TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

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TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by fonixmunkee » Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:23 am

What: Feldtmann Loop, counter-clockwise
When: 2-5 June 2012
Who: Hodge, Josh (first timer!), Matt, Don, and myself
Why: This is our eighth trip as a group to IR, we go every year, around the same time of year. We decided on the Feldtmann because of time constraints
and because we had a newbie, Josh, who hadn't ever been backpacking before. The Feldtmann loop, we figured, was a nice way to break him in. We decided
on counter-clockwise because it seemed to me to be easier than going clockwise. Of course, there's always debate on whether or not this is true, but I
feel validated in my decision after last week's hike.

Hail of bullets:
  • The downfall on the Feldtmann is non-existent. What did fall on the trail has been cleared by the trail crew
  • For us, the bugs were non-existent. We never put on a head net or bug spray. I couldn't even begin to explain why they weren't out...it had rained a lot while we were there, and then it was warm the next few days. Perfect bug-making weather.
  • This was the time in ten trips to the island that I had never been rained on.
  • The store in Windigo is open from 0700 to 1800 every day. Plan accordingly.
  • There are two house-keeping cabins built just above the Windigo store. Not sure when they are opening but I'm sad to see Windigo start turning into Rock Harbor
  • GPS coordinates for the Sentar Point powder house: N47 54.073 W88 59.935
  • GPS coordinates for the Island Mine cemetary: N47 54.980 W89 01.069
  • All pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/1182253591 ... leJune2012
  • GPX file (tracks & waypoints):
    2012_IsleRoyale.gpx
    Waypoints & tracks for Feldtmann loop, going counter-clockwise
    (875.08 KiB) Downloaded 167 times
Day 0: Friday, 1 June - Grand Portage, MN

We stayed at the casino campground this time. Usually we leave on a Thursday, and can get the $50 Player's Club room for four. Since it was Saturday,
the room prices were $117/night, and there wasn't any availability anyway. We got into Grand Portage at about 8pm and went to the front desk and had no
problem getting a campsite without a reservation. Instead of going out and setting up a tent, we went to the casino bar and had a few beers. We ended up
at the campsite and started packing up the newbie's bag. He had to borrow gear since he had never been backpacking before. We got him packed up, and I
setup a big, bulky 5-person Eureka tent for the night. It was cold already cold once the sun went down, around 43 degrees. We slept well and were up about an hour before the boat left.

Day 1: Saturday, 2 June-Grand Portage to Windigo to Feldtmann Lake, 8.9 miles
The drive from the casino campground to the boat dock takes all of five minutes, so we were to the Voyageur II dock after a coffee stop at the gas
station. We greeted Capt Mike and the new First Mate, and Capt Don came down to say hi. Amazingly, there was only five other people on the boat that day
with us, and everyone was already at the dock, so it seemed we were underway quicker than normal. The lake was glass and the wind was with us, so the trip went quick, I'm told. I wouldn't remember, because I feel asleep shortly after making the turn past Hat Island and awoke to looking at Grace Island.

Since there were only 10 people on the VII, the orientation from Ranger Cindy was quick. When she asked who were repeat visitors and who were first-time
visitors, it was exactly split 50/50. Ranger Cindy was all by herself, and so after the orientation, she hustled everyone up to the ranger station to
file intineraries. Out of the 10 people, only one person got back on the VII to make the long haul to Rock Harbor.

Before we set off, we basked in the gorgeous weather...not too bright, not too hot, not too windy. One of the guys in the party joked that we should just grab a shelter in Washington Harbor and sleep for three days instead of hiking. After being on the road (and more travel on the horizon), the prospect didn't sound so bad, and hence the trip became the "Three-Day-Nap Tour." We laughed about the idea, then we started off. The temperature to start to Feldtmann was a nice warm 73 or so. The sky was overcast, and very small amounts of misty-rain fell from time-to-time. It wasn't enough rain to warrant a pack cover or even rain gear. So we started our hike, moving at a brisk 2.3 MPH pace over the relatively easy terrain. We only stopped a few times on the trek, just to snap a few pictures:

[picasaimage]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-_t7C ... G_3820.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-FAFu ... G_3823.JPG[/picasaimage]

