TR 9/3-9/11/2018 Paddling McCargoe - Belle Isle - Duncan - RH - Daisy

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TR 9/3-9/11/2018 Paddling McCargoe - Belle Isle - Duncan - RH - Daisy

Post by Ingo » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:37 am

Canoe trip with brother Brad. A few years ago I decided I wanted to do a trip with each of my 4 brothers alone. This is the second.

Fri, 8/31 NC to Bloomington, IL, 755 miles, ~12.5 hrs
Sat, 9/1 Bloomington, IL to Duluth, MN, 520 miles, ~8 hrs

Sun, 9/2
Final provisioning at grocery store in Duluth for sandwich rounds, tortillas, cheese, and sausage.
Head up north shore. Stopped in Grand Marais at Blue Water Café, meh.
Checked into GP Lodge, then drove up to the border and hiked the falls and a mile or two up the trail to Middle Falls. Turned around at the top. Dinner at the lodge was very (very) slow, as typical, although they did warn us.

Mon, 9/3
Breakfast at the gas station. At boat by 6:45, already a crowd there and then a group on a Sierra Club trip showed up behind us.
Pretty calm trip out and clear as a bell. Talked with Margaret, a retired lady who was solo with her canoe and using the Voyageur II to shuttle around the island. She and her husband had paddled I.R. many times together and now she was going by herself.

A moose swam right in front of the boat by the America wreck going into Windigo. Capt Ben slowed down for the photo op. After registering in Windigo, a fox ran in front of us, just outside the door of the visitor center--only one for the trip. On the way out of the harbor, Capt Ben stopped and put the bow of the Voyageur II right over the bow of the America, 5 ft below—said because everyone got back on the boat on time.

1:10 Off at McCargoe. Weather is good, so paddle to Pickerel. Not flat, with swells on the lake, but an easy 1:20 paddle.
Pickerel is a nice open tent site on a rock overlooking the cove. There’s a 2nd tent site in the trees on the Herring Bay side, but it doesn’t appear to be used much. The official portage is a little bit down the shore, but doesn’t have a great takeout/put in--looks like most just cross at the campground. The portage location on the map is not accurate, showing it too far from the campground.

Brad hung his hammock up top on the rocks. Beautiful sunset and calm evening. Forecast, however, called for rain moving in so Brad decided to tent it. Got some wind and a little flapping overnight, but rain held off.

Tues, 9/4
Windy, cloudy, and cool morning. Paddled up Pickerel Cove into the breeze from the NE, a little annoying, but not too bad. Belle Harbor had some white caps when it opened up, however. Headed across mouth of Robinson Bay and hit the small gap between two islands (unnamed on map), hoping it was deep enough because the wind and waves pushed us hard to/through it. No problem with the current water level—but would not have done that in that wind if I had not known the water level was up. Paddled to the Keyhole and stuck our nose into Amygdaloid Channel—didn’t look too bad, but stayed inside on Belle Harbor, not knowing what things were like around the other end.

~2 hrs from Pickerel to Belle Isle CG, taking our time. Took shelter 5, since #1 (prime) and #6 (second) were taken by kayakers—didn’t make an issue of them using two. A brother, 2 sisters, and a girlfriend—nice kids. Enjoyed the fire they had going and chatted with them a bit. Later four 50 something guys paddled up in rental canoes, we had seen them on the water taxi yesterday going into McCargoe.

Wind calmed in afternoon so paddled over to Crystal Cove in on and off light rain. First time I’ve gotten out there.

Wed, 9/5
Some rain overnight, but clear skies by afternoon. Moderate winds from NW. Other parties left for Duncan Bay, so we decided to stay, moving over to prime shelter #1. Paddled to Johnson Island in afternoon and checked out the camp—kinda windy and waves when we got out in the harbor, so paddled upwind, surfed back (now SW, funneling down the bay), and called it a lazy day. Also bushwacked the point of Belle Isle a little—deadfall makes it tough getting around.

Crazy aggressive squirrel joined us for supper—all over the table, under our arms, up Brad’s leg, on the screen, etc. Pooped on my map…

Sky cleared completely by evening. Layed on the point and watched stars, Milky Way, satellites, planes, etc. after sunset. A hint of northern lights, just enough to tease. Brad hammocks in the picnic shelter.

Thur, 9/6
Up ~5:45 for sunrise on the point. Still calm and no clouds. ~50 degs.

Decide to pack up, paddle to Lane Cove, and hike up Mt Franklin. Landed at #2 and met a couple from Cheboygan who were packing up. Said something that made them recognize me from the forums. Had backpacked IR before, but doing their first canoe trip. I thought we planned to camp at Lane, Brad thought we were going to Duncan Narrows. So we didn't claim the site and decided to decide after the hike.

