TR: 7/29 – 8/7, 2018 [RH-DF-MB-CH-MCC-TH-NLD-WC]
Link to full playlist of videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 9ZJVgtfgga
We awoke early at the ramada in Hancock after a long day traveling the day before. Our flight on the seaplane was scheduled to leave at 8:00. Fortunately, the ramada is only a 5 min drive from the docking area. We ate a quick light breakfast and drove to the seaplane dock. As we arrived another group was beginning to board and getting ready for takeoff. Our plane was warming up at dockside. We were very excited and maybe even a little anxious. We were both happy to be returning to the island for another adventure.
As some of you know we document most of our hiking adventures on youtube. This trip would be no exception. We nervously made our video intro there at the dock while the other passengers looked on like we were crazy, haha. We got our packs weighed by the gal at the office and she said mine was 24 and his was 35, not too bad for 10days worth of food and supplies. We have been working to get those weights down and I was happy with the results.
We finally boarded the plane and had an amazing flight to the island. I was in awe at how quickly the island came into view. After a smooth landing in Tobin Harbor we were greeted by Swampwalker906 (Jake, right?). It was great to meet him in person and have a little chat. After that we grabbed our permits, did the LNT talk, and purchased our fuel can in Rock Harbor. After a quick picture at the sign we headed off on the trail. Having hiked this section before we felt confident and comfortable on the trail. It felt amazing to be back. A few short miles later we eventually made our way to 3mile where we stopped for lunch at one of the open shelters. Then we moved on to Daisy farm. The familiarity of the trail was still fresh from the previous year. Upon arrival we found several open shelters and choose one back in the shade as it was very hot that day. After setting up camp, swimming, eating a little dinner, and filtering water, we were beat. I think the consecutive days of travel are more tiring than hiking! Later that night I awoke and saw the most magnificent moon brightly lighting the sky over the water.
Link to the video version: https://youtu.be/dIkgZrRmvIw
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of splashing in the water. I was for sure it was a moose, so I dragged myself out of my warm bed and walked down to the water. The sunrise was beautiful, but I never found the source of the splashing. We ate a quick breakfast of coffee, instant oatmeal, and carnation. We packed up our stuff and headed for moskey, signing the register on our way out. Again the familiarity of the trail was still there. We passed a few people and spotted a fox tail through the brush. This section had a lot of blueberries that would be ready soon. This would be a short mileage day, so we took our time. We loved moskey last year and made a point to include it in our itinerary for this trip. Crossing into camp we located an unoccupied shelter on the waterfront and set up our home for the night. The day was hot and sunny again, so we went in for a numbing swim and dried off on the hot rocks platform outside our shelter. We heard from someone else they saw a moose cow and calves in the creek before camp. We went back to see if we could see them, but they had moved on by then. Still no moose for us. We ate a relaxing dinner, and enjoyed the views all night. We had plenty of waterfowl to watch as the day went on. We went to sleep to the sound of buzzing mosquitoes and crashing waves.
Link to the video version: https://youtu.be/8jGXbwuE-Ys
I awoke early to the sound of loons and a magnificent sunrise. I walked to the dock where Matt eventually joined me. I was determined to spot a moose. No such luck. That sunrise though, hard to describe in words. So beautiful. After breakfast we got back on the trail and headed off towards Chippewa harbor. As we turned off lake Ritchie trail to head towards CH the familiarity wore off. We were finally on a trail headed towards a campsite that we had never been to before. The trail was wet and a little buggy but still gorgeous. I usually lead when we hike, and I was covered in spider webs the whole trek. It was obvious we were the first to travel that way that morning. I was very excited to see the harbor. We were greeted with some great views on the hike and wouldn’t you know it.. A MOOSE. I heard the crashing in the woods before I saw him. He stood and walked away and then crossed the trail in front of us. He was massive. I was so happy we got to see a moose! We spotted him near the portage sign closest to lake Ritchie side. After the moose encounter we continued along in good spirits. The humidity and heat were getting a little uncomfortable but not too bad. We arrived at camp shortly there after and spotted an open shelter with our name on it. We set up quickly and went down to check out the dock. We planned on going for a dip, but just sitting in the strong wind on the dock was enough to cool me down. We filtered water and chatted with a family that had canoed in. We were the only hikers staying in camp that night. One sailboat cruised in and docked for the night. It was fun to watch them tack through the wind and narrow harbor to the dock. Their mast was so tall we could see it over the trees from our shelter. They grilled some amazing smelling food at the dock, haha. We got word that a storm was blowing in and the wind was picking up. We went to sleep comfortable in the shelter.