The butterflies and moths were out like crazy. The yellow ones loved to swarm us like something out of a horror movie. Apparently, from our nature-smart friends, they like to eat the salt that we sweat out, so they really like to cling to our hats when we aren't around, or our trekking poles:

[picasaimage]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-3DwK ... G_3834.JPG[/picasaimage]

When we got into the Feldtmann Lake campground, we were surprised to see two other groups here already--we were the only ones getting off the boat heading this way. We talked to one group who said that they were in the middle of a nice 7-day adventure and were heading back to Grand Portage the next day from Windigo. Sadly, this group had campsite #2, which is one of the best campsites on the island...it's sheltered from rain & sun, protected from wind, and is *right* on the lake. So we took the site next to them, #3, and had to "rough it" at Feldtmann...no good stumps or logs for chairs, and no good water access. We quickly setup camp, pumped water, and then had dinner. We hauled out a can of Wolf Chili and some Framboni hot dogs that we warmed up and had inside of some pitas. The pitas didn't work so hot, as they broke apart, but the pita pockets did. They chili dogs hit the spot, and shortly after we grabbed the whisky and set off for Rainbow cove.

Amazingly, the overcast day gave way around 8pm and we were on our way to an always-brilliant sunset on Rainbow Cove (rivaled only by sunsets on the Little/Tod Harbors). It was just Josh's luck...when we had went to the BWCA with him a few years prior, we were treated to one of the best trips in recent memory--great weather, no bugs...and apparently his luck translated to Isle Royale. I had bought a headnet soaked with permithirn and never busted it out once, nor had anyone used any bug spray. It was like there were no bugs on the island. Then to top it off, we were getting a brilliant sunset on Rainbow Cove:

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rlxT ... G_3841.JPG[/picasaimage]

And Josh's luck worked...the clouds opened up and the sunset poured in over a beautifully-calm Rainbow Cove. We drank whisky and watched the sun go down, as loons swam in the lake (yes, in Lake Superior) and some odd shore birds bounced around us:

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-UF9o ... G_3850.JPG[/picasaimage]

The Rock of Ages lighthouse started spinning to life around the same time. I had no idea that it was even still active:

[picasaimage]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-ssLk ... G_3860.JPG[/picasaimage]

The crew minus one (still taking a nap at the time):

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-HhUi ... G_3861.JPG[/picasaimage]

Sundown:

[picasaimage]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-giCe ... G_3893.JPG[/picasaimage]

When I took this picture, I remember thinking "being in the business of making and selling Isle Royale postcards would be so easy":

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-J2A6 ... G_3901.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Vf0Z ... G_3909.JPG[/picasaimage]

We ended up staying at Rainbow Cove until it was slightly dangerous to walk back to camp (from both the darkness & lack of headlamp, AND the whisky). We got back safely, and found out from our napping friend that "the biggest bull moose he ever saw" walked directly past our campsite on the lake shore. He didn't have time to get out and get his camera before it was gone, but he assured us it was the biggest moose he had ever seen. And he had seen some big moose, and he was not one to tell a fib.

Day 2: Lake Feldtmann to Siskiwit Bay, 10.3 miles

Everyone except Josh slept in today. Josh was up around 0730 and went back out to Rainbow Cove to watch the sun come up. I was up around 0900 and started with a cup of Starbucks VIA. The Breakfast Blend was on sale at Target, and I hadn't tried the stir-in coffee for about a year. I remember back then it wasn't very good at all--especially at $7 for four servings--so since it was 50% off, I figured what the hell. Turns out, it was well-worth it...the Starbucks VIA Breakfast Blend was just as good a cup of joe from the barista. I had a breakfast bar, and then went to pump water. I found the shoreline that less than 24 hours ago was clear now covered with a thin layer of yellowish stuff...like pollen, only maybe thicker. I hadn't heard of an algae bloom on Feldtmann for a while, so I wasn't worried about that. So Josh and I walked down to where the lake feeds into Lake Superior and pumped water there. After filling up on water, we broke camp and were under way a little after 1000.

