TR: 7/29-8/11, 2020 [Hiking] [An east-end itinerary: RH > TM > DF > MB > TM > LC > RH]

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TR: 7/29-8/11, 2020 [Hiking] [An east-end itinerary: RH > TM > DF > MB > TM > LC > RH]

Post by Kelly »

Expect this TR to unfold in a leisurely fashion, much like our recently completed visit.

Day 0: Thursday, July 30

Like many of us this year, it was the first time on the seaplane for me and my traveling companion (henceforth known as TC). It was in fact her first visit to the island (and my sixth). Unlike other years, I got a good night's sleep the night before, partly because I didn't have to worry about oversleeping, as our flight wasn't until 4 pm.

We stopped at the Keweenaw Co-op Market & Deli for a few meal items and a last chance for fresh food before heading over to the seaplane.

The seaplane ride was loud, and faster than any ferry. We found out much later that earplugs were offered to other passengers and so knew to ask for them on the return flight.

Ranger Katie conducted our LNT orientation and permitting. It became clear that the group of five also on our flight had different expectations about their short visit, and she worked with them to make it an enjoyable success.

And then we were off to Three Mile via the Tobin Harbor Trail. I prefer it when I have a full pack, and then I like it on the return trip as a peaceful way to wind down.

Two notes:
  • Throughout the trip, we encountered other hikers on every section of trail except three, which will be noted later.
  • Without exception, we encountered deadfall on every section of trail we hiked, and we dealt with it in the usual ways. You will, too.
Last edited by Kelly on Wed Aug 12, 2020 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Day 1: Friday, July 31

Post by Kelly »

Woke up on Isle Royale for the first time this year!

Met the nice couple in the shelter next door. Our conversation contained the seed of a theme that remained unchanged until our last day--until then, every person I spoke with in which this came up said that this trip was their first to the island. This seems remarkable, and I'll be curious to see if actual numbers show a similar trend.

We hiked in beautiful weather to Daisy Farm, warm enough to inspire TC to leap off the dock into the refreshing waters of Lake Superior. On one of our breaks, we napped along the trail, and I woke to a couple of probable black fly bites on my arm.
Last edited by Kelly on Wed Aug 12, 2020 3:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Day 2: Saturday, August 1

Post by Kelly »

This is the first backpacking trip in which I haven't carried a hydration reservoir, instead relying on bottles. One important benefit is that I'm forced to stop frequently to drink water, which is good because I'm not very good at stopping for breaks. In general, we made stops about every half hour throughout the trip.

Today's destination was Moskey Basin, which means that one of those stops was at the stream that crosses the trail as you near Moskey from the east. It's a pleasant place to have a snack, read a book, and take a nap.

Once at Moskey, I waded into the water in front of our shelter with my cellphone in my pocket, a watery mishap from which it recovered the next day.

Our run of good weather ended on this evening. After we ate supper and were tucked into our sleeping bags, the heavens unleashed a pouring rain. In the moment, the experience of being warm inside a shelter while it's raining outside is hard to beat.
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Day 3: Sunday, August 2

Post by Kelly »

Our first zero day at Moskey dawned free of rain. TC took off for a day hike to Lake Ritchie, while I slept in. By the time I woke up, I had the place to myself.

I spent much of the day exploring around Moskey and looking for good reading spots. One reading spot is good; several are preferred so that I can move around when the fancy strikes. I know I got a lot of steps in without leaving camp, because my Fitbit told me.

TC reported that the trail between Moskey and Lake Ritchie was full of ripe thimbleberries today. Until now, we'd found the occasional one.

Eventually hikers began to arrive, and the shelters may have filled up again. A neighbor came to ask if we had something in which to fry his fish. All we had was a mess kit someone had left behind in the shelter, and that may have served the purpose. Thank you, leaver of the mess kit!

The evening sky was hidden with clouds, so the sun set without fanfare.
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Day 4: Monday, August 3

Post by Kelly »

On our second zero day at Moskey, TC decided that she'd like to day hike to McCargoe. Yesterday she'd been making noises about day hiking to Chippewa Harbor and this new idea seemed a little further out there.

I am not a fast hiker (more of an ambler, or maybe a plodder), yet I was intrigued by the idea even though I considered the chances of my success to be low.

So I set out about an hour after TC, keeping to the same schedule of breaks every thirty minutes. In this fashion, I made it to the Greenstone Ridge, where TC was waiting. We had each already decided that the ridge was the furthest we would go on this day, so after a break we headed back to Moskey.

