7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Reports or links to reports on trips.

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HowardBates
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7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by HowardBates » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:02 am

7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017
[Windigo to Rock Harbor]
The wet feet tour

Pictures: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/ ... sp=sharing

{7/7/2017} We left our home in Petoskey, MI at 5:00am and headed North for Houghton. We arrived in Houghton at 10:30am, refueled our car, stopped in at an outdoors shop downtown, and then went for lunch at Rocket’s in Hancock. After a quick stop at Walmart for some powdered Propel drink mix, we arrived at the seaplane dock. We paid our parking fees then sat and chatted with Jon Rector about the wolf repopulation on the island while we awaited Tomas to arrive from the island in the plane in which we would be flying over. Once the plane landed we were loaded up and flying within 20 minutes. We arrived at Windigo about 25 minutes later, unloaded, and off to the visitor center. After our interactions with the ranger, we were given our itinerary sheet and were free to go. We headed right up to the store and purchased our stove fuel and then we went and secured shelter 7 for ourselves at Washington Creek. I took in the ranger program (ISRO geology) that evening at 7:30. My son stayed up later than me and saw a moose exit Washington Creek, come up to our shelter and pee next to the picnic table.
(Mosquitos: 7/10, temps: 65, clear sky)

{7/8/2017} Up at 5:30 am, packed up, ate breakfast, and hit the trail! We passed the gauging station within a few minutes, and were on our way on the Minong. As most of you know, the trail is somewhat tough between Windigo and the Little Todd junction. I’d say it was a little more difficult than the last time I did the Minong because there seem to be more beaver dams and the water level was higher, but we knocked out the miles between Windigo & N. Desor in 7 hours. We arrive at N. Desor with very wet feet and beating the rain by an hour. Set up camp, filtered water, cooked dinner, played checkers, then went to bed.
(Mosquitos: 6/10, temps: 65, raining)

{7/9/2017} Hardest little section on the island (N. Desor to Little Todd). Lots of ups & downs to get around clefts in the basalt outcroppings. We forded a few very deep wet spots, but we easily knocked out the miles to Todd Harbor, especially after Little Todd where the trail becomes trivial all the way to McCargoe Cove. We did deal with the overgrown foliage for most of the day, which made us very wet for a lot of the hike. Arrived a Todd Harbor & scored the shelter as we had the campground entirely to ourselves. Watched a beaver swim back and forth in the harbor for a lot of the evening. It rained in the late afternoon/evening.
(Mosquitos: 3/10, temps: 60, raining)

{7/10/2017} Knocked out a super-easy hike to McCargoe cove. Started to see fellow hikers and we talked with all of them. All in all, 3 groups passed us on their way to Todd Harbor or Hatchet Lake from McCargoe. Just past the Minong mine about a quarter mile from McCargoe we took photos of fresh wolf prints in the mud. Arrived in McCargoe at about noon and secured a shelter. Again, we had the whole campground to ourselves until about 3pm. We set up camp and flip-flopped back to the mine so my son could explore. Mosquitos were bad at the mine, but not at the campground. We did photograph 2 HUGE spiders on the side of our shelter and my son acquired 2 leeches on his foot after swimming off the dock. The famous McCargoe butterflies were also present as usual, and were particularly friendly this time and would land on us occasionally. We met with and talked to a bunch of folks. I scored a cup of coffee and a weather report from the Voyager II and then 3 huge sailboats docked for the evening. The only negative was the Girl Scout troop that was very loud late into the night. The weather report called for storms the next day, so I retired early so we could get an early start.
(Mosquitos: 2/10, temps: 60, dry)

{7/11/2017 & 7/12/2017} I woke up at 5am and started packing, had coffee & breakfast, then it was down the trail for us. We had a moderate hike crossing all of the East-West ridges, but had fun. When we go to Lake Ritche, we started to see all the boardwalk supplies the NPS had used helicopters to deliver to various parts of the island last year to repair the aging planks on the trails. In all, we ran across three piles between Lake Ritche & Chippewa Harbor. We spotted a moose on the far East side of the lake and watched it for a minute before it fully submerged and disappeared! We then turned South on our way to Chippewa Harbor as the sky grew darker and the temps dropped a lot. This section of trail was tough. Very wet and greasy with more ups & downs than I remembered. It was also buggy with lots of overgrowth. We made it to the campground with plenty of time before the rain arrived. We had the place to ourselves and selected shelter 3 because someone put the picnic table inside it. Filtered water and hunted around for the old schoolhouse, but couldn’t find it.  I have pictures of us going in it 10 years ago, but maybe the NPS decided to get rid of it as Isle Royale has an NPS wilderness designation not a historical designation. Rain arrived and it was cold. Campground started to fill up with kayakers, canoers, and a couple we met from McCargoe. We set the tent up in the shelter for warmth and slept well in our cave. Next day was dangerously cold. My thermometer read 36 and sheets of rain came and went all day. We stayed in the shelter and I had my son stay in the tent cave because I worried about his wellbeing. He was toasty warm all day and night. We had our big chicken dinner feast this day. It was great!
(Mosquitos: 4/10, temps: 30’s to 40’s, rain)

