Posting a 2019 TR that I never got around to. Was inspired by TopCarrot's mention in their TR that the pandemic is probably interrupting many plans this season - hope this can provide some enjoyment. Copied just about verbatim from my journal I kept during the trip.
9/23 Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor, on to Daisy Farm
Decent rainstorm last night which subsided by morning. We ate a quick breakfast and made our way to the ferry dock. The ride over on the Queen was as nice as I remember it; we met David and Micah from Manitowac WI and I dozed a bit during the ride. At RH, most things were closed so we permitted and got out of there, making good time to an empty Three Mile and then on through challenging mud to Daisy Farm. Our shelter (12) has a good view of the lake and we spent some time sunning on the huge dock.
We stuck our feet in the water for an icy-cold soak, which was really painful until my feet got good and numb. There's a backpacker here from CA who was camping at McCargoe, said it was nice so I'm looking forward to seeing it a few days. The weather just turned out spectacular today, blue sky with a few clouds, a nice breeze out here on the dock so I do have my jacket on. We filtered some water and I'll probably read for a bit before we make dinner. I'm glad we have a shelter tonight; I don't think we'll have one until McCargoe in a few days.
We each had a thimbleberry today, although mine should've sat on the bush a little longer, it was still tasty. There is even a delicious apple tree here and I've already eaten a few apples from it, which are really small but really tasty, like a golden delicious but with a little more tartness. Definitely didn't see that last time. I also didn't remember so many cool mushrooms, or even so much mud on the trails. Both might have to do with the heavy rains. On the dock now and the water is lapping on the wood, it's close to 6:00 and the sun is slowly starting to go down, and the water is so clear and the trees look lovely all around.
9/24 Daisy Farm to East Chickenbone
Had as good a sleep as I get in the wilderness, got cold in the night but I didn't have to put on any layers. The stars before we went to bed were really incredible, as there's so little light pollution here. Left around 10:30 and had some great views on the Greenstone, including over the channel into Canada. After a few photo, snack, and water stops we pulled into our campsite a little before 2:00. A couple of girls we saw earlier were here, but maybe just for lunch. They seem to have left, and people might be deterred because you have to walk to water here.
We're spread out at our site, airing out gear and feet. D is on his sleeping bag in the shade, taking a quick nap. Another absolutely gorgeous day with clear blue skies and light breezes. It's around 5 now, I had to walk a little ways to get water, but I got plenty so we should be okay for a while. D and I have put some of our hanging gear in the tent and we're airing out our feet some more. Clearest blue sky has given way to mixed clouds, but nothing too ominous yet. We are (so far) alone at our site save one man at the group site whose group is going around the lake. He has lots of audiobooks to listen to. I'm going to read some short stories before an early dinner - I don't know if I'll stay out for the stars tonight, but we'll see.
9/25 East Chickenbone to Hatchet
It's about quarter to 5:00 and we've been here at Hatchet for a little over two hours. We started around 9:30 and had a really nice hike along the Greenstone, with some beautiful views of MI, Canada, and of course Ryan Island in Siskiwit Lake. Today's hike, about 3 miles longer than yesterday's, was certainly a challenge. My feet are complaining a bit but they are not too blistered, our pace is kind of slow but I think it's the best that D and I can manage together.
At camp we got our gear set up pretty quickly to take advantage of the sun and wind to help us dry. There were intermittent droplets which had me scrambling to put the sleeping bags in the tent and then take them back out when the sun came around. This was pretty silly. Today's ~9.3 mi was challenging, we will have about 10.5 mi tomorrow which should be even more so. Heading for McCargoe, there is prospect of both a fire and a shelter, and the following day we won't travel at all, giving us good rest before the long push to Lane Cove.
Today we each had a tuna packet along with the usual nuts and granola bar, so that was a nice boost. The scattered showers have cleared for now, looks like conditions should be okay this evening. This is the first campsite that I've been in before, and we're staying at site 3 which is flatter and more open than 2. It's closer to the bathroom, which I used with the door open for a view of the lake (nice). No thimbleberries today, fall is truly here so I doubt more will ripen.
