our family's trip report for June 25 - June 30, 2011

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tfoster
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our family's trip report for June 25 - June 30, 2011

Post by tfoster » Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:54 am

Here's the report for our recent trip. Me(40), DH(45), DS(15), DD(11), DS(8), and DS(6).
<Sorry it ended up being so long; I have lots of thoughts! LOL>

Wednesday, June 22 (evening) - Friday, June 24: We traveled from Schenectady, NY to Copper Harbor, MI. It was over 1200 miles and took just over 23 hours of driving time. Other than a few torrential downpours in Ohio, the drive was fine. We arrived at Copper Harbor Friday at ~ 5 PM. Checked into the Bella Vista (friendly folks and cute room - would definitely recommend), ate dinner at the Northern Mariner, and went to bed early.

Saturday, June 25: We took the Queen IV out of Copper Harbor at 8:45 AM. It wasn't even close to being full, which was kind-of nice (for us passengers anyway). I have terrible motion sickness, so I started taking Bonine the day before the boat trip (a tip I got from a Cape Cod Whale Watch worker after I got violently ill). I took another Bonine that morning and did fine, didn't feel queasy at all. I also sucked on one of the ginger pops they provide on the boat. It probably also helped that the ride over was super smooth with hardly any waves. The kids did well - ate snacks and played cards. The trip took a little longer than we expected - got in to Rock Harbor at ~11:30 AM.

After listening to the orientation and getting our permit, we ate lunch at the lodge cafe and then took a water taxi out to Moskey Basin. Captain Jim brought us over; he was a nice guy and it was a very enjoyable boat ride. We got shelter #4, which we thought was wonderful - lovely views, set off from the trail a little bit, and nice big rocks to lie on next to the water. For the rest of that day, we just settled in, played by and in the water, explored the campground area, and ate dinner. The weather was sunny and warm with not really any bugs, but it got quite cold at nighttime. We found a moose antler and took pictures of it; that was fun!

We believe we had a nesting loon on the shoreline near our shelter. We discovered it by accident when two of the kids were playing. They were moving in that direction and suddenly a male came flying over from the water full-speed towards them squawking away. We were startled, looked around, and saw a female sitting along the shoreline up a little bit. We took the hint and from then on stayed totally clear of that area; it was sweet to watch her sitting there so quietly.

Sunday, June 26:
DS(15) got up to see the sunrise over at the dock area and took some nice pictures. We ate breakfast at MB and then headed out for a day trip to Lake Richie. The morning was cool; we left MB at ~ 10 and arrived at LR at ~ 11:30 AM. Nice hike, but we pulled out the head nets pretty quickly because there were a lot of mosquitoes. We ate lunch and played cards by the lake. So many turtles in that area! DH and DS(15) counted over 30 in just a few minutes. The hike back to MB was a bit tougher because it had become HOT, HOT, HOT. I felt like I was in an oven - set on broil. (The next day, I spoke to someone who said his thermometer read 85 F for this day!) I didn't tell anyone until afterward, but I was getting close to throwing up. I had dressed for the cool morning and was totally overdressed for that heat and sun. Lesson learned.

BTW, the trail from MB to LR was clear and the campground had been cleaned up as well. We only saw two other hikers this day, brothers-in-law with a canoe. (Carrying that thing did not look very fun!) We liked Lake Richie and thought it was very pretty, but I don't know that I'd love camping there. Coming from Moskey, it couldn't really compare.

Once back at MB, we enjoyed the rest of the day down on the big rocks by our shelter, playing in the water, and walking around the dock area (so pretty!). Had dinner and played more cards. This was probably our most comfortable night temperature-wise as that daytime heat seemed to linger and it didn't get cold at all.

I don't know how many other campers were with us at MB, I think more the second night than the first, but the campground was incredibly quiet and we were hardly aware of anyone. It seemed to me, though, that the shelters may have filled up that second night.

Monday, June 27:
I got up early to see the sunrise from our shelter rocks - beautiful! After breakfast, we packed up and headed out to Daisy Farm. It was a gorgeous morning, but then turned overcast and started sprinkling on and off. We left at 8:50 AM and got to DF at 11:30 AM. There were a couple of big trees down blocking the trail, but for the most part it was clear. The hike was pretty, but I was nervous the entire time, waiting for rain to start pouring down on us. We made it to DF before any real rain came and settled in at shelter #1. Sweet spot to camp - close to the water, totally set off by itself, and quick trip to the pit toilets. I know DF is big, but I really liked it there. I enjoyed walking around the various paths of the campground, and I thought the dock and beach areas were very pretty.

