May mud, mosquitos & trail conditions

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WMGreeter
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May mud, mosquitos & trail conditions

Post by WMGreeter »

Hey friends!

I plan to hike the GRT this year. I was thinking mid-May to avoid the crowds and (hopefully!) the start of mosquito season. My questions for you are:

1. How muddy is the trail in May? I don't mind some mud, but are we talking "sink up to your ankle and suck off your boot" mud?
2. I know it's different year to year, but when do the mosquitos typically become a nuisance? Should I be safe from roughly May 18-22?
3. What is the trail like? Is it fairly easy to follow, or do you rely solely on cairns/map and compass?
4. What are elevation gains and losses like? I'm an experienced backpacker so I'm not too concerned about the challenge, but it would be nice to see an elevation profile for the GRT.

Also, here's a gear list if anyone's interested! :) https://lighterpack.com/r/wlc6sg

Thanks in advance!

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dcclark
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Re: May mud, mosquitos & trail conditions

Post by dcclark »

Welcome to the forums! You'll love the island.

Something very important to know: mid-May is early spring on the island. Expect there to still be snow and even ice in shaded areas and on the north sides of ridges, unless spring is unusually mild or early. Up on the ridge, there will be more exposure to sun (so less snow) but also more exposure to weather. Be prepared for freezing nights and rainy, even snowy days!

1. Muddiness depends a lot on how spring has progressed. Most of the east end of the trail runs very close to the bedrock. You will definitely find a few muddy places, but those will only be where the ridge runs lowest. I've only ever seen "boot sucking" mud along a few trails near the lake, not the Greenstone.

2. No worry about mosquitoes in mid May. See my comment about this being early spring. You usually won't have mosquito trouble until mid June.

3. I've never had trouble following the Greenstone. It is rarely on totally bare rock -- most often it's a compacted line of dirt or rock running through grass, brush, and (near the west end especially) through a tunnel of trees. There are more cairns than necessary. (Compare the Minong ridge, where people really miss the trail regularly -- this is nothing like that.)

4. HikingProject has an elevation profile: https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/700 ... idge-trail

Getting onto and off of the ridge involves 400-ish feet of elevation change and can be quite steep. But even when you're following the ridge, expect nearly constant small ups-and-downs. It can really wear on you if you're not used to it.

WMGreeter
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Re: May mud, mosquitos & trail conditions

Post by WMGreeter »

Thank you so much for your response and input dcclark!! :) The link you shared is incredibly helpful.

This may be overkill - but would you recommend micro spikes in early-to-mid May?

johnhens
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Re: May mud, mosquitos & trail conditions

Post by johnhens »

You don't need microspikes. As far as trails, depends on spring, there may be snow patches in shaded spots depending on how cool spring is. Trail will be muddy, how muddy depends on how much rain occurs and how frequent the sun is out. Good thing about that time of year is generally not a lot of leafout has occurred. Mosquitoes could be bad if spring comes early, generally worse in land where it is warmer.

WMGreeter
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Re: May mud, mosquitos & trail conditions

Post by WMGreeter »

Thanks for your input, John! I’ll keep an eye on the weather to see how the winter/spring shakes out. I can handle a lot, but nothing drains my morale like a swarm of mosquitoes haha

Bobcat1
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Re: May mud, mosquitos & trail conditions

Post by Bobcat1 »

As far as mosquitoes, a headnet is part of my gear anytime I go to Isle Royale regardless of season. A half ounce that might save your sanity!
Last edited by Bobcat1 on Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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

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hooky
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Re: May mud, mosquitos & trail conditions

Post by hooky »

I second the headnet suggestion. It's always in my pack. 99 cents and a half ounce of additional weight.

WMGreeter
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Re: May mud, mosquitos & trail conditions

Post by WMGreeter »

Yes! Thank you for the reminder! I always have one in my hip belt pocket but forgot to add it to the gear list. It’s a life saver for sure.

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