Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

Moderator: MikeT

Duffy Moon
LNT Expert
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:56 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 1
Location: Central Ohio

Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by Duffy Moon »

My wife and I are planning our first time, bucket-list trip to IR at the end of August this year. We've already booked passage, and are getting our packs together, doing all the planning and whatnot.

We're both relatively new to backpacking, and we're in our mid-40's. So: better late than never, right?
I'm in no kind of shape to rack up the big miles on a Bataan-Death-March island hike; and frankly, we're more interested in being on the island, enjoying ourselves, seeing the beauty to be found there, and capturing some of it on film and on paper (my wife's a visual artist).
In addition to not being in prime backpacking condition, we're likely to be traveling a bit heavier than the average hiker: since we're new to multi-day backpacking, we haven't figured out all the ultralight tips and tricks, and don't have the financial resources to buy all the latest-and-lightest before August.
We're doing our best to get into condition as much as possible before we arrive, but I just want to be honest about where we are and what we can expect from ourselves and our equipment.

I call it a "bucket-list" trip, but - I assure you - there are other things on the list below this. In other words, I don't want to be kicking the bucket while actually on this bucket-list trip.

So: I'm looking for some affirmation for my (tentative, off-the-top-of-my-head) lazy-man's itinerary for our trip. I'm looking for the least amount of miles possible for each day, while still allowing us to see a good part of the island and experience different campgrounds. We want time to enjoy the island, and aren't trying to win any distance-and-speed medals.
We're arriving at Rock Harbor on 8/23, and departing from same on 8/31. Here's the tentative plan:
Day one (Arrival Day): Rock Harbor to Three Mile
Day two: Three Mile to Daisy Farm
Day three: Daisy Farm to Moskey Basin
Day four: Moskey Basin to Lake Richie
Day five: Lake Richie to Chippewa Harbor
Day six: Chippewa Harbor to Moskey Basin
Day seven: Moskey Basin to Daisy Farm
Day eight: Daisy Farm to Three Mile
Day nine (Departure Day): Three Mile to Rock Harbor

This will, in my thinking, allow us to take it easy, enjoy the sights, stop and do some painting or sketching, and not wear ourselves out. Since each day has minimal miles required, it should not be too hard to double-up one of those days, if we're forced - by weather or weariness - to take a zero day. We could, I suppose, skip Lake Richie also, if we needed to make up a day.

Your input on this itinerary would be appreciated. I know I'm in the distinct minority here: most travel schedules I see on these forums seem to be about getting in the most miles per day. But that's just not me: it's not what I'm going for. I'm already - from a distance - falling in love with the island, and I want to spend some time getting to know it, at my own pace. What say you?

User avatar
dcclark
Trailblazer
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:39 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 3
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Contact:

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by dcclark »

I'd say this is a great plan overall. You'll get to see a lot of lovely places and actually enjoy them, because you shouldn't be too worn out.

My only real comment is that you should plan a rest day somewhere. Even though your days are relatively short, it's good to rest and recuperate a bit. Plus, that will let you settle in and get to know a place better. I'd suggest spending the extra day at Moskey or Chippewa Harbor, both of which are beautiful. Chippewa in particular has some great short dayhikes (see the old schoolhouse, climb the bluff, go to Lake Mason).

I recommend cutting Lake Richie, unless you're especially interested in fishing. The others are more interesting. Plus, you can easily stop and see Richie whenever you're going between Chippewa and Moskey. Also, in at least one direction, consider detouring up to the Tobin Harbor trail rather than doing the stretch of the Rock Harbor trail from Three Mile to Rock Harbor campground.

As a stretch goal, you might add McCargo and/or West Chickenbone. They are both lovely campgrounds with lots to see. It might be a bit hard to fit those in with short hikes, but you could do it if you re-route one of your Chippewa-Richie-Moskey legs. When planning these, be careful about the legs that go "across the grain" (north-south). They will be harder than similar length routes that go east-west.

You'll love the island. Taking it easy is a good plan, so don't let anyone (me included) talk you into doing too much. Plus, I suspect you might be back. :)

User avatar
Tom
Forum Moderator
Posts: 759
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:16 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 14
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by Tom »

Welcome to the forum! Isle Royale is a perfectly fine place to be cutting your teeth to backpacking, provided you put in the planning - And it's clear you're already doing that.
I'll echo dcclark's recommendation for a rest day, and agree you could cut out Ritchie, but I'll offer a different opinion on your rest site day: Daisy Farm. While it gets it's criticism for being 'big and busy' and certainly doesn't hold the same visual beauty of Moskey or Chippewa, what it DOES give you is a perfect set up to use your rest day to load a light pack with art supplies and lunch and hike up to My Ojibway tower. You could add the 'triangle' into the return route if you're feeling good. You deserve to see the Greenstone herself, and what better way that to hike up without the full weight of a pack, and enjoy the time. It will also give you a good idea of how much up and down there can be, without being overwhelming.

