2016 Isle Royale solo by packraft

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Redbad
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2016 Isle Royale solo by packraft

Post by Redbad » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:55 am

August 30: Traveled to Isle Royale via the Ranger III. Saw former Ranger steward Anderson on the trip over. Nice to see him again. Traveled to Tobin Harbor and loaded up and changed into paddling outfit - springsuit + lifejacket etc. Paddled Tobin Harbor to Blake point and made the passage into Duncan Bay. Very wet from the clapotis off of the Palisades hitting the packraft on the side. Very slow progress down Duncan bay as wind was against me. Arrived at Duncan Bay Narrows and scored one of the shelters. Lots of wet or damp clothing and gear to dry out. NOTE: given the wind/wave/clapotis situation as it existed, the passage around Blake point was at the edge of what the Packraft/paddler could do safely. While I had a Marine VHF HT, the dive boat at the Monarch buoy pulled out as I was entering and there was not a lot of help available. I have no idea if the HT would have carried to Rock Harbor or to any boats in the in the area after the dive boat left. There are no landing spots until well into Duncan Bay past Locke point and a wet re-entry would have been problematic in those conditions. Anyone considering a passage by paddle around Blake Point needs to consider the difficulties involved and the real danger imposed by the Palisades.

August 31: Continued to dry out equipment, including gear in dry bags. Charged up the GoPro. Paddled to Belle Isle. Very nice passage with 2 short and easy portages. Nice protected conditions. Scored a shelter. Continued to dry clothing and gear. Explored Belle Isle. Climbed the "mystery" steps. Saw the former shuffleboard area and fireplace. Went as far as the Ranger cabin by the dock. Really nice campground.

September 1. Weather day. 3 foot breakers on the beach. By afternoon the weather clear and went fishing in Belle Harbor. No luck.

September 2. Paddled to McCargoe cove. Flat water and fair breeze made for an easy passage. No problems at Indian Point. Met Ranger Emily from Amygaloid afloat in the cove and discussed packrafts (She has a Fjord Explorer and I have a Denali Llama). Tried fishing. Still no luck. Very slippery in the water by the dock.

September 3. Portaged to Chicken Bone Lake. Made the mistake of cutting the portage short and had to haul the loaded packraft over downed trees within sight of the portage marker... Very windy on Chicken Bone. Portage marker to Livermore difficult to find. Portaged to Livermore. Paddled across Livermore to the LaSage portage. On the LaSage -- Lake Ritchie portage passed 3 folks portaging sea kayaks. They indicated that it had taken a whole day to portage from Moskey to Lake Ritchie and from what it looked like, it was going to take them a whole day to portage to McCargoe from Lake Ritchie. Finished the day at Lake Ritchie Canoe. I was the only person in the campground. Had to patch a nick in the packraft by headlamp.

September 4. Paddled to the Intermediate Lake portage and portaged to Intermediate Lake. VERY windy conditions on Intermediate Lake. Paddled to the Intermediate Lake - Siskiwit Lake Portage. Passed two folks portaging a canoe the other directions. VERY windy on Siskiwit Lake with whitecaps on the water. Sheltered in the lees behind the islands. Ended at Wood Lake campground. I was the only person in the campground. Nice campground.

September 5. Rain in the morning. Waited it out. 20 minute paddle across Wood Lake followed by a 1.5 hour portage to Lake Whittlesley. Strong SW wind pushed me down the lake. Tried fishing as I drifted down the lake. No luck. Lake Whittlesley campground had at least two tents that I saw and a canoe and sea kayak on the shore. Man on shore indicated that he had caught some perch earlier. Portaged from Whittlesley to Chippewa Harbor. Another long portage -- how a sea kayak made that portage is beyond me. Long paddle to Chippewa Harbor campground.

September 6. Stayed over at CH. Took pictures of the schoolhouse. Picked apples. Made some sour apple pancakes which turned out great! Tried fishing. No Luck.

September 7. Paddled to the CH - Lake Ritchie portage. LONG portage. Paddled to the Lake Ritchie -- Moskey basin portage. LONG portage. Arrived in time to get the Moskey basin group site (the lodge is still running folks out to Moskey basin so no shelters -- I still have not experienced the beauty of Moskey basin from the shelters). Ended up pitching camp after dark.

