TR 9/5-9/11 2017 Windigo to Rock Harbor

Reports or links to reports on trips.

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Stephen
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TR 9/5-9/11 2017 Windigo to Rock Harbor

Post by Stephen » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:03 pm

Flew into Windigo on Tuesday and got there around noon. It was sunny and warm, temps maybe into high 60's. Headed towards Island Mine but intended to try to make SL Desor. I hadn't carried the pack since May but bicycle every day for 2-3 hours. I got to Island Mine and felt fine, took my boots off and aired out my feet and then got going to SL Desor. Heard a mooing and figured it was a moose. Later someone asked me why I thought it was a moose and I told them unless they have Holsteins on the island it was a moose. Due to the heavy wooded area the views were not too hot and gps signal was intermittent at best. I carried a Garmin Inreach Explorer plus with satellite messaging capabilities and that was a excellent item to have on this trip. My wife gave me daily weather reports which I shared with anyone I met. I met about 4 people on the trail and the campground was full at SL Desor. I think I got to SL Desor around 1700-1800 and quickly got everything set up and ate. Within 15 minutes of finishing it started to rain and then rained intermittently during the night, only rain on this trip, unlike last year it rained every day. I got up late for me and got going around 0800 heading to Hatchet or Todd Harbor depending how I felt. The trail was in good condition with mud holes and water. My pants were soaked within the first 20 minutes from the wet brush but because it got sunny on Wednesday they dried quickly. I kept leaving tracking points for the wife and the gps was working great now. When I got to Hatchet, I felt good and decided to head to Todd via the Minong. I saw no one at Hatchet and only met a couple headed from that direction so far. The trail to Todd was more challenging and twerked my left knee going down a rock ledge. Where last May when I did this portion there was streams, there was dried areas now. So far no Moose tracks or scat. Did see a wolf print and scat in the muddy trail. There are wolves where I coyote hunt so I am somewhat familiar with their signs. I got to Todd and checked the shelter a half dozen times to verify it was not taken because apparently the boats had been full bringing people to the island. No one else around, so I took it. I was there about 45 minutes and another guy came in and I briefly talked to him and then he found a tent site. He came back later and was telling me he left Windigo and came along the Minong climbing over beaver dams, going into 4' of water and getting turned around. He carried a GPS and was a experienced hiker but had nothing good to say about that section. Last year I got blisters on my feet so this year I have been taping the balls of my feet with strengthen tape prior to hiking and this prevented any problems. My boots were still getting wet in the inside from condensation, despite the fact I use a clinical strength antiperspirant on my feet daily. The system that works best for me was to wear FoxRiver 100% coolmax liner socks and swifwick hiking socks over that. I got out of the boots, removed the insoles and got into my camp shoes with my camp shoe specific socks. I talked to the other guy for a few hrs and then laid down to rest my knee and feet. One other person showed up but didn't talk to him. Thursday got going around 800 and it was going to be a shorter day to McCargoe Cove where I was planning a off day maybe. I got there around noon or so and about 20 minutes later the other guy came in that was at Todd. By now I was set up in a shelter because I didn't see anyone else around. I went down by the dock to talk to him as other hikers started coming in. He said he was going to go to Daisy Farm today. I thought that was a long trip from Todd to Daisy but he had to get to RH by Friday. Anyway he left after about 45 minutes. More people trickled in and the campground looked like it was full by evening. By this time I was just laying around or taking it easy to rest my knee. I kept wondering if I should push on or stay here on Friday. Friday I got up around 0530 and got some pictures and had decided to stay here for the day, I had planned this trip with a off day so figured what better place. I went to the dock and a guy had caught but lost a 24" northern. People started packing up and leaving around 0900 or so with the last couple leaving at 1100. The campground was empty now but a few hrs later a couple came in and that was it for the day. My knee was better and my boots and socks were dry and I was very glad to have a off day. Saturday I was on the trail at 0700 and got to the Daisy Farm Junction and was feeling good, so I headed off to Lane Cove. It was hot on the ridge for me but I always carry a half liter on the shoulder strap and 1 liter in my pack. I finally got to Lane Cove around 1500 or so. I kept thinking coming here was a BIG mistake, because it was kicking my butt. I found a open site set up and around 1800 or so 4 guys came in with two tents and asked if they could set up around me and I said absolutely. They did and it was no problem for me. I just warned them that in the morning I was getting up at 0530 and was going to start packing up. They were ok with that. Sunday I got up at 0530 and must have been quiet enough that I only heard snoring and a little rustling from them, later seeing them in Rock Harbor and they said I was very quiet. I started heading to Rock Harbor and the trail was muddy in quite a few spots but no big issues. I always seem to have a problem finding the Tobin trail as you come off the Greenstone but because I had my GPS I got on track after a few miss turns. I then took the Tobin until the Suzy cave cut off and then took the Rock Harbor trail to RH from there. I knew I must be getting close because I saw some day hikers playing with their smart phones and eating snacks. I got to RH got a shelter next to some people who said they just stayed in a shelter for several days and did day hikes. I thought camping at RH was a one day only deal, but must be wrong. Anyway got a shower, washed my clothes and got my ride home the next day. When I started this trip I figured this was it for me, no more, but not sure about that, will see what next year brings.