Bobcat1
Trailblazer
Posts: 175
Joined: Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:01 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 7
Location: Athens, Ohio

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by Bobcat1 »

Also, after you arrive and bag a campsite in Rock Harbor, be sure and take your daypacks and hike out to Scoville Point. And, while at Moskey Basin, walk up the big rock outcropping facing Rock Harbor to get an amazing scenic view down all of Rock Harbor waterway.
19 RH-ML-TI-RH by kayak
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
09 RH-DF-MC-TH-HL-SD-WC
00 WC-IM-WC
96 WC-FL-SB-SD-HL-CE-3M-RH
94 RH-DF-MB-3M-RH
92 RH-DF-LR-CW-HL-SD-IM-WC

User avatar
chief54
Trailblazer
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:30 am
Isle Royale Visits: 30

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by chief54 »

Perfect trip for the first time but give a little thought to taking water taxi to Daisy Farm on first day. Reason being you beat the crowd heading out and it makes for a long day esp. if riding ferry out, gives you an extra day or two for downtime. It is a little spendy but I think its worth it. Enjoy you are going to love it.
first visit at age 10 in 1965 numerous times since then, 30+ times

Midwest Ed
IR Expert
Posts: 1155
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:25 am
Isle Royale Visits: 8
Location: Quad Cities, IL

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by Midwest Ed »

I 100% second Tom's suggestions. Being on the Island for 9 days and not seeing the Greenstone Ridge panoramic views would be a certain missed opportunity. If you can arrange an extra day at Daisy Farm or if you arrive there early with enough remaining energy a trip to the Greenstone should not be missed, especially if the weather is nice and sunny. An alternate thought is the trek from Daisy Farm to Three Mile via the Greenstone Ridge is actually not much longer than the direct route since the closed loop is trapezoidal (and there are some significant elevation changes of course).

The 4 miles between Daisy Farm and Moskey Basin will be the hardest on your feet and legs of all your selected routes. The trail runs a bit inland following a prehistoric shoreline. There will be a lot of stepping up and stepping down with very little overall change in elevation but it's only 4 miles. I thought it might help if you knew the sections in front of you will not be so difficult (except the trip back of course).

Chief54's suggestion of starting out with a boat ride to Daisy Farm (or Moskey Basin) offers the nice feature of easily adding in more reserve time. If you choose to not spring for the expense then taking the Tobin Harbor trail from Rock Harbor to Three Mile instead of the Rock Harbor trail will be quicker and easier but a bit less scenic.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013

User avatar
dcclark
Trailblazer
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:39 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 3
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Contact:

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by dcclark »

To save a bit of money and get the advantage of starting at a more distant point, you could see about taking the Voyageur from Rock Harbor to Chippewa Harbor. It's much cheaper than a water taxi -- downside is that you usually have to wait a day in Rock Harbor to pick it up (but then you could day-hike Scoville Point, Tobin Harbor, etc.).

Start at Chippewa, perhaps stay a day there, and then essentially head back to Rock Harbor as slowly as you'd like. You have options: You can go by way of West Chickenbone and McCargoe, or spend an extra day at Moskey, and/or spend an extra day at Daisy and hike the Mt. Ojibway loop as Ed and Tom has suggested.

Duffy Moon
LNT Expert
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:56 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 1
Location: Central Ohio

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by Duffy Moon »

Wow! A lot of really good ideas here. Thanks, y'all. I'll get the map out and do a little more figuring. We're in no way married to the tentative itinerary above. I guess I really don't want to miss the ridgetop views, and will have to figure a way to incorporate that. Thanks again. As I tweak the plan a bit I might pop back in here for some more wisdom.

dcclark - your last suggestion is intriguing. Will have to take a good look at ferry schedules to see how that might work. Scoville Point is definitely something on our want-to-see list, and I didn't include that in our first itinerary.

Bobcat1
Trailblazer
Posts: 175
Joined: Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:01 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 7
Location: Athens, Ohio

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by Bobcat1 »

The ridge top views from Mt Franklin are top notch, and that is either a side hike from 3-Mile, or if you hike the Greenstone from Daisy Farm to 3-Mile. DF to 3-M is also my favorite part of the Rock Harbor shoreline hike.

Also, you have to watch out for the 1-night limit in Rock Harbor campground. You might hike to Daisy Farm, have the Voyager pick you up there and take you to Chippewa Harbor. Rock Harbor and 3-mile both have 1-night limits. I have had rangers come through the campground and mark my permit, presumably to uphold the 1-night limit. It all depends on how you can mesh the ferry schedules.

Mod Edit: posts merged.
19 RH-ML-TI-RH by kayak
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
09 RH-DF-MC-TH-HL-SD-WC
00 WC-IM-WC
96 WC-FL-SB-SD-HL-CE-3M-RH
94 RH-DF-MB-3M-RH
92 RH-DF-LR-CW-HL-SD-IM-WC

torpified
May actually live on IR
Posts: 327
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:06 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 4
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by torpified »

AFFIRMED! There's nothing feeble about having a good time. And you're going to!

