick tight to any of this...this was all very weird as it is contrary to everything I have read about these cross country permits. I was really beginning to see that at least this Ranger was perhaps a bit green. More on the Rangers later. Now i was ready for the extra LNT talk and requirements for cross country permits...but NOPE...not a word was said...he had me sign the regular permit...put it in the bag and off we went. Again, your mileage may vary - but I am pretty sure he did not do this by the book…
Dropped a bag of clean clothes at the Lodge. 3.50 per bag per day in case you wanted to know. Had a quick lunch at the picnic tables at RH then we were on the trail at 1PM. The sun came out and it was humid and started to get warm. Chance of storms as the day progressed. So we were off to Lane Cove...Tobin Harbor trail to Mount Franklin trail - Mosquitos were nasty in several of the wet sections and were down right bad by the time w hit mount franklin trail. Bug dope and head nets were on. During the climb up to the greenstone we kept hearing thunder in the distance - but it was east of us. I kept an eye to the sky and you could see the storm head build - but they stayed just enough east of us for no rain. I did keep eyeballing the right configuration of trees to put up the tarp in a flash in case we needed to take shelter. I really did not want to ride out a thunderstorm up on the ridge. It was a very hot hike up to the ridge. Inf fact I dont think I have ever had a “cool” hike near the Greenstone. Once on the top we rested for a bit...but wind kicked up and we thought we would in fact have to rig the tarp...but we finally decided to start our descent to Lane cove. This was our 2nd trip to Lane so we knew what to expect going down as well as climbing back out. Few moose tracks on the trail which was nice to see. That last 1.5 miles to lane is always just so dang long like everyone notes. We were pretty empty when we rolled into camp. Not because of the miles but because of the heat and bugs. We pulled into Lane at 6PM...so a 5 hour hike. No a speed record for sure.
We planned our first night be be right in lane cove campground vs off trail - given the long day. We went to site 4 as we liked that one from before and it was available - and plenty of options for 3 hammocks. Someone was in Site 3 - apparently there the night before and rode out a good storm although we never talked to him. And the nice couple we met on the trail were in site 2.
I worked to get camp setup - in case any storms progressed - but they seemed to be subsiding. We cooled off in the water and worked on dinner. Bug were medium but tolerable I suppose. We really appreciated any light breeze. The smoke from our stick sove was helping as well.

Saturday and Sunday (July 4 and 5)
Saturday morning after breakfast a few camp chores - I set out to bushwhack over toward stockley bay and Lake Patterson. While it was certainly dense...the bugs were just so dang nasty. I was kind of expecting this but it was still disappointing. I never quite got there even though it was basically ¼ mile...and I headed back to camp. We just decided to stay put at Lane - there is a 3 night limit there so we were fine.
Our plan was to basically stay put either at Lane or a off trail site - and enjoy the island vs. having to grind out 6-10 miles each day as we had done in our previous trips. I was a nice change but took some getting used to. We spent our time relaxing, napping, exploring around camp, cooking, reading and observing the wildlife. We became very aware of the local schedules of the resident red squirrel as well as the family of red breasted mergansers that swam by 5-6 times each day like clockwork, with her ducklings taking time to ride on her back one by one. This is why we did the trip this way...to see this side of the island. Overall our time revolved around changes in wind speed and direction and the impact that had on mosquitos. It was a constant circle of bugs, no bugs, and then even worse bugs...especially at night.
On Sunday we ventured out to bushwhack from Lane Cove campground to the portage trail connecting stockley bay and lane cove. Really can't get lost - water on each side of you...but it was pretty dense in spots. The hard part was the significant amount of blowdown in this area...it was a jungle gym at times. However, it was perhaps the most fun we had on the trip...exploring the woods, rocks, scenery, vegetation, etc...such a very different experience than what you get on trail. We made it to the portage trail which is the shortest in length of any on the island I believe...and it was wide enough to drive a semi through...and nice treat coming out of the woods. We walked down to the stockly bay side and saw a couple in a canoe heading our way. We waited to chat with them a bit - they were looking forward to the short portage. Then we were all off our our respective ways.

Sunday evening there were sounds of thunder from thunder bay. The bugs were horrendous when we turned in. The number of mosquitos on our bug nets and tarps was disturbing...but we were all safe and protected. Then about 10PM the island began to hum with bugs...it sounded like the constant drone of the vuvuzela at soccer games...it was a bit eerie. Finally we drifted off to sleep. During the night we woke to the sound of rain and the wind kicked up for about 20 minutes. We were all dry under our tarps but the bugs were still hiding out.

