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Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 5:55 am
by Stephen
TR 5/24/16-5/31/16 This was my second back pack trip ever and the second time to the Isle Royale, going last year from RH to LC to Daisy back to RH. I was planning a 10 day solo trip but it turned into a 7 instead my choice. Day 1 Tuesday, due to fog delayed by 3 hrs but got my plane ride from Houghton to Windigo. Got on the trail and it started raining which then continued on and off until the last day I was there. I headed towards Feldtman lake. Enroute to the campground, got a cell phone signal at a ridge to let the wife know I arrived. There was some downfall but the trail was in good shape. When I got to Feldtman there was another camper, but met no one on the trail. While setting up the tent heard some splashing and a moose walked by about 30 yards away. It walked along the shoreline. As far as obtaining water here, your best bet is to use the creek about 75 yards east rather than the lake due to sand.

Day 2 Wednesday, rained on and off during the night and got going about 7 am to Sisikwit. The trail is very thickly low lying brush on each side, so it doesn't take long for your boots and clothes to get wet. Changing socks was not helpful, they just get wet right away despite sealing my boots. I had some home made Tyvek shoe covers which were very helpful, but the brush would move them around. On another ridge I was able to call the wife again for the last time due to no signals any where else. Rain was light at times but the brush was dripping wet. Arrived at Sisikwit around 1100 and was able to get a shelter. Got into my rain pants and some dry clothes and put my clothes out to dry on the brush. The wind was very strong and crashing of waves with alternates of sun clouds. No other campers. Met no one on the trail. It was foggy all night and very humid with nothing really drying.

Day 3 Thursday, got up and going around 700 or so and the waves and wind was strong. Put on my damp clothes with one foot beginning to hurt from wet feet and a hot spot. Walking down the trail now to Island Mine and the trail follows the beach, then goes in then back out. Had a GPS which was great for me because I lost the trail and then eventually found it. Got into the woods and began to head west towards Island Mine. Had to cross the small streams, mud and roots that happened from the rain. It sprinkled on and off and was very foggy with wet brush. Had my Tyvek covers on and the brush was not nearly as bad with it being in the woods now. This is not a bad section to hike but it is in the woods with no great views. Got to Island Mine and took off my boots and put on new socks which were basically damp ones. I had taken about 4 pair along. My feet were hurting more, so I taped them up now. I was developing blisters on the ball of the feet. During this trip, I was not that hungry and lost 6 LBs but had some jerky and pushed on to South Lake Desor. I still have not see anyone and have not met another hiker yet. I got to SL Desor about 12noon or so and no one else was there. Set up camp and tried to rest my feet and drained the blisters. I was planning next days trip when a squirrel was attempting a intrusion towards my tent and chased him off with many small stones and eventually a small log. I had initially planned on staying at Hatchet, then Chickenbone then to Daisy and RH but the ranger said the Minong Trail from Tood Harbor to McCargoe wasn't that bad. So on Friday I thought I would see how I was doing.

Day 4 Friday, got going around 620 and made it to Hatchet, looked around and thought I will go to Todd. Walking to Todd, I didn't meet up or see anyone else. I got about a half mile from Todd and the temps must have dropped by 10 degrees. It was about 1100 and no one else was there. I got a shelter and started setting up, limping now due to foot pain. About 30 minutes after arriving 3 guys came through who were on there way to McCargoe Cove. They said they were at Hatchet and just got going. I told them I would see them tomorrow because I get going early and they sleep in. I then never saw another person all night. The temps were in the 40's again at night and it rained on and off with fog and humidity.

Day 5 Saturday, Feet are killing me but got on the Minong and the trail is not really marked and I am glad I had my GPS. Crossed a small creek and the log that I thought was for stepping on sunk getting my foot wet. There are no bridges on this section and not really any cairns. By now the rocks were very slippery due to the on and off rain and moss and constant fog. The trekking poles saved my butt more than I can count. Although I did fall 3 times on the entire trip and the last time scraping my elbow. Anyway with it being solid fog there was no scenic views, just the fog all around me. I got to McCargoe and never saw another hiker on the trail. I was wondering if anyone hikes this time of year. At McCargoe I finally camped where there were other people. I met up with the 3 guys and helped them filter water with my gravity works. There Sawyer system was a major fail. They were headed to Chickenbone to fish. The boat came in from Grand Portage and dropped off some people including 6 guys with 3 canoes who were going to portage the width of the island. I talked to a few people but layed low trying not to walk on my aching feet. They were catching fish from the dock here. It continued to be very foggy, humid and rain at times. Everything I had was damp or just plain wet from the humidity.