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Re: TR 9/5-9/11 2017 Windigo to Rock Harbor

Post by Ingo » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:18 pm

Thanks for the report Stephen. FYI, after Labor Day (and before 6/1 I think), the campground stay limits don't apply. There were a couple groups doing that in R.H. last Sept.
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF


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Re: TR 9/5-9/11 2017 Windigo to Rock Harbor

Post by torpified » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:45 am

Thanks for the report! The holstein made me giggle.

I'd just begun to think I was ready to try the Minong when I read about the guy who encountered water 4 ft deep. That's roughly my chin! Is that representative of dam-impacted trail conditions, or was he way off course?


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Stephen
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Re: TR 9/5-9/11 2017 Windigo to Rock Harbor

Post by Stephen » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:17 pm

The trail was full of beaver dams and that was what was causing him issues.

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Re: TR 9/5-9/11 2017 Windigo to Rock Harbor

Post by IncaRoads » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:18 pm

Great trip report! Hope you make it back to Isle Royale at least one more time.

I hiked the western section of the Minong two weeks ago and can attest to the challenges the beaver dams present. At the two beaver dams just east of the Minong Overlook, I had to walk the top ridge of the dams, and there were many muddy/soft segments less wide than one of my hiking boots. A step to the left and you could find yourself in 4 foot deep water; a step to the right was a tangle of sticks dropping off more than 6 feet. Those were the easy crossings. The beaver dam about halfway between the start of the western terminus of the Minong and the junction trail to North Lake Desor was terrible. No way to walk along the top ridge of the dam; had to run/dance through the wet/muddy boot sucking trough at the base of the dam. Several times the mud was well over the top of my full-size backcountry boots. Not sure how one could get off course unless a fall, swim, or a stumble caused disorientation?


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Re: TR 9/5-9/11 2017 Windigo to Rock Harbor

Post by Midwest Ed » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:59 pm

Stephen wrote:
Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:03 pm
He came back later and was telling me he left Windigo and came along the Minong climbing over beaver dams, going into 4' of water and getting turned around. He carried a GPS and was a experienced hiker but had nothing good to say about that section.
IncaRoads wrote:
Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:18 pm
I hiked the western section of the Minong two weeks ago and can attest to the challenges the beaver dams present. At the two beaver dams just east of the Minong Overlook, I had to walk the top ridge of the dams, and there were many muddy/soft segments less wide than one of my hiking boots. A step to the left and you could find yourself in 4 foot deep water; a step to the right was a tangle of sticks dropping off more than 6 feet. Those were the easy crossings. The beaver dam about halfway between the start of the western terminus of the Minong and the junction trail to North Lake Desor was terrible. No way to walk along the top ridge of the dam; had to run/dance through the wet/muddy boot sucking trough at the base of the dam. Several times the mud was well over the top of my full-size backcountry boots. Not sure how one could get off course unless a fall, swim, or a stumble caused disorientation?

I'd love to see some photos of these dam(n) crossings.
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TR 9/5-9/11 2017 Windigo to Rock Harbor

Post by paulbates » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:07 am

Great trip report, thank you!

I went across them in early August going east to west. Trekking poles were important from Todd harbor on, critical from little Todd on. I fell back once on the last dam but it was on the dam itself so my pride got more soaked than anything else.. except my feet . I realize now why its said it's better hike the Minong east to west. My boots were fine until the dams, and soaked the rest of trip after.

Having said all that, would not trade that experience for anything.

Paul


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Last edited by paulbates on Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: TR 9/5-9/11 2017 Windigo to Rock Harbor

Post by paulbates » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:07 am

Midwest Ed wrote:
I'd love to see some photos of these dam(n) crossings.
This is a video I watched before going that shows a before and after of the most Easterly (and not the worst) one. It's all worth watching, but the dam specific part starts near time index 8:20

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PMq8-8yuTbg


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