Link to video version: https://youtu.be/sQI7Uvxtdfw
We awoke to the sound of rain on the shelter. The skies were cloudy and grey. After some hot coffee and breakfast, we got back on the trail. But not before one last look over the harbor. The view from atop the rock near the shelters is amazing. The trail was very wet and spider webby again. As we neared the portage we could see the creek to our left. I commented to Matt that the area looked “moosey”. I kid you not, not 3 minutes later I spotted a smaller bull in the creek. He was feeding and had no idea we were there. We shot some video and took pictures then went on our way. The trail was very wet, and the rain had started by the time we reached lake Ritchie. We took a quick lunch break on the rock shelf overlooking lake Ritchie. The air was cool and damp. Eventually the rain picked up. We saw almost no one on the trails until we passed through W Chicken bone. We finally met another couple as crazy as us hiking in the cold driving rain. The informed us of a moose just across the water from the trail as you exit chicken bone. Our original plan was to stay at WCB because we had never stayed there before but we arrived so early that we decided to just keep hiking. We didn’t want to spend the rest of the afternoon hanging in the tent, so we decided hiking further was a better plan. As we hiked we spotted the large bull across the water. Unfortunately, it was raining so hard I could not get the nice cannon out to snap some photos, but he was magnificent. We continued up the familiar trail to McCargoe cove in the rain. As we approached camp we finally started spotting more people. Every campsite was full. I noticed a woman packing up her pack just inside shelter 5 as we were walking towards the tent sites. I asked if she was staying. She said she was finishing packing and taking the voyager out in a few minutes. It was scheduled to arrive soon. We asked if we could set up in the shelter while she waited, and she was very accommodating. We found out she was a ranger and we chatted for a while until the voyager showed up out of the fog. We quickly changed into some dry warm clothes and hunkered in for the night. Matt braved the cold rain one last time to go get some water for filtering. I was appreciative that he did that. We set up our tarp in the shelter to form a wind and rain block. It works surprisingly well. We hung our clothes outside of the shelter since they were dripping wet. We ate a warm meal of packit gourmet chili and went to bed. Snuggled deep under my quilt, I slept like a baby.
Link to video version: https://youtu.be/w3pfIg9Z1t0
We awoke to much drier looking skies but still some clouds. We changed into our wet hiking clothing after a hot coffee. It so happened that this day was my 30th birthday and Matt surprised me with a soggy card and a hot coffee. Leaving MCC we were starting on trail we had never been on and beginning our trip along the famed Minong ridge. We climbed the hill out of MCC and took a picture at the sign that leads us up towards Todd Harbor. Shortly after we spotted another moose off in the brush. It was another bull! There are some beautiful views on this section of trail. We spotted lots of moose nuggets on the ridge here. The views kept coming as we worked our way along the ridge. Eventually we hit Todd Harbor and found a nice tent site tucked back in the trees. We spent the rest of our day chilling out by the water and relaxing in the sun. We enjoyed a special birthday treat dessert after dinner and watched the sun set over the harbor. By then we were pretty tired and went off to bed.
