Canoe Trip Itinerary Review & Advice

Questions about water transportation and fishing on the island.

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xabas
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Canoe Trip Itinerary Review & Advice

Post by xabas » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:42 am

Hello all,
This year will be my 6th annual visit to Isle Royale, but my first attempt at paddling instead of backpacking. A group of 3 friends and myself (mid-20's, in good physical shape) are planning on a 9-day canoe trip in late-August this year. Point of information: none of the guys in our group have had extensive paddling experience. I am confident that our group will make the right decisions when it comes to gear (i.e. a VHF radio), but I was hoping we could get some advice on our initial route plan and given our lack of paddling experience, would we be attempting something foolish? Let me know what some of you veterans think:

- Day 1: Ride Queen from Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor. Water taxi from Rock Harbor to Mott Island. Paddle from Mott Island to Caribou Island. Stay at Caribou Island.
- Day 2: Paddle/portage from Caribou Island to Lake Richie via Moskey Basin. Stay at Lake Richie
- Day 3: Paddle/portage from Lake Richie to McCargoe Cove. Stay at McCargoe Cove.
- Day 4: Paddle from McCargoe Cove to Pickerel Cove, weather permitting. Stay at Pickerel Cove. (Birch Island back-up in case the lake gets rough)
- Day 5: Paddle from Pickerel Cove to Belle Isle. Stay at Belle Isle.
- Day 6: Paddle/portage from Belle Isle to Duncan Bay. Stay at Duncan Bay.
- Day 7: Paddle/portage from Duncan Bay to Rock Harbor via Tobin.
- Day 8: Weather contingency
- Day 9: Weather contingency


If we get to Duncan Bay without expending any of our contingency days, we will likely spend one of those days to check out Lookout Louise. Alternatively, if we get to Rock Harbor without spending any contingency days, we could check out Scoville Point or Merritt Lane. If you have any recommendations on places we should check out on our way through the route, please let me know! I am not very familiar with the Belle Harbor/Five Finer Area.

Also, it would be great if others could estimate some of the expected time lengths for each leg of the journey (assuming just a straight shot, no detours), from personal experience.

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Ingo
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Re: Canoe Trip Itinerary Review & Advice

Post by Ingo » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:28 pm

Foolish is in making decisions that put you beyond your abilities. I like the fact that you have 2 extra days built in; so long as you are smart and patient you should be ok. Most people get into trouble because they let a schedule, or their impatience, override their better judgement. The odds of getting a week long blow that time of year is pretty low. Often winds are calmest in the morning, so try to travel as early as possible.

- Day 1: Ride Queen from Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor. Water taxi from Rock Harbor to Mott Island. Paddle from Mott Island to Caribou Island. Stay at Caribou Island.
Not sure I understand the reasoning for the water taxi. I'd suggest (a) taking it right to Caribou, (b) taking the Ranger instead and just get off at Mott, or (c) just paddle to Caribou. There's plenty to explore around Caribou and option (a) would give you the most time.

- Day 2: Paddle/portage from Caribou Island to Lake Richie via Moskey Basin. Stay at Lake Richie
Yup, after that portage you won't want to go anywhere else. Get an early start, the portage will get hot. Stay at the canoe campground. Be careful going across to the lighthouse, as you can get washing machine like conditions with waves coming down R.H. and waves/currents from another direction through that passage. Heading across towards Daisy Farm can sometimes help. And sometimes it's flat calm.

- Day 3: Paddle/portage from Lake Richie to McCargoe Cove. Stay at McCargoe Cove.
It's a good day with the most loading/unloading. About 6.5 hrs for some out of shape 40 somethings some years back.

- Day 4: Paddle from McCargoe Cove to Pickerel Cove, weather permitting. Stay at Pickerel Cove. (Birch Island back-up in case the lake gets rough)
This is a short day, but your most dangerous stretch. Be prepared to wait out the lake, even if for more than 2 days. You can get from Pickeral to R.H. in a day if you had to.

- Day 5: Paddle from Pickerel Cove to Belle Isle. Stay at Belle Isle.
Beautiful paddle! Especially with a breeze on your back (happy memories of that :) ). A lazy 1.5 hrs with favorable winds. If you haven't used your weather days, I'd use one at Belle Isle. Get up for the sunrise.