The hike up to Mt Franklin was harder than expected for both of us--age and (lack of) fitness shows. Lots of beaver activity and one small detour through the brush. Should be interesting next spring, as they were building across a boardwalk in one spot. Once up to the top, had the clearest view I think I’ve ever had from the top of the ridge—could see all the way into Thunder Bay. Met some kayakers on Mt Franklin who had tried Blake Pt a day or 2 before and one got dumped. Said it went for 0 to 6’ instantly, from the Merritt Lane side. Said they renamed it “Mistake Point.”

Back at Lane we decide/agree to move on because it’s filling up, and the wind is onshore, breezy and cool. Brad double portages into Duncan with pack and canoe to prove he can still do it. Wind is funneling SW to NE down the bays so easy paddling. Head to Duncan Bay CG and find it empty. I had forgotten how nice a spot it is, not having been there since my first trip back with the family in 2001.

Paddle up the creek at least ½ mile—keeps going on and on when it looks like the channel is going to disappear—could have gone further. Pretty cool.
Supper and in bed before sundown (7:30ish)—long day for us (physically), and we’re pretty spent.

Fri, 9/7
Didn’t get up til 6ish. 10+ hrs in the sack! Weather say 12 kts currently at Passage Island and forecast 10-15, so Blake Pt is a no-go. Decide to hang out here and portage tomorrow. Good NE breeze down the bay, but not a cloud in sight. John’s up 2 games in cribbage after the morning rounds, although Brad evens it up with a skunk (we counted as 2 wins) in the afternoon. Eventually decide to paddle to the narrows into the wind and float back. Narrows was full with a boat and kayakers. The kayakers (experienced) had tried Blake Pt earlier but turned back, giving confirmation to our decision. Wind switched 180 degs for our paddle back—not strong by annoying as hell!
Read after supper.

Sat, 9/8
Paddle into wind up to Duncan/Tobin portage.
8:40 Got to portage
8:53 START
9:07 Top, 1st trip up
9:40 Top, 2nd trip up
9:50 Start down to Tobin
10:11 Tobin, 1st trip down
10:53 Tobin, 2nd trip down, END
Brad took both packs across, so I had easy 2nd trips with just the day packs.

Paddle across to Tobin dock and leave the canoe along the trail in case we want to go out. Wind is blowing good from the SE quadrant so don’t figure we’d go out in RH. Once again wish there was a more convenient spot for personal boats on the Tobin side. Only a couple shelters open in the RH CG, took the end one before trail to tent sites. Had a soda and ice cream bar. Tried not to bore Brad too much with my reminiscing.

Hiked to Scoville Pt. Saw a moose coming back on the Tobin side, at the cut-off trail. Heard her in the water, then she came up and crossed the trail about 50 ft in front of us. Amazing how quietly she came up the hill through the woods, as we thought she was still by the water. Pizza and beer for supper. They were out of KBC amber, so had the black. Got 2 pizzas, but one would have been enough, even though only 12”.

Sun, 9/9
Decide to stay at R.H. instead of heading up the harbor because wind is blowing out of SW. Same forecast for tomorrow, but hoping it’s wrong or changes. In hindsight, it would have been an easier paddle today, at least in the afternoon.

Read on the dock in the morning. Hike to Suzy’s Cave after lunch. Showered. More cribbage. Ate trail food today, although we did get a another soda. Passed a couple guys in the evening who had drunk the restaurant out of KBC black--only blond left now.

Mon, 9/10
Forecast 10-20 from the SW. About right, although mostly S, not that that mattered much.
8:35 Leave R.H. Arrive Daisy Farm 2:25. 7 miles in 6 hrs, net.
In general, broadside swells coming through the gaps, windblown whitecaps on our nose--just messy overall.

Good swells as we left Snug Harbor, headed out and around Center Island, then back toward shore when they calmed a little. First stop behind little islet next to shore, almost to Susy’s Cave. Paddled through some breakers as we left its protection. Decided to head across the harbor and hope for some lee behind the islands, as the wind seemed to be more S than W. Mostly 1-2 ft swells going across the Tookers gap, with a couple of 3s. Angled across gap the best we could.

Second stop at Davidson Island dock. Wanted to go up Lorelei Lane, but worried about getting out the other end. Looked to be a good decision when we got there. Got some relief paddling close to shore along the islands up to Caribou, although wind was still strong.

Stopped at Cemetery Island and checked out the cemetery. The “dock” is a single board attached to the rocks and is overgrown with brush. Found some old scat that appeared to be too big for fox, so wondered if wolf, but not sure.

