TR: 7/26-7/29 2018 [Windigo-Feldtmann-Siskiwit-South Desor-Windigo]

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Gopher_07
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TR: 7/26-7/29 2018 [Windigo-Feldtmann-Siskiwit-South Desor-Windigo]

Post by Gopher_07 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:19 am

Just completed my first trip to IR with a group of nine others - wow. Just wow. What a place.

7/26
We arrived at Windigo on Thursday via Sea Hunter III from Grand Portage - easy ride on Superior, overcast but little to no waves to speak of. After a quick LNT conversation with the ranger, filling up water and lunch at the picnic tables, we set off toward Feldtmann. The trail was gorgeous to start - reminded me a bit of coastal Maine (without the salty sea air, of course). Trail was well kept for the first few miles, then started to get a bit brushy, and then a bit more, until it was fairly overgrown.

Then the rain started, and wouldn't stop until late that evening. We did catch a glimpse of a young bull moose booking it through the trees - very fuzzy antlers. With the tall brush around the trail and a slightly muddy path, we were all saturated by the time we set up at group site 2 at Feldtmann. Not a bad site, a couple tall pines we could set up a lean-to with our tarp to keep some things dry and cook our dinner, but not the best. Averaged about 2mph on the trail, including breaks.

7/27
We started to dry out, but things remained a bit wet as the clouds remained in the morning. Cooked up some pancakes and bacon and set off toward Siskiwit around maybe 9:30am. Probably my favorite hike of the trip - getting up onto Feldtmann Ridge, we were greeted by cool breezes and lots and lots of berries (blue and thimble). Delicious snacks on the way. Some up and down from open ridges to forest and nothing too difficult. We broke at the observation tower for about an hour/hour and a half for lunch. You can't get all the way to the top, but you can get close - and the views are worth it. Side note, this is one of the few (maybe the only?) places on the island you can get cell reception. So, if you want to text your loved ones and let them know you're still alive and kicking, this would be a good place to do it. Up here, we also spotted a fox on the trail - and it was not too worried about us, stopping to just stare at us as we stared at it. Eventually we made a bit of noise and it moved on but clearly not disturbed by humans.

After lunch, we continued toward Siskiwit and it got marshy and buggy. This was probably the only time the bugs were an issue the entire trip - otherwise, nothing worse than a normal Minnesota evening and nothing some permethrin clothing wasn't handling with ease. Some high grass and brush up to our armpits in the last couple miles, and pretty narrow trail at the very end (watch out for rolled ankles here!). Spotted two cow moose on this portion. We made it to Siskiwit averaging about 2.5mph (at times pushing 3).

Siskiwit was my personal favorite part of this trip. Group site 2 was well kept, had a picnic table, nice trees to secure our tarp and hang our (still) wet clothes and socks, and easy access to the dock and communal fire pit. And we took advantage of that, hanging out with other hikers and a fishing boat, and enjoying a beautiful evening on the shores of Superior until the stars came.

7/28
We woke up late on Saturday (thanks, Buffalo Trace!) and enjoyed some breakfast and lake views before departing toward Desor via Island Mine. The trail is out due to beaver activity in the area, so the first maybe 2 miles is mostly on the rocky beach. It's hell on your feet, be warned. But we survived, briefly spotted a moose by the bridge, and started the uphill portion toward Island Mine.

Even though the hike to IM is only 4.4 miles, it's a tough 4.4. Lots of elevation change so lots of breaks. We were ready for a long break when we made it to IM and made lunch when we got there. As everyone says, water access is not great there, though they've set up a few dams on the creek to pool water slightly. We could fill up the Platypuses with some patience.

Departing IM and getting to the Greenstone Ridge was like a new hike entirely. Those hardwood forests along the ridge made for a nice respite after the past few days. We were clipping along at close to 3mph until we started to get toward Desor - and then it got a bit hairy with the rocks and descent down. Side note here, the official trail guide says Island Mine to S Desor is 5.5 miles - we tracked it north of 6 by the time we made it to the group sites (which admittedly are a good quarter mile past the entrance to the campground). So beware if you're following on GPS.

Desor was nice - birch forest surrounding a big lake. Found some serenity here and time to break by myself just staring into space, watching the dragonflies and listening to the loons. Called it an early night because day four was going to be a doozy.

