The basics: a group of 4 of us from Indy will be on the island for 4 nights, 5/23-27. We are arriving to Rock Harbor via seaplane, which is scheduled to take off at 2pm. We will be leaving the island at 11am on 5/27. All 4 of us are very experienced backpackers (Midwest, Appalachia, CO, CA, WA, etc) and are fit. Ages 25-40. We are good with 10-12 miles/day, or more if need be.
Based on research my top 3 campsites are Moskey, Chippewa, and McCargoe. A 4th site is pretty flexible, with Lane, West Chickenbone, Angleworm (assuming we obtain a permit to camp here), and Daisy Farm as options. Basically, we're going to hang out on the NE end of the island, as it just makes the most sense logistically.
My dilemma is that the first day and last day are shorter with travel. My "ideal" itinerary is Moskey --> Chippewa --> McCargoe --> Lane/Angleworm/Daisy/etc. My worry is that by the time we arrive on the island by 3pm it might be too late for the ~11 mile hike to Moskey. Thus, my second thought is to flip the itinerary and start with a closer campsite, Lane/Daisy/etc --> McCargoe --> Chippewa --> Moskey. But then it doesn't leave much time to hike back to Rock Harbor on the last day from Moskey.
Basically, I am trying to figure out a trip that we can reasonably do that will include my top 3 sites. Is the hike from RH to Moskey that first day totally doable (assuming weather cooperates)? In theory I could also reschedule the pick up for the seaplane to later in the afternoon and my reverse itinerary would work better. Are there other option I'm not thinking about? Am I being too rigid with my top 3 sites?
Any advice or tips are very appreciated!
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The seaplane is susceptible to delays, so you may or may not take off at 2 pm. I wouldn't make plans that require a long march on the first nor last days.
Even experienced backpackers often find the island "rougher" than they expect. There are no mountain-like elevation changes, but there is constant up-and-down over ridges, through swamps, back over another ridge, on bare bedrock... it wears on you. If you're used to 10-12 miles per day, you might want to plan for 8 miles and do more only if you have to.
OK, enough of trying to scare you away from big days. My main advice is to cut Chippewa Harbor out of your plan. It's down a long dead-end, which makes it hard to work into a short itinerary like yours. You can visit it next time instead!
Here's a reasonable plan:
Day 1: Arrive and hike to Daisy Farm (8 easier miles) or Three Mile if you arrive late (3 miles).
Day 2: McCargoe Cove (8 moderate miles, or 12 if you ended up at Three Mile)
Day 3: Moskey (9 moderate miles)
Day 4: Three Mile (8 miles), or if you're feeling good, do Moskey to Three Mile by detouring up to the Greenstone at Daisy Farm (~10 miles). Enjoy Mt. Ojibway and Mt. Franklin. If you're not feeling great, you can ditch at Daisy Farm instead.
Day 5: Hike the rest of the way to Rock Harbor in the morning. Hike the Scoville Trail if you have time.
This doesn't give you much wiggle room in case of bad weather (either delaying your arrival, or just causing a day to be bad hiking weather), but it will get you to a bunch of very nice places, see the north and south sides of the island, see the Greenstone, and hit several favorite campsites.
In any case, you'll be back! You can take the Voyageur to Chippewa next time, and start your hike there.
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I plan for 2 miles an hour on the island. At that speed I can look around as I walk, much faster and you have to watch your feet too much. You will miss the beauty of the island and scare away the nature with the noise. There are very few trails where you can get a full stride on relatively even ground. A lot of the island is stagger steps and hops for rocks and roots. When I walk around town training I am just over 4 miles an hour, with a full pack.
I did McCargo off of the Ranger (on trail about 3:00) once when I was in my mid 20s and a solid runner/hiker. I got into McCargo after dark and completely drained. If you want to try that you should be on an early morning flight so you have all day.
I will often return to Rock harbor from Moskey. That trip takes me about five hours with a quick lunch and water filter break. The Rock Harbor trail is, in my opinion, the fastest trail on the island. If you skip Three Mile from dcclark's plan, (decide when you get to three Mile) you could have the morning of day 5 for Scoville, and a burger and a beer. You might even have time to day hike the Tobin trail, cross over at Suzy's cave and come back up the Rock Harbor trail.
If you are really late day one, get a burger and beer at Rock, camp there and leave at day break for McCargo. McCargo, Moskey, Rock. or McCargo, Daisy, Rock.
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I also have always planned the portion of the Greenstone from Chickenbone east to Ojibway and/or Franklin to my itinerary. Thanks for re-enforcement though.
I appreciate everyone's input!
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