TR 8/11 - 8/19 2015. Kari and Wally hike the East end.

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philranger
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TR 8/11 - 8/19 2015. Kari and Wally hike the East end.

Post by philranger » Sun Aug 23, 2015 12:53 pm

TR 8/11 - 8/19 2015. Kari and Wally hike the East end.

In 2014, I brought my wife Stacie to Isle Royale for her first visit. She isn’t into backpacking or camping like I am, so I planned a leisurely trek around the Western end including Windigo and a hike out to Huginnin Cove. After I got back, I realized I have hiked on many of the major trails and just need a few to claim I have been on all of them.

With that in mind, I mapped out two potential treks. One would take me from McCargo to Todd Harbor to Hatchet Lake to Malone Bay. I haven’t been on the trail between TH and HL or from the Greenstone to Malone. The other trek would take me on the Greenstone between Lookout Louise and Mt. Franklin to Lane Cove, then from LC to DF to MB.

My daughter Kari has been on IR treks with me before in 2006, 2008 and 2013. She wanted a little adventure before heading back to grad school at Eastern Illinois University. Seeing as she has never been on the East end of the island, we selected that route.

I checked the website for the Grand Portage Casino and discovered they were doing major renovations this summer, but were offering rooms for $59 a night. I quickly booked a room. Using the Voyageur’s convenient schedule, I was able to map out a route for 7 days and 6 nights.

On Tuesday, Aug 11th, we headed out of Madison and headed North. Clear skies greeted us as we traveled through Wisconsin and headed into Superior and then Duluth. A short construction project held us up just north of Duluth, but we were on the Expressway within 15 minutes. The rest of the trip up Hwy 61 was clear except for a short construction project north of Grand Marias.

We checked into the Casino and were greeted with a room equivalent of a Comfort Inn. Spacious, clean and plush. We decided to head downstairs and check out the Island View dining room. We both selected the $10.95 nightly special which included a steak, baked potato and ear of corn. From the walkout patio behind the Casino, you can see Isle Royale off in the distance. With belles full, we headed back to the room and finished packing our backpacks for tomorrow’s journey.

On Wednesday, Aug 12th, we were up at 6 and getting everything squared away before checking out. I asked about the 25% discount Captain Don told us about in the IR Forums. The clerk subtracted it from the bill and I got the room for $44. We loaded up the car and stopped at the Trading Post for some coffee before heading North to the Hat Marina.

Cars were pulling into the lot and we soon donned our backpacks and secured the car. We headed down to the pier and were greeted with a crowd of about 30 people heading over. Captain Jack and First Mate Dan were gracious and friendly and soon invited everyone on board. I noted that there were two bicycles strapped next to the kayaks. We had to wait for a short time. Evidently, they were still waiting for a party of four and a couple. When neither one showed up, we were off and heading out. The water was mostly calm and we made good time. Along the way, I struck up a conversation with a Dad and Son who had a Philmont Scout Ranch shirt on. I probably have more miles hiked at Philmont than at IR.

We were soon docking at Windigo and Ranger Rhoda gave us the L-N-T presentation. She informed us that there are only 3 wolves left and possible only 2 left on the island. After she completed her talk, I headed up to the Ranger Station to say “hi” to Ranger Valerie. As far as I know, she has been stationed at IR for 17 years. Unfortunately, she was on a vacation day and not there.

We headed back to the VII and we soon headed off for McCargo Cove and Belle Isle before arriving at Rock Harbor. I sent Kari ahead to secure a shelter while I registered us at the Ranger office. She came back and her smile confirmed she had found and empty shelter. We hiked the short distance to the shelter and set up for the night. We filled up our water bottles, ate dinner and headed over to the auditorium for the Ranger talk. Tonight’s presentation was on the IR loons given by Ranger Kelly. The room was 3/4 full and Kelly actively involved the attendees throughout her presentation.

As we headed back, we walked along the waterfront and encountered five people who were on the VII with us. Besides Capt Jack and 1M Dan, we also met Paul, a single hiker from Michigan who had just completed a 6 day trek from RH to Windigo. There was also Jessica and Jerry, who were riding bikes around Lake Superior. Hence the 2 bicycles. In a “what a small world” moment, we found out Jessica and Jerry were also from Madison, WI.