Day 6 Sunday, got going a little after 6 with the plan to get to Daisy Farm and grab a shelter. It began to rain shortly after leaving and put on my tyvek covers which I had modified and fixed the issues, my rain pants which I noticed later were on backwards but they worked and my Houdini jacket. Yeh I looked like a idiot but was reasonably dry. The trail goes up and down crossing streams and along small lakes. I got to the Green stone and got into Daisy Farm around 11 or so I did't see any moose but I was looking at the trail to avoid falling. I noticed two younger girls who looked like they just stepped out of a nice motel and they took one look at me and they looked like they saw a freak. I got a shelter, set up my stuff and figured out where I had to to for the next day. It had been several days with the blisters feeling like hot pokers on the ball of my feet. The sun just began to maybe peek through then it rained, this went on most of the evening. The humidity didn't seem quite as bad, but it rained and rained. I could still see the humidty in the shelter with my flashlight on. I still had not met another hiker on the trail yet. I had fallen not far from Daisy Farm, landing on my back. The wood bridges were very slippery and water was running down the rocks.

Day 7 Monday, got up and hit the trail before anyone else was up around 615. You could see a sunrise over the bay and my weather radio told me that today it was going to be a sunny day. I got on the Franklin trail and headed north towards the Greenstone/ Ojibiay tower. I was a couple of miles on the trail and saw a couple of moose. They were crashing through the woods headed towards the Ojibiway tower direction. I thought they don't move like a white tail deer. I walked another half mile and had to stop to adjust my pack, looked towards the east and saw two moose, they were browsing and headed towards the ridge. Watched them for about 15 minutes, they spotted me and slowly moved on. I proceeded to the tower. No cell reception and feet are killing me. I headed towards the east now and finally got to the Lane Cove, Look Out Lousie, Three Mile junction. I stopped checked my gps and headed towards the 3 mile direction. I was thinking of what I hiked last year and kinda laughed looking at Lane Cove only 3 miles away. I thought this 64 year old body was glad I changed to a 7 day trip. I got about .2 from 3 mile junction and lost the trail, back tracking until I found the Cairns. In the process I slipped going down on some wet rocks. Abrasion to elbow and thought I hope I didn't break anything. I didn't. I have this rule that when I stop or go from campsight to campsight that I will always check 3 times before I move on. I remembered that and looked back finding a 1 liter bottle laying on the rocks. I got to the Tobin trail, then took that to Rock Harbor. I still had not seen any hikers on the trail since leaving Windigo. I was about a half mile from RH when 3 people who looked like they stayed at a motel and I could smell there deodorandt were casually walking around. When I got to RH I saw a ranger and he said the boat is coming in and you better go find a shelter ASAP which I did. I was hopefully leaving the next day. My blisters were now draining pus and my left foot was swelling up. I washed some clothes in my portable shower and used the dryer at RH. I packed my blisters with antibiotic oint and that felt better. I was thinking glad my wife talked me into a 7 day trip instead of 10.

Day 8 Tuesday, plane came in on time. No fog and it was cold 42 and sunny. We flew across the entire length of the island to make a pick up at Windigo. AS we flew along side the island I was thinking, how in the H did i walk this thing. Got to Windigo picked up two passengers and flew into Houghton. I limped to the car, came back to the airport found a bathroom stall used some baby wipes, changed into clean clothes. Went to a Walmart and got some food for the 6 hour drive home. My left foot was swollen so I had to go shoe less in the car. I wasn't going to look at it now. Got home and showered ate and went to urgent care and got a antibiotic and next day foot looked more normal. Still have healing blisters but planning next years adventure. Weather was mainly in the 40s at night on Sisikiwit it felt like upper 30s and highs in the 70's. It was constant foggy. Found out the plane did not fly Friday, Saturday and Sunday due to fog.

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 8:43 am
by jrwiesz
Nice report.

Thanks for posting it.

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:05 am
by Tightlines01
Great report. Stinks you were wet so much.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:29 pm
by Stephen
Thanks. I always hated wet feet and the thought of hiking in the rain. At least no mosquito bites, did see a few but they were pretty tame.

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:12 pm
by gcloud
Wow, what a trooper. So many miles in the rain for a 64 year old with blisters. I have no idea how you did Feldtman to Siskiwit in 4 hours. I had great weather last year and it took me much longer. I tried waterproof socks, they might help in situations like that. For me I just sweat in them because it was so warm. But when it's cold and rainy it might prevent your feet from getting wet and thus blisters. Also I used Trail-Toes, an ointment you put on your feet to prevent blisters. Worked wonders for me, I hate blisters.

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:42 pm
by Stephen
I just picked up a pair of Gore GoreTex bicycle socks. I put them on and put my feet in a basin of water for 30 minutes and my feet were dry. They will go on my next trip, along with my blister prevention treatment kit that I just put together.

