TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Reports or links to reports on trips.

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Topic author
Duffy Moon
LNT Expert
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:56 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 1
Location: Central Ohio

TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Duffy Moon » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Please accept this standard apology for the length of this report. The following is a description of my (our) first visit to IRNP, and perhaps some future first-timer may benefit from the details of our successes and failures. With that out of the way: let’s begin.

The drive from central Ohio to the UP began in the wee hours Thursday morning, and saw picture-perfect driving weather. The ride was uneventful apart from a stop for Lehto’s pasties, just north of the bridge, and a lot of construction and one-lane roads across the UP. At one point we saw a bald eagle (the only one we saw all week) opportunity-dining on a deer carcass on the road’s shoulder.

We stayed in Houghton at the Copper Country Inn – which was Julie’s Motor Inn when we made the reservations – and it was: quaint, and adequate for our needs. Neither my wife nor I got much in the way of sleep that night. We did have a chance to face-time our ‘kids’ (young adults, really) one last time before our long dark-side-of-the-moon radio silence.
Breakfast at Suomi (Finnish French toast and sausage – thanks for the recommendations, y’all!) had us ready for departure. Dramamine remained in its little baggie in my pocket, because the forecast was for sunny skies and smooth sailing. The Ranger was not full, so there was room to roam and explore. Bottomless NPS coffee cups kept us awake through the gentle trip; it amazed us how quickly the island came into view, and but also how long it took to reach it.

A ranger aboard the Ranger completed all our LNT and permit formalities, so that when we were disgorged from the boat and were reunited with our packs and poles, we were free to hit the trails. Still, we poked our heads into the little store, and the shower and restroom facilities, for future reference. Pack weigh-in behind the store revealed our packs to both be almost dead-on forty pounds each. This was news to us; I suppose neither of us much wanted to know the number until it was too late to do anything about it.

A nagging sense that there was some piece of worthwhile advice I was ignoring floated around in my subconscious, as we followed the first signs directing us to Three Mile campground. I found the Rock Harbor trail to be: surprisingly challenging, as a start to a hike. (Be gentle with me here, and remember: I’m a first-time backpacker, nearing fifty.) We stopped often for pictures, and often used picture-taking as an excuse to catch breath, tighten shoelaces, and re-adjust packs.

One thing I want to make clear right at the start (again, remembering my status as a feeble first-timer) is that we were attempting this adventure with what I’ve dubbed WACC equipment. Pretty nearly everything we were carrying or wearing was purchased at either Walmart, Amazon, Costco, or off of craigslist. So: we’re not talking top-of-the-line gear here. For example: consider our packs. We each had a High Sierra pack, which looked very nice, had lots of room, and we thought they would be a budget-friendly, workable solution to our needs. Which they were: workable. But not all that comfortable.

I, in particular, spent a lot of time grappling and wrestling with my pack. I’m allowing for the possibility that some of the fault may reside in my own body habitus; I seem to be lacking hips. I’m not sure how this happened, and I think it’s possible I’ve never had hips and just never noticed until that moment on the trail. But the padded hip belt on my pack just had nothing to hang onto. And so after I’d gotten my pack situated the way I felt comfortable, and had begun hiking, my pack would begin a slow, sweat-lubricated, southward migration, until eventually all the pack’s weight was pulling on my shoulders, which was at best a mildly painful irritant. At this point, I’d have to reach my arms back, grasp the pack’s underside, and kind of awkwardly forklift-hoist it back into position. Then I’d ratchet the belt strap a bit tighter, and start the process again.

And so it went – picking our way slowly up over the rocks, pausing to snap pictures or reposition packs – for the remainder of that afternoon. But the view? Outstanding. The weather was made-to-order, and the terrain – while tricky on my unaccustomed feet and legs – was a feast for the eyes.

Due to the lateness of our arrival, and our leisurely pace, and the fact that my legs were unused to this type of travel, it was evening before we hove into camp at Three Mile. Unsurprisingly, all shelters and tent sites were occupied. We asked for – and received – permission to double-up at tent site number eight with a nice couple from Ann Arbor, who were just finishing up their trip and returning to Rock Harbor the next day. A large rabbit paid us a quick visit while we set up camp. Water filtered, Ziploc meal eaten, it was early to bed for us. The night was colder than expected; for the rest of the trip, I knew to keep an extra fleece close to hand when bedding down for the night.

Friday’s Thumbs Up: Costco Cascade Mountain trekking poles. I’m sure it would have been much harder on the Rock Harbor trail without these poles. Unused to wearing a heavy pack, and on uneven terrain, I found them a lifesaver in keeping me upright and moving.