On the return trip, I ignored my own good advice to take regular breaks. That, coupled with the 13-mile round-trip distance (what zero day?) made the last mile into Moskey seem like the longest two miles of the day.

Image

After supper, we both went to bed, fortunately waking up in time to see a stunning orange Moon just beginning to clear the treetops across the harbor, a spectacular conclusion to our last full day at Moskey.

Image
Last edited by Kelly on Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:13 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Day 5: Tuesday, August 4

Post by Kelly »

Today's hike back to Three Mile wasn't a bad hike, but my feet hurt. A big bonus was the wild blueberries that had ripened since we last passed this way a few days earlier. After eating a few handfuls, we picked some for later.

As we drew near to Three Mile, TC startled a moose on the trail (TC was startled,too!). Our first moose! It quickly moved off the trail and continued to browse its way over the hill until it was out of sight.

Once again on this evening I woke up in time to see the Moon rising.
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Day 6: Wednesday, August 5

Post by Kelly »

Sometime in the middle of an often-sleepless night, I began to wonder if I was eating enough calories.

I'd been puzzling over my relatively neutral reaction to yesterday's moose encounter. Over the years, I've slowly been reducing the quantity of food I take on backpacking trips, and on this trip I was down to about 350 grams a day, plus extra in case of seaplane delay. And now it seemed that I had reached a level too low relative to my activity level. So I resolved to start eating some of those "extra" calories.

Today's destination was Lane Cove, which was my first visit to this campground. I'd intentionally left it to the end of the itinerary so that our packs would be lighter as I'd heard...things about the Lane Cove trail.

Once on the Greenstone Ridge, we took in the view at the Mount Franklin overlook. While I've been there before, it was the first time I could identify Belle Isle, since I spent a few days there last fall, as well as Amygdaloid Island. And of course Canada.

And then! Before us, in a small body of water down below, appeared a bull moose! We watched him feeding for a while, sometimes completely submerged in his search for delicious plants.

Then we headed back to the trail junction and headed down the Lane Cove trail. There were some partially washed out sections, but they were navigable.

As we neared one of the first beaver ponds, TC spotted a calf on one side of the boardwalk and thought she heard another moose on the other side. Sure enough, a cow was eating lunch on the other side of the boardwalk. So we made ourselves comfortable until the cow crossed over to the other side. At their earliest convenience, we crossed over with our packs and continued watching.

When we finally left, I noticed that my Fitbit Flex had come off during one of the pack changes. A few minutes of searching turned up nothing. I lost my last Fitbit Flex in similar circumstances at Windigo two years ago. Sorry Isle Royale!

The last mile into Lane Cove felt like the longest three miles of the day. We got the last site available, and were glad of it.
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Day 7: Thursday, August 6

Post by Kelly »

On this first zero day at Lane Cove, we moved from site 1 to site 4 due to its better lake view. Everyone left, so we had our pick.

In the afternoon, we made sun prints using sun print paper I'd brought. We improvised a fixing basin out of a dry bag. Our images included cedar, thimbleberry leaves, birch bark, and other objects from around our camp site.

Image

Culinary aside: Forest Gnocchi We'd each brought 50 g of a DeLallo Gnocchi Kit, plus some flour and a piece of parchment paper for rolling out. They turned out surprisingly well. We added a favorite Knorr sauce mix and butter, and it was delicious.
Last edited by Kelly on Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Day 8: Friday, August 7

Post by Kelly »

I woke at 1:15 am and was mighty pleased to discover that I had slept that whole stretch from the time I went to bed until then. Then I promptly went back to sleep.This is notable because of the insomnia I suffered from during most of the trip.

At 1:35, TC woke me with "Wake up! There's a moose!" And apparently there had been one snorting and sniffing at the foot of our tent before clopping off over the rocks to splash in the lake. The only part of this I heard was a splash. Plus I thought I saw it through my binoculars, but that was only a bull moose-shaped bush that looked that way from my specific angle and only at night.

While I slept in, TC day hiked to Mount Franklin. I made a few more solar prints in the morning, read, and otherwise lazed the day away. It was my last day of an oatmeal breakfast, as I don't like to use my stove on hiking days. I am a member of the meditative Order of the Twig Stove, closely related to the Order of the Sawyer Squeeze but far fewer in number, and it's kind of a hassle to have to quickly pack up after cooking.

