TR: 9/7/18-9/21/18 [RH-DF-MB-MC-TH-LTH-ND-WC-RH]

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Tortuga
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TR: 9/7/18-9/21/18 [RH-DF-MB-MC-TH-LTH-ND-WC-RH]

Post by Tortuga » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:21 pm

Hey there IR Compadres,

I live by an old saying: better late than never. And so here’s my trip report, from my excursion that commenced almost 6 months ago to the day! This trip really demonstrated so many of the island axioms; most importantly, hike your own hike, and be flexible with your plans. It was overall a truly amazing trip, and I have so many fond memories to share.

First, the weather. I was totally unsure of what to expect with a September trip. I’ve read so many stories about rainstorms and even snow, that I I thought I was truly prepared for anything. But I definitely wasn’t expecting the 10 days of nearly perfect weather I experienced. During this trip, it only rained twice: once on the second day, and once on the last day. Temperatures were amazing for the most part, with truly comfortable nights, and in some cases scorching hot (mid-80’s) days on the Mining. I was not expecting that heat.

Next, the itinerary. I had originally planned a 15-day trip from September 7-21, taking the final Queen back to the mainland. Being the dumbass I am, I didn’t do any supply drops, which meant I was carrying 2 weeks worth of food (about 20lbs) out of the gate. Good news is I’d lost over 40lbs since my last island sojourn, so I had some weight to play with. But it still wasn’t fun.

Here was my original Itinerary:
1 7-Sep ROCK HARBOR DAISY FARM
2 8-Sep DAISY FARM LAKE RITCHIE
3 9-Sep LAKE RITCHIE MCCARGOE COVE
3 10-Sep MCCARGOE COVE TODD HARBOR
5 11-Sep TODD HARBOR LITTLE TODD
6 12-Sep LITTLE TODD NORTH DESOR
7 13-Sep NORTH DESOR HUGGININ COVE
8 14-Sep HUGGININ COVE WASHINGTON CREEK
9 15-Sep WASHINGTON CREEK SOUTH DESOR
10 16-Sep SOUTH DESOR HATCHET LAKE
11 17-Sep HATCHET LAKE WEST CHICKENBONE
12 18-Sep WEST CHICKENBONE MOSKEY BASIN
13 19-Sep MOSKEY BASIN LANE COVE
14 20-Sep LANE COVE 3 MILE
15 21-Sep 3 MILE ROCK HARBOR

I kept up with it for exactly 1 day. Here’s my story.

9/6/18: Started early in the AM driving from Chicago to Copper Harbor. Stayed at the Bella Vista motel, where I’ve stayed either before or after each of my previous trips to the Island. I can’t recommend it enough. This year I splurged on a cottage, but I’ve always been happy with their accommodations. Great place to rest up at the start or end of a trip.

9/7/18: Copper Harbor-Rock Harbor-Daisy Farm: As mentioned earlier, this was the only day I kept my itinerary. Woke up early and had some coffee and a thimbleberry donut at Jamisen’s Fish Market on the dock. Beautiful sunrise was shared by all who were early for the boat. After we boarded and made the trip across Big Blue, we disembarked for our “Leave No Trace” talk. There were a surprising number of day-trippers on the boat. After LNT and permitting, I took off down the Tobin Harbor Trail toward 3-Mile, then kicked West toward Daisy Farm. All who stayed at Daisy Farm camp were treated to an off-cycle visit from the Petersons, who paddled over for a presentation on the wolves and moose. I feel blessed to have had that experience, even if it did end with a song. I wasn’t expecting the island to be busy after Labor Day, but every shelter and several tent sites were full.

9/8/18: Daisy Farm-Moskey Basin: Moskey remains my favorite camp on the island, and I just couldn’t bring myself to skip by for a stay at Ritchie. I’m a creature of habit, and it is always a great spot to go. This was the only spot on the trip where a ranger checked my papers. Once again, all shelters and all tent sites were filled.

9/9/18: Moskey-McCargoe: Woke up early to catch sunrise over the glass-still basin. Then hit the trail, breaking spider webs and getting chattered at by squirrels. Walked through Lake Ritchie, most of the campsites full. Between that campground and the Greenstone, walked past a cow and her calf grazing just a few feet from the trail. She kept her eyes on me but seemed totally unconcerned. After a few minutes I moved on toward McCargoe. This was another completely full campground. And one where “leave no trace” was of no concern to someone, who decided to leave a massive pile of shit on the toilet seat, on the floor, etc.