DS(15), DD(11), and I took an afternoon hike up to Mt. Ojibway. We booked it up the Mt. Ojibway trail, leaving at 2:30 PM and getting there by 3:20 PM. Very nice hike and the trail was totally clear. The view was amazing! After trying to take it all in (tough to do because there was so much of it!), we headed down the Greenstone Ridge Trail and returned to camp via the Daisy Farm Trail. The threat of rain was still in the air, so we hustled along on our way back too, leaving Mt. Ojibway at 3:35 PM and getting back to camp at 4:50 PM. We lost the trail once on the GRT. When we finally found it after about 15 minutes or so, we were surprised we had lost it - it was in a big rocky area and I guess we were too busy admiring how beautiful it was to notice the dirt trail cutting down to the right. The big swamp area on the DFT was neat. We think we saw a very hairy wolf poop along the way, and that was neat too. Rain did hit us before we made it back, but fortunately we had our rain jackets and pants.

Once it finally started raining, it pretty much kept going all evening and night, even thundering at times. We were happy to be cozied up in our shelter. There was a pretty large group under the pavilion making their dinner and eating, and I felt badly for them. At least they were at DF and HAD a pavilion though.

Tuesday, June 28:
I got up very early and headed back up the Mt. Ojibway Trail. I really, really wanted a picture of the fire tower from Ransom Hill! You see, the previous day, our original intention was to go up and down the Mt. Ojibway Trail, so I thought I'd take one on the way back. But then we ended up deciding to take the Greenstone and DF trails back. This time, the hike was tiring - it was cold and my legs were tight, the rain had made the trail muddy, the mosquitoes were bad, and I was trying to do it as quickly as I could. Another lesson learned - don't plan to take a picture later; take it right then!

It was still overcast for a while and there were a few drops of lingering rain, but by mid-morning it had cleared up and it turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day. We waited out the lingering rain, leaving DF at 10:15 AM and getting to Three Mile at 12:30 PM; that time included a 25-minute stop at the beach area just west of the Siskowit Mine. The views along the trail were gorgeous, but the trail itself was a muddy mess, and it took quite a bit of maneuvering to not end up all wet and muddy - lots of rock hopping and puddle straddling. I believe it was on this trail where the tree damage became more obvious to us. We had seen damage on the earlier trails, but it wasn't like this, where trees were down all over the place.

We got to 3Mile and had a tough time picking a shelter (because that's how we are - LOL). No one was at the campground yet, and we ended up picking shelter #2 because of its view of the dock, but we very quickly realized it was also downwind from the pit toilet - not good! So we scouted things out again and moved over to shelter #1, which didn't have as nice of a view but was probably the most private of the 3Mile shelters. Given how busy the dock area got later, I was relieved we were in the more off-by-itself #1.

I stayed at camp with the younger kids while DH and DS(15) took an early evening hike up to Mt. Franklin. They liked it, but DS(15) said he liked the Mt. Ojibway hike/view more. This night, there was a totally clear sky and it ended up being FREEZING. We were so cold! We slept in our hats and fleece mittens and with our heads inside of our bags!

3Mile was my least favorite campground stay. The campground set-up was pleasant enough, but it seemed to have almost a party-type of atmosphere. While DF had a lot of people at it, it still felt like we were camping in the wilderness. At 3Mile, a lot of that feeling was lost, but there weren't any amenities (like a water spigot, etc.) to balance that loss. There were also a zillion big ants living in the rocks and makeshift wooden benches down by the water, which made being down there unpleasant (they would literally start running up your legs!), so that took away from our plan to play on the rocks by the water's edge.

Wednesday, June 29:
When we woke up, it was still freezing, and we did not want to get out of our sleeping bags! After staying in them for a while, we ended up packing up, eating breakfast, and making it onto the Rock Harbor Trail at 10:20 AM. We were headed to the Rock Harbor campground. The trail had such beautiful views! We stopped for a little while at the area that had big sitting rocks and then made it to Suzy's Cave by 11:00 AM. Suzy's Cave was great and we all enjoyed it. Even I crawled through it to the other side! We then took the Tobin Harbor Trail to RH. It was nice to end our backpacking treks with what felt like a nice stroll through the woods. We mistakenly thought Suzy's Cave was about halfway, so it took us longer than we expected to get to RH. We arrived at 12:30 PM, and it felt so good to see the buildings and know we had done it!