Friday’s Thumbs Down: my High Sierra pack. Even without the problem described in detail above (which, again, in all fairness could be attributed to my own odd shape), the pack also lacks some useful functional accommodations, such as a water bottle holder anywhere close to where I could reach it. We had to use the buddy system to take a drink of water. I don’t want to be too harsh on High Sierra here: I knew I was getting a budget pack. I just expected a bit more, I suppose. Additionally, Mrs. Moon’s pack’s chest strap came unmoored from the shoulder strap, and had to be reattached with a zip tie. Luckily I’d packed a few of these little plastic things; I’d find more use for them later.


Saturday 8/24/19

We awoke before sunrise, and went out to the Three Mile dock to watch (and photograph) the sunrise. Another brilliant day, weather-wise. We breakfasted and packed up, and by late morning were on the trail again. We passed several groups of hikers coming the opposite way, and were passed by several going our way. One group coming from Daisy Farm offered their advice on the best shelters. One thing we noticed on the trail – especially the elevated rocky ridges – is that the ubiquitous grasshoppers of the island look just like the grasshoppers back in Ohio, but they sure sound different. When they fly (and they are very exuberant and excitable and vigorous flyers, but somewhat less skilled at sticking the landing) they make this weird clacking noise that makes it sound as if they are riding tiny motocross bikes.

Somewhere along the way, Mrs. Moon tweaked her knee, making it pretty painful to climb and (especially) descend on the trail. Our pace was slowed, but still we arrived around mid-day at Daisy Farm, and put a temporary ‘hold’ on the first open shelter we came to (number fourteen). I then scoped out the remaining shelters – most were still open at this hour – but we decided we liked fourteen best, because it seemed likely to get the most morning sun, and was still close enough to the harbor.

Night was again clear, and cold, but I dressed more sensibly for sleep. I don’t know if it’s the island, or the altered schedule, or the weather, but I had vivid and odd dreams every night while on IR. I think I dreamed of everyone I’ve ever known. Another oddity: the insect noises I’ve come to associate with camping, or with just being outdoors at night in the summer, are largely missing on Isle Royale. I suppose the harsh climate just isn’t conducive to large populations of noise-making bugs.

Saturday’s Thumbs Up: unbranded inflatable solar lanterns. I found these guys on Amazon (or possibly ebay – I forget now) and they were really useful things. They charge during the day, and gently light up the shelter at night, for reading and suchlike. They’re feather-light, too, which was a big plus. Their light is way less harsh than the headlamps we also brought, which:

Saturday’s Thumbs Down: Energizer headlamps, with both white- and red-light LEDs. Gosh, I know I sound really fussy here, but the white light setting has only one brightness setting, which is: Surface of a Star. But the red light is so disappointingly ineffectual as to be useless. I tried finding my way to the latrine at night (waning crescent moon, as I recall) using the red light, and couldn’t even see my own feet. So at that point, I suppose you just fire up the lighthouse torch attached to your head and alert the entire campgrounds to your nocturnal eliminatory schedule. And but so also: when you enter the latrine with that white-hot lazer beam blasting from your forehead, DO NOT FORGET to turn it back down to ‘red’ before you lift the seat. Oh my dear sweet Lord, the things I have seen, in their high-beam, hi-def illuminated glory – they cannot be unseen.

Sunday 8/25/19

Mrs. Moon rose before sunrise in order to capture it heaving itself up over the harbor. I slept in, warm in my extra fleece and sleeping bag. For the third day in a row (really, more than that; I’m only counting hiking days here) the weather was perfection. We debated staying an extra day at Daisy Farm, in order for Mrs. Moon to rest up her knee. We worried, though, that the weather might be changing soon, and we preferred being at Moskey Basin (our intended zero-day destination) if and when the rains came. We decided to press on.

Along the way, more hikers passed us going toward Daisy. One of them offered to take our picture together. This fellow – who we immediately dubbed REI Guy – was very fit, very energetic, and very excited to be hiking. He radiated such good cheer and positive energy that we felt like we’d been given a vitamin shot or some such, just having briefly chatted with him. He was wearing an REI tee shirt (hence our nickname for him) and took a really outstanding picture of Mrs. Moon and me. We asked him about the trail to Moskey – thinking of Mrs. Moon’s still-painful knee – and his answer: “Just as beautiful as everywhere else on the island!” And with that, he sprang away down the trail.

Our indecision at Daisy meant a later-than-ideal arrival at Moskey; all the shelters were full, but we found an opening at tent site number eight. This was a great site, somewhat removed from the main cluster of shelters. I set up the tent, and we – as was becoming our custom – found our way to the dock to filter water. I chatted with a nice fella from Wisconsin, there with his wife. Another early-to-bed for us, bellies full of Mrs. Moon’s dehydrated wonders, eaten from a Ziploc, as God intended. We heard loons in the night, and every night while at Moskey. Both their mournful call, and the call that sounds like – if the loon were in a golden-age movie – it would be in the credits as Hysterical Woman Number One.

