data Minong

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

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torpified
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data Minong

Post by torpified » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:12 am

The authorities (being Mr torpified and our dog Cholmondeley) have granted me provisional leave to visit IR in early June. The plan:

From Rock Harbor, walk out the Tobin Harbor trail and up the Mt Franklin trail to the Greenstone, west along the ridge to the E. Chickenbone junction, up to McCargo, then the Minong to Windigo, hopefully with time to check out the Huginnin Cove loop before my date with the Voyageur for a ride back to RH.

I'm pretty excited about it, because (other than the bit along Tobin Harbor and the stretch between McCargo and the mine) I'll either be on entirely new-to-me trails, or going a new direction on a trail I've walked before.

I'm also nervous! I'd be grateful for general feedback about what to expect, which campsites you'd use, remarkable sights long the way, and so on. Specific things I'm wondering:

-it seems like there's significant slop and some routefinding to do in the long stretch between N Desor and Washington Harbor. I'm worried that my future self might arrive at N Desor fairly early in the day and elect to press on, not fully appreciating what she'll be biting off. Any thoughts about how to discipline my future self and/or strategize about staging this part of the walk? (I sometimes give myself rules like "you have to stop at x if you arrive there after t." And it seems like my cruising speed on other IR trails is a bit over 3 mph.)
-how will the wolves know I'm not prey? I'm smaller, but also easier to catch, than a moose, and much larger, and much easier to catch, than a hare. (It's embarrassing but I do actually think about this. I would also LOOOOOVE to see a wolf, which is not the way I feel about grizzlies.)
-there's a Wendigo Mines marked on the Huginnin loop---any tips about what to look for/how to look for it

Thanks!

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Re: data Minong

Post by dcclark » Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:40 am

torpified wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:12 am
-how will the wolves know I'm not prey? I'm smaller, but also easier to catch, than a moose, and much larger, and much easier to catch, than a hare. (It's embarrassing but I do actually think about this. I would also LOOOOOVE to see a wolf, which is not the way I feel about grizzlies.)
You will smell like a human for 100 yards in each direction which, no offense, a wolf is going to have no problem distinguishing from actual prey. Wolves stay away from humans or, at best, treat us like we're not really there.


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Re: data Minong

Post by kolo » Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:52 am

Back when I was physically able, I backpacked 3 mph on some of the easier stretches of the Greenstone. On the Minong, I was lucky to do 1.5 mph. Of course I wasn't racing and enjoyed the hiking. I camped at North Desor and didn't even think about bypassing it on my way to Windigo. It is a pleasant place to camp and usually pretty quiet. I was the only one there at the time (mid June).

Not much to see at the Wendigo mines, some old metal rails. The two old log cabins were fun to see though.

Hope this helps torpified!

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Re: data Minong

Post by Ingo » Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:26 am

torpified wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:12 am
I'm worried that my future self might arrive at N Desor fairly early in the day and elect to press on, not fully appreciating what she'll be biting off. Any thoughts about how to discipline my future self and/or strategize about staging this part of the walk?
I think that hiking from RH to N Desor after getting off the boat earlier that day will be enough even for you, torpified :wink:.
And put Nancy Reagan in your head: "Just say no!"
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Re: data Minong

Post by torpified » Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:33 pm

Thanks Ingo, kolo, and dcclark! Smelling human I've probably got covered, but channeling Nancy Reagan might take a little work. (Maybe I could bring a cast iron frying pan and an egg and recreate that "this is your brain on drugs" PSA?)

I know Ingo's joshing, but for what it's worth, Plan A has me spending 3 nights en route to Windigo and plan B gives me 5 nights (at the sacrifice of having time to fit in a Lookout Louise biathlon, of which I'm growing rather fond, once back at RH).


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Re: data Minong

Post by Tortuga » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:23 am

I promise you will regret it if you push on for Windigo after N. Desor! It took me 9 hours on that section, and I was wrecked by the end of it. The section from Little Todd to North Desor is probably the toughest section mile-for-mile I've ever hiked. That took me 5 hours for the 6-mile trip. North Desor is a nice, secluded little camp. Enjoy it!

I went back to look at my early June trip in 2017 for some feedback on your Greenstone route:
Trail Conditions: Generally good. The Greenstone west of Daisy to East Chicken Bone was pretty bad. Lots of deadfall/blowdowns and it looks like the trail crews hadn’t been through yet. There is also one incredibly mucky spot where someone has created a "side trail" to nowhere as you are going West. Best advice is to walk through the muck and do NOT follow this side trail. You'll have to come back anyway. It was probably the worst-shape trail I encountered. Hikers from Grand Portage reported snow and ice still along some of the north shore.
I only passed one person that day and it was right around the junction to East Chickenbone. We joked about how we broke the webs for each other (since we were going opposite directions). I say take the 5 nights and sacrifice Lookout Louise for another trip. You're in better shape than I am, but I cannot imagine doing an end-to-end via the Minong in 4 days.