There's a woodpecker or two in our midst, but they are working gently, not rattling. I'm getting my feet to dry a bit, but the damp boots will still be damp tomorrow morning. It's 5:25 now and we'll start dinner around 6, probably in the bags early for our early start tomorrow. I think we're both tired today but we'll feel pretty good tomorrow morning for our big trek.
9/26 Hatchet to McCargoe
4PM and pure bliss here on the dock at McCargoe. Feels like the sun will shine forever on this pure blue sky day. Our hike from Hatchet started around 8:30 with a few moose sightings along the way. Impressive beaver activity on the lake trail heading north, and we were at Todd Harbor fairly quickly. A long but usually-manageable slog over the Minong, sometimes with great views across to Canada. A fox even peeked out in the middle of the day. Along with the beaver we saw at Chickenbone and the moose throughout, some good sightings.
Most of our time here at the cove been spent on the dock - sunning, drying off, and for both of us, a quick dip in the water to rinse off some grime. I'm still soaking my sore feet right now, but when I got out of the lake and danced the water off in the sun and wind and then put on a clean short and sweater, well I feel brand new. There's a small flock of some of those red-headed ducks on the shore, they went out to swim earlier but they're back now, with their heads tucked into their bodies.
Arriving here in such good time and such good weather has been a huge thrill, and as of yet we haven't seen anyone else arrive at the site (it's a good thing they didn't when we took a swim). We tried the Patagonia smoked salmon packets today, which were truly delicious and a step up from the Kroger tuna we had the other day which was also really good. My feet are back in the water, the ducks have gone for a swim, D is gathering wood and I'll sip some Long Road and enjoy this moment.
About 5:30 now and I haven't really left the dock except to gather wood, which was was a bit treacherous but I found a red black diamond headlamp (that still works). It looks like an animal might've even tried to chew on it, maybe a fox stealing it? It's interesting what gets left behind. Besides that, I've picked up a bit of cord, a bit of bungee cord, and a stick-on patch that looks like it'd work on a tent. Anyways, we have a good bit of wood for our fire tonight after we make dinner. Still no one else has shown up that I've seen. McCargoe is awesome! Funny (but not surprising) the impact weather has on memorability of a site, like my time at Feldtmann last trip.
9/27 McCargoe Cove
Slept well in the shelter last night, a bit of rain here and there and woke up this morning to cloudy skies. I was up and out of my bag after 9, so I slept quite late! D and I had our oatmeal breakfast, we put extra nuts in and so I could barely finish mine. Then we hit the trail for a short walk to the Minong mine. We ended up having two sets of neighbors at our campsite last night and one of the couples was there. The mine was pretty spectacular, huge heaps of poor rock, old pits, equipment, even railroad tracks from where they hauled ore out of the pits. We walked through a tunnel of one of the pits which was cool but pretty spooky. My new headlamp came in handy. I was saying to D how it's interesting the activity we saw represented over a decade of grueling work, the same work which with today's machines could probably be accomplished in a few days.
After our return to the cove we've been sitting on the dock, filtering some water, and enjoying the intermittent sunshine that comes our way. It's only the one other couple that are here right now, so I wonder if anyone else will show up tonight. We have a long hike tomorrow so we are probably going to skip making a fire (which we had last night, pretty good, even with birch). We'll each eat a whole freeze dried meal to fuel up as best we can for the trek. I'll hope for good weather and trail conditions. But for now, it's not even 2pm, so I'll just enjoy more rest.
Around 5:30 now, D and I decided to make a fire around 4:00 for something to do, and it helps to keep warm. We've burned most all of what we collected. I keep having good luck finding firewood. There seems to be a whole stash that a beaver might have left behind, and I found a ton more by the outhouse. Whatever the cause, it's served me well. Skies turned to dark cloudy, but the rain held out on us - cloudy now still but less ominous, with some blue patches here and there. When's dinner? I'm excited to eat a big meal.