Sunday’s Thumbs Up: my old, well-worn Merrell Ventilator shoes. These performed really well throughout our time on the island. When we set off from Rock Harbor on Friday, I had leukotape on my feet to prevent blisters. This I removed at Daisy Farm when I took a quick dip in the harbor. I never replaced it. Still, not one blister. On dry ground, the Merrells have wonderful traction. On wet rock…they struggled a bit. More on that later.

Sunday’s Thumbs Down: Thermarest Z-Rest. This is a really unfair thumbs-down, I know. The real problem is that the Z-Rest should ideally be paired with some other (inflatable?) pad. I slept on just the Z-rest with my sleeping bag and, since I’m a side-sleeper, the hips that I don’t seem to have when hiking make themselves known by crying out in pain when I’m trying to sleep. I’m sure the Z-Rest is perfect for what it’s intended for. I avoided bringing an inflatable pad out of fear of punctures and leaky valves and the like, which would turn the pad into a pound or two of dead weight. On the positive side, the Z-Rest is light, folds up easily for strapping to my pack, and suffered a lot of abuse (I tend to fling my pack down onto the ground in an ungentle way).


Topic author
Duffy Moon
LNT Expert
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:56 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 1
Location: Central Ohio

Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Duffy Moon » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Monday 8/26/19

The reason we settled on Moskey as our “destination” and a good place to spend a zero day, or two, was that we heard it was such a lovely place. And part of what made it so lovely, we were told, is the sunrises. Moskey sunrises, it seems, are legendary. But first things first…

Sometime before dawn Mrs. Moon unzipped the tent and disappeared into the night in the direction of the latrine. I lay in my bag, half-asleep, for a while before I started wondering why she hadn’t returned yet. At that moment I heard someone (?) approaching, but making quite a din of it. The footfalls were pretty exaggerated (what could have gotten her into such a foot-stomping huff in the latrine? Did she forget to turn off her high-beam when she lifted the lid….?) and there were sounds of what sure as heckfire sounded like branches snapping. The sound approached quite near (to my ears) the tent, then faded away in the opposite direction.

I exited the tent and, inflatable lantern in hand, went in search of Mrs. Moon. She was in quite an excited state. Excited here meaning, like, actually excited. As in happy. Delighted. It seems she ran into a moose (almost literally) on the way to the latrine, in the dark. Both she and the moose were quite surprised by the encounter. She stood still, and the moose lumbered off through the woods, through one tent site (we later learned from that site’s occupants) and then through our tent site. This was the first moose we’d encountered since arriving on IR.

Having survived that Wild Kingdom encounter, we wound our way to the area of the dock to watch the sunrise. We found the trail that led to the rocky outcropping to the right of the dock, and we sat down to watch from there. And: wow. What a show. Moskey sunrises are legendary for a reason. We nearly burned through our phone batteries that very morning, catching all the constantly changing colors of sky and harbor. The water was still; the only disturbance was the tiny wake left by what I assume were a pair of mergansers (or possibly ducks of some variety) trolling the lake’s surface.

Somewhat less beautiful, however, was the scene that awaited us back at camp. We decided to stay at Moskey for at least another night, and planned to reconnoiter all the shelters; we’d move in once a good one was vacated. While Mrs. Moon scoped out the shelters, I took down the tent. Removing the rain fly, I was shocked to find that one of the tent poles had suffered a particularly gruesome greenwood fracture, all splintery and jagged, with half of one section jutting up at a sickening angle. That’s not good.

I gently extricated the wounded pole from the tent and set to work. I set up a makeshift, MASH-worthy surgical suite at the picnic table, and – armed with a tiny single-use tube of superglue, a few zip ties, and a foot or so of duct tape – set that fracture and immobilized it. Once that superglue had dried, I gently slid the pole back into its bag and put away the rest of the tent. I was hopeful Mrs. Moon would be successful in her shelter search. She was.

We moved that morning into shelter number four, which she felt was the best of the lot. Shelter four would be our home for the next two nights. It offered a nice sloping-rock access to the harbor, as well as some privacy in the form of chest-high brush on either side. When the sun had risen enough, we took advantage of this to take a hiker’s bath, and rinse out some clothes. Mrs. Moon later dragged her sleeping bag out to that rock by the water for an afternoon nap (tired as she was from her pre-dawn moose encounter).