The hike was nice, as the day was once again overcast and the temps hovered around mid-to-high 60s. Our first stop was along the always-scenic Feldtmann Ridge, where I snapped a few pictures:

[picasaimage]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-VWfs ... G_3947.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-33d3 ... G_3952.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-EUfz ... G_3958.JPG[/picasaimage]

We hiked essentially non-stop until we got to the firetower. I'm always amazed at the difference between terrains on the Feldtmann...one minute, you are under a "traditional" forest canopy, the next, you are on a hot, rocky ledge, then dip back down into an area that appears it should belong in a rain forest. Then the trail dips back down and levels out into swamps or birch forests. Here's a picture of what I mean...compare them to the pictures above. This is maybe a change in terrain in a half mile:

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-UqRG ... G_3963.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-L9xv ... G_3964.JPG[/picasaimage]

We had a nice lunch and break at the firetower on the Feldtmann Ridge. We pressed on for the last half of the hike with nothing else very exciting. We did marvel at the extreme lack of windfall and bugs, however. We hadn't had to leave the trail at all, and what downfall there was was already cut up by the trail crew. No one had put any bug spray on yet. We hit the old road bed outside of Siskiwit and cruised along until we got to the site of what I think is the old CCC camp. It appears that this is what it was as it's an open meadow with some apple trees that obviously aren't native. I poked around the area for a minute and then we grabbed shelter #5.

Again, there were no bugs. We saw no one on the trail (again) today, and finally, there was no one in camp. We had Siskiwit Bay to ourselves. We setup our bed, cooked up some dinner and a cup of coffee. Matt had a Mountain House Chili Mac meal that he accidentally dropped and spilled some on the ground. Later, we would discover, the red squirrels--and massive amount of snowshoe hares--loved to eat it. The ground was completely cleared of any chili mac the next day. And we found out at the same time that the hares' eyes glow bright red at night when hit with a headlamp. After dinner & coffee, we then grabbed the brandy and whisky and sat on the dock.

And once again, Josh's luck struck...the clouds opened up and presented us with another beautiful sunset:

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-68Aj ... G_3969.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-aIM2 ... G_3974.JPG[/picasaimage]

Day 3: Siskiwit Bay to Washington Creek, 11.3 miles
We once again slept in--some more than other, as a few of us had a little bit of a hangover--and had a quick breafast and were underway around 1100. Our goals on this trip were to find the old Sentar Point powder house, along with the Island Mine cemetary. Unfortunately, as we found out later, we should of made "getting into Windigo by 1800" a priority, as we failed to retrieve our last meal on the island from the store.

Either way, Hodge had his GPS updated with some way points, and we were easily able to locate the powder house with a walk on the shore of Sentar Point:

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-gGhg ... G_3996.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zAXb ... G_4002.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-e9wP ... G_4008.JPG[/picasaimage]

After a bit of exploring the powder house, we hit the trail again. We found a few of the creeks feeding into Lake Superior on Siskiwit Bay to be a bit harder to cross than previously recalled. Everyone with water-proof boots didn't have a problem, but Josh had hiking shoes, and ended up with some wet feet (which would later cause him blisters). Both creeks could be crossed relatively easy on the shore, but trying to cross them further upstream along the trail proved difficult.

We were making a decent pace, and after a while Hodge's GPS beeped telling us that we were close to the old Island Mine cemetary. Hodge stopped us along the trail directly inline with the cemetary, and after a hundred foot walk into the relatively cleared underbrush we found the old cemetary:

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-hX2x ... G_4019.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NKCu ... G_4021.JPG[/picasaimage]

It was obvious that the fencing around the two graves were relatively new, but the hike into the cemetary was unmarked and overgrown, meaning that it must of been a few years old to be so covered back up with underbrush. You can still make out the original rocks ringing the gravesites as well. Later I would read in Rolf Peterson's wife's book that their kids had no problem finding these graves, and once even slept on top of them. Apparently the fencing existed back then (70s? 80s?), but the book didn't indicate if it was original back then.

We also stopped at the old Island Mine well and the old Island Mine site and got the obligatory shot of the old steam engine there. We had lunch and then got underway to get up on the Greenstone and hike back to Windigo/Washington Creek.

