TR 9-8 to 9-16 2017 Rock Harbor to Windigo with kayking and back.

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TR 9-8 to 9-16 2017 Rock Harbor to Windigo with kayking and back.

Post by teddy12b » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:55 am

Isle Royale National Park 9-8 to 9-16 2017 Notes
Sept 7th Thursday:

Drove through the night to get to the Ferry in Houghton on time.
On the drive we saw some northern lights, deer, a fox, and two moose.

Sept 8th Friday:
Rock Harbor -> Duncan Bay 10.2 miles kayaking
Arrived at dock around 4:15am. Slept in the car for about an hour or so. Had breakfast at a local diner.
Once the ferry got us on the island we got in kayaks and paddled to Duncan Narrows. There was a speed boat there and the shelter was full so we kept paddling down to Duncan Bay. At Duncan Bay there were 3 groups of people already there. Both shelters and the campsite were full so we just camped in some trees outside one of the shelters. One of the groups there were some fisherman who had a good day catching and invited everyone over for a fish fry. Very nice people and the next morning they offered pancakes and a hot shower to anyone interested as well. We graciously turned down the pancakes and hot field shower just because it felt a little like cheating. Everyone at the site was very nice and friendly.
Weather was great.

Sept 9th Saturday:
Duncan Bay -> Birch Island 9.9 miles kayaking
We slept in till around 10:00am. Once we got up we paddled to Birch Island after having to cross 3 portages. At the second portage we had a mountain house lunch. At the third portage it was mismarked on the map and not nearly as far down as is shown on the map. It was just past the campsite shown on the map. During this actual portage a plastic buckle broke on my Teva sandals. They were well used and abused sandals, but I was genuinely surprised to see a piece like this break. I used some 550 cord and it was an easy field fix.
At Birch Island we had our own campsite and there was a pair of guys in the shelter. They were there kayaking and fishing. Later a boat pulled up to the dock and they just slept in their boat that night.
We got to bed around 9:00pm.

Sept 10th Sunday:
Birch Island -> Todd Harbor -> Little Todd 8.2 mi kayak, 7.0 mi backpack
We got up around 7:00am. Squirrels had been bombing Paul’s tent with pinecones while they munched on seeds high above in the trees.
We were out on the water around 9:00am. The kayaking was relatively easy for waves, but the wind was right in our face the whole time and was fairly exhausting.
Once we got to Todd Harbor we had quick bathes then we packed up our backpacks and stowed the kayaks off the trail.
We hiked to Little Todd campsite and I drank about 3 liters of water. We had all the campsite all to ourselves, but the darker it got the more mosquitos came out. We jumped in the water for a quick cleanse like we did at Todd Harbor and by the time we were dried off the mosquitos were all over us.
On the way to the campsite we saw plenty of moose tracks, and got a picture of a wolf print. There were lots of trees that were snapped in half anywhere from 6’ – 8’ high above the ground.
In the hammock at 9:30pm.

Sept 11th Monday:
Little Todd -> Washington Creek 17.3 mi backpack
Left Little Todd around 9:30am.
From little Todd to North Desor to Windigo was very rough. We had to cross several beaver damns that were sketchy at best. During the last crossing we kept hearing something in the next beaver damn over splashing and making noise but couldn’t see it because of the trees in the way. Once we started moving past the animal would walk parallel to us just out of sight. We’d had our headlamps on for a while at this point and couldn’t see the animal till I pulled out a more powerful pocket flashlight and sure enough a moose had been keeping up with us.
This days hike was tough. We both drank 12 liters of water and it took around 16 hours. Finally got to bed around 12:45 ish. I got several blisters on my feet.

Sept 12th Tuesday:
Washington Creek -> South Lake Desor 11.3 mi backpack
At 1:30am this morning I kept hearing something. I got up and there was a female moose in the water. She was splashing around eating something not 50 yards from where I was sleeping. I tried every trick I knew to get a good picture but ultimately failed to do so. I was still exhausted and just went back to my hammock after a while.
In the morning I did a count on blisters. 2 on my right foot 3 on my left, otherwise I felt great.
We walked into the Windigo store and there wasn’t much left. Everything had been picked over.
We got on the Greenstone Trail around 2:00 in the afternoon and by the time we got to South Desor Campsite, setup camp and got in my hammock it was 10:00pm.
While we were setting up camp a big beautiful fox walked in within 15 feet of Paul being quiet as a mouse.