Stopped at Caribou Island, and checked out Middle Island Passage from the beach—rock’n and roll’n pretty good. Not huge waves, but just a mess of them. Wanted to stay and paddle to Daisy Farm in the morning for the boat, but decide we better move on. Consider what the best strategy for getting to Daisy is.

Decide to angle straight towards Daisy and not across to Edison Fishery. However, the conditions dictated we (try to) keep our nose toward the lighthouse, so we did and sort of ferried across. Just a washing machine mess with waves and swells and currents from every direction. Bow was constantly getting pushed around 30-40 degs and it took everything we had to maintain orientation and keep moving. Didn’t take any water over the gunnels, but the spray left some in the bottom of the canoe. A couple boats passed by and made sure we were OK—gave them the quickest thumbs up, and kept paddling. The sort of conditions where missing a stroke could lead to trouble quickly.

Stopped at Edison and walked to the lighthouse. The MV Sandy was supposed to go to Passage Island, but came here instead, due to the weather. We dreaded the last paddle, although we were past the gap, there were solid whitecaps coming out of Moskey Basin. The resident couple at Edison said they’d keep on eye on us going across, but we weren’t worried about the water, just our arms at that point. However, once we got going it didn’t seem too bad, and we both said we never thought we’d say it was easy paddling into whitecaps, proving everything is relative! At least it was coming from only one direction for the first time today.

Daisy’s pretty full and end up in shelter 14, the last one on the shore. Big power catamaran (50’ ish) ties up at the dock.

Tues, 9/11
Up for the sunrise, oatmeal, pack up and catch the Voyageur II by 8:30. Margaret (solo paddler) gets on at Chippewa Harbor, and then back off at Windigo for her last couple of days. Nice pass-by of Menagerie Island and lighthouse, since we didn’t stop at Malone. A little rock’n on the trip back from the left over swells hitting us broadside. Leaving Windigo I give Brad the chance to even up on cribbage, but he wants to nap. So I finish +1 for the trip.

Someone on the boat mentions a hurricane heading for NC. I send Sherri the last “Leaving the island” check-in and she texts me back saying “Call when you have service.” Great. Doesn’t sound good when we talk, but she doesn’t want me driving into it, so decide to stay in Duluth as planned.
Eat at the Java Moose in Grand Marais, excellent sandwiches. Back to Duluth in evening.

Weds - Thurs: Visit family in MN and WI.
Fri - Sat: Drive home with no issues, just windy and rainy for the last part. Florence went south of us, house and property are fine, although had some area road flooding Monday. Still bad east and south of us, thinking of those folks.

Summary Notes:
- Temps 50-70 all week on the island. Except for Tues, sunny every day, hardly a cloud in the sky.
- Lots of loons, mergansers everywhere.
- Planes were annoying. The seaplanes seemed to be flying constantly--we saw three at Windigo at the same time, and heard them consistently throughout the trip. Also other prop planes and high up jets with their contrails to ruin sunset/sunrise pics.
- Visitation does not seems to be down after Labor Day anymore. Boat was full both there and back, McCargoe, Duncan Narrows, Rock Harbor, and Daisy Farm all had full campgrounds (shelters, at least). Plenty of lodge guests.
- Ate maybe ½ the trail mix, otherwise good on food.
- InReach Mini worked well. I checked in daily and set tracking at 60 min intervals when we were traveling, otherwise turned it off. Usually remembered to turn it on when moving, except for day hikes at RH. Battery at 37% at end of trip. A little frustrating that it doesn’t explicitly say if messages go through, so left wondering until we got back. Was unable to get marine forecasts, although there’s an option for it.
- Didn’t use backup battery.
- Didn’t use the SJCam. Too much of a bother in the canoe.
- Didn’t use iPhone, since I didn’t use the SJCam and didn’t need it for texting on the InReach. ATT has service in Grand Portage, Verizon does not.
- 2880 total miles for the trip. 19-20 mpg with canoe on the truck.
- The windage from the canoe on the truck can be annoying. Can’t use cruise without actively shifting, even in Indiana and Illinois. Need a V6.
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 13: RH-PI, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF

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Re: TR 9/3-9/11/2018 Paddling McCargoe - Belle Isle - Duncan - RH - Daisy

Post by philranger » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:38 pm

Awesome report. That trail from Lane Cove to Mt Franklin goes on forever.

Hope all is well in NC.
Isle Royale Trips: 2005-RH to Windigo via Greenstone. 2006-McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2007-RH to Daisy Farm and back. 2008-Feltmann loop. 2009-McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2013-Minong Ridge. 2014-Windigo + Huginnin Cove. 2015-Lookout Louise to LC to DF to MB. 2018-McCargoe to Todd to HL to Malone Bay.

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