A few shelters were already taken, and we ended up in #6. We liked it because it was on the opposite side of the trail than the ones right next to each other in a line, but it was still such a short trip to the water, store, restaurant, etc. The day ended up being sunny and slightly cool. We settled in just a little bit and then headed to the lodge cafe for lunch. After lunch, I decided to do a load of laundry, which is a very convenient amenity they offer! Early evening, we all did the Stoll Trail and went out to Scoville Point. So, so beautiful! We ended up being very happy to have that day at RH so we could enjoy that area.

Thursday, June 30: I got up early and did the Stoll Trail again by myself. It was a very peaceful hike and the sunrise from the Tobin Harbor side was gorgeous. DS(15) got up shortly after me and headed out by himself too. He had the most exciting trip experience this morning! He said he didn't know what was going on at first - there was a loud calling noise and something very large came swooping towards him. He said it had a lot of force and for a moment he thought he was maybe going to die. It swooped right near his head; he turned around to see a big owl sitting on a branch behind him! It was the highlight of the trip for him!

I started washing the rest of our dirty clothes so we wouldn't have to worry about finding a laundromat during the next part of our vacation, and then we headed over to the lodge restaurant for breakfast. We bought some things at the store, went back and finished packing up, played more cards while eating lunch, strolled around a bit more, and then headed over to the dock to wait for the Queen IV's departure. We had a pretty smooth trip back to Copper Harbor, and we stayed at Bella Vista again before heading for northern Wisconsin the next morning.

Random thoughts and pieces of info:
I don't know what happened to the blackflies, but we didn't see any, not a one! What a pleasant, totally unexpected surprise! We had way too much bug repellent with us - 23% DEET, 30% DEET, 100% DEET, 5% Picaridin, and 20% Picaridin. I wanted to be prepared - LOL! It turns out all we used was the Natrapel 20% Picaridin repellent. We brought three 3.5 fl oz bottles of it and for the six of us only used one and a half bottles. I thought that was amazing. I only ended up getting 3 or 4 mosquito bites during the entire trip, and I'm usually a mosquito magnet. The worst of the mosquitoes was when we ventured to Lake Richie, and we had long sleeves and head nets to protect us.

The wildflowers were so incredibly lovely. They were everywhere! Now that I've seen the island covered in those flowers, I cannot imagine being there at any other time. I took a lot of pictures of them and am working on identifying them. I have the "Island Life - Nature Guide" book, but to cut weight, I didn't bring it on the island with me. I wish I had.

We didn't have one single blister to deal with! Another pleasant surprise!

We ended up bringing three cameras with us - sounds like overkill, I know. I'm so glad we did though! We brought my daughter's little point-and-shoot, my higher-end point-and-shoot, and my SLR. I took so many pictures that my SLR starting running low on battery sooner than I anticipated. I started using my point-and-shoot only to end up dropping it in a stream!! Another lesson learned - take the time to put the camera fully away BEFORE starting to cross water! I'm pretty sure the camera is dead, but I hope the memory card is okay. So we ended up using the little point-and-shoot a lot more than expected and really rationing use of the SLR. I can't wait to start putting together an album!

I think next time, we'd like to go in on the Windigo side - do Huginnin Cove and day hikes from Windigo. Of course, it's such a long trip for us and we have other national parks we want to visit, so I'm not sure when "next time" will be - but I'm quite certain there will be one!

Everyone did great! The little guys didn't complain about carrying their packs even though they did get tired. Five nights was a good length of time for us, and starting off and ending up at RH made the trip a lot easier. DH was pretty grumpy the first day, but after that he seemed to settle in and is even talking about wanting to do a kayaking route out there someday.

I feel so grateful for all of information I got from this forum prior to our trip. It made a world of difference! Thank you!!
Last edited by tfoster on Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:14 am, edited 2 times in total.


jerry
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Re: our family's trip report for June 25 - June 30, 2011

Post by jerry » Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:14 am

Thanks for sharing your trip report with us! Wish I could get some of my family to go up to Isle Royale with me.


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Re: our family's trip report for June 25 - June 30, 2011

Post by Vandy » Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:19 am

Nice report. My report was a bit long, too (so much to report back on!). I think I passed your son on the Stoll trail. He was on the Tobin harbor side heading out as I was heading back. A trail runner probably passed him going the same way he was shortly after I did.