Sept 13th Wednesday:
South Lake Desor -> Todd Harbor 11.8 mi backpack
We left South Desor around 10:30 and were sitting around eating dinner with camp all setup at Todd Harbor 9:15pm. We got a good laugh at how weird it felt for us to be getting a camp setup during daylight.
A nice young couple from Chicago had a campfire going and we enjoyed that with them for a little bit.
The hike had been tough because my feet were so beat up. From South Desor to Hatchet lake every step felt like walking on gravel or broken glass. From Hatchet to Todd Harbor the pain went away. 5 blisters on left foot, and 3 on the right at this point.
I had two dinners that night because I’d skipped dinner the previous two nights.

Sept 14th Thursday:
Todd Harbor -> Duncan Bay 17.3 mi kayak
We paddled from Todd Harbor all the way back to Duncan Bay with all 3 portages again.
We got into camp at 7:30pm which was the earliest we’d stopped that week at that point. We had a shelter for the first time all week that night which worked out well because it rained pretty hard that night.
I laid down at 9:45 that night and still felt like I was rocking in my kayak. We watched the lightning in the distance. The thunder and rain woke us up several times, but quickly fell back asleep.

Sept 15th Friday:
Duncan Bay -> Rock Harbor 6.9 mi kayak, 2.4 mi Portage
We started at Duncan Bay and paddled against the wind on our way to Blake’s Point. Were still had another 1.5 miles or more to go to get around the point, but the waves were getting high enough that it was unsafe to go any further. We had waves hitting us from every side and the water was churning making the 17.5’ boats feel like they were fishtailing. At the bottom of the swales we couldn’t see anything but water. Maybe, Paul could have kept going, but when the waves get over my head I know I’m out of the zone I’m willing to take risks in. We turned our kayaks around and ended up having to do a .8 mile portage 3 times to avoid the waves. We did the portage once with everything we could stuff in our backpacks, then on the other side we emptied our packs and headed back for another trip. Back at the kayaks we’d carry one as far as we could till we’d hit an obstacle and then go turn around and grab the other kayak. Ultimately, we made that .8 mile trip 3 times to get all our equipment across the portage.
Once at Rock Harbor we checked the office for an open room and we booked the very last one. After getting a room we went to the restraint and had pizza and beers. Then we got to the room and had hot showers and slept like well fed, clean and happy campers.

Sept 16th Saturday:
We got on the ferry at 9:00am and went home. About the halfway point of the ferry ride we got cell phone service again and everyone started getting caught up on emails and calling home to family. We were all sharing stories and showing what pictures we’d taken. I showed a ranger the wolf print picture and she asked if I’d email to a guy doing the study so that he could know where and when the print was found. I followed up once I got home and emailed the picture.

Total Kayak Miles = 52.5
Total Backpacking Miles = 49.8
Total Miles = 102.3

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Re: TR 9-8 to 9-16 2017 Rock Harbor to Windigo with kayking and back.

Post by Montana » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:17 am

What a great trip -- love the combo backpacking/kayaking (and big miles for both).

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Re: TR 9-8 to 9-16 2017 Rock Harbor to Windigo with kayking and back.

Post by Midwest Ed » Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:07 pm

What a fantastic trip. Thank you for the nice report. I especially liked the unconventional aspects of your combined paddling and hiking. I applaud your good sense to pay attention to your risk assessment regarding Blake's Point. I can't believe the Rock Harbor Lodge was almost "full up". They must close down several rooms well ahead of their last day in order to facilitate an orderly and economical shutdown. Glad you got the room you wanted.
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Re: TR 9-8 to 9-16 2017 Rock Harbor to Windigo with kayking and back.

Post by torpified » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:54 am

very cool trip and report! Now I can add "being stalked by a moose" to my growing list of things to fear on the Minong . . . .

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Re: TR 9-8 to 9-16 2017 Rock Harbor to Windigo with kayking and back.

Post by teddy12b » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:04 pm

I can't really take any credit for laying out the over all plan on the trip. My buddy Paul did all of that. The cool things was on our way back to Todd Harbor we ran into 4 guys hiking the trail who had seen a fox walking on our kayaks and got a picture of it they said they'd email us. Definitely got two really good and different experiences of the island with both kayaking and backpacking. By the end I was really glad we did both.

The water getting closer and closer to Blakes Point was becoming more of a very real situation where one wrong move or wave and I just don't see how we could have gotten each other back into a boat in the water, or had a safe entry back into the boat from the cliff faced shoreline. I know we both wanted to finish out going around Blakes point, but I really think it was a disaster waiting to happen.

I think the moose following us was moer out of its own curiousity. I don't think either of felt like we were in any real danger other than our minds going wild with "What's that noise" kind of thoughts. The moose up there are just giant curious clumbsy cows. Neat to look at, but otherwise they don't really care much about people.

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