7/29
Knowing we had to make it to Windigo by noon, and we had to cover 12ish miles including a quick ascent at the start, we woke to break camp at 4am. Tents and packs were ready to go and we hit the trail via headlamp light at 5:30am. We made it up the major ascent by the time the sun was rising and it was worth it - very beautiful moment. Then it was go time.

We took to the ridge and tried to keep pace - and did pretty well. Through the maple trees it was a pretty easy hike, though by then we were all pretty exhausted. We broke for "lunch" at around 8am at Sugar Mountain and rested our feet and knees before striking out for the rest of the downhill hike to Windigo. At 11:15/11:30 we rolled into Windigo exhausted and ready to lay down, but accomplished and feeling great about what we had just experienced. An MGD (bought from the store, because they were out of Keweenaw :cry: ) never tasted so good, and laying down on the dock in the sun waiting for the boat to arrive was sublime. It was a smooth and sleepy ride on the Voyageur II back to Grand Portage, and a lengthy but easy trip back down 61 and 35 to the Twin Cities from there.

Recap
All in all, an amazing trip with the views, the flora and fauna, and general peacefulness of the island. We ended up covering 43 miles over the four days. We are all pretty amateur outdoorsmen, some of us are in shape (triathlete, marathon training), while some are not, and we all agreed we might've pushed ourselves too much with the (almost) 11-mile-per-day average on the trails we did. There were some sore knees and feet, and a few blisters among the group by the end. Though it was all beautiful and worthy of seeing, if and when I do IR again, and if I stick to the west end of the island, I'd probably arrive at Windigo and do Siskiwit (two nights)-IM-Windigo (one night), skipping Feldtmann and leaving Desor as a stop if doing the entire Greenstone Ridge.

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hooky
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Re: TR: 7/26-7/29 2018 [Windigo-Feldtmann-Siskiwit-South Desor-Windigo]

Post by hooky » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:36 am

I did the same route a few years ago in the early fall. But from S. Desor I went to Malone Bay and caught the boat there. Malone is a great campground and other than a few fishermen, had it to ourselves.

Thanks for the report.

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Re: TR: 7/26-7/29 2018 [Windigo-Feldtmann-Siskiwit-South Desor-Windigo]

Post by Ingo » Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:01 am

Thanks for the report!
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF


torpified
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Re: TR: 7/26-7/29 2018 [Windigo-Feldtmann-Siskiwit-South Desor-Windigo]

Post by torpified » Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:28 pm

what a great trip! Thanks for writing it up.
Gopher_07 wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:19 am
This was probably the only time the bugs were an issue the entire trip - otherwise, nothing worse than a normal Minnesota evening
as far as I can tell, a "normal MN evening" is way more bugs than those not raised in the upper midwest can take! I also hike in California, and I've learned to laugh off the locals' mosquito doomsaying. They appear to think that enough mosquitos to see and hear, even if those mosquitos are for all intents and purposes vegetarian, count as insect Defcon 1.


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Gopher_07
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Re: TR: 7/26-7/29 2018 [Windigo-Feldtmann-Siskiwit-South Desor-Windigo]

Post by Gopher_07 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 7:36 am

torpified wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:28 pm
what a great trip! Thanks for writing it up.
Gopher_07 wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:19 am
This was probably the only time the bugs were an issue the entire trip - otherwise, nothing worse than a normal Minnesota evening
as far as I can tell, a "normal MN evening" is way more bugs than those not raised in the upper midwest can take! I also hike in California, and I've learned to laugh off the locals' mosquito doomsaying. They appear to think that enough mosquitos to see and hear, even if those mosquitos are for all intents and purposes vegetarian, count as insect Defcon 1.
No doubt! Although I was prepared for much worse after an experience at Wonder Lake in Denali NP - those were mosquitos the likes of which I've never seen (before or since)! Thankfully IR was nothing like that when it comes to bugs.

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Re: TR: 7/26-7/29 2018 [Windigo-Feldtmann-Siskiwit-South Desor-Windigo]

Post by MikeT » Sun Aug 26, 2018 4:26 pm

Thanks for the report! Those were some long days. I always plan a day off at Siskiwit Bay, a GREAT place to spend a day!
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