9/28 McCargoe Cove to Lane Cove
Long but very good day with absolutely amazing weather. Almost perfectly clear blue sky from this morning when we got up at 7:00. On the trail at 8, and made stellar time along the Greenstone, taking in the best views. Up the steps at the Mt. Ojibway tower and it couldn't get better. On a break, a fox came within 10 feet of us just to hang out, and then show off the plants it could jump up and get.
The Mt. Ojibway to Mt. Franklin segment is by far the most scenic I've experienced in the Park. At the junction, our slow descent into Lane Cove was rougher than the previous 10 miles we ground out, but we arrived in good time, around 2:00, I think, and made camp. The sun is quite low, and so we're fairly cold here, but since it's tent sites we will probably be plenty warm tonight. Being able to look out from our site and see Canada (I think) is really cool.
9/29 Lane Cove to Rock Harbor
Good full day today, started just before 9 and got to the Lane Cove junction on the Greenstone in less than an hour. From there, our descent into the RH area (via the superior Tobin Harbor trail) was fairly straightforward, and we got to our shelter around noon.
RH is completely deserted, it seems. The store is closed for good, no intermittent openings, no restaurant, no VC hours today, nothing (as expected). Not even the drinking water spigots are open - we filtered from the lake - but there is toilet paper in the outhouses, so that's a plus. Shortly after our arrival, D and I took the Stoll trail to Scoville Point, with excellent views and the powerful Superior waves crashing, which give a feel of the ocean more than anything else.
All in all, I/we feel pretty good, tired feet of course. Mine held up well with new silk liners I tried, but I definitely didn't come out unscathed. We ate almost all of our food, we have chana masala tonight and mac n' cheese tomorrow, and oatmeal with some nuts to fill in the gaps besides. I'm really looking forward to a beer at Brickside. I wonder how long it'll take for food to become normal again, because usually it's pretty quick for me. But this is the most consecutive nights (7?) of backpacking that I've ever done, so who knows.
Isle Royale is certainly a very special place, and I've seen a lot of it after only two trips. Even so, I know there is more to see and do and I'll be excited to come back again soon.
9/30 Isle Royale Queen IV
2:35 and we're pushing off from Rock Harbor, not too many people on the boat, but it feels warm and full. We're rocking pretty good so I don't know how long I'll be able to keep writing. Cap'n says the first part will be the roughest.
Last boat! Pretty cool to be here for it, especially this season since J took the first one.
9/23 RH-DF 8mi
9/24 DF-ECB 6.1mi
9/25 ECB-HL 9.3mi
9/26 HL-MC 10.7mi
9/27 MC 0mi (Minong Mine +2mi)
9/28 MC-LC 13mi
9/29 LC-RH 6.9mi (Scoville Point +4.2mi)
Approx. total = 60mi
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It sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing it, especially this year when so few of us can even make it to the island!
Glad you liked it! Yes, we were spectacularly lucky with the weather. Clear days on our hikes and only rain at night or in a shelter.dcclark wrote: ↑Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:40 pm What a lovely trip report! It sounds like you really hit the jackpot with weather. From your description and living in the UP for many years, I can almost see that late fall blue sky and feel the bite of the wind. I remember walking out on the spit of rock next to the dock in McCargo one rainy August day and feeling like it was early November downstate.
It sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing it, especially this year when so few of us can even make it to the island!
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You're welcome!torpified wrote: ↑Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:35 am THANKS for this wonderful report. I love the immediacy, and admire your foraging skills (thimbleberries, firewood, apples, a headlamp for exploring the Minong Mine)! I think it's one of dcclark's maxims that you start planning the next IR trip no later than partway through your current one --- have you thought about what you'll do on your next visit?
I'd love to cross the Greenstone (by way of Feldtmann) again. I did it solo in 18 but would like to go back with D, as we couldn't cross the island in 19 due to our schedule and ferry schedules not lining up.
Sites I've never seen that I'd like to stay at include Siskiwit and S. Desor. We are tentatively planning another end-of-season trip this year, and so we would try to hit both. But with Siskiwit dock construction, we may skip if it's still being worked on.
I also need to see Rainbow cove during a Feldtmann visit, as in 18 I was too tired (and soggy) to take the trip in the same day as coming from Island Mine...