Four day canoe trip

Questions about water transportation and fishing on the island.

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Four day canoe trip

Post by ChipS »

My wife and I are planning a four-day, three night canoe camping trip on the island in August. We are bringing our 18' Wenonah Spirit over on the ferry from Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor. We were thinking of the following itinerary. Arrange a ferry shuttle to Chippewa Harbor on the first day and paddle and portage to the Lake Whittlesey campground. The second day we would paddle and portage to Lake Richie and spend the night. The third day we would paddle and portage to McCargo Cove, and then on the fourth day arrange for a ferry shuttle back to Rock Harbor. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks!
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Re: Four day canoe trip

Post by backwoods doc »

Very nice, but it's probably going to take a total of 6 days, 5 nights to do that route.

Be aware that the Voyageur II can take you and your canoe from Rock Harbor to Chippewa, and from McCargoe to Rock Harbor, but you need to be sure that its schedule matches up with yours (it circumnavigates the island three times a week, in a clockwise direction, spending a night each time in Rock Harbor.)

Potential itinerary:

Day 1: Ferry from Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor (spend the night, hike to the point)
Day 2: Voyageur II from Rock Harbor to Chippewa. Paddle/portage through Whittlesley and camp at Wood Lake (much prettier that Whittlesley, with a great site high on a bluff and good chance to see moose, beavers, otters and many loons. Good chance of catching fish off the small islands across from the Whittlesley campgound on your way through.)
Day 3: Paddle/portage through Intermediate to Richie Canoe campsite.
Day 4: Paddle/portage to either West Chickenbone or McCargoe (long day of many short paddles/portages -- plenty of time to do the final leg to McCargoe the next day and still catch the ferry)
Day 5: Voyageur II from McCargoe to Rock Harbor
Day 6: Ferry back to Copper Harbor

If your schedule allows, you wouldn't regret spending an extra night at Wood or Richie Canoe.

All of the above portages are pretty flat and easy.

Another option (if you have to) would be shave off a day and portage directly from Chippewa to Richie. I haven't done it, but I'm told that that portage is a bit grueling, with a very steep section.
2018, 2019, 2021 (all inland lakes by canoe); 2022 X2 (RH and WC); 2023 HC
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Re: Four day canoe trip

Post by Ingo »

If you're experienced canoe trippers, that's a perfectly doable trip, although another day would be better. I assume by "ferry shuttle" you mean the water taxi run by the RH Lodge--in fact that's the only way this works.

A more typical trip is going the opposite direction, McCargoe to Chippewa, using the Voyageur II for transportation from Grand Portage. That avoids having to use the water taxi. Also, if you have a kevlar canoe, I wasn't very pleased with how the Queen carries them, open side up on the roof and full of water if it rains along the way (I would be OK with a plastic one). The Voyageur has a proper rack and they've always treated canoes and boats carefully.

Your biggest issue is weather could mess up the plans, since there isn't any wiggle room. e.g. the water taxi can't get you to Chippewa or pick you up at McCargoe as scheduled, or you get weather bound on Siskiwit Lake. It doesn't happen a lot, but can be a problem, so you need to have backup plans.

So, if possible, I'd use the Voyageur II, dropping you off at McCargoe and picking you up at Chippewa. That way, if there were to be a weather delay you're not dependent on another boat. If you're set on coming from Copper Harbor, another day would allow you to spend the last night in RH and give you a cushion. And if that just ain't possible, go for it, but understand there's a possibility of things getting messy if there's a delay at the end (you get back to RH a day late and the Queen IV doesn't have room for you that day). A delay at the start isn't as significant--just spend the trip paddling Rock Harbor--a different type of trip but still enjoyable (and am doing this summer).

Here's a 20 yr old trip log from a trip with my brothers and Dad, going McCargoe to Chippewa. The one thing that has changed is the portage between Chickenbone Lake and McCargoe Cove is now longer, starting/ending at the McCargoe Cove dock--they don't let you paddle up the creek anymore.
22: BI-PC-BI-RH, 21: RH-ML-DF-MB-DF, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 13: RH-PI, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 79: worked RH
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Re: Four day canoe trip

Post by torpified »

I'm famously bad at reasoning involving small numbers and dates, but I *think* that if your trip falls before September 21st this year, you can take the Voyageur on a Sunday from RH to Chippewa, spend 3 nights en route to McCargo, then be collected there by the (RH bound) Voyageur on the following Wednesday (supposing everything unfolds according to schedule!).

My impression is that lining up a water taxi isn't for the faint of heart, in the sense that it can take some persistence, during the exercise of which the anxiety-prone will worry whether the taxi leg of their trip will come to pass.
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Re: Four day canoe trip

Post by Bobcat1 »

Another possibility is to spend all 4 days on Rock Harbor.
Day 1 arrive, paddle down to Daisy Farm or, if you can get a spot, Caribou Island.
Day 2 explore Rock Harbor Lighthouse and Edison Fishery, en route to Moskey Basin.
Day 3 paddle back to Rock Harbor, exploring either shore of RH along the way. I've had a lot of fun with the outer islands, if you're ok with the wind and waves on that particular day.
Day 4 Morning portage over (easy!) and explore Tobin Harbor and Scoville point and back just in time to catch your ferry home.
19 RH-ML-TI-RH by kayak
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
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