[picasaimage]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-YcUk ... G_4031.JPG[/picasaimage]

[picasaimage]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-BTQD ... G_4034.JPG[/picasaimage]

From here on out, there aren't any more pictures worth posting in this thread, but you can follow the link above to see ones I didn't squeeze in. Once we hit the Greenstone, we cruised along at a good clip, getting into Washington Creek around 1900. We had stored our last meal (Dinty Moore and a couple of IPAs!) at the Windigo Store, but unfortunately it had closed an hour ago. So we ate what was left in our pack, and finished off some scotch that we still had around. We stayed up late chatting outside in a relatively bug-free environment. While there were a few mosquitos, there wasn't nearly as many as I thought there'd be for being on Washington Creek (we were in a shelter right on the creek). No one used bug spray again. We chatted outside and listened to the ear-rattling calls of the frogs on the creek.

I got up in the middle of the night to take a potty break and heard splashing and grunting in the creek. I got outside of the shelter and let my eyes focus. I saw a decent-sized moose splashing north up the creek, right past our shelter. I kind of giggled at how silly it sounded...the "splash splash splash splash, grunt grunt grunt" was rather rythemic. I finished my business and then had to hurry back into the shelter as the moose was now splashing back down the creek toward me. I got in the shelter and turned around to see him start grazing right in front of the shelter! I watched him/her for a few minutes and then turned in after he passed by my view.

In the morning, a few in the group got up in the morning to retrieve our meal. I slept in, and woke up to a Snickers ice cream bar being waved in my face! It was an awesome breakfast, when combined with a cup of coffee. We decided 1000, we decided to crack our Sierra Nevada Torpedeo IPAs (in the can) so we didn't have to haul them back. It was surprisingly good. We chatted and drank the morning away, and marveled in the warm, bug-free weather once again. Finally we went down to the dock and waited only 20 minutes until the VII steamed into the harbor and docked. We boarded and were underway. Again, the lake was glass and the trip went fast. I spent most of my time reading a book by the family who worked the Ishpeming firetower in the 60s & 70s (the book, it turns out, is credited in part to the forum's very-own elusive Bucket Bob). I also read over MikeT's--another forum member's--recent edition of his book, which he kindly printed off and placed in the VII. I made a mental note to send Mike some pictures and GPS coordinates of the Sentar point powder house so it could be included in the next edition (and me typing it here was also another reminder for myself :wink:)

When we got back the mainland, I stopped in and said "bye" to Capt Don. We chatted for a minute about the new online booking system. He said it's the only way to book tickets any more...that there is no more point-of-sale terminal when you call them up to book. So book online and save some time for everyone!

I didn't have long to chat, since I had to drive from Grand Portage back home, then to Sioux Falls, SD for work that night. We stopped in Grand Marais and ate at the Gunflint Tavern, had a beer, and then were on our. The trip was over.

Total mileage: 32.0 miles (including all side trips)
Last edited by fonixmunkee on Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Added GPS points & GPX file

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Re: The 3-Day-Nap Tour, Feldtmann Loop, June 2-5 2012 TR

Post by Rafiki » Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:36 pm

I can't wait either Fox! I heard about the Island Mine Cemetary before, but am unfamiliar as to where to find it. Could you fill me in on matters. Also, on the note of filling me in, where is Sentar Point located?
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Re: The 3-Day-Nap Tour, Feldtmann Loop, June 2-5 2012 TR

Post by greener » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:12 pm

Sentar point is in Siskiwit Bay, from what I've heard the only thing left of the power house is the foundation.

There is an old Steam engine just off the trail south of Island Mine.

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Re: The 3-Day-Nap Tour, Feldtmann Loop, June 2-5 2012 TR

Post by fonixmunkee » Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:37 pm

Main post updated with full trip report and pictures. I'm just waiting to add some GPS coordinates I have to get from one of my friends.


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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by johnhens » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:00 pm

I really wish you would try to enjoy yourself more when on the Island. :lol:
Great pictures, postcards...good idea!!

Was the creek flowing at Island Mine?

Did you happen to hear anymore about the fire on the Minong?

Any wolf pup sightings from the West End pair?