Later that night, I got up to see if the Northern Lights or the Perseids were out. I only saw two streaks before sleep won and I headed back to the comfort of my sleeping bag.

Thursday, Aug 13th brought another clear start to the day. We ate some breakfast and packed up. Today, we were catching a water taxi over to the Hidden Lake Dock. Our pilot was Carl, a 14 year Park Ranger here at IR and now a taxi driver. As we headed over to Hidden Lake, he gave us a short history of the cabins that dot Tobin Harbor. “The water is smooth as glass,” Carl exclaimed. “I hate to be the first one to put a ripple in it.”

I tipped him a ten and Kari and I were soon on our way inland and upward. The temp and humidity were also rising. We dropped our packs at the junction and completed the trek up to Lookout Louise. The view was clear and did not disappoint. Just as we were leaving a 40ish young lady came up to try and get a phone connection. She stated she was staying in one of the cabins and was going to call her husband and this was one of the few places she could get a signal. She graciously took our picture.

With packs back on, we headed down the Greenstone towards Lane Cove. I thought about hiking from RH to LC and then using a layover day to side hike to Lookout Louise and back. This would require traveling over the 8.2 miles twice and the water taxi seemed like a better option.

Along the Greenstone, we encountered 3 sand hill cranes who swore at us and let us know we were not welcome. At one point on the hike, I sat on a wonderful resting log only to find it housed a colony of red ants. Soon my shorts and backpack were invaded by the hoarding mob. I got up and dropped the pack and began wiping them off me. Luckily, I discovered them early enough and I didn’t get stung or infested.

We made it to the junction of the Greenstone and Lane Cove and then began the long descent to tonight’s camp. On the map it’s listed at 2.4 miles, but it’s a tough journey. Just when you think you are finished climbing a ridge, you’re greeted with another valley, another plank bridge crossing and another steep climb onto another ridge. I think I counted 9 all together. I sent Kari on ahead with the tent in hopes she would secure us a campsite. Along the way, I discovered a Dad and his two teen children. The Dad said all the sites were full and they were starting to set up camp in a small area about a 1/4 mile from the camp. I told them that they should continue on towards LC and ask to share a site. I knew each site at this popular campground can hold 3 - 4 tents. I assured them people know this and assume they will have to share because there are only 5 campsites.

I finally made it to camp and Kari directed me to campsite 2. She had secured a spot next to two lovely ladies from Michigan. Cathy and Jill are teachers in Michigan and Cathy was on her 4th trip to IR. They were both very gracious and tenacious Euchre players.

As we were preparing for bed, it looked like a major storm was brewing to the North. Dark menacing clouds and frequent lightning signified we might be in for some nasty weather. Luckily the front stayed North and we just got a few spinkles.

Friday, Aug 14th brought us the realization we didn’t have to hike anywhere today. Cathy and Jill were up early. They were heading back to Rock Harbor and then home on the Ranger. Today we were just going to take it easy and enjoy the solitude of Lane Cove. Originally, I wanted to hike the Mount Franklin Trail that connects the Greenstone to Tobin Harbor, but the thought of going back up and back again along the Lane Cove trail didn’t appeal to us.

We spent the day chillaxing and doing a minor erosion control project in the camp. Under the soil was this black retaining fabric that was exposed. I decided to gather some rocks and rebury it. I also created a small rock exhibit featuring unique stones discovered in the camp.

At the end of the day, there was only a solo hiker and a Dad and Son duo staying in the camp tonight, unlike the crowded conditions we faced yesterday. I got up in the night, but was greeted with overcast skies. No Northern Lights or meteors to be viewed tonight. When I turned on my flashlight to walk back to the tent, I must have started a loon on the water. Soon the silence erupted in panic screams. This triggered other loons to respond. “Sorry.”

