Anyone interested in some "old" trip reports?

Reports or links to reports on trips.

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Midwest Ed
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Anyone interested in some "old" trip reports?

Post by Midwest Ed »

It looks like you have a great site here. Brings back lot of memories, mostly great ones, LOL. :oops:

It's been 9 years since my last trip, but I started in 1975. I've written a few things about past escapades if anyone is interested?

Ed
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Re: Anyone interested in some "old" trip reports?

Post by Backpacker534 »

Absolutely! Bring 'em on.
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Re: Anyone interested in some "old" trip reports?

Post by Midwest Ed »

My very first backpacking experience ever was in 1975 at Isle Royale. Before that I knew nothing about the concept of carrying everything I needed on my back. I was attending Michigan Technological University in Houghton when a roommate told me about an upcoming charter trip. The IR Queen out of Copper Harbor was making a preseason charter trip for a few dozen students. It was just an extended weekend trip during the middle of May, right after school was out. We decided to go, not having a clue what we were in for. We didn’t even know what we didn’t know. Being the typical pauper students we had to borrow almost everything. I borrowed what turned out to be a decent backpack but my roommate was not so lucky and used his old boy scout rucksack. We had no idea about appropriate weights or boots or tents. . . or anything. For example, my flashlight was one of those that use a heavy 6 volt lantern battery. We even had a cast iron fry pan. My pack easily tipped 80 pounds and my partners was about 60. . . .for a 3 day trip!

The debarkation point was Daisy Farm. Since the stay was short this helped disburse everyone faster. We did have a map now, since the ranger greeting us gave us a small one. So we head out straight away to Moskey Basin, 4 miles away. I don’t remember exactly but it must have taken the rest of the day to get there. Our boots were not broken in nor appropriate for the rocky terrain. When we arrived our feet were numb. We didn’t notice the blisters until after the boots came off. Of course we had no moleskin. Not even a band aide. Our boots would not even go back on. We were literally stuck in Moskey Basin. Still, we had a great time that evening. We had no stove but fires were permitted in nearly every campground back then. They even permitted burning local deadwood and it was plentiful as I recall. We were the only ones in camp and we saw lot’s of wild life including several moose. In retrospect the moose population was near its all time peak back then (over 2000) before it crashed a few years later.

The next morning we made plans to somehow get back to Daisy Farm. I thought we might have to crawl. Then we heard a boat approaching and we went to the dock to meet it. He turned out to be a Park Ranger. I’m sure he could see our condition. After some trepidation I’m sure on his part, he offered us a ride back to Daisy Farm. This action was totally unusual for a ranger. No one should ever expect this kind of treatment but it helped that he was a friend of ours from school and the island was so empty. The statute of limitations has expired for any retribution against him (I think he’s retired now) but he shall remain nameless.

We spent the next two days recuperating at Daisy Farm and even made a couple of trips up the Greenstone ridge. It was there, on a wonderfully sunny afternoon, sitting on the ridge overlooking the north slopes and Canada that I fell in love with Isle Royale and vowed in silence that it was not going to beat me.

I pledged to myself that I would return to conquer this place. In the fall of that same year I kept my promise.

Ed

p.s. Brian ~ You have a really nice web site there.
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Re: Anyone interested in some "old" trip reports?

Post by Midwest Ed »

After my first trip to Isle Royale (see above) was such a debacle yet a wonderful experience, I spent all summer before I returned to school in Houghton working to save money for proper equipment and reading about proper backpacking techniques. I relied almost totally on Colin Fletcher’s “The Complete Walker”, learning about counting the ounces so the pounds watch out for themselves. I read his book “The Man Who Walked Through Time” for inspiration.

Armed with a new pack, sleeping bag and tent I planned to spend a full two weeks alone on the island in late August. I’d learned that I really enjoyed the solitude although conversing with people in camp in the evenings was also great fun. Even though I had good gear, in 1975 terms, that still meant almost 55 pounds including two weeks of food and 2 quarts of water. My menu was two instant oatmeal packs and freeze dried fruit for breakfast, two instant soups spiked with bacon bits for lunch and a 2 person Mountain House for dinner. Plus trail mix and instant coffee and tea bags.

I was short on time and had saved some extra money so I took the seaplane from Houghton to Rock Harbor and then on to Windigo. Due to weather, I was delayed getting into Windigo so I stayed next to Washington creek the first night. I remember being startled awake in the wee hours of the morning right before dawn by the sound that I first mistook for the marines coming up the beach of the creek. It was a bull moose scrapping and beating his antlers upside my shelter. The next morning I found the two inch thick, seven foot tall tree beside the shelter totally was devoid of leaves and limbs where he’d apparently hooked a horn and then raised his head.

Night 2 - Feldtmann Lake
Night 3 - Sisikiwt Bay
Night 4 - Planned: Island Mine, Actual: South Lake Desor.
I do remember thinking that it was a pain having to come all the way off the ridge just to make camp. This is where I first became aware that I prefer the more wide open areas for overnight than the ones that are more deep woods under dense canopies.

