Itinerary feedback and questions

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

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kmyers
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Itinerary feedback and questions

Post by kmyers »

Hi, newbie here. Planning for a mid July visit to Isle Royale as part of a larger upper Midwest trip. We are a couple in our late 50s in average shape (but starting a training program). We have done a few short 2-3 day backpacking trips in the past, the last one 6 years ago in Yellowstone. Here’s my planned itinerary:

Day 1: Voyageur II from Grand Portage to Windigo for backcountry permit, then on to McCargoe Cove. Set up camp at McCargoe Cove, day hike to Minong Mine.
Day 2: Indian Portage Trail from McCargoe Cove to Lake Richie (6.3 miles). Camp at Lake Richie.
Day 3: Continue on Indian Portage Trail from Lake Richie to Chippewa Harbor (4.3 miles). Camp at Chippewa Harbor.
Day 4: Picked up by Voyageur II at Chippewa Harbor to return to Windigo and Grand Portage.

Questions:
1. Any red flags or comments on the itinerary?
2. I plan to order the National Geographic Isle Royale map. Are any others needed?
3. If the interior lakes have algae bloom, will there be streams along the route for water?
4. Would it be better to do Monday to Thursday or Saturday to Tuesday?
5. How early should I make the ferry reservation for my mid July timing?

Thanks for any comments or suggestions!
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Ingo
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Re: Itinerary feedback and questions

Post by Ingo »

1. That's a great itinerary for a short trip! The mine is pretty interesting with a shaft you can crawl into. At Chippewa there's a small "schoolhouse" and Lake Mason to explore, or bushwacking out to the shore for the adventurous.
2. No other map is needed, that's the standard.
3. There are some streams, others may be able to offer specifics. Worst case would be to add 2 miles to each day and spend a night at Moskey Basin instead of Lake Richie. Going earlier in the season lessons the odds of dealing with algae blooms.
4. The day of the week probably doesn't matter. If it's like last year, the boats will be full on most days. It's possible there may be a few more private boaters on weekends, though.
5. As soon as possible. Last year all the ferries were at full capacity for the season, from what I understand.
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Re: Itinerary feedback and questions

Post by dcclark »

I agree with Ingo, especially on making the detour to Moskey. I'd do that regardless of algae blooms -- Moskey is just such a beautiful place, and Richie is fine but not amazing.

You'll also want to think about where you're staying on the mainland and make reservations ASAP if you need them, for similar reasons.

Edit to say: I did this trip, but in the opposite direction, a few years back (here are my blog posts about it). We also started from Rock Harbor, but used the Voyageur to get to Chippewa and leave from McCargo. It was very pleasant, although I agree that walking "across the grain" can be a bit rough at times. One possibly useful difference is that we stopped at West Chickenbone for a night, which shortened one leg of the trip a bit.
Last edited by dcclark on Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Itinerary feedback and questions

Post by torpified »

+1 on the itinerary, which looks awesome! There will be a certain amount of up-and-down, because the route crosses (rather than runs along) the wales of the island's corduroy. But nothing too extreme, and the payoff is that the texture carves the surroundings up into different environments, which is pretty interesting.

A potential tip for your commute: Taking the Voyageur out of Chippewa, look left --- last season there was an active eagle's next in a conspicuous (because there was an eagle in it, but also because it was especially prominent) tree. The Voyageur crew will know about it.
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Re: Itinerary feedback and questions

Post by jerry »

These folks (above) have said everything that is true. About a decade ago I did this trip. There were over 100 negative things on that trip. There had been a "blow down" of over 100 trees. I had to go under, thru and over those trees. That's not normal. Otherwise, I enjoyed the trail. Before I got to the Richie CG, there was a wolf on a bridge about an hour out. The CG at Chippewa is nice. Folks on a boat there feed me fried fish. I couldn't eat all of what they wanted to share. Most folks at the Isle Royale are gems. Look forward to your trip report.
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Re: Itinerary feedback and questions

Post by johnhens »

Welcome to the Forums!!
All good info you have received.
I would also add going to Moskey, you might see moose as you get closer to the CG. Also if it is warm, the shallow water at Moskey is inviting to take a dip and cool off. Moskey is one of my favorite CGs, worth the extra hike to get there and relatively easy hiking.
July is a busy time, make your ferry reservations now.
Have fun!!
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Re: Itinerary feedback and questions

Post by Kelly »

I affirm all of the feedback above. Perhaps the one bonus of spending a night at Lake Richie is that you are less likely to share the campground with other humans. Not that Moskey feels crowded when it's full.
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kmyers
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Re: Itinerary feedback and questions

Post by kmyers »

Thanks to everyone for the replies! I think we will plan to extend our days to stay at Moskey Basin instead of Lake Richie but can adjust back to the shorter days if needed at the time. I have booked Voyageur II for 7/11-7/14. And am working on our mainland reservations. We are so excited for our first trip to Isle Royale!
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