Saturday, Aug 15th brought us another warm and sticky start to the day. Our goal is to climb back up to the GS, head to the Ogibway Tower and into Daisy Farm. The hike out was long and warm as we climbed and descended the many ridges and valleys as we made our way up to the Greenstone. Once on top, we took a short break and then headed West.

This was a lovely stretch of the GS, even though it was very warm and humid. Large outcrops of rocks, small dips into tree cover and paths covered in thimbleberry leaves. I found some relief when we finally could see the tower looming in the distance. By the time we arrived, the breeze carried away the sweat and heat. The view provided us with enough inspiration to finish off the 1.7 miles into Daisy Farm.

Daisy Farm was very busy, but Kari snagged us a shelter close to the dock. I was exhausted. The heat and humidity were very uncomfortable and I felt like I wasn’t taking in enough fluid and might be suffering from a little heat exhaustion. After we got settled, we decided to go to the beach and take a nice dip in the water to cool down. What a great idea. Even though it was very cold, the water cooled me to the core and I felt refreshed after a very short swim.

After dinner, we were treated to a discussion of the relationship between the Moose and Wolf on Isle Royale presented by Candy Peterson. Rolf was in attendance too, but Candy led the talk. At the end I got the impression she was in favor of introducing new wolves to the island instead of letting nature run it’s course. She encouraged the crowd of 30 to voice their opinions on the exit survey when they leave the Island.

At this point to the trek, I decided the heat and humidity had drained my energy and enthusiasm to continue hiking to Moskey Basin and on towards Chippewa Harbor. I checked with Ranger Emily and she said she would try and contact the VII and have them pick us up at DF instead of CH. Seeing as Kari and I have both been to CH before, we were OK with staying at DF.

Sunday, Aug 16th was the day we originally planned to go to Moskey Basin. I still needed this section on my bucket list, so we decided to do a side hike to and from. The weather was still warm, but the humidity was definitely lower. The 3.7 mile trail wasn’t especially difficult, and the trail was marked with cairns to keep you on the right path. Along the way, we saw a pile of Blue Jay feathers and surmised the colorful bird let it’s guard down for a moment and became someone's lunch.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. I was rather disappointed that this trail didn’t follow the shoreline like the other trail from Rock Harbor to 3 Mile to Daisy Farm. We made it to Moskey Basin and had lunch in the shade atop of the large rock outcropping overlooking the dock.

Feeling refreshed again, we started the trip back to DF. I love Moskey Basin and feel it’s probably one of my favorite campsites. The trip back was mostly uneventful until we stood up after a break and surprised a group of 3 sand hill cranes. I wondered if they were the same ones that we surprised on the Greenstone several days earlier. The birds took flight and swore at us until they were out of sight. The return trip was harder than the initial trip, but we made it back to DF satisfied to have this section under my belt. Ranger Emily left me a note stating she made contact with the VII and we were confirmed for a DF pickup.

Monday, Aug 15th. During the night, we had a small shower move through. Just enough to wake me from my sleep. Morning came and found myself at the dock contemplating a way to get over to the Edisen Fishery to see this historical site. I could swim, mooch a ride or steal someone’s boat. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. So I finished off my word puzzles, consolidated our food packets and played backgammon. The camp is again very full with many people congregating down at the dock.

Late in the afternoon a couple came through in front of our shelter looking for a place to get water. I directed them to the beach. We found out later they had the shelter by the two toilets, so we had to pass in front of their shelter too. I also discovered they were from Madison, WI. Again, what a small world.

During the night, I heard a bell occasionally ringing and a pair of Great Horned Owls conversing back and forth. The one that was over on the Edisen Fishery side, flew over to the camp and continued to seek the other voice.

Tuesday, Aug 16th. Kari and I were up early when we heard our neighbors packing up and heading out. The VII was scheduled to to arrive around 9:15 and Kari and I were packed up and ready to return home. We weren’t even on the dock 10 minutes when the VII pulled in next to the dock and picked us and a solo hiker up. Instead of seeing Capt Jack and Dan this trip, we were greeted with Capt Ben Silence and First Mate Kirk. Capt Ben was the First Mate back in 2013 when Kari and I took the VII over.

