Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Questions on general information and things that do not fit into any other categories.

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crazy8
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Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by crazy8 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:05 pm

I would imaging that this has probably been asked a million and a half times, but I am not finding anything.

Last year I hiked the SHT for 2 days for my first hike. To put that in perspective, I've never hiked before in the 38 years I have been alive, didn't know what to expect, and parts of it were a leg burning hell. There was definitely a sense of accomplishment but it took more hard work, determination, and exertion than I had ever anticipated or ever did in my life. One area I am improving on is the weight of my pack. I did the SHT with a 40 pound pack, not knowing what to expect and having no clue - in my noobness - that such weight likely contributed to destroying me on the trail. However, at the end of it all, for an overweight, 40 pound pack carrying 38 year old, first time hiker, to accomplish something like that, I would consider to be a HUGE win.

Now with that out of the way, a buddy of mine and I are hammock campers. Neither of us have hiked the Isle Royale, or anything like this of course, and right now we're planing on doing a 7 day hike which will take place next year or the year after. I believe the 7 days is going to be from one end to the other of IR.

A few things I am wondering is what recommendations would you veterans have for a pair of noobs who have a desire to have an enjoyable hike on the Isle Royal? What path would be best suited for first timers? I'm not expecting the whole thing to be a stroll through the park. Any advice that you'd give someone who is looking to do this for the first time? Is there any advice on how to prepare (physically/mentally), if one could prepare, for something like this?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice given on this.


torpified
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Re: Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by torpified » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:42 pm

You sound like you're hooked! I bet you'll get lots of feedback, so just a few thoughts:

--keep trimming the pack weight! You can go a long way toward that just by learning (maybe via a series of shorter trips) which things you really need, and only bringing those. I suspect extra clothes and uneaten food contribute more to senseless overladen suffering than equipment not made from the latest space age material. If you have an equipment budget, dosing it judiciously (e.g. exploiting online sales) can make a big dent in your base weight (sleeping + shelter + backpack).

--but be sure to bring SOMETHING, ideally lightweight, that will make the non-moving part of your trip more fun: a paperback, a deck of cards, fishing equipment, good eats. (What these might be depends on you.)

--go from Windigo to Rock Harbor. To me, the island gets more dramatic in that direction. An advantage of a trip across the island is that it usually means you get to do a semi-circumnavigation on the Voyageur, which is a spectacular way to see IR from another perspective. If you arrange things so that you're Voyageuring AFTER your walk, you can tell yourself the whole way, "I walked that!", and pick out things like the Ojibway fire tower.

--Moskey Cove, Todd Harbor, Lane Cove, and McCargo Cove are a subset of places you won't regret staying.

--training: keep walking, sometimes on trails and sometimes with a pack of various weights on. I live where there's essentially 0 elevation change. One way I prepare for unflat backpacking trips is by going to the gym, setting the treadmill to 15%, and walking on it for as long as I can stand the ESPN feed or until my statutory 30 minutes are up. There is something pathetic about this, but I think it helps.

--to motivate training, stay excited about the prospect. Visit this forum, dig up trip reports, order and devour the DuFresne book---whatever keeps the fire burning!

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dcclark
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Re: Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by dcclark » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:16 pm

Be sure to hit Moskey Basin (sunrises), Lane Cove (sunsets), and McCargoe Cove (just beautiful in every way).

Plan a zero day or two. Enjoy laying around in a beautiful spot (you already know my recommendations for where). Read a book, explore the area, swim, fish, whatever you like. You don't have to go go go every day in order to have a good time. This also gives you some flexibility for the inevitable rain day.

When you're in Rock Harbor, take advantage of the ranger talks and boat tours. You can usually do at least one of those even if you're just there for an overnight.

I really enjoy going to the island in August for a couple of reasons: First, the bugs will have died back, and nothing ruins a trip quite like inhaling black flies while a mosquito drains your arm dry. Second, blueberries and thimbleberries will be ripe, and nothing adds joy to a trip quite like eating wild berries all the way down the trail.

To train, walk up (and down) as many hills as you can, over and over and over. I use the basement steps in my house sometimes. I spent years hiking in the Copper Country and thought I was used to the hills, but somehow Isle Royale is hillier.


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crazy8
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Re: Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by crazy8 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:57 pm

Thank you guys for all of that. Based on that info I have been plotting a route on a map and places we'll camp. The red line on the attached map is the current route I have planned. I guess the one question I have about this is, what is the terrain like? That is the only other thing I don't have a full grasp on and it will definitely have some impact (negative or positive) on what kind of progress we make each day. Overall, it looks quite smooth, but it's hard to tell for sure. I just want to be sure of what we are in store for and possibly get some better perspective from those who have been through here. :) Thank you again for your help.
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Current Route

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dcclark
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Re: Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by dcclark » Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:22 pm

Not to scare you too much, but "quite smooth" is the opposite of the truth. The island is very rugged. (Regular alpine hikers might disagree with that statement, but I don't think anyone else would!) It's at least as rugged as the SHT, usually more so.