Night 5 - Hatchet lake
Night 6 - Todd Harbor
I think that Todd Harbor is my all time favorite campsite. It’s up on a bluff, overlooking Superior. I think it’s the big lake that I like the most. There’s a very similar place on the Keweenaw point.

Night 7 - Little Todd Harbor
I wanted to see a little of the Minong Ridge trail.

Night 8 - McCargoe Cove
Here I ran into a couple that were having dinner on a red and white checkered table cloth spread over a foot locker. They were drinking wine from crystal goblets. They had portaged it all from Moskey Basin.

Night 9 - Amygdaloid Island
At McCargoe I bumped into my ranger friend again (see previous post). He invited me to spend the night with him at his cabin on the south west end of Amygdaloid. The maintenance man that lived next door had been fishing that day so we had a feast of baked Lake Trout and I slept in a real feather bed. I’m sure you can appreciate the version of heaven that I was in. To this day, 35 years later I still haven’t had a meal that rivals that memory.

Night 10 - Lake Ritchie
This is one of the nicer inland campgrounds as I remember.

Night 11 - Daisy Farm

Night 12 - Lane Cove
While technically on Lake Superior this campground has a look and feel more like an inland site.

Night 13 - Rock Harbor and then back to Houghton on the Ranger III

Total miles - about 90
Total moose seen - probably 25
It is difficult to describe the sense of accomplishment I felt. :D But my subsequent trips kept delivering surprises and excitement.

~Ed
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013
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Re: Anyone interested in some "old" trip reports?

Post by johnhens »

Nice, it is amazing how many first attempts at backpacking mimc your IR adventure. Good for you trying it again. Thanks for sharing your "early" days on IR!!
I am sure most here have had similar first BP experiences as yours!!
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Re: Anyone interested in some "old" trip reports?

Post by Midwest Ed »

Water filters?:
I forgot to mention that packs were heavier then due to the extra fuel needed to boil water. Back then filter systems were expensive, bulky and rare. I’ve seen a few mentions here about taking certain chances with “fresh” water and that nothing bad happened. My understanding is that is can take years for a tapeworm contamination to manifest and the human would be standing in for the symbiotic role of the moose: potentially developing a cyst in the lungs, brain or other capillaries months or years later.

To go cross country or not?. . . and a Dead Moose Discovery:
In my third trip, I was in Chippewa Harbor and had permits to travel cross country to Malone Bay. I was a bit skeptical but had done cross country in the Keweenaw Peninsula. The only thing that bothered me was time it would take to maneuver around swampy areas. There was a couple in their 40 foot cabin cruiser that I’d met at the dock. They offered to ferry me to Malone. I was instantly reminded of the old joke about the man who died in a flood and then blamed God at the pearly gates after refusing repeated rescue attempts. I accepted their offer and I no longer believe in coincidences.

The next day while traveling from Malone to Todd Harbor I came across a rare find. It was a dead moose. It was laying directly in the middle of the trail about a mile south if Todd. It was amazing. I estimated it was dead for only a few hours. There were a million flys but no maggots. The left hind quarters were missing, having been dragged away. All the entrails were gone. Everything else was still in tact. The most interesting observation was the ground was almost totally covered in fur and hair. The ground cover extended for about 25 feet in every direction. I was motivated to either stay there or come back later in the hopes of seeing some wolves knowing that they would be returning. I thought of several more reasons why that was a bad idea. Ironically, when I arrived in Todd Harbor I met a couple participating in the Wolf/Moose study. They had signed up to search out the piles of bones located by plane the previous winter not a fresh carcass. They did head out to verify my report and I never saw them again.

Finally a Canoe Trip:
It was several years before I returned again. This time I brought a friend and a canoe. We made the counter clockwise route from Rock Habor to Moskey Basin to Siskiwit Lake to Chippewa Harbor. This is an excellent series of portages and I highly recommend it. Our most exciting moment was the rock fish we caught. It took several minutes of strenuous fighting to land a flat rock that hand been snagged in the center of weight. We thought we had a 30 pound Northern. Second place goes to the pile of moose berries donated one night directly in front of our tent door.

The Reluctant Camper:
Fast forward a few more years. I brought my wife who is no camper to Rock Harbor for a single over night. She saw a moose so I guess it was worth it. Her idea of camping out is when she only gets to take ONE suitcase up to the hotel room.

When in a boat, anything can go wrong. . . and will:
My last venture was 9 years ago. I came with a friend and his 24 foot rigid inflatable boat. It’s like a large Zodiac. It takes on Lake Superior quite well but there is no place to sit down, let alone sleep. This trip was filled with dozens of calamities but none involving safety. Our party of four, including my 10 year old son, had a wonderful time camping, hiking and boating the coastal areas. Belle Isle is now a favorite spot. A full report of the boating debacle can come later.

~Ed
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013
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Re: Anyone interested in some "old" trip reports?

Post by Tom »

Thanks for sharing the memories, Midwest Ed! You give insipiration to every beginning backpacker! It's always interesting to hear how some things have changed over time, and how some have not..
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Re: Anyone interested in some "old" trip reports?

Post by Midwest Ed »

I'd be very interested in hearing from anyone that has encountered any fresh moose kills. I will never forget the visuals of the site. I only wish I'd had a camera at the time.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013
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