We swiftly headed back into open water and past the buoy with the bell. It was near the Rock Harbor Lighthouse. The VII had to stop at Chippewa Harbor anyway and we collected 4 hikers. Then we stopped at Malone Bay to collect a group of Boy Scouts. “Well technically you made it to Malone Bay,” Kari said. “I know,” I replied, but I still have the desire to hike here one day.”

Along the trip back, I spoke with a young man from South Dakota named Jeff Augsburger. After a while I mentioned that he looked very familiar. Jeff was on the island with his parents. When I saw them, I realized we crossed paths back in 2013 while hiking on the Minong. What a small world.

As we continued towards Windigo and back to Grand Portage, I stuck my head in the wheelhouse and asked Captain Ben if I could come in and chat. “Sure” he replied. He remembered me from 2013 when I sent him a picture of his son who was on the boat with us that day. We had a nice visit as he pulled the VII into Windigo.

Ranger Valerie was on the dock and I got to chat with her for a few moments before we headed back out into Washington Harbor and back towards Grand Portage. Capt Ben stated there was a very large and powerful weather front heading our way. The large pillows of clouds to the west were predicted to bring heavy rain, strong winds and seas of 3’ to 6’ waves for tomorrow’s voyage.

Captain Ben had us into Grand Portage around 2:30 and with our parking fee settled up, we headed over to the Trading Post to mail the postcards and grab a soda for the drive home. Again, the construction was present just North of Grand Marias, but the project North of Duluth was completed. By the time we arrived in Duluth it started to rain.

We pulled into Superior and had made reservations for the Best Western just over the Blatnik Bridge. Checked in and showered, we had planned on dining at the Hammond Steak House just next door, but they were closed. Closed on a Tuesday night? Really? A quick look over the area restaurants uncovered a Texas Roadhouse back in Duluth. I’ve eaten at Texas Roadhouse before and have never been disappointed, so we set out to feed our appetites. Even though it was raining a little harder, we soon found our destination. There was a 5 minute wait even though it was a Tuesday, it was raining and it was 7:15 pm. These restaurants are gold mines.

With full belles and leftovers, we headed back over to Superior and I thanked myself I don’t live in Duluth. As we traveled down the hill on Hwy 53, I wondered what this road was like in the winter with snow on it. Anyway, we made it back to Superior and our Hotel. I was thankful that I was here in this plush bed and not in a tent.

Wednesday, Aug 17th, brought the realization that it was still raining and very windy. After breakfast, we packed up and we were on the road by 9. By the time we got to the East side of Superior, the rain came down in a deluge. The heavy rain continued on and off til we got past Rice Lake. The rest of the trip home was mostly uneventful but the traffic was fairly heavy for a weekday.

IR Postscript. Another great visit to Isle Royale. Spending time with my daughter was rewarding and memory filled. This was my 8th trip to IR and her 4th. Although we altered the trip, it was successful. We were blessed with wonderful weather, a chance to meet interesting and like minded campers. We got a chance to see Candy and Rolf Petersen, Ranger Valerie and Capt Ben again. Although we didn’t see any moose or the Northern Lights, I got my fill of thimbleberries, heard the song of the White Throated Sparrow and the call of the Great Horned Owl.

I don’t know when my next trip will happen, but I’m hoping to make it back and complete the trails between Todd Harbor and Hatchet Lake and the trail from the Greenstone to Malone Bay. I guess I’ll have to come back and do the Mt. Franklin trail from the Greenstone to 3 Mile some other trip. Incentive to come back.


Here is a link to the pictures:

http://s108.photobucket.com/user/islero ... ale%202015



Last edited by philranger on Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
Isle Royale Trips: 2005 - RH to Windigo via Greenstone. 2006 - McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2007 - RH to Daisy Farm and back. 2008 - Feltmann loop. 2009 - McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2013 - Minong Ridge. 2014 - Windigo + Huginnin Cove. 2015 - RH water taxi to Hidden Lake to LC to DF to MB.


JerryB
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Re: TR 8/11 - 8/19 2015. Kari and Wally hike the East end.