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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by drobarge » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:34 pm

I left a post in another thread about possible exiting news earlier this year. Someone heard a puppy near Chickenbone, where I won't say but "someone" heard it. To my knowledge this has not yet been confirmed but we can hope!

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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by fonixmunkee » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:50 pm

johnhens wrote: Was the creek flowing at Island Mine?
Yes, but the lowest I've ever seen it. This was surprising, even after the creeks flowing into Siskiwit were so high.
johnhens wrote: Did you happen to hear anymore about the fire on the Minong?
Yes, when we got off the boat on the 2nd, Ranger Cindy said there was a fire up there and it was closed. She said she had heard rumors it was out, but since the island was so short-staffed, they hadn't reopened the trail until a trail crew could go and confirm it was out. She told the one person going to Rock Harbor to double-check with the ranger there before planning any trips through
johnhens wrote: Any wolf pup sightings from the West End pair?
No, but I wish! I hadn't heard of any wolf pups at all until just now. Now I've seen to posts on the forum about them. However, I can say we say VERY fresh wolf tracks and VERY fresh wolf scat along the Feltdmann Ridge trail. Some wolves were definitely active in the area, and recently.

Which reminds me, one of the groups that we met at Feldtmann the first night had come from the eastern end of the island, and they stated that they had seen three wolves! I didn't get clarification as to if it was all of them at once, or on separate occasions, but either way, can you imagine? You just saw a third of the native wolf population on the island!

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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by hooky » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:01 pm

We heard from 2 different groups that Lane Cove was very active with wolves with lots of tracks and howling. The only night we heard them was the night before we left in Rock Harbor.

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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by fonixmunkee » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:33 am

Just updated the OP (original post) with some GPS coordinates and our GPX file.


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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by Wilderness Junkie » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:23 am

I knew thought I smelled the scent of brandy coming from the other end of the island!!!

I think my next trip over will be the same loop you completed. It will be a good hike for my first solo on the island. Any reason to think it wouldn't be a good route for late in the season?

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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by Rafiki » Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:05 pm

Hey Fox. I don't have a GPS unit yet. Is there a way to let me know how to get to the train, powder house, and cemetary without a gps unit? :cry: I especially want to see the train that much is for certain. Thanks.
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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by IncaRoads » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:17 pm

Rafiki wrote:Is there a way to let me know how to get to the train, powder house, and cemetary without a gps unit?
I would use the Acme Mapper, http://mapper.acme.com , and use the find feature to enter the GPS coordinates that fonixmunkee provided.

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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by Rafiki » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:15 pm

While the Acme Mapper gives me a much better idea of where to find the Powder House, I still feel a little unsure about where I will run into the cementary. In the case of the powder house, it looks like all I have to do is follow the water along the top of the Sentar Point until I reach the area...that is assuming that it is close to the water which I hope it is. Does anyone know? As for the case regarding the cemetary, being that the Acme Mapper does not show the gps coordinates in reference the trail that runs along side of it, it is difficult to guess on where I should break free from the trail. Speaking of breaking free from the trail, is Sentar Point an easy place to distinguish. If I were coming from South Desor and was looking to my left, would it be obvious that....oh ya....this is Sentar Point to the left of me the way this piece of land is jutting out into the water? Also will there be a rough looking trail that breaks free from it made from others in the past would tried to search for the area or is is all bushwacking? Finally where is the train located, near the cemetary or the powder house or somewhere completely different? Thanks for any advice anyone can provide to help me locate these areas.
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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by backpackingZombie » Sat Jul 07, 2012 6:38 pm

I haven't seen the area but it appears to me that right after you cross that creek the graveyard will be on your right.

I'll be doing this loop in a few weeks and I'm glad I ran across this info :)

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Re: TR: 6/2-6/5, 2012 [Feldtmann Loop counter-clockwise]

Post by alecto73 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:14 am

Feldtmann is next on my "list" but I have a question; my best friend has an ankle that has titanium pins and all that goodness from breaking it badly a few years ago, so he pretty much will only do easier hikes. I have been trying to talk him into doing the Greenstone with me. How would you compare this loop in terms of 'ankle-ouch' to through-hiking on the Greenstone?
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