9/10/18: McCargoe-Todd Harbor: I’m an early riser. Beat the heat, see a sunrise, get dibs on campsites at the next stop. I’d traveled all the trails I’d been on up to this point, so my first steps on the Minong Ridge Trail were truly exciting. In most cases, the trail was pretty easy to follow. Lots of ups and downs, and unseasonably hot Ridgeline. It was easily in the upper 70’s and possibly mid-80’s at some points on the bald rock. The fact that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to block the sun didn’t help with the heat, but it did make for amazing views. I crossed paths with another forum member. Todd Harbor is an amazing campground. I chose not to take the single shelter and unpack my tent for the first time in the trip. What I can say is the group sites are arguably the best, especially the one facing out on the point. Again, this campground was completely full (some room in group sites).

9/11/18: Todd Harbor-Little Todd Harbor: Short but tough hike to the next camp along the Minong Ridge. I expected the folks at Todd Harbor to end up at Little Todd, but most of them hit the Greenstone instead. This section was isolated and wonderful. I got into Little Todd as the previous and only tenants were packing up to leave. I spent the next couple hours relaxing on the rock beach, fighting off the sand flies and dipping my feet into the cold surf. Another hiker joined, but she had bigger stones than I did and swam in the lake for a good 30 minutes. We chatted around the fire pit for a while and shared the usual “how’s the next section” (we were going opposite directions) and “what’s the next camp like?” A couple guys came in pretty late in the day, but the four of us had all the camp to ourselves.

9/12/18: Little Todd-North Desor: Holy Jesus Christ. This was a really rough part of the trail. It took me over 5 hours to make the 6 mile trip and I worked my ass off to get there. The walk into camp from the trail is long and winding with lots of tree fall. Lots of ridge walking, lots of climbing up and down. I didn’t pass a single person going toward Little Todd, and when I got to Desor I spent several hours alone, gazing into the lake and fighting off the giant toilet spiders. Yes, there were enormous wolf spiders who called the privy home. I definitely saw a fish near the shoreline, which surprised me because I was led to believe fish couldn’t survive in the lake. Nobody will convince me I’m wrong. One other person joined in the late afternoon, but this was the wilderness experience I was seeking.

9/13/18: North Desor-Windigo: This was the day it all changed for me. The first half of the hike was easy enough, with significant forest time. Don’t let the first half fool you. The second half is like the previous day on steroids. The beaver dam crossings were in this section and weren’t bad at all, since there had been no rain. I can only imagine what they were like after a rain event. It took me 9 hours to make this section. I ran out of water, and honestly should have filtered at one of the beaver dams. I was dehydrated, hot, and stopping every couple hundred feet to rest. There was an abandoned tent and gear just off the trail—apparently from the hikers who got evacuated earlier in the season. I felt their pain. I finally ambled into the Wash Creek campground, and while looking for an open site was delayed by a massive cow and her calf, munching on leaves right off the boardwalk. Even with half a dozen people standing around, they kept eating and blocking the path. All the shelters were taken here (welcome back to civilization), so I ended up in a tent site.

I was very dehydrated, tired, and faced with a difficult choice: continue my planned trip, or take a rest day and arrange other accommodations back to Rock Harbor. I decided to use my satellite communicator to “call a lifeline,” who booked passage on the Voyageur from Windigo to Rock Harbor and change my Queen reservation to leave earlier rather than on the last boat.

9/14/18: Rest Day at Windigo/Washington Creek: Lots of moose, fox, and squirrels. The camp was full again but I was able to snag a shelter for the night. I drank lots of water, ate lots of food, and explored the dock area, visitor center, and nature path.

9/15/18: Took the boat that has been in service since my parents were kids, and man once we left the harbor and hit Lake Superior it became a true “barf barge.” I didn’t puke, but others definitely did. When we pulled up on McCargo Cove, a group of guys got on with a dog. When we finally got to Rock Harbor the law enforcement rangers met us and ticketed the owner, who had been allowing his dog to run leash free across the island.

Rock Harbor looked like a refugee camp. There were people EVERYWHERE. I ended up in one of the back tent sites for the next couple days as I waited for my boat ride back to Copper Harbor.

9/16//18: Day hikes around Rock Harbo: Stoll trail, visit down to Tobin Harbor, and quality time at the dock area. Restful, easy day decompressing for the trip home.

9/17/18: Departure day (4 days ahead of schedule). It was a good day to leave. The weather had been PERFECT for almost the entire trip, but the next couple days were supposed to be rainy. I could tell the trip home was going to be very bumpy. There was a group of kayakers trying to get from Tooker’s Island back to Rock Harbor, but one of them had an open-top kayak that kept capsizing, prompting a ranger rescue by boat. Thankfully a group staying at the same camp left earlier in the morning in sea kayaks and were keeping an eye on the others.