September 8. Rain in the morning. Launched from the dock area and paddled to Caribou Island. Strong SW wind and got to do some surfing on the waves. Arrived at 2 PM and scored a shelter. Went for a swim when my water filter blew into the water at the dock. Had a chance to air clothing and gear out. It was nice not having to check my feet for leeches. Lots of activity on the water supporting the construction at the Daisy Farm dock.

September 9. Lots of activity on the water as boats and watercraft headed to Daisy Farm. Saw the Mike boat. Talked to the ISRO campsite maintenance folks -- 2 for the entire island??? No wonder TP was in such short supply. Another beautiful day for a paddle with strong SW winds pushing me to Snug Harbor. Made Snug Harbor by 2 and checked into the Lodge. Had a shower. Checked wifi and let my family know that I was alive. Ate a pizza and had a beer. Went fishing at the seaplane docks -- still no luck. Lodge folks are LOUD compared to the backcountry.

September 10. Checked out. The Ranger was full -- exodus day from the lodge. Met Elizabeth from Missoula/Pittsburgh who I recognized from the Siskiwit Lake Intermediate Lake portage and who I had met in 2013 at Chippewa Harbor. Very bumpy ride back to Houghton.

Lessons Learned. Paddling open Lake Superior waters, such as Blake Point or Indian Point can be difficult or dangerous and should not be underestimated. It is very expensive to evacuate non emergency injuries via the water taxi or Voyager II (there were two separate parties at Belle Isle with injuries severe enough to require evacuation). Do not trust "waterproof" with mission essential gear and back up with additional means -- one of the paddlers I met at Belle Isle soaked his waterproof radio and it died. I brought a radio condom for my Marine VHF and it did not get wet, even when submerged in the bottom of my packraft off of Blake Point and continued to function. Given the size of my food pack for the trip, it was not possible to portage everything in one trip, thus the advantages of a packraft over other watercraft during a portage were not realized.

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IncaRoads
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Re: 2016 Isle Royale solo by packraft

Post by IncaRoads » Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:10 am

I enjoyed reading about your adventure. This trip covered a bit more territory than your last packraft trip a few years back. On your next trip to Isle Royale, will you continue this boating tradition or will you revert back to a hiking trip? Also, do you have to deflate the packraft on the shorter portages or can you carry it inflated?


fishrman47
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Re: 2016 Isle Royale solo by packraft

Post by fishrman47 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:16 am

Hi Redbad,

The canoe you saw on Whittlesley was mine. Saw you drift by as I was doing some chores. The gentleman with the kayak told me he talked some other campers into helping him on the portage.


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Redbad
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Re: 2016 Isle Royale solo by packraft

Post by Redbad » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:24 pm

IncaRoads -- don't know yet. On the short portages I kept the packraft inflated and either carried it across (the portages in the 5 fingers area) or carried it inflated lashed to my backpack (overhead dependent) on some of the short inland portages.
Fisherman47 -- I talked to the gentleman with the sea kayak during the trip back on the Ranger. He said that you had caught some walleye. I definitely have to hit Lake Whittlesley on the next trip and spend some time fishing it. Where did you catch the fish?


fishrman47
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Re: 2016 Isle Royale solo by packraft

Post by fishrman47 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:43 pm

I caught a single walleye Monday evening fishing the west end of the big island in Whittlesey, gave it to Mark since I was paddling into Wood the next morning. I was dragging a crankbait along the bottom in 10-12 feet of water.


3MTA3
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Re: 2016 Isle Royale solo by packraft

Post by 3MTA3 » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:21 pm

I'd love to see some photos of your setup, if you are able to post them. I've been considering an Alpacka raft for some time now.


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Redbad
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Re: 2016 Isle Royale solo by packraft

Post by Redbad » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:52 pm

3MTA3 -- I am not having success with attaching a photo.
Shoot me an email at mike.boersma@gmail.com and I will attach some photos.


Midwest Ed
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Re: 2016 Isle Royale solo by packraft

Post by Midwest Ed » Sat Oct 01, 2016 4:36 pm

I'd like to see the photos as well. I can email you and get them posted for you.
Here are the 2 photos from Redbad.

Image

Image
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013

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