Sometime in the afternoon we were visited by a young man – a student at Michigan Tech, studying Forestry and Wildlife Management – looking for a place to stay for the night. We schlepped over to one side all the equipment and clothing we’d flang everywhere when we moved in, to make room for our new roomie. He was the quiet sort – didn’t say much, as the saying goes – and I liked him at once.

We did, however, decide to vacate the shelter for a while to give him some time to settle in. Mrs. Moon’s knee was feeling better (maybe it was the midnight moose magic?) so we decided to hike to the next closest campground to us: Lake Richie. What a difference the lack of a pack makes! I could really get into backpacking without a pack, let me tell you. We arrived at Lake Richie in no time. The sky was graying up a bit, and it threatened rain, but we stayed dry until we arrived back at Moskey. Lake Richie seemed like a nice place if you happen to be a fisherman. Maybe if the weather had been better, and if we’d been prepared to stay for a while to explore, I’d have more to say about it. As it is, the most notable thing about this day hike was what we found on the way back. Somewhere along the trail between Lake Richie and Moskey, we smelled a foul, decaying-meat smell. About the same time we came upon a rather large bone – a femur, I’d guess, and from a moose – that looked relatively fresh and generally gnawed-on. It was sticking out of the brush on one side of the trail, and was a bit gory, still, and generally unpleasant-looking. I snapped a pic, and moved on quickly.

Also found on the trail: thimbleberries. Lots and lots of thimbleberries. We’d found some of them before – especially in and around Daisy Farm – but here, there were vast fields of them, it seemed. We plucked as many as we felt comfortable eating, and stuffed a few in pockets. I’d never tasted a thimbleberry before arriving on IR and they are: delicious.

And but also, just as we approached Moskey, we were (I was, that is) startled by a moose moving parallel to us, quickly, in the woods to our right. I might have screamed; it’s all sort of a blur. Mrs. Moon was none too happy that I thereby ruined her chance at getting a shot of a moose (bumping into one on Latrine Trail in the dark didn’t offer much in the way of photo opportunities). After my involuntary vocalization, the animal veered away from us and quickly disappeared. I began to have a sense that I now believe in Bigfoot; if 2,000 moose can remain so well hidden on a relatively small island, there’s no telling what else might be out there.

Our student boarder went to bed early that night, and we followed not far behind. I read by the light of my solar lantern for only a few pages before my eyelids got as heavy as my pack.

Monday Thumbs Up: zip ties. I’m pretty sure I’ll never go backpacking without some of these, ever. They fixed my tent pole (presumably – we never had a chance to test it again) and they fixed Mrs. Moon’s pack (chest strap stayed in place for the duration). They’re light-as-air and cheap and waterproof. They’re now an Essential Item.

Monday Thumbs Down: fiberglass tent poles. This tent we really like. It was a cheap backpacking tent, and we didn’t expect all that much from it. It’s seven pounds or so – rather on the hefty side – but has lots of interior room for two, and two entrances with two nice covered vestibules. It’s double-walled, and we had it up at home in the yard during a heavy rain with no problems. But I should have gotten the model with aluminum poles, at the very least.

Tuesday 8/27/19

Rain through the night helped, rather than hindered, sleep. I was glad for this shelter. The rainclouds had moved off by dawn, and we once again ventured out to watch the sunrise. But before the sun was fully up, Mrs. Moon wanted to return to the Lake Richie trail, or at least to the bridge heading out of Moskey Basin, to see if perhaps a moose might be willing to pose for her. No such luck. But we did encounter a rather cheeky frog that came toward us on the bridge, in the low light, in what I can only describe as a menacing manner. It didn’t hop at all – it was more like a combination of a combat crawl and a cowboy swagger. He approached us in this manner to within a few feet of our dewy Crocs before diving over the side of the plank bridge into the water.

Our roomie had fleen for Rock Harbor by mid-morning. We decided to stay for a third night at Moskey, the second night in shelter four. Mrs. Moon spent Tuesday afternoon doing some sketching and gouache painting of the scene near the dock. I did a little reading and a little exploring. I was secretly hoping for another moose encounter so I could make up for the unmanly display of the previous day. No such luck.

Bedtime was while it was still light, yet again, and rain once again brought sleep and vivid dreams.


Tuesday Thumbs Up: Walmart Wool Socks. I bought these just for hiking, back in March or April, when we first started talking about going to IR. I don’t recall the brand now. I wore them while hiking (packless) on weekends, trying to prepare for this trip. They’re comfortable, thick, dry quickly (they never really feel saturated, no matter what, even after rinsing in the lake) and have just been great socks.

