I'm planning a solo 5day/4nite trip to IR in September: seaplane from Houghton/Hancock to Windigo, then hiking up to Rock Harbor and taking the Ranger back to Houghton. I roughly plotted out my trip utilizing various trail maps, and then the handy-dandy trip planner spreadsheet listed on one of the boards (thank you! thank you!). Just wanted to get some general advice and recommendations on the itinerary I have drafted up for myself...and any tips/suggestions you can think of that might be better, please! I know some of the days look long...to preface: I'm a pretty active/in-shape person that frequently has done high mileage hikes/runs/etc. - BUT - I would like honest advice if you feel it is "too much" or not advisable. My last full day I was planning on just taking it easy...maybe hitting up the Rock Harbor Lodge for a "real meal" (and a bevo or two, perhaps! )...and then just crashing out early before boarding the ferry back to the mainland in the morning.
Anyway, thanks for listening to all the rambling, and in advance: thanks for all your help!
Hancock -> Windigo; Seaplane
Windigo -> S. Lake Desor Campground; ~11.6 miles
S. Lake Desor Campground -> W. Chickenbone Campground; ~15 miles
W. Chickenbone Campground -> Three Mile Campground; ~12.5 miles
Three Mile Campground -> Rock Harbor Campground; ~3.10 miles
Rock Harbor -> Houghton; Ferry
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A good feature of your itinerary is that if it turns out that you've planned more miles than you enjoy walking, you can shorten days earlier in the itinerary and compensate by walking longer on Day 4.
YMMV, but I find it's EASIER to cover ground when I hike alone. There are fewer bathroom breaks and unanimity is quickly reached on pauses to consider what to do next. So if you're liking your planned mileage, or hankering for more, think about making your way to RH via Lane Cove.
Even if you stick with your present itinerary, you'll have a choice on Day 3: to follow the ridge then drop down to 3 miles on the Mt Franklin Trail, or to drop down off the ridge earlier and follow the Rock Harbor Trail from Daisy Farm to 3 mile. Visiting Lane Cove would be a variation on the first option, around the same mileage on Day 3, around 8 miles to Rock Harbor on Day 4. ALL of the options in play sound like splendid walks --- I bet you'll love it no matter what exactly you wind up doing.
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Agree that having some extra time at the end is good. Keep in mind that the seaplane is the least reliable transportation (i.e. most affected by weather), so making S Desor the first day may not be feasible if you were to get delayed into the afternoon.
Also, make sure you carry enough water--last week 3 hikers were airlifted off due to severe dehydration. You can't rely on any streams along the Greenstone trail especially at that time of year. You can detour to Hatchet for water on day 2, although it does have a steep climb back up.
Have a great trip!
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The Greenstone is a faster trip than the Minong if you need to.
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