The ride home was rough. 7ft seas made me wish I’d bought a Dramamine at the shop (which they opened for the boat customers). Back in Copper Harbor, I got a room at the King Copper before heading back to Chicago. Overall an outstanding trip, and I’m very thankful I changed plans mid-stream.

I’ve since left the Midwest for the Mountain West, and not sure if I’ll be able to get back to IRNP this year. But it remains my favorite park so far, and even though it’s been 6 months I think about this trip and that park often.

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thesneakymonkey
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Re: TR: 9/7/18-9/21/18 [RH-DF-MB-MC-TH-LTH-ND-WC-RH]

Post by thesneakymonkey » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:43 pm

Sounds like an adventure!
Trip #1East side loop: https://youtu.be/xejNOfYWpIQ
Trip#2 Minong End to End : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 9ZJVgtfgga
Husband_Wife_OutdoorLife on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/c/HusbandWifeOutdoorLife

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IncaRoads
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Re: TR: 9/7/18-9/21/18 [RH-DF-MB-MC-TH-LTH-ND-WC-RH]

Post by IncaRoads » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:42 pm

It's never too late to submit a trip synopsis. Great report!

Tortuga wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:21 pm
... not sure if I’ll be able to get back to IRNP this year. But it remains my favorite park so far, and even though it’s been 6 months I think about this trip and that park often.
^ This


torpified
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Re: TR: 9/7/18-9/21/18 [RH-DF-MB-MC-TH-LTH-ND-WC-RH]

Post by torpified » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:56 am

GIANT TOILET SPIDERS??? I'll have nightmares. Thanks for the excellent report---I especially appreciate the off season ones!

And I hope you enjoy (and paint!) your new digs. As a Chicago native, I conjecture that it's important for Mountain West transplants to return periodically to the midwest (eg IR), in order to restore their sense of incredulity at the very fact that that the earth can organize itself into mountains. . . .


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Re: TR: 9/7/18-9/21/18 [RH-DF-MB-MC-TH-LTH-ND-WC-RH]

Post by JerryB » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:41 pm

Thanks for the report and I am glad you have good memories. The Minong is not for the faint of heart!

Two parts of your story make me quite sad and angry--the vandalism of the outhouse and the idiot with the dog off the leash. I thought dogs were never allowed on the island, leash or no.


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Re: TR: 9/7/18-9/21/18 [RH-DF-MB-MC-TH-LTH-ND-WC-RH]

Post by Solo311 + » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:17 am

Thanks for the trip report. I'm planning my 6th trip to the island this summer and always travel there after Labor Day. Minong is on my trip this year and nice to hear your experience with it. Disappointed to hear that you encountered so many others on the trip. Really hoping to have a solo experience- good that you stayed flexible with your itinerary to keep the trip relaxing.


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Tortuga
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Re: TR: 9/7/18-9/21/18 [RH-DF-MB-MC-TH-LTH-ND-WC-RH]

Post by Tortuga » Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:13 pm

JerryB wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:41 pm
Thanks for the report and I am glad you have good memories. The Minong is not for the faint of heart!

Two parts of your story make me quite sad and angry--the vandalism of the outhouse and the idiot with the dog off the leash. I thought dogs were never allowed on the island, leash or no.
I couldn't tell if the vandalism was intentional or just someone trying to squat rather than sit on the toilet. But it was absolutely disgusting.

As for the dogs--they have to allow "Service animals," which this dog allegedly was. But they have to follow the rules and cannot allow it to be off-leash. I overheard him saying he should have left the dog at home.
Minong is on my trip this year and nice to hear your experience with it. Disappointed to hear that you encountered so many others on the trip. Really hoping to have a solo experience
As was I! I was absolutely floored by the number of people there. My time along the Minong really was the most isolated section. My night at North Desor I had one other person in camp. I think if I'd taken the Monday boat to the Island rather than the Friday boat I could have missed some of that crowd the first couple days.
GIANT TOILET SPIDERS???
Indeed! I was reading the graffiti on the wall and someone had drawn a "life-size" spider saying there were two of them living in the outhouse. Sure enough, one was on the broom and another just hanging in the corner.

This summer I'll be spending time at Rocky Mountain NP, Tetons, Yellowstone, and hopefully Glacier. If I can work it out I'd like to get back to IRNP and do the last bit of trail I haven't done yet: Feldtman Loop.

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