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tfoster
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Re: our family's trip report for June 25 - June 30, 2011

Post by tfoster » Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:46 am

I know - there is so much to report on, and I feel like even with my long report that I missed a bunch of things!

jerry - I think you have to plan a "surprise" trip for your family! I was actually starting to panic because my husband hadn't started packing his stuff until a couple days before we were scheduled to leave. He said it was because he was in denial that we were actually doing this!

Vandy - I just asked my son, and he said he remembers seeing someone and then a trail runner! How neat! I liked your trip report - very ambitious!

We were very surprised at how few people we ran across. Going to Lake Richie, only the two brothers-in-law. Going back to Moskey Basin, I don't think we saw anyone. Going up to and back from Mount Ojibway, we didn't see anyone at all. Going from MB to Daisy Farm, just two groups (one solo and one duo). From DF to 3Mile, I guess a typically busy route, I think we only came across two groups. Even while out on the Stoll Trail and out to Scoville Point, we only saw one small group right at the beginning. I really enjoyed it like that - not totally alone but not continually bumping into people. While hiking, I was often curious about how the experience would differ if we were there later in the summer.

I like Vandy's including in his report what he didn't use. Here's what we didn't use:

Our tent - We knew everywhere we were staying had shelters and were hoping to not need our tent; fortunately, we didn't! We LOVED the shelters. We actually felt spoiled staying in them.

Head lamps and flashlights - We didn't realize how much daylight there would be! There was already light at 5:30 AM, and there was still light at 10:30 PM! We brought a head lamp for each person, a couple of flashlights, and a tiny little lantern. I think we used one flashlight once.

Even close to our fuel supply- We brought two containers of butane and only used about half of one of them. Our stove was much more efficient than we realized.

All of our protein/energy bars - We got tired of these quite quickly. I wish I had packed more regular granola bars and nuts and fewer energy bars. Already by Day 2, we had had enough of the energy bars. I also wish we had brought bagels for two breakfasts, not just one.

And, of course, like I already mentioned, we had WAY more insect repellent than we needed. Don't know if I'd do it much differently, though, because I can't imagine being out there getting eaten alive and not having enough repellent.

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Tom
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Re: our family's trip report for June 25 - June 30, 2011

Post by Tom » Sun Jul 10, 2011 6:05 pm

TFoster - I've been waiting to hear how your trip went. I'm pleased to read that it all seemed to go quite well! Did anyone get to see a moose while on the trip? Even without, as you note, with all the flowers in bloom, and the other wildlife, Isle Royale is a beautiful place to hike. While one can never guarantee a shelter, it's also nice for a family like yours (with the youngsters) to have a secure place to stay. Hopefully, there will be many more trips to come, and your children have further developed a love for everything outdoors. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: our family's trip report for June 25 - June 30, 2011

Post by tfoster » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:34 am

Thanks Tom! Yeah, I don't really know that it could have gone any better than it did. Everyone enjoyed it and even my reluctant husband mentioned to me last night that he was really glad he had done it. I think we went very well-prepared and got lucky with nice weather. My 6-year old is totally done with pit toilets for a while though. When anyone asks him about the trip, and even sometimes spontaneously out of nowhere, he goes into great detail about the pit toilets. LOL

No moose sightings, unfortunately. As the primary trip planner and researcher, it was most disappointing for me. We saw that antler and lots of moose scat (though my family keeps telling me it was way beyond scat!) though. And yes, between the other wildlife and all of the gorgeous flowers, we were good!


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Re: our family's trip report for June 25 - June 30, 2011

Post by johnhens » Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:47 pm

tfoster wrote: My 6-year old is totally done with pit toilets for a while though. When anyone asks him about the trip, and even sometimes spontaneously out of nowhere, he goes into great detail about the pit toilets. LOL

No moose sightings, unfortunately. As the primary trip planner and researcher, it was most disappointing for me. We saw that antler and lots of moose scat (though my family keeps telling me it was way beyond scat!) though. And yes, between the other wildlife and all of the gorgeous flowers, we were good!
Too bad you did not see any moose, it would have been interesting to see/hear the kids story on that.

Now that you are back with flush toilets, what do the kids talk most about the trip? I hated pit toilets growing up (they smell). Any pics to share (would love to see the wildflowers!).

Thanks for sharing your trip with us!!

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Re: our family's trip report for June 25 - June 30, 2011

Post by Tampico » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:58 pm

Nice trip report!

I always tells folks that have never encountered a pit-toilet before to resist looking into the hole and they'll be fine.

That's probably too much to ask with a 6-year old, but it sounds like it's too late now anyway.

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