- Day 6: Paddle/portage from Belle Isle to Duncan Bay. Stay at Duncan Bay.
Belle Harbor is usually OK, but can be rough in a NE wind, so be alert. 2 short portages--2.5 lazy hrs in good weather. I like Duncan Narrows campground better, but it can be cozy if there are boats at the dock since everything's pretty close. Either one is great.

- Day 7: Paddle/portage from Duncan Bay to Rock Harbor via Tobin.
After Moskey to Richie, I don't consider this portage so bad! But it is a good climb up with a couple switchbacks at the top. Good place to rest at the junction with the Greenstone trail. The portage took about 2 hrs last time with my daughter (making 2 trips and lunch). But something like 3 hrs years back with the family of 4. It ain't fun, but you get there!


Topic author
xabas
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Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:19 pm
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Re: Canoe Trip Itinerary Review & Advice

Post by xabas » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:27 pm

Ingo wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:28 pm
Foolish is in making decisions that put you beyond your abilities. I like the fact that you have 2 extra days built in; so long as you are smart and patient you should be ok. Most people get into trouble because they let a schedule, or their impatience, override their better judgement. The odds of getting a week long blow that time of year is pretty low. Often winds are calmest in the morning, so try to travel as early as possible.
Advice heeded. With our itinerary, we are purposefully not in any rush.
Ingo wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:28 pm
- Day 1: Ride Queen from Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor. Water taxi from Rock Harbor to Mott Island. Paddle from Mott Island to Caribou Island. Stay at Caribou Island.
Not sure I understand the reasoning for the water taxi. I'd suggest (a) taking it right to Caribou, (b) taking the Ranger instead and just get off at Mott, or (c) just paddle to Caribou. There's plenty to explore around Caribou and option (a) would give you the most time.
Fair point, the original intent was to plan for the possibility that we might not make it from Rock Harbor to Caribou in the same day we unload from the Queen. The drop off at Mott Island would give us a chance to practice and get warmed up before the big Day 2.
Ingo wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:28 pm
- Day 2: Paddle/portage from Caribou Island to Lake Richie via Moskey Basin. Stay at Lake Richie
Yup, after that portage you won't want to go anywhere else. Get an early start, the portage will get hot. Stay at the canoe campground. Be careful going across to the lighthouse, as you can get washing machine like conditions with waves coming down R.H. and waves/currents from another direction through that passage. Heading across towards Daisy Farm can sometimes help. And sometimes it's flat calm.
Yeah, this portage looks like a lot of "fun" :) . Over the past few years I have run into quite a few groups of paddlers making this portage, even helped a guy out one year.
Ingo wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:28 pm
- Day 4: Paddle from McCargoe Cove to Pickerel Cove, weather permitting. Stay at Pickerel Cove. (Birch Island back-up in case the lake gets rough)
This is a short day, but your most dangerous stretch. Be prepared to wait out the lake, even if for more than 2 days. You can get from Pickeral to R.H. in a day if you had to.
Yes, a short but dangerous day. If the weather holds up, we will likely explore the area along the way to Pickerel.
Ingo wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:28 pm
- Day 5: Paddle from Pickerel Cove to Belle Isle. Stay at Belle Isle.
Beautiful paddle! Especially with a breeze on your back (happy memories of that :) ). A lazy 1.5 hrs with favorable winds. If you haven't used your weather days, I'd use one at Belle Isle. Get up for the sunrise.
I am looking forward to this paddle the most. Is it possible and safe (in favorable conditions) to cross the Amygdaloid Channel to explore Crystal Cove? I feel like the lake's conditions can turn on a dime on that area of the island, so we will have to calculate the risk if doing so.
Ingo wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:28 pm
- Day 6: Paddle/portage from Belle Isle to Duncan Bay. Stay at Duncan Bay.
Belle Harbor is usually OK, but can be rough in a NE wind, so be alert. 2 short portages--2.5 lazy hrs in good weather. I like Duncan Narrows campground better, but it can be cozy if there are boats at the dock since everything's pretty close. Either one is great.
We will consider Duncan Narrows. Is there any incentive to paddle up into Five Finger Bay beyond the portage trail to Duncan Bay? Is the North-West area of Five Finger Bay any interesting to paddle up into?

If we still have a day of slack after staying at Duncan Bay, it looks like it might be interesting to paddle out to Locke Point. Worth it (in favorable conditions)?

Thank you for your response!!!!!

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