Tuesday Thumbs Down: Costco Merino Wool Socks. I got these a few weeks before leaving for IR. They feel a bit thinner than the Walmart cheap wool socks, and were quite a bit pricier (though a steal compared to most merino socks, I’m finding). They’re comfortable enough, I suppose, but they seem to hold moisture more than the Walmart socks. That, plus they seem to develop the mange, or some other icky, shedding condition, when worn for hiking. Some white fuzz – which is a part of their makeup – begins to be, like, extruded or excreted through the socks’ pores when under the stress of friction. They look unwell.

Wednesday 8/28/19

A grayer, damper morning. No rushing out to the dock for sunrise pics, but we did watch it come up from the rock porch of our shelter, while drinking our morning coffee. We packed up and hoisted packs, and turned snouts toward Daisy Farm.

The rock ridges we’d passed a few days before were now damp and trickier to navigate. But by this time we seem to have found our trail legs, as they say, and it seemed like a shorter trip than when we traversed it in the opposite direction. Plus, on the ridges there were late blueberries, which is a definite morale-booster. We loaded up my rain jacket’s pockets (because mine is blue, while Mrs. Moon has a green rain jacket) with little ripe berries. As we neared Daisy, the blueberries gave way to thimbleberries and a few raspberries. We had a regular fruit salad by the time we arrived at Daisy, which we mixed with oatmeal for brunch.

It rained on and off from the time of our arrival at Daisy. After settling in at shelter twenty, we considered taking the trail up to Ojibway tower, but ended up changing our mind. We washed and set out to dry some clothing in desperate need of it. I did start up the Ojibway tower trail for a short distance, and came across a good-sized garter snake that seemed to be in some sort of distress. I fear it had been trod upon. Or perhaps it had swallowed some prey and that prey was resisting being swallowed, still. Either way, it was holding its head and neck (do snakes have necks?) at an odd angle as it slithered away from me, slowly and awkwardly. Not sure if I took this as an omen, or if I just felt like hanging around camp, but I turned around and returned to the shelter.

We had a nice conversation with a young couple from the Twin Cities, staying in the next shelter over, who were on their first backpacking trip like us, but who were doing it as an end-to-end. They were tired, let me tell you. They were nearing the tail-end, and were taking a zero day at Daisy Farm.

Rain at night again. It’s a wonderful sound when you’re under a roof.

Wednesday Thumbs Up: Breakfast Skillet. Mrs. Moon prepared and dehydrated lots of good food, which we enjoyed thoroughly on our trip. For breakfast, though, it was invariably Mountain House Breakfast Skillet. We picked it up shortly prior to our departure for IR, based mostly on good reviews. And it’s delicious. Nothing like a hot breakfast on a chilly Lake Superior morning.

Wednesday Thumbs Down: Swiss Family Robinson. I’d agonized over what book to bring to the island, and didn’t want to bring my Kindle. My bifocals are poorly equipped for reading on my little old Samsung phone. So, it had to be a paperback. On the night before departure, I rifled through my Shelf of Paperbacks I’ve Owned Forever and Never Read. I settled on Swiss Family Robinson because – you know – it’s about an island. And it’s a classic, right? It’s also terrible. I found it to be a bit fantastic, in the worst sense of the term, and also offputtingly preachy. Which, I’m no irreligious philistine: I also brought a copy of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, with the Coverdale Psalter in it, which is (to my ears) probably the finest thing ever written in English. But I just could not get into SFR at all.


Topic author
Duffy Moon
LNT Expert
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:56 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 1
Location: Central Ohio

Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Duffy Moon » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:39 pm

Thursday 8/29/19

Up earlier than had been our habit; we thought it was prudent to arrive at Three Mile early, in order to improve our chances at grabbing a shelter. I had done a decent field-repair job on the tent pole, I suppose; but I knew more rain was coming, and I didn’t want to test my fix in that type of environment.

The rocks on the ridges between Daisy and Three Mile were even slipperier than the ones we’d encountered approaching Daisy. On one particularly tilted and treacherous section I finally took a fall and landed on my hand and on my butt, but mainly on my dignity. It took a few minutes to get back upright, and I moved more slowly and deliberately for the remainder of the hike. It rained the entire hike, lightly, and I was wet from perspiration inside my raingear.

We arrived quite early at Three Mile, and some hikers were just leaving shelters. We snagged shelter number five just as it was vacated. During a lull in the intensity of the rain, I went to filter water, but was rewarded by a rapid-onset soaking rain that had me drenched. I retreated to the shelter to wait it out in dry shorts.

When the rain let up and the sun burst through the clouds, we were debating hiking up to Mount Franklin (seems everyone we passed or met told us we’ve GOT to go to Mount Franklin). We decided to try it and see how Mrs. Moon’s knee and my – ah – dignity would handle the climb. Not two hundred yards up the trail, the storm returned in a bad mood, and we retreated hurriedly to our dry shelter. (I’m not normally a superstitious guy; I know I’m coming across that way.)