Link to video version: https://youtu.be/LzNQVt42ZYU
I awoke to my first day in my 30s haha. We had a good night in the tent and began the morning routine. By now we have it down pretty well. I take care of the tent and packing up all our things and Matt gets the coffee and breakfast going before joining me in the tent take down. The loons sang to us as we got organized. We reached the sign indicating the junction for hatchet and little todd. The trail was mostly walking through woods and beautiful in the morning. It was another warm muggy day. Shortly after the sign we spotted a young bull (I actually thought it was a cow at first) and he was standing right on the trail. We stared off for quite a while. Finally, he decided to move on and we were able to pass him after getting some video and pictures. We reached Little Todd before lunch time and decided that even though we planned to stay there that we would pass it and move on to N Lake Desor. We stopped for lunch at the trail junction and then made the climb up to the ridge. This would make for a much longer day than we had planned, but worth it. The views up on the ridge were spectacular!
The heat was intense up on the rock. I was glad we had plenty of water, mio sport, and Gatorade chews. We pushed on and finally reached the wooded section that leads into N Lake Desor. Wow is that lake beautiful. I wasn’t expecting such a pretty site. I was pleasantly surprised. We took a nice tent site and pretty much had the place to ourselves. Another group arrived and stayed at another site and one person passed through only stopping for water. The lake was quiet (except the loons) and we enjoyed another swim and sun bathing on the rocks. The wind picked up around dinner time and we figured some rain was blowing in. We ate dinner and went to bed snuggled warm in the tent. I dreamt of our long day the next day.
Link to video version: https://youtu.be/hHX_IhhC_xM
We awoke early but it was so dark I decided to hit the snooze and wait a bit to get up. After another hour I finally arose and busted out the headlamp to get packed up. I walked out to the lake early and watched loons for a bit. It was windy and cool with a little fog. Felt like the storm was still blowing in but not there yet. We packed up and ate a quick breakfast. Before we knew it, we were back on the Minong. To our surprise the trail was less “ridgy” and more forest on this day. We cruised through the first few miles with little trouble. The trails were wet and muddy but easy. We eventually hit the beaver dam. The famed notorious beaver dam. I used to like beavers. Not so sure now. We knew there were 3 of the dams and the first one we hit was a tough one. We immediately made a mistake and followed a false path to the right. We should’ve continued straight, I believe. We were able to cross the damn, despite knee deep water and shoe sucking mud. We reached the woods edge and knew we were no longer on trail. Re-crossing the dam was not an option so we busted out our Gaia app on our phone. We located ourselves on the map and where the trail was. We navigated the downed tree mazes and thick thimble berries to a hill leading up to the ridge. The trail was up. We had to climb or turn back. We climbed. I grabbed small trees with my hands and hoisted myself up, thankful for all the hours spent lightening my pack. Leaning against trees to find my next hand hold. Slipping and falling sometimes, but eventually cresting to a false summit. Gaia said we needed to go just a hair further. Matt stayed back as I said I would climb the next little bit and see if I could spot it. Sure enough at the top I spotted a cairn. Thank goodness!! The gaia app navigated us literally within a foot of the actual trail. It was perfect. Matt finished his climb and we were back on trail. Thank goodness. Only 2 more to go haha.