Monday July 6
On monday morning we decided that we had endured enough and did not want to spend one more day in camp (plus it was to rain all day)...so we packed up in the rain (always fun) and started our journey out of lane cove. It was a nice sprinkle for most of the trail until we got about 0.6 miles from the greenstone. right where the climbing begins….it started to pour...but we were in good spirits. We stopped to adjust my son's pack and my wife then said...hey, is that a Moose….this was her 3rd trip to the island and she has never saw a Moose...until now...there was bullwinkle about 20 yards off the trail to the west. He was mostly hidden by vegetation - but you could see him. I wonder if he was using the trail and then abandoned to the side when he heard us. Who knows...all I know is that we finally got to see a moose. He moved around a bit but was certainly not alarmed by us. We agreed to leave the camera out and enjoy the moment. Then it was back to the climb out of Lane. One more stop to ring the water out of my son's socks...kind of funny, but not...then we reached the top. We took a brief break to reconfigure some clothes, have a snack, and get my son some dry socks on...with two plastic bags I had grabbed prior to departure from the grocery store for just this reason. While we were doing all that...a young female ranger camp up to us from the west and scared us. She said she was sorry. We chatted and I asked if she knew anything about the possibility of leaving a day early on the Queen...I know the park service does not have anything to do with the Queen but I wanted to see what she had to say based on my previous Ranger encounter at time of permitting. She said to discuss with the Lodge office. Well I know the lodge has nothing to do with the Queen...it just showed me how much the new crew of rangers did not know about the basics of the island...I mean there are only 4 ways to get to the island...anyhow…I asked if she know about tomorrow's weather...she said it was supposed to rain...I said really...I thought it was supposed to be sunny on Tuesday. She pulled out her iphone and then said, oh, they must have changed it. How is it my 4 day old weather forecast is more accurate than hers? She was on foot patrol and was heading back down mount franklin trail to 3 mile where her boat was. She was on her way. But again, it was just striking the little the rangers seemed to know. (I should clarify that I do respect the rangers and all the work they do...I really do.)
We soon followed down the mount franklin trail...weather was the same...raining. My wife slipped on the trail and went down. very easy to do in these conditions...but she was OK thankfully. We all took turns slipping a little and almost falling.

We took periodic breaks from the head nets where possible, which was nice. We reached the Tobin harbor trail and set it into high gear for RH. We averaged about 2.9 mph on this stretch. We heard the horn from the queen on her arrival and then in about 60 minutes as we approached RH we saw a few couples starting their journey….all clean and fresh, smiling, and mostly dry….even the lady with the cotton sweatpants on...I wonder how that worked out for her. Not that they needed extra warning - but we gave each group the low down on the skeeters. Finally we rolled in to RH in 4 hours and 15 minutes (from Lane Cove). We got our bag from the lodge...that took 2 acts of congress to find the person with the key...but we got it. I chatted with Capt Don briefly to inquire about space for returning a day early. Not a problem. We were on our way back a day early to escape the bugs (and rain). There was a couple that we had met in Lane Cove that took the seaplane over...the were leaving that day but the plane was grounded due to weather. Capt Don found space for them (again, not a problem)...and we agreed to give them a ride from Copper Harbor back to Houghton to get their car at the airport. Real nice folks. The return crossing was smooth but foggy the entire way...you literally could not see anything from the time we left until we could make out the shape of the ferry office in Copper Harbor.

All in all a great trip. Bugs were a bit nasty...but we all have to pay our dues. Our prior 2 trips had been bug free and rain free...so consider us fully paid (I hope).

Safe travels all, pack that bug dope. I used picaridin which worked...but in those extreme conditions i wish I had some deet as well. Stick stove proved to be invaluable in helping control skeeters. Already thinking about how to do another trip...this time perhaps just solo...as my wife and son have had their fill...LOL.

We did not call this a vacation...we called it an adventure and it lived up to its name.

See you on the trail!


Topic author
gwpruitt
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Re: TR: 7/3-7/6, 2015 [Hiking] [RH-Lane-RH]

Post by gwpruitt » Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:17 am

Update: Regarding the Cross County map that I indicated was different than what is posted on the forums here...they are handing out (at least when I was there) an older version from 2010. The version currently posted on the forums is from 2012. But get this...its a 2 sided copy...the other side has the cross country regulations (which they never had me sign) and this side has a revision date of 9/29/14. Strange times indeed.

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IncaRoads
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Re: TR: 7/3-7/6, 2015 [Hiking] [RH-Lane-RH]

Post by IncaRoads » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:08 am

Thanks for the trip report. Always bring a little DEET for those pesky mosquitoes.
gwpruitt wrote:...the other side has the cross country regulations (which they never had me sign) and this side has a revision date of 9/29/14.
I've added a copy of the most recent Off Trail Camping Rules you sent me to the thread "[Trails & Campsites] Backcountry Zones".


Topic author
gwpruitt
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Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:17 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 3
Location: Kalamazoo

Re: TR: 7/3-7/6, 2015 [Hiking] [RH-Lane-RH]

Post by gwpruitt » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:12 am

IncaRoads wrote:Thanks for the trip report. Always bring a little DEET for those pesky mosquitoes.
gwpruitt wrote:...the other side has the cross country regulations (which they never had me sign) and this side has a revision date of 9/29/14.
I've added a copy of the most recent Off Trail Camping Rules you sent me to the thread "[Trails & Campsites] Backcountry Zones".
Thanks Inca!

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