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:40 am
by fonixmunkee

Thank you for sharing your trip report. I would like to make a few comments about the trip itself, then use the rest of this post as a cautionary tale to others who may be new to hiking, backing, and Isle Royale (specifically):
  • Feldtmann Lake is very popular with moose. I've been there five times, and every time I'm there, I see moose. They seem to use that little stream you pumped water from to get in and out of the lake basin, hence why they walk so close to the shore.
  • You exemplify why I like hiking Isle Royale in May/early June: you have the place to yourself! At least twice I've hiked the Feltmann specifically during this time of year and saw NO ONE except when I got on and off the boat. Siskiwit Bay by yourself is an amazingly quiet experience.
  • You are tough person. Hiking the terrain and distances you did with blisters on your feet shows your true grit. I commend you for your strength, but also would like to say "sorry for such a rough time." Being we--and worse yet, having blisters---is an easy way to ruin any hiking trip.
  • Your falling is very common on IR when it's wet. We have a saying we yell when we catch ourselves with our trekking poles before hitting the ground; whenever someone yells it, we know what just happened: "trekking pole-save!"
Now, I'd like to use your story as a teachable moment to others: take care of your feet. This rule applies for anything outdoors...not necessarily Isle Royale. If you're hiking or backpacking anywhere, take care of your feet. They are the most important thing in the back country, because they can get you to safety.

As Stephen discusses in his trip report, Isle Royale can be very wet (although I'd say it seems wetter than usual for you than any of my 12 trips). I've been on these forums for a long time (natch) and have seen many people discussing whether they should buy the $50 "hiking shoes" or "$100 hiking boots." Spend the money on what is going to keep your feet dry and blister-free. Also, make sure whatever you pick fits well, and that--like Stephen--you bring lots of clean socks.

I'm very happy to hear you plan on going back, despite your painful and damp experience. We look forward to hearing more about your trips.

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 5:36 am
by fonixmunkee
Stephen wrote:There Sawyer system was a major fail.
Also, do you have any details on why the Sawyer system was a "fail?" I have a friend looking to buy one, and you have the most recent and relative account of this water pump in action. I'd like to provide him with the intel. Thanks in advance for any replies!

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 6:55 am
by JerryB
I have a Sawyer filter and it is hard to imagine how it can fail. It is as simple as can be and easy to back flush. Now, I usually use mine as a second filter because I bring a gravity filter which is so convenient. But the sawyer is great because it does double duty. On longer hikes, I fill it with dirty water as an extra water source.

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 11:57 am
by Stephen
First the Sawyer fail was that their Sawyer Squeeze bag got a hole in it and duct tape didn't fix it. They were having a hard time getting water through it. It could have been a combination of the hole in the bag and maybe debris, I don't know but they were not going to use that again. I should also mention that my Gravity works was initially slow but with "burping" it worked great. I am just purchased a Katadyn befree filter and I like the looks of this one. Cleaning the filter is just a matter of swishing it in water. I will be using that on my trip to the PCT in July. As far as quality foot wear goes, the Isle will tear up your low quality shoes in no time. My almost new but broken in Lowa Renegades that were sealed with Sno Seal look like they are years old. I will not be wearing them back, not because they are bad but I think they will be shot by next year. The best thing was my home made Tyvek shoe covers. They kept my feet from getting soaked in the low hanging wet brush. They look stupid but worked. I have a blister kit put together and feel confident that I will have reduced my chances of the 3 things that can cause a blister: Friction, heat and moisture.

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:21 am
by IncaRoads
Stephen wrote:... and duct tape didn't fix it.
Over the last few years I gave up on duct tape for back country repairs and have moved to using an ultra-strong repair tape called Tenacious Tape.
Link --->

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:26 pm
by conmcb25
Stephen wrote:I just picked up a pair of Gore GoreTex bicycle socks. I put them on and put my feet in a basin of water for 30 minutes and my feet were dry. They will go on my next trip, along with my blister prevention treatment kit that I just put together.
Definitely test those out before you get to the island. I have Flintstone feet, 10.5 EEE, and the socks fit very tightly on me especially in the toe box. I do a lot of beachcombing along the Washington Coast while I am living in the Seattle Metro Area. I did a 11 mile roam back in May and got toe blisters because of the socks. But my feet didn't get wet. :D

Just a heads up, test the gear first, before you commit to using it on the Island.

Re: Solo Trip report 5/24/16-5/31/16

Posted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:35 pm
by Stephen
I plan on that. I have a pair of Dexshell socks that I recently wore on a several mile back pack trip with no issues. Both the Dexshell and Gore are worn with cool max liner socks. Besides this I now pre tape my feet with fixomull transparent tape which stays on with benefit of skin prep for a minimum of three days. Even after 3 days there was no curling of the edges of the tape. [url][/url]. I got great information from this Australian blister prevention site. BTW my feet are 10.5-11 EEE also.