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Re: data Minong

Post by MikeT » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:19 pm

I will backup the other comments, the section from Little Todd to North Desor is VERY tough on the body, but it is relatively short compared to the North Desor to Windigo. I put them as even in difficulty. An analogy: the first is a half marathon race, the latter a full marathon completion. I cannot imagine doing the first and going on to do the second. In fact, I have only done North Desor to Windigo once without a back-country camp, but that has more to do with me and loving the section of the trail and not in a hurry to get back to Windigo and the end of my trips.
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Re: data Minong

Post by torpified » Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:34 am

Thanks! I believe I'm sufficiently fortified to discipline my future self to enjoy a night at N Desor (if she makes it that far!).

Another question: it could be that I'll have to choose between spending my last (westward) night at Huginnin and spending it at Washington Creek. The Windigo services won't be running yet, I don't think. I really really really like (i) seeing animals, and (ii) backwoods peace. Where should I stay?

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Re: data Minong

Post by Ingo » Tue Apr 02, 2019 9:06 am

torpified wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:34 am
Another question: it could be that I'll have to choose between spending my last (westward) night at Huginnin and spending it at Washington Creek. The Windigo services won't be running yet, I don't think. I really really really like (i) seeing animals, and (ii) backwoods peace. Where should I stay?
Huginnin for backwoods peace, and a place you should experience. But if you end up at Windigo, the store officially opens 6/4, but they'll periodically sell at the store what stock they've received before then. But it's hit and miss, as they're busy working to open up for the season. And they'll open up the showers when they get the hot water back on.
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Re: data Minong

Post by Midwest Ed » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:08 am

I agree that Huginnin CG will be very secluded and not as busy, but the campground for Windigo is actually about 1/2 mile away, far enough it has it's own name (Washington Creek). It is quite nice and not at all like staying at a Rock Harbor campsite. It has 2 other potential benefits, 1) 10 shelters and 2) it's right on Washington Creek. Since you mentioned seeing wildlife, based on my unscientific, anecdotal memories of reading the reports of others (and personal experience), I think that Washington Creek campground has been the most productive location for moose and also cow/calf sightings, as well as birds and other water wildlife.
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Re: data Minong

Post by maxcad13 » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:04 am

I hiked the Minong 3 summers summer, but I went the opposite way (had the voyager drop me off at windigo from RH) The first day I went from Windigo to N. Desor, only issue I had was getting use to the trails as a majority of them are all on a rock ridge, so its easy to get lost. The next day I went from N. Desor all the way to McCargoe, stopped at Todd Harbor for dinner. Got into McCargoe around 1AM (and yes I did see a wolf during this night hike, saw the eyes peering at me from behind a bush and shined it with my flashlight and it ran off), wish I would've left a little earlier. Then finished my trip by going to Moskey, then back to RH. I didn't have an issue with any of it, granted I'm a college athlete and I hike at the same pace you do. I'd just recommend waking up early and get after it, take advantage of the long daylight hours! I plan on doing the same route this summer but stopping at Todd Harbor for the night instead of McCargoe, Good luck!


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Re: data Minong

Post by 3MTA3 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:32 am

In 2002, my friend and I went from Little Todd to N. Desor when we were in fantastic shape. We noted how it was some of the toughest terrain we've ever hiked- even more than the southern portion of the AT & areas in Glacier. We planned on staying at N. Desor but ended up going to Washington Creek after dinner. We stopped for a quick siesta near the beaver dam area and were cooked when we got to the Washington Creek shelters. I think we got in around 4 am, if my memory is correct.

I'm not sure I'd suggest going from east of N. Desor to Washington Creek/ Windigo. I would caution against this if you're looking to enjoy your trip. It was a tough hike and although it makes for a great story that we like to tell, it was not pleasant while doing it. Spend more time at Little Todd and then get to N. Desor late.


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Re: data Minong

Post by jerry » Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:10 am

Probably everyone has a story about the N. Desor to Wash. Creek hike. My hiking partner that day was a former marine with survival training. We followed a well used trail into a bog (this is just after the last? beaver dam). After wasting a lot of time, we back tracked to near the beaver dam and found the trail that goes up hill and back to Wash. Creek. I was 65 that summer. Don't think I can do it today.


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Re: data Minong

Post by torpified » Sat Apr 27, 2019 6:29 am

These are cautionary tales indeed! I promise, I won't bypass N Desor!

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