{7/13/2017} Up early and on the trail by 8 am. We found the hike out to be easier than on the way in, but it was still cold and rainy all the way to Moskey Basin and we were wet as usual. We arrived at Moskey Basin very early and scouted around. Our itinerary had us staying here for the night, but the wind was blowing hard directly into the shelters (which we had our pick of as we were alone in the campground) so we decided to push on for Daisy Farm. That decision made me sad because I LOVE Moskey Basin, but I’m not super fond of Daisy Farm. We arrived at Daisy Farm by 1pm and easily scored a shelter 9 up in the woods. Lots of people in Daisy Farm as usual, but only 1 noisy group.
(Mosquitos: 6/10, temps: 50’s, mist)

{7/14/2017} On the trail by 8 for Rock Harbor and had a wet, slippery hike all the way, even on the Tobin Harbor trail! Just past the Siskowit mines, I had to stop for a bathroom emergency, so I dropped my pack, grabbed the TP, and headed up to the woods to dig a cathole and take care of my business. I ensured I wasn’t visible from the trail and everything was going good until the dang Sandy showed up and everyone on the boat could see me. Heh. I assume they were showing people Starvation Point or something. We hit the Threemile trail junction, made the turn North and took the much easier Tobin Harbor trail into Rock Harbor. We hit RH at 11am just as Jon was pulling in with the seaplane, so I asked my son to secure a shelter for us while I enquired with Jon about our flight tomorrow at 11 and the weather. He wasn’t helpful because he just said he wakes up, looks out the window, and decides whether he’ll fly or not. I understand, but I was still disappointed as I then worried all night if the plane would fly. We took showers & ate meals at the Greenstone Grille. We watched the Queen come & go and watched the Ranger arrive. I took in the excellent ranger program that evening and got a good night’s sleep. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about because the plane arrived the next day.
(Mosquitos: 2/10, temps: 50’s, dry)

{7/15/2017} Ate breakfast at the Greenstone Grille, packed up, and put our packs down at the seaplane dock. Watched the Ranger leave. Said goodbye to the employees we became friendly with and flew home. We flew directly over the Ranger, and I felt bad for the passengers because they still had 3 hours to go.
Last edited by HowardBates on Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ingo
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Re: 7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by Ingo » Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:33 am

Enjoyed the report Howard! The "schoolhouse" is still at C.H. by the way, towards the lake from the C.G.

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Re: 7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by IncaRoads » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:07 pm

Always interesting to hear the details of Isle Royale trips. Thanks for writing. Temps of 30's and 40's in July! That is why I always bring my long underwear and down sweater (doubles as a pillow), even in the summer.

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Tom
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Re: 7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by Tom » Sun Jul 23, 2017 5:18 pm

Thanks for the TR & the pics. I'm still trying to figure out when (if) I'll make it this year, and this provides some great inspiration!
(Personally, I kinda love 40s in July. Call me crazy.)


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Re: 7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by torpified » Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:50 am

Thanks for the report! I didn't know there were famous McCargoe butterflies. Is the basis of their fame just that they're reliably present at McCargoe or do they have further claims to fame? (They must be tough if they're surviving the weather you're describing . . . .)

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HowardBates
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Re: 7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by HowardBates » Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:39 pm

We have seen them there every single year!


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Re: 7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by JerryB » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:34 am

In my trip at the beginning of the month, I asked a ranger about the butterflies. The ranger told us that male butterflies need moisture and they get it from old charcoal and similar deposits. News to me!

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Re: 7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by HowardBates » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:31 pm

Fascinating!


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Re: 7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by Donk_67 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:49 pm

Nice write up. Sounds like it was a great trip. Just realized the seaplane relocated from the airport. Do you know when they moved operations?


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HowardBates
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Re: 7/7/2017 – 7/15/2017 [Windigo to Rock Harbor]

Post by HowardBates » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:58 am

Just last year they said. Jon also told me that they just got permission from the NPS to start flying out of Grand Portage too.

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