Thursday Thumbs Up: Mrs. Moon’s Dehydrated Foods. We ate really, really well on this trip. Mrs. Moon had prepared plenty of Ziploc bag meals, and they were all great. Spaghetti and meat sauce. Chili Mac. Some kind of mushroom risotto thingummy. Buffalo Chicken. It was all good, and hot, and just right.

Thursday Thumbs Down: Costco Black Tee Shirts. This is another picky one. I really like these Cool 32 Degrees tee shirts I found at Costco. They’re oh, so comfortable, and dry very quickly. But I wish they weren’t black. On the trail, miles from any washing machine, they’re just too prone to picking up all kinds of gross stuff, detritus, dirt, dust and generally unpleasant things. I felt like I had to keep washing and drying the shirts (I brought two) just for appearance reasons.

Friday 8/30/2019

Once again, we moved quickly – after coffee and a very light breakfast, the first non-hot breakfast, I think? – we were on the trail back to Rock Harbor. This time I recalled the advice I’d gleaned from this form and – remembering our tedious rock-hopping hike of the first day – opted for the Tobin Harbor trail. It’s vastly, totally different from the Rock Harbor side. The slopes are gentler. There’s soil and pine needles where before we’d had rock and rock and mud. It lacked the stark and severe beauty of Rock Harbor, but it was heaven on tired feet. The views were still lovely, just in a more gentle way than the other side.

We arrived early enough, again, to find shelters being evacuated, and we quickly moved into shelter number four. We found ourselves right next to the Wisconsin couple we’d met earlier, who were preparing to leave on the sea plane the next day. We went to the store, purchased tokens for showers and immediately redeemed them. That hot shower was a religious experience. Mystical. There was a little stadium-mustard-yellow tree frog on the showerhead that had to be evicted first, but the shower itself was heavenly.

Cleaned up and in good spirits, we headed for lunch at the Greenstone Grill. Burger for me; soup and pastie for Mrs. Moon. My first Pepsi in a long time. (I’d been trying to quit the soda habit for a while before our trip. I’m a teetotaler, and this is my one beverage-related vice.)

After lunch we took the pack-free (well, nearly – we did have a light day pack with us) hike out to Scoville Point. “Leisurely three hour hike,” the sign says. Ha! We took our time, and absolutely ridiculous numbers of pictures, and spent at least five hours on that trail. That section is probably the most starkly beautiful piece of the planet I’ve ever seen. What an absolute treat to be there and see it, and the weather was perfect. Mrs. Moon was particularly enamored with the flora found there; I think she’s in love with a lichen. She had her macro lens out, and photographed those poor wind-beaten plants to within a millimeter of their lives.

On our return to “town” we ate once again at the Greenstone Grill, mostly because Mrs. Moon’s poor phone needed a fresh charge, and our table next to the outlet just happened to be available. Fish sandwich for me; chicken salad for Mrs. Moon. Another Pepsi. Blueberry cobbler with ice cream. Smiles and sighs all around.

Bedtime was delayed due to the arrival of Bruce (presumably – would wearing a nametag be too much to ask?). Mrs. Moon stumbled into him between our shelter (number four) and the latrine (right across the trail from number four). There was quite a hubbub as other campers discovered him there, including some ladies from the lodge out for a stroll at dusk, who seemed quite taken aback. I was in the shelter, oblivious, until – once again – Mrs. Moon’s latrine visit became suspiciously lengthy. When I exited the shelter and turned the corner toward the latrine, I immediately saw the eye shine. Then two eyes. And but oh my, how far apart those eyes are. How enormous this creature blocking my path must be. Some other campers scampered round behind my shelter where I was – ah – assessing the situation calmly. We watched as some foolhardy thrillseekers seemed to be taking flash photos of the beast at close range. I was – of course – chagrinned to discover that Mrs. Moon was perhaps the chief photographer. Sadly, her exhausted phone wasn’t up to the night-time photographic task, and she had to ask for pics from a newfound friend.

Bruce hung out there for a while, before bedding down right next to our shelter four for the night. He seemed laid in for a long siege. It’s amazing how long a human bladder can hold onto its contents, under the right circumstances. Eventually, sleep came, in anticipation for a day of traveling.

Friday Thumbs Up: Hang Ten Costco Shorts. These are very light weight, look like normal every-day somewhat-dressed-up gray shorts. But they’re so, so light, and dry so quickly. They have a zippered pocket and drawstring so you can use them like swimming shorts. When your Costco Weatherproof Trek Pants are drying, these are your next best option.

