First trip: 9-1 thru 9-7 2011

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First trip: 9-1 thru 9-7 2011

Post by KMan » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:46 am

Wife and I took our first trip to Isle Royale last week ... I'm terrible at writing, so if you'd rather just look at pictures, here are two of our albums (wife likes wildlife and flower pics, I prefer sunsets/sunrises): ... 365&type=1 ... directlink

Day 1: Seaplane - Rock Harbor; Water Taxi - Moskey Basin

Due to a tight schedule, we decided to fly into RH and take the Ranger III back. This provided us lots of flexibility, and my wife didn't have to worry about the flight back the whole trip (she's a nervous flier, and was worried about the small plane/water landing). In addition, in order to cover more of the island, we decided to take the water taxi to Moskey Basin to get started. All in all, these logistics worked out very well.

The flight over went very well ... we got to the airport around 1:25 pm, were in the air by 1:45, and landed about 2:10. The landing was pretty windy, but the pilot set us down nicely.

Got the permits, bought fuel, dropped a bag at the lodge, and were on the taxi by 3:45(?).

Our original plan was to hike to Little Ritchie on Day 1, but due to the after-effects of dramamine, we decided to spend the night at Moskey Basin. We got the last (non-group) tent site (#6), which was the only site not on the water. All the shelters were full, and one of the group sites filled up after we arrived. Was a nice place to stay, but would have preferred a better site, and less people ... but I must say the sites were set up nicely so that it wasn't obvious that there were several other groups there.

Spent a nice evening hanging out on the rocks, and went to bed pretty early (we'd been up since 5 am driving).

Got a little bit of rain over night, and then a little more after breakfast ... turns out this was the only noticeable rain we got all week!

Day 2: Moskey Basin - W. Chickenbone

Started hiking on Day 2, and I immediately noticed that my wife's boots' soles were not entirely secure to the boot! Guess we should have done that shake-down trip I had thought about but never organized. Shortly after lunch, both soles had basically come completely off ... the little duct tape I had wasn't enough to make both boots usable ... so she wore her tennis shoes for the rest of the trip (lucky that she had them ... some trips she only takes her Keens).
This hike was very hot, but very nice ... Lake Ritchie looked like it had some really nice camp sites ... we saw 6 snakes (1 or 2 red bellies, the rest garters), one of which was close to 3 feet long! One snake almost ended up in my wife's boot as it tried to skitter off the rocks but kept slipping down towards her.

We arrived at W. Chickenbone and had our choice of sites .... #4 was best in our opinion. Turns out the snowshoe hares thought so also, as the site was overrun by 5 or 6 hares, who weren't afraid of us in the least. Wasn't unusual for 3 rabbits to be in the site at the same time.

W. Chickenbone was my favorite location of the ones we stayed at.
In the morning, we were visitted by an otter as we finished breakfast by the lake. He was pretty curious, and swam within 10 yds of the shore as we sat there.

Day 3: W. Chickenbone - Daisy Farm
This day was originally planned to be a short day to McCargoe Cove, but with the shoe situation, I thought it best that we start heading in the general direciton of Rock Harbor, so we decided to head over to Daisy Farm. [I had originally planned to do some bushwacking and back country camping ... but quickly nixed that idea when I saw the terrain and underbrush. Not a good place for bushwacking.]

Again a very hot, but also windy day up on the ridge. Again we saw many snakes (5), which my wife really enjoys.

Luckily, my wife didn't have any issues hiking in tennis shoes.

I had been sweating a lot these first 2 days, so took a quick dip when we got to Daisy Farm ... very cold, but also felt very good to not smell so bad. (Actually, my wife basically told me I had to take a dip due to the smell!)

We wanted to try one of the shelters (wife had never stayed in a shelter) ... so we picked number 11. Right on the water, very nice. Turns out between the bat that kept bumping into the screen, and the thought of spiders, my wife didn't like the shelter at all. Never again she said.