We stressed about the next two for a bit but once we reached them we realized they were not nearly as hard to navigate and much smaller. We got muddy but got over them pretty easily. After finishing the last one we felt great, tired but home free. We finally saw our first group of hikers in this section. They had just started their hike out of windigo having taken the seaplane in. They looked fresh and clean, smelling of detergent and soap. I am sure we looked ragged. We warned them about the last dam and moved on. We passed a few more groups along the way and eventually started seeing day hikers. We had to be close now. We finally hit the hugganin cove junction sign and boy that was a site! Shortly after we spotted a very large bull moose in the brush. Again, we took some video and pictures and moved on. We passed a young couple out for a day hike and told them the location of the moose, so they could see it to. Eventually we hit the sign for windigo, 1.2 to go. That 1.2 seemed long but the campsites came into view eventually. All the shelters were full, but we found 1 empty tent site (#2) near the creek. We set up the tent and tarp and tossed the packs aside. Grabbed our wallets and headed up to windigo. We walked up to the shop and ordered a pizza and bought some snacks and drinks. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the company of some other hikers that had also just finished. They knew us from our previous video series on the island. It was so great to meet them and chat about our adventures. That pizza was the greatest thing I had ever tasted (ok maybe not but sure felt like it at the time). It started to sprinkle a little, so our little party broke up and we headed back to camp. We ended up getting a quick shower and changing into some brand-new IR t-shirts from the shop. That shower was amazing. I looked at myself and thought I may have gotten a little tan. Nope, just dirt. Haha. It all washed off. We headed back to the tent as it was now raining pretty steady. We hunkered down and watched the rain come down the sides of the tent. We spent the night hiding from the rain, eating snacks, and reading. The rain came down in buckets. We had a waterbed under our tent (rain was not draining in the ground). The site we were set up on is a little low and our tent spot was collecting water fast. Fortunately, the rain slowed, and we made it through the night just fine.
Video version link: https://youtu.be/yfWSLwoB6a8
Matt awoke early and went off to use the privy. I was sort of half-awake as he unzipped the tent and headed out. A few moments later I could hear splashing. I wondered what Matt was doing. Finally, I called out, “hey Matt? What are you doing?”. No reply. Just more splashing. Sploosh sploosh sploosh. I unzipped the tent and much to my surprise there was a moose! Right there. Right in the water by my tent. Holy cow! After a little while 2 more moose came out. All three were bulls. The campground was slowly awakening, and we could see people spotting the moose in the creek. What a site. We watched them all morning. The fog rolled in super thick and we heard a couple guys got delayed on their flight out. I believe they hopped on the voyager the next day to make it off the island. This was our extra 0 day. We had planned for 1 but after our extra miles on day 4 and on day 6 we had an extra one to spend in windigo. This became chore day. We visited the shop a couple times haha. We did laundry and eventually moved our campsite over to the neighboring shelter that was now open.
Video version link: https://youtu.be/hM9N-lRKE4o
Bonus video link of Windigo store:https://youtu.be/1r2_k8f3p-w
This day was our planned zero day. We now had extra time to hang at windigo. We did a lot of relaxing and walking around the nature trails and checking out all windigo had to offer. We chatted with other hikers and visited with the rangers. We also attended a nature program with Ranger Bridgett and learned all about the creepy crawlies on the island. I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. If you ever get the chance you should check out the ranger programs. The moose were still abundant in the creek on this day as well.
Video version: https://youtu.be/nUluvT79rRo
We awoke to nice weather and got up and rolling pretty early. We cleared out of our shelter so someone else could use it and walked towards the seaplane dock. We found a group of hikers walking around and asked them if they’d like to take our remaining fuel. They gladly took it. We still had at least 1/3 of a can left. We stopped and chatted with the rangers. They took our permit and noted our changes. We then watched a young fox play with the antlers at the windigo sign. He was like a little puppy chewing on them and goofing off. We got a good chuckle watching him. We made our way down to the seaplane dock (a short walk up the feltdman) and found that we would be sharing a ride with a ranger headed home for a family thing. We chatted with him and enjoyed our last views of the island. Soon enough the familiar hum of the seaplane was audible, and our ride pulled up shortly after. We boarded the plane and had a wonderful flight back to the mainland. I gave the island one last glance and told myself (and the island) I would be back again. Once we landed we gathered our things and walked towards the car. It felt weird being back in civilization. Upon recommendation from the pilot and the ranger we flew with we went and got breakfast at a local diner. The food was amazing, but the atmosphere was loud and crowded. It didn’t feel normal, almost too stimulating. I turned on my phone and the familiar buzzing of texts and emails flooded in. We were just back, and I already wanted to return to the island. Until next time Isle Royale, we will return.
Video version: https://youtu.be/ReL7AlmF6hA