Friday Thumbs Down: my makeshift Ziploc bag wallet. I didn’t want to bring my normal, everyday, bulky wallet to the island. (I’m a man of a certain age, and we all have big, thick wallets. All of us.) So, before leaving Ohio, I took the few things I thought I’d need – license, bank card, some cash – and put them in an envelope, inside of a Ziploc bag. This worked out okay on the trail, when I wasn’t actually needing to get into the thing. But when you’re trying to pay your check at the Greenstone Grill, or pay for the awesome IRNP hat you picked out, or pull out your Ranger III tickets – well, it’s clumsy, at best, and makes you feel like a hobo. I think I’d rather just have the wallet.

Saturday 8/31/19

Departure day. It’s really a melancholy time for Mrs. Moon and me. We got a quick breakfast-to-go from the grill, and waited to board. Our pre-departure weigh-in showed a significant drop in food- and water-weight. The weather forecast ensured that the Dramamine would once again remain in my pocket.

On the voyage home – on smooth, sun-lighted seas – we struck up a conversation with a young couple in the upper, forward cabin where Mrs. Moon and I like to sit. The young lady was taking pictures with an old Nikon 35mm camera, which was evidenced by the distinctive click, and by the care and deliberateness she displayed in taking each measured shot. It turns out the young gentleman she was with was the most recent Artist in Residence, just returning to the mainland after eleven days in the Dassler cabin. They were a really nice and interesting couple: she herself had been AIR a few years ago. It made for a stimulating return trip to share the cabin with interesting companion travelers.

Back on mainland soil, we started the long drive home. We stopped in Munising at Eh! Burgers for a bite to eat – very nice meal, and fun place – and spent the night at an Air BnB in Gaylord (below the bridge).

Saturday Thumbs Up: extra batteries for my Samsung phone. I was relying primarily on my Galaxy for pictures. Luckily I have two extra batteries for this phone which – I think – is more efficient than bringing a power bank or any such thing. I still had plenty of juice when we boarded the boat and when we returned to Houghton. And the pictures were: not bad.

Saturday Thumbs Down: My old Nikon Coolpix. I brought this as a backup camera in case I DID run out of juice in my phone. Mrs. Moon ended up using it when she was running low on her iPhone. It takes a decent enough picture, but it weighs more than my two backup batteries, and its own battery is pretty pathetic. It was spent after a few dozen pictures, it seems. Next time, it stays home.

All in all, this was a wonderful trip. I can honestly say that Isle Royale is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I’m not very well-traveled, but still.

So, after such a long and detailed report (again, sorry!) I have a question for the group: How long is it customary to wait before planning your next Isle Royale adventure?


Bobcat1
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Bobcat1 » Thu Sep 05, 2019 3:08 pm

In defense of the Nikon Coolpix. When my beloved Canon Sureshot finally developed some bad pixels or whatever they are called, I tried to buy a new pocket point-and-shoot camera. But there are few options for me as I insist on AA batteries, not rechargeable. I ended up buying a used Nikon Coolpix at that used camera place just north of the Arena district, for $30. And it appears to have survived being dropped in Tobin Harbor although it took a couple days drying out. Hopefully this weekend I will have some time to go through the pics from my first couple days of my trip!
19 RH-ML-TI-RH by kayak
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
09 RH-DF-MC-TH-HL-SD-WC
00 WC-IM-WC
96 WC-FL-SB-SD-HL-CE-3M-RH
94 RH-DF-MB-3M-RH
92 RH-DF-LR-CW-HL-SD-IM-WC


Topic author
Duffy Moon
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Duffy Moon » Thu Sep 05, 2019 3:50 pm

Sadly, my Coolpix is a version with a permanent, rechargeable battery. At least, I think it's permanent. I should probably look into that.

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dcclark
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by dcclark » Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:20 pm

Don't apologize for the long TR. I'd like to see more in this level of detail!

I had a good laugh over many parts of your report. I too suffer from total lack of hips, and I have to do the same slip-lift-cinch trick with my fancy-schmancy Osprey pack. It's just a cross that we have to bear, I guess.

I also laughed at the motocross grasshoppers. Never heard them described that way, but I immediately knew what you meant. They're a UP favorite and part of the sound of late summer.

Glad to hear that you had a wonderful time at Moskey. It's a favorite for a reason.

And finally, in answer to your question: Traditionally, I start planning my next trip about 2/3 of the way through my current trip. I think some others plan 2 or 3 trips at a time.


Adrift
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Adrift » Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:11 pm

Great report!
I believe we were camped right next to you Wednesday night! We were also first timers and located in central Ohio.

We were in shelter 21 if I remember correctly, right next to the Objiway trailhead. We saw the garter snake as well but left it undisturbed. The trail to the Objiway tower was nice and the views were great. Nice hike without the packs. Gives you a reason to go back and hit it next time.