We went and heard Candy Peterson's wolf/moose talk that evening ... very interesting, and I took a few things away (neither having to do with wolf/moose!) that I hope will stick with me for life:

1. Embrace mortality
2. Embrace change

Candy's attitude about both of those topics was very enlightening and impressive.

Day 4: Daisy Farm - Lane Cove

Starting this day, we were pretty sure we were going to end up in Three Mile (via the ridge) ... we weren't sure we wanted to go down to Lane Cove (and then back up the next day).

A very windy day (especially on the ridge), with many dark clouds moving fast, but it never did rain on us. Very comfortable hiking weather (not too hot).
While eating lunch on Mount Franklin, we decided that three mile was the prudent destination ... but then my wife had her trailside coffee ... a short 0.3 miles later, at the trail junction, she decided we were going to Lane Cove. For the rest of the trip, I would have trouble keeping up with her! :)

I'm very glad we made that decision, as Lane Cove was my second favorite campsite. When we first got there, we were disappointed that the only site unoccupied was #1, which is on the water, but on a side cove. Turns out this was the best site on this particular day, due to the wind ... the other 4 sites got pounded by the wind all evening, while we had some shelter.
Day 5: Lane Cove - Three Mile

The trail coming out of Lane Cove wasn't as bad as it looked on the topo ... a few short steep sections, but enough variety that it is easily manageable.

Again we ate lunch on Mount Franklin (wife was looking for ways to extend this day!) ... and it was a completely different place without the wind. Very beautiful both times.

Coming down towards the Tobin Harbor trail junction, we ran into a hiker who said to keep our eyes open as he had scared up a moose near "Todd Bay". Hmmmm ... must have misheard him, or he misspoke.

Any way, shortly after the Tobin Harbor junction, we heard a knocking sound in the woods. At the time, I didn't know what it was ... now I'm pretty convinced it was a bull rubbing his rack on a tree. I had assumed that the bulls weren't doing that yet (too early), and it didn't cross my mind that that is what it was. Had I thought about it some more, we probably would have investigated, and probably would have seen a moose. :( Wife really wanted to see a moose.

Got into Three Mile early and got our choice of sites. Picked #9, again right on the water ... a beautiful site. I didn't have high hopes for three mile (thought it would be too busy and too much water traffic), but I was pleasantly surprised. I think there were only 2 other sites in use, and the water traffic didn't bother us at all.

Went for a day hike along Rock Harbor trail to Siskowit mines, just to get a flavor for the Rock Harbor trail. An enjoyable hike right along the water.
Day 6: Three Mile - Rock Harbor

This morning was by far the coldest morning ... low 40's I'm guessing ... but comfortable once the sun heated things up and we started hiking.

A quick jaunt on the Tobin Harbor trail to Rock Harbor, at which point, we rented a canoe and paddled out to Scoville Pt (well the point next to Scoville is as far as we made it). Was nice to get off our feet and still see the scenery.

Day 7: Rock Harbor - Houghton

Took the Ranger III back to Houghton ... a nice flat day, Paul and Emma entertaining us on guitar and fiddle ... always bittersweet to be back in civilisation.

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Re: First trip: 9-1 thru 9-7 2011

Post by Backpacker534 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 1:38 pm

Sounds like it was a nice trip except for the sole coming off of your wife's boot. Having a strong breeze, especially when the temps are rather warm, can be a real life saver. I've really enjoyed both of my stays at West Chickenbone. I have also stayed at Lane Cove once and enjoyed that, too. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: First trip: 9-1 thru 9-7 2011

Post by jerry » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:30 pm

kman, Enjoyed your report and pictures. I'm sure you already realize how lucky you are to have a wife that's willing to do such a trip with you. Thanks for sharing!

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Re: First trip: 9-1 thru 9-7 2011

Post by KMan » Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:37 pm

Backpacker534 & jerry wrote:Thanks for sharing!
I got lots of great information from this forum before the trip ... so thanks to everyone who has contributed.

And yes, I'm very lucky that my wife puts up with me. I was never happier than when she was trying to find ways to extend our hiking on Day 5!

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