The map you're looking at doesn't show much topographic detail. Here's a more detailed topo map that is centered at McCargo cove: Topo map (be careful, the topos are out-of-date when it comes to some trails). On there you can see that the island is made up of a series of parallel ridges, each of which is constantly interrupted by gaps. No matter which way you go, you're going up-and-down constantly. If you found the SHT tough going, you'll find Isle Royale at least as tough. I suspect that your planned route will not necessarily make for an enjoyable trip based on how you've described your level of experience.

Some more specific comments:

You're planning to take the Minong Ridge Trail, which has a reputation as one of the roughest trails on the island. Expect even more ups and downs than elsewhere on the island, some hard-to-follow segments, and having to cross beaver dams. Others can speak to it better than I can, but you might want to consider taking the better-traveled Greenstone Ridge trail instead (which is also a spectacularly beautiful trail).

Your marked trail ends at Daisy Farm. Are you planning to get picked up by a water taxi or the Voyageur? (Both of which you'll need to arrange in advance.) Otherwise, you'll need to continue on to Rock Harbor. (Or maybe you just didn't draw in the end of your trip?)

I think it would really be worth your time to streamline your trip and find a way to stay at Moskey and/or Lane Cove. Don't forget a zero day too!

Having said all of this -- Isle Royale is a fantastic place. It's worth going -- I'm glad you're planning this far in advance!
Last edited by dcclark on Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by JerryB » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:20 pm

Dcclark is right on. I would just emphasize that you should recnsder the Minong, given your experience level. It won’t kill you but I doubt you would enjoy it. The warning holds especially if the trail is wel. The Minong ridge/hard rock is trechorous if wet.


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Re: Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by Midwest Ed » Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:19 pm

I echo all the above remarks and will add, the disagreements on Isle Royale being rugged comes from mountaineers and rock climbers. A simple explanation is that the Isle Royale trails are not "technical". There are many areas that could be technical, mainly along north facing ridges, were one to head cross country off designated trails. The maxim elevation change above Lake Superior is 800 feet mostly on the southwest end. Most other high spots are around 300 to 500 feet on the northeast end). Because or the parallel ridges described above you generally only give up most of this high ground when traversing the Island side to side. There are of course some exceptions to this as you travel end to end. The minor ridges on either side of the Greenstone are lower in average elevation. Due to the uplifting of the geologic strata (I had to work in at least one technical word), the north facing side of the ridges are much more cliff-like than the south facing.

So where does the ruggedness of the descriptions originate? Climbing up and down the ridges of course can be tiring, but there are plenty of switch backs to help you out (coming out of Lane Cove CG might be the worst), but there is never any danger of falling off the trail. You might fall down but you're not going to roll far :oops: . The ruggedness comes from the trail footing itself (rocks and roots) and the sometimes very repetitious up and down of just a few feet elevation change every dozen or so steps. But it's not all like this. There are also many places that are easy strolls through the woods (or sometimes easy walks along a ridge that has been scraped flat by the glaciers-you can see the scratches), the low, really wet areas are man made boardwalks.

With attribution to upnorthjeeper for most of these photos, they provide a sampler of some of the more rugged yet typical trails.
09_18_2009-14_15_05.jpg
09_21_2009-14_04_16.jpg
09_21_2009-14_05_53.jpg
Last edited by Midwest Ed on Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013


Midwest Ed
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Re: Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by Midwest Ed » Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:31 pm

09_23_2009-17_18_19.jpg
DSC_1058.jpg
ISRO 057.jpg
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013


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Re: Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by torpified » Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:10 am

I haven't walked the Minong between Windigo and the turnoff to Hatchet Lake. I gather that's the most challenging stretch. East of the Hatchet Lake junction, the Minong undulates, but very rewardingly: most crests reward the hiker with a view. And while it's not a superhighway, once you've got the knack of looking for cairns and following the pinkish treadway across the rocks, I don't think it's difficult to follow. That's a knackyou'll acquire by walking on the island for a few days.

A variation on your itinerary that's similar in length but opens with a gentler immersion might be to take the Greenstone out of Windigo, then swing north at the Hatchet Lake junction, follow the Minong to McCargo (being sure to check out the mine!), then work your way from there to your exit point. Consider hitting the stretch of the Greenstone between the fire tower and the Mt Franklin junction---but also consider any highlights you miss on this trip as grand reasons to take another one!


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Re: Future IR Adventure for Noobs

Post by kolo » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:44 pm

I echo all the above remarks and will add, the disagreements on Isle Royale being rugged comes from mountaineers and rock climbers. A simple explanation is that the Isle Royale trails are not "technical". There are many areas that could be technical, mainly along north facing ridges, were one to head cross country off designated trails.
Crazy8, I have hiked/climbed a lot in Colorado, including 50 of the 54 "14ers." The Minong is the hardest trail I have ever hiked. Many of the trails on Isle Royale are not "smooth" by any definition!

I also echo many of the comments about the trails at Isle Royale!

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