You've got a lot of great itinerary ideas to chew on, so I'm going to change the subject to packing.

You'll enjoy the walking more if you don't carry more than you need to in order to relish the trip. One way to do that is to invest in a lot of expensive space age boutique gear. But that's not the only way! Cutting out things you don't need and won't use pares down pack weight fast. So a suggestion: if you've got a packing list you're willing to share here, the assembled multitudes might be able to come up with some low-to-no cost ways to lighten your loads.

Duffy Moon
LNT Expert
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:56 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 1
Location: Central Ohio

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by Duffy Moon »

torpified wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 8:33 am
AFFIRMED! There's nothing feeble about having a good time. And you're going to!

You've got a lot of great itinerary ideas to chew on, so I'm going to change the subject to packing.

You'll enjoy the walking more if you don't carry more than you need to in order to relish the trip. One way to do that is to invest in a lot of expensive space age boutique gear. But that's not the only way! Cutting out things you don't need and won't use pares down pack weight fast. So a suggestion: if you've got a packing list you're willing to share here, the assembled multitudes might be able to come up with some low-to-no cost ways to lighten your loads.
Thanks for the affirmation: it's what I'm seeking :wink:
I'll eventually compile and post a packing list, once I read through the other posts on the subject from first timers, and eliminate all the standard bone-head mistake items! No sense in humiliating myself even more before I have it pared down to something sensible. In my defense, I've already cut out the lawn darts and blue-tooth-enabled pith helmet. Still wavering on the ukulele (kidding - mostly).

One question that falls in multiple subject categories, but has to do with lightening one's load: I'm wondering about options for leaving a cache of food at Rock Harbor to be picked up at a later time. That would reduce the load considerably - note, I'll be on the island from Friday to the following Saturday. That's a lot of food to tote!

Thanks again for all your ideas above, everyone: still tweaking the itinerary based on your recommendations above. This site is such a terrific resource.

User avatar
IncaRoads
Forum Moderator
Posts: 281
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:52 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 12
Location: St. Paul, MN / Fernandina Beach, FL

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by IncaRoads »

The concession operation at Rock Harbor and Windigo do offer a service to store gear for a fee. The box of gear cannot contain stove fuel or food.

Duffy Moon
LNT Expert
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:56 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 1
Location: Central Ohio

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by Duffy Moon »

IncaRoads wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 10:04 am
The concession operation at Rock Harbor and Windigo do offer a service to store gear for a fee. The box of gear cannot contain stove fuel or food.
Thanks! Just found similar info on these forums; sounds like mail would be the only alternative, and that seems rather tricky.
Finding another way to lighten nine-plus days' worth of food will be a neat trick!
I suppose, with the RH store open at that time of year (August) we can resupply some food the old fashioned way: with cash.

A resupply (either by mail, cache, or cash!) will necessitate a return to RH, though, sometime during our nine days. So no matter how we arrange it, there'll be some backtracking. Unless we figure out how to cram more food than seems possible into our bulging packs on our aching backs.

torpified
May actually live on IR
Posts: 327
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:06 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 4
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by torpified »

Food is heavy, so a resupply scheme is worth considering. And it needn't entail backtracking, if your constraints permitted something like starting by taking the Voyageur to Chippewa Harbor, then working your way back to RH for 4-5 nights, followed by a 2-3 night victory lap in another direction, like RH-Lane Cove-RH.

Alas, the rules make it hard to resupply on models other than the cash one. The Rock Harbor Lodge won't store food and mailing yourself supplies requires meeting a boat that could deliver your goods 2-3 days before you wanted them to be there. The good news is that the cash model isn't implausible: the Rock Harbor store's no Costco, but it's got a decent supply of backpacking victuals.

About the rules: I can understand why the Rock Harbor Lodge doesn't want to be holding on to defenseless plastic bags of gorp. But if edibles were in rodent-proof containers---I'm thinking of the sort of plastic buckets that pass muster for other wilderness resupply operations--- would they have a principled reason to refuse to keep them?

Bobcat1
Trailblazer
Posts: 175
Joined: Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:01 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 7
Location: Athens, Ohio

Re: Feeble First-Timer, Seeking Affirmation

Post by Bobcat1 »

9 days of food is a long trip, but arranging a resupply is only one of your possible strategies to keep the weight manageable. Reduce other aspects of your load by trying some ultralight principles. Minimize food weight by buying freeze-dried or by dehydrating. Etc.
19 RH-ML-TI-RH by kayak
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
09 RH-DF-MC-TH-HL-SD-WC
00 WC-IM-WC
96 WC-FL-SB-SD-HL-CE-3M-RH
94 RH-DF-MB-3M-RH
92 RH-DF-LR-CW-HL-SD-IM-WC

Post Reply