Nice that you had several moose encounters. We only had one. We spotted a calf first. I didn't realize it was a calf (ok, I'm not a moose expert:)) until I noticed the much larger mother further into the woods and we decided to move along. Not exactly a close encounter but at least we saw a couple.


Topic author
Duffy Moon
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Duffy Moon » Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:46 pm

dcclark wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:20 pm

And finally, in answer to your question: Traditionally, I start planning my next trip about 2/3 of the way through my current trip. I think some others plan 2 or 3 trips at a time.
Well, by that accounting, it seems I'm way behind!


Topic author
Duffy Moon
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Duffy Moon » Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:49 pm

Adrift wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:11 pm
Great report!
I believe we were camped right next to you Wednesday night! We were also first timers and located in central Ohio.

We were in shelter 21 if I remember correctly, right next to the Objiway trailhead. We saw the garter snake as well but left it undisturbed. The trail to the Objiway tower was nice and the views were great. Nice hike without the packs. Gives you a reason to go back and hit it next time.
Interesting! Wish we'd been more neighborly, then! Let us know when you're going back and we'll go out of our way to be more outgoing...;)


Topic author
Duffy Moon
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Duffy Moon » Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:50 am

Hard to believe I left anything out of that enormous wall of text above, but a few things that ought to be in trip-reports was left out.

In addition to the wildlife mentioned in the report, we also encountered:
1) one red fox, with black feet (I always thought they were white?) at Moskey Basin, working the catwalk just outside the campgrounds.
2) another moose - encountered at sunrise at Moskey, while watching from the rock ridge just to the left of the dock; we could only just make it out splashing and wading by the shore to our left.
3) an enormous red-headed (not the species name, just a description of its appearance) woodpecker, Woody-style, bigger than a crow, which flew ahead of us in stages and appeared to stop at times to wait for us, on the way back from Scoville Point.
4) another hare, which seemed unbothered by our intrusion, also on the trail from Scoville.
5) a pair of sandhill cranes, red-headed and huge, by the side of the road in the UP on our way home.
6) at Moskey Basin, sitting at the picnic table, I was buzzed by a hummingbird - interested in either my mirrored glasses or my hat - and its sudden appearance at my temple caused a brief moment of undignified breakdancing.

Also: very few mosquitos were found. We brought deet, but rarely used any. Biting flies were an irritant only on Stoll Trail. Nowhere else were we bothered by them.

As to temperatures - we brought a cheap thermometer, I think, dangling from one of the packs, but never looked at it. If I had to estimate it, pretty much every day was in that sweet spot (for me) between 65 df and 71 df. Nights were: chillier than I'd planned for, but not bone-chilling.
Last edited by Duffy Moon on Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:09 am, edited 1 time in total.


JHammer1
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by JHammer1 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:07 am

Read your every word. Thank you thank you. Garrison Keillor tips his hat. My trip begins tomorrow and I hope it mirrors yours.


Bobcat1
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Bobcat1 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:33 am

Those crow-size red-headed woodpeckers are the Pileated (pill'-ee-ate-ed) Woodpecker. generally uncommon, but if you hear one drumming on a dead tree you will recognize the sound! They may be common on IsRo, I am not sure. They are on the "Birds of the Great Lakes" ID card I took with me on my trip.
19 RH-ML-TI-RH by kayak
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
09 RH-DF-MC-TH-HL-SD-WC
00 WC-IM-WC
96 WC-FL-SB-SD-HL-CE-3M-RH
94 RH-DF-MB-3M-RH
92 RH-DF-LR-CW-HL-SD-IM-WC


Topic author
Duffy Moon
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Duffy Moon » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:51 am

JHammer1 wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:07 am
Read your every word. Thank you thank you. Garrison Keillor tips his hat. My trip begins tomorrow and I hope it mirrors yours.
Thanks! Hoping your trip goes swimmingly as well!


Topic author
Duffy Moon
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Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:56 pm
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Location: Central Ohio

Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by Duffy Moon » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:52 am

Bobcat1 wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:33 am
Those crow-size red-headed woodpeckers are the Pileated (pill'-ee-ate-ed) Woodpecker. generally uncommon, but if you hear one drumming on a dead tree you will recognize the sound! They may be common on IsRo, I am not sure. They are on the "Birds of the Great Lakes" ID card I took with me on my trip.
A quick google image search seems to agree - that's I think what we were following. Thanks for the I.D.


torpified
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Re: TR: 8/23 – 8/31 2019 [RH-3M-DF-MB-LR-MB-DF-3M-RH] First Timer

Post by torpified » Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:31 am

fantastic, fantastic report! Thanks!

Upon first setting foot on the island, I entered a chronic state of planning my next trip.

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