We decided to take the seaplane, knowing that delays and cancellations can happen. We woke up Sunday morning to fog at our B&B we stayed in Baraga. We assumed there'd be a delay...there was. Our flight was the 8am. Around 10am we were told to load up...there was still fog in RH, it looked like it was lifting on the webcams but was still iffy. 35 minutes later our pilot was trying to find a way under the fog to land. No dice. We turned around and headed back to Houghton. Landed back at the base. Jon, the owner was in the office...the next two flights after ours were two flights of one group that had to stay together and had to get to RH from my understanding. He mentioned that Windigo was completely clear if we wanted to land there and get picked up in RH at our planned time on Friday or two hours later in Windigo. In about two minutes I changed our plan and we decided to go Windigo to RH and hopped back on the plane. I was thankful for all the time I spent reading here and elsewhere that I could make some decisions confidently although my knowledge of the East side of the island was lacking.
I knew that Island Mine wasn't a favorite campground at all so we decided to push through to Desor South on our first day with full packs and put in some bigger mile days the first two days so we could hit the campgrounds we really were looking forward to staying at (MCC and MB). I entertained the Minong Ridge option but because we were getting a late start in the day (started at 2pm) I didn't want to try to push it on a slower trail and bit longer of a hike to Desor N. And the Feldtman (sp?) loop was out because of the extra mileage. We hopped of the plane, got our permit and fuel and hit the trail at 2...the trail was clear, not all that exciting, but easy for a longer first day. Arrived at Desor S at 6:30 without seeing anyone else on the trail, but four parties at the campground.
I slept GREAT that night (much better than I do at home...I can't wait until my new mattress arrives next week!) and we got a later start that we usually do...I think around 9:00. The hike to Todd Harbor was fun and I liked it more than the GRT to DS From Desor S to TH was not cleared (we were told the middle of the island hadn't been yet)...in fact the next two days we encountered LOTS of downed trees to go over/under/around...but it was fun. When we arrived at Todd (not originally on our itinerary) we were so glad that it landed there. It was our second favorite place we stayed (only second to MB by a hair!). We arrived at 1/1:30 - the shelter was already taken. No biggie, we pitched our tent in the site in the trees closest to the water. We had fun scrambling over the rocks following the shore from the mine pit until we hit the waterfall from the river we had crossed earlier. We used to rock climb a lot and so it was fun to play on the rocks. It was beautifully sunny and perfect. We at our dinner on a log on the rocky coast. Had a campfire with some others in the camp (the single guy in the shelter and four friends from one of the tent sites) and enjoyed a GORGEOUS sunset.
We woke up and hit the trail around 7:30 I think and were glad for the short hike to MCC. Arrived somewhere in the 10:30am range before a few people had even left MCC for the morning. We grabbed a shelter, set up camp and then grabbed some snacks and water to hike back to the Minong Mine to explore. Hubby wore flip flops and me my "camp shoes" - Sanuk hemp slip ons. It was HOT esp on the poor rock piles (but ice in the mine shafts!) and we both got a little sunburned. After hanging out a bit we headed back to camp. Afternoon I was super tired. I was hungry earlier than usual (I blame the longer than planned first days for sure)...but with a bit of encouragement, we decided to jump in the water for a very short swim! Jump in, run out, repeat x4. By the 4th time the water wasn't so bad It felt so good on tired muscles! Apparently a week or so before we were there, a dead moose was floating near the dock. I wouldn't have jumped in had he still been there! After drying off we got ready for dinner and as we were filtering water we spotted a moose on the opposite shore...our only moose of the trip. But I didn't realize how prolific beavers are...saw so many of those things! Had another campfire that evening with a few others.
Morning three we woke and hit the trail at 7:45 to Moskey Basin. We arrived at 11. We are pretty fast hikers and there were two women at MCC going to MB that left just before us - they got the last shelter at MB at 12:15. The day before the last one filled at 4pm we head from another couple. Another perfectly sunny day. Some mosquitoes on the trail from MCC to WCB and the first half from WCB to Lake Ritchie. We were able to use a homemade essential oil bug spray to keep them at bay so we didn't feel gunked up with commercial bug dope.We did stop for a bit by LR because it was beautiful. Hubby also fell off a boardwalk while "rubbernecking" - thankfully the waterproof boots (that he complained a bit about buying) kept him dry! We jumped in the water at MB too. Our favorite place to stay (by a hair)...we had shelter 4.
Morning four we were on the trail by 6:45 only because we woke at 5 after going to bed early. We caught a beautiful sunrise! We headed out to 3M. It was warm when we left - I hike most often in shorts and a tank. At DF it got cool as we got by the water so I grabbed a long sleeve. It began to mist/lightly sprinkle as we left DF for 3M. We didn't want to wear full rain gear for such light precipitation so since we always keep a spare cheap poncho in our packs too we threw those on to keep us from that dampness that can hang on. Arrived at 3M by 10 and grabbed a shelter. It was cold with the wind. We decided to grab water/snacks and hike to Mt Franklin. It got warm on the hike and it was beautiful up top! Stayed there for a while. Headed back to the shelter and bummed around a bit. Got a little bored and decided to hike to Suzy's cave and take the Tobin Harbor trail back. Ended up hiking about 16 miles total that day...half with our packs. It definitely warmed up in the afternoon as the wind stopped. I was glad for our tarp that night tho that we hung up for extra warmth and slept well.
In the morning we made it to RH by 9 and had kayak paddles in hand by 9:10. Spend a good 3 or so hours paddling Tobin Harbor and quick run up to Lookout Louise (which was a bit of a let down, I'd add)...paddling was way more fun. Came back, had lunch at the grill, walked around RH and caught our 3pm plane back.
TL;DR: It was super fun, PERFECT weather. Had fun making a total itinerary change in about two minutes. Glad we did so we could stay at TH. Not many bugs...just in a few places...mainly the wetter areas. More people than I expected for early June. Can't imagine what peak season is like...so glad we didn't go then. I think we hit a unicorn week...either that or early June is the best kept secret of the island. Thanks for all your help!
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