Post by JerryB » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:08 am

Thanks for the report. I read it with interest because I will be doing a similar trip (Hidden Lake-Lookout Louise-Lane Cove (2 nights)-DF-RH) Labor Day week. How were the trail conditions between Lookout Louise and LH? I have heard reports about the trail being pretty overgrown. Thanks for the warning about the trail to Lane Harbor. I won't get my hopes up too soon on that leg!

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philranger
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Re: TR 8/11 - 8/19 2015. Kari and Wally hike the East end.

Post by philranger » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:16 pm

Some parts were overgrown, but I never lost the trail hiking this section. As noted, we happened to be there with full packs and hiked in warm and humid conditions.

The trail into Lane Cove was challenging. I'm 56 years old and figured that first day hike was 8.20 miles, which is pushing it for me.
Isle Royale Trips: 2005 - RH to Windigo via Greenstone. 2006 - McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2007 - RH to Daisy Farm and back. 2008 - Feltmann loop. 2009 - McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2013 - Minong Ridge. 2014 - Windigo + Huginnin Cove. 2015 - RH water taxi to Hidden Lake to LC to DF to MB.

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head2north
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Re: TR 8/11 - 8/19 2015. Kari and Wally hike the East end.

Post by head2north » Thu Aug 27, 2015 4:12 pm

Thanks for report... I have always wanted to get back to Lane Cove and maybe someday on another Five Finger Canoe trip. That couple mile double back uphill
seems to hinder my selection of Lane Cove on hiking trips.

Daisy Farm my be busy at times, but it offers the Peterson Presentation and a lot of day trip opportunities. Glad you didn't swim across to the Fishery/Lighthouse! maybe a canoe next time?

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Re: TR 8/11 - 8/19 2015. Kari and Wally hike the East end.

Post by fonixmunkee » Fri Aug 28, 2015 7:18 am

Thanks for the trip report, Wally. Glad you got to do some chill-axing on Isle Royle with your daughter. That's gotta be pretty damn special.

Don't beat yourself up too much about not getting to hike into Malone Bay. Malone Bay is a beautiful camp, but the hike off the Greenstone and along Lake Siskiwit is B-O-R-I-N-G.

Next time you're in Superior, let me know. I don't live far from where you stayed. Also, if you stay in Superior again--especially at the Best Western--and you don't go to either the Thirsty Pagan Brewery for pizza or The Anchor bar for burgers, I'll have you forcefully removed from the forums. :D Lastly, Duluth and Superior do a dynamite job with snow removal during the winter. The hills can get icy, of course, but the road crews spread salt and that turnip-juice stuff on it very fast and efficiently. 've never owned a four-wheel drive vehicle my entire time living here, and I have never become a victim to their winter perils. I have to drive up and down that hill every day for work, too.

Great pictures, as well, Wally.
Sometimes you feel like a nut :: http://twitter.com/fonixmunkee


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Re: TR 8/11 - 8/19 2015. Kari and Wally hike the East end.

Post by jerry » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:26 pm

Wally, fonixmunkee feels the hike down to Malone is boring, but I was challenged when I did it years ago. If you would ever need someone to do it with you, I would be glad to try it again. I'm the other Jerry (the old one) on this forum. Thanks for the report!

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Re: TR 8/11 - 8/19 2015. Kari and Wally hike the East end.

Post by philranger » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:21 am

I know I will hike this trail (tentatively set for 2017). I'll probably be coming from Malone Bay to Todd Harbor to Hatchet Lake. Even if I have to break that 11 mile hike into two days, I think I can make it to the West end of Siskiwit Lake and a water source. I was thinking of experiencing a back country campsite and then finishing the hike into Malone the next day.

Thanks for the offer Jerry. I'll keep this option open.
Isle Royale Trips: 2005 - RH to Windigo via Greenstone. 2006 - McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2007 - RH to Daisy Farm and back. 2008 - Feltmann loop. 2009 - McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2013 - Minong Ridge. 2014 - Windigo + Huginnin Cove. 2015 - RH water taxi to Hidden Lake to LC to DF to MB.

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