Image

Image

Like all of the days that preceded it, this one also had beautiful weather. The only spot of bad weather during all this time was the one night of rain at Moskey Basin back on day 2.
Last edited by Kelly on Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:21 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Day 9: Saturday, August 8

Post by Kelly »

And then. At 5:57 am the rain began to fall. And fall. And since neither of us were in an hurry to break camp while it was raining, we waited an hour. And still it rained. So we ate breakfast and broke camp anyway. In our haste to leave I forgot to clean up my twig stove spot. Sorry Isle Royale!

The climb out of Lane Cove and the return hike on the Tobin Harbor trail, while wet, were significantly less bad than we had expected. Both of us wore our camp shoes for the hike, as our feet were going to be wet anyway, and they were. The temperature was comfortable, so we weren't freezing. And our packs were lighter than they had ever been.

Note that both directions on the Lane Cove trail and the return hike on the Tobin Harbor trail are the only sections where we didn't encounter another hiker.

By the time we reached the Greenstone, the rain had mostly stopped. Fog shrouded the ridges below us, and the blueberries were plentiful.

On arriving at Rock Harbor, we found no available shelters and heard talk of seaplane delays due to that fog. We weren't due to fly out until the following afternoon. Ranger Katie told us that a shelter would be opening up later, so we hung around the dock and dreamt of drying out.

That shelter did open up, and while we were waiting for its occupants to pack up, I noticed a couple that seemed to be looking for a shelter. TC and I had already discussed under what circumstances we would invite others to share our shelter, and it seemed wise to make the choice ourselves rather than wait for a request.

Indeed, J and R were looking for a shelter, and they accepted. They'd just come in from their hike on the Greenstone from Windigo, and they were due out on the same flight on the following day as us.

I think the seaplane managed to squeeze one more flight out on this day that included two members of a now-stranded Boy Scout troop.
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Days 10, 11, and 12

Post by Kelly »

Our last three days on the island were a medley of seaplane updates (tip: if you see fog in Rock Harbor, the seaplane is probably not flying, so you don't need a ranger to tell you what's happening), drying out some more, day hikes to Scoville Point, reading, playing cards, and conversation. The store ran out of potato chips (fortunately for me) and beer (not so fortunate for others).

We were supposed to fly out at 3 pm on day 10. J and R flew out at 5 pm on day 11, and we flew out at 9 am on day 12, the last of the stranded visitors.

TC and I were so very fortunate that J and R happened to join us in our shelter. They are great people and made our time on the island even more special.

Everyone we encountered during the delays was good-natured about it, because what are you going to do?

TC called the Boy Scout troop leader Mr. Morale, because he was unfailingly upbeat, bought snacks for the boys, and passed on generational knowledge of early '80s film culture.

I've left out so much: loons! white-throated sparrows! the red squirrel with a nose smeared with thimbleberry juice! the thrill of knowing that my legs work better than ever! a sandhill crane family! baby mergansers learning to feed themselves! the smell of cedars! all of the little sights and sounds that make a visit to Isle Royale one of the best parts of the year!

And pictures! I have set up an album here, and perhaps soon I will add some images (note that I haven't processed anything from the last two years, so don't hold your breath).

Thus concludes this trip report.
Last edited by Kelly on Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR: 7/29-8/11, 2020 [Hiking] [An east-end itinerary: RH > TM > DF > MB > TM > LC > RH]

Post by Hobbes »

Thank you for this TR! Sounds like a great trip. I know you were East-ending, but did you happen to hear anything from Rangers or visitors about the status of Siskiwit dock replacement?

Planning a trip end of next month and expecting it to still be going on, but just curious...

Thanks!
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Re: TR: 7/29-8/11, 2020 [Hiking] [An east-end itinerary: RH > TM > DF > MB > TM > LC > RH]

Post by IncaRoads »

Great trip report!

I liked the ample use of layover (zero mile) days.
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Re: TR: 7/29-8/11, 2020 [Hiking] [An east-end itinerary: RH > TM > DF > MB > TM > LC > RH]

Post by Kelly »

Hobbes wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 2:10 pm :idea:
Thank you for this TR! Sounds like a great trip. I know you were East-ending, but did you happen to hear anything from Rangers or visitors about the status of Siskiwit dock replacement?
You're welcome! I didn't hear anything, and I didn't ask.
Last edited by Kelly on Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: TR: 7/29-8/11, 2020 [Hiking] [An east-end itinerary: RH > TM > DF > MB > TM > LC > RH]

Post by Kelly »

IncaRoads wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:35 pm Great trip report!

I liked the ample use of layover (zero mile) days.
Thanks! Zero days are the best!
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