Planning a 8 day adventure... looking for some advice

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

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Planning a 8 day adventure... looking for some advice

Post by Td[lifehike]442 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:38 pm

Thank you to all who have gone before me in finding adventure and solitude on Isle Royal.

I’m starting to plan my first trip to Isle Royal. I’ll be taking the ferry from Houghton. I’ve been able to carve an 8 night - 9 day adventure. Being it my first time to the island I have lofty goals to see as much as I can in the time I have.

Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated!

I don’t plan on or want to carrying a weeks + worth of food. My plan is to make my way to the Minong Trail via Daisy Farm (night 1), McCargoe Cove (night 2), Todd Harbor (night 3), Lake Desor (night 4) and the on to Washington Creek/Windigo (night 5) to *resupply.

*I am planning on mailing a resupply box to Windigo. Is this the best and easiest way to do this?

This gives me 3 days to get back to Rock Harbor and catch the ferry back the following day. What’s my best option?id like to stay a night at Chippewa Harbor and/or Moskey Basin.

Am I crazy for trying this?

Thanks in advance !!

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Re: Planning a 8 day adventure... looking for some advice

Post by Montana » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:25 am

Sounds like a great trip -- you have some fairly long days planned, my assumption is that you know your abilities/limits. I hiked from McCargoe Cove to Windigo via that route this summer (we stayed at Little Todd, so we added one day along the Minong). The only potential weakness is mother nature: the Voyageur does an awesome job of delivering packages, but they can be delayed because of weather (you are supposed to be at the dock the day of delivery, the Park Service doesn't like to "hold" packages). If weather caused a problems with your resupply box, you could always get provisions at the Windigo store.

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Re: Planning a 8 day adventure... looking for some advice

Post by Midwest Ed » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:15 pm

Welcome to the forum Td[lifehike]442.

If one suspects their goals are lofty, then chances are they just might be. But it all depends upon your experience and "hiking personality". Often, people that try to see as much as possible end up spending their time and effort "getting there" and they miss the journey. Moving rapidly on many sections of Isle Royale trails means that maybe you will be spending more time looking at your feet than absorbing the beauty, especially if things are wet. And you can almost be assured things will be wet at some point. It's typically a good idea to build in one "zero day" or "day off" to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. Tight schedules prohibit this.

Returning to Rock Harbor in 3 days is not unheard of but 4 or 5 is more typical. Have you considered the possibility of using the Voyageur II to make the return trip while consuming only half a day. During most of the season, it departs Windigo 3 times a week at about 10 am CT for Rock Harbor. By taking advantage of this transportation you could send an extra day or two on your way to Windigo or explore the Feldtmann Loop after your supply pickup.

There are many other options such as spending the entire 9 days on the north end (and still not see it all). I believe supply pickups can be arranged with the Voyageur at other stops than just Windigo.
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Re: Planning a 8 day adventure... looking for some advice

Post by Donk_67 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:52 pm

On my last visit, I took the same route with the same stops to Windigo...My return, after picking up my food package from the Voyager and a later than normal start back included stops at Island Mine, a “Nero” day at Desor South, West Chickenbone, Moskey Basin, and Rock Harbor...I did this in 10 days with a noon arrival at Rock Harbor, so theoretically it can be done, especially if you skip the nero day and put in longer days. However, I was on the island for 12 days due to ferry schedule. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable pushing it that close if I’d been scheduled to leave on day ten (my motivation was a hot shower). Also, this was my 3rd visit to the island, so I knew what to expect in terms of terrain and my abilities/ hiking style. If it’d been my first visit, I would probably make my way as far as Little Todd and work my way back with a possible stay at Chippewa. Or, since you’re planning a resupply, consider catching the Voyager for a hop to Todd or McCargo.

Enjoy your visit.

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Re: Planning a 8 day adventure... looking for some advice

Post by torpified » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:35 am

It sounds like a great trip! And by the time you get to Windigo, you'll probably have a good sense of how fun/manageable it would be to return to Rock Harbor via Chippewa Harbor or Moskey Basin.
Due partly to awkward campground placement, such a return would involve longish days, e.g.

Washington Creek to Hatchet Lake (18.8 miles -- I did it last year fresh from the Voyageur and enjoyed it but YMMV); Hatchet to Moskey or Chippewa (13.4/15.2); thence to Rock Harbor (11/14.8 ) . (<--I had to type that weird to avoid having it auto-corrected to an emoticon!)

If you don't see everything you'd like to this trip, that's an excellent excuse to come back!

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Re: Planning a 8 day adventure... looking for some advice

Post by paulbates » Fri Dec 01, 2017 5:26 am

Depending on the month, have a plan for where you'll water up, especially for the Minong from little Todd on. Lake desor is obviously good, but most of the water on that stretch otherwise filtered brown for me in early august.

+1 on midwested's advice on weather/rain and zero days. Lightning and rain make the ridge tops inhospitable and very slippery.

I listened to my quiet nagging doubt about getting trekking poles...they ended up being essential for me.

Without question, at the top of my best backpacking trips.. you'll be glad you went.


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