First Trip

Questions on general information and things that do not fit into any other categories.

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Gigrantor
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First Trip

Post by Gigrantor » Tue Oct 09, 2018 6:57 am

Hello All!

Three buddies and I are starting to plan our trip to Isle Royale for mid June of the 2019 season. None of us have been to the island before. Thought I would post our planned route on here and get some opinions/advice from some of the veterans. It is worth noting that all of us are pretty new to backpacking, but are in good physical shape and like a challenge.

Day 1: Rock Harbor - > Moskey Basin Campground
Day 2: Moskey Basin -> Hatchet Lake
Day 3: Hatchet Lake -> Siskiwit Bay
Day 4: Siskiwit Bay - > Siskiwit Bay (Zero day)
Day 5: Siskiwit -> Windigo

We are planning on traveling via a float plane, so I'm told fuel will need to be purchased on arrival. Anyone know what brand the general store carries? Or what are some burners that you have had good luck with? This forum is a great resource and has already proved to be very helpful. Since we are new to this scene, any other tips are appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Grant


JerryB
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Re: First Trip

Post by JerryB » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:37 am

Welcome to the Forum!
It is hard to comment on the itinerary because what is fine for you may be no fun for me. But you say you are relatively new to backpacking and I wonder if you are proposing too much. The rest day is a great idea--it offers you flexibility so you can react to the weather and also just relax. I believe your shortest day is eleven miles and that could be a long day by itself. For what it is worth, my preference is more towards the campsites than to the trails. The trails are great, but I do not like to knock myself out hiking and not fully enjoy the sites. My suggestion is to consider shorter days. In general, I find the sites are situated at just about the right distance from eachother to make a nice hike. Less so on the east side, I suppose, where the sites may be closer together.
By the way, Moskey and Siskiwit are wonderful sites. I also like Hatchet with all the birch trees. You are missing Feldtman (and nearby Rainbow Cove) and Chippewa, both of which are very nice. Of course, you cannot stop at every site.

I am sure you will get loads of ideas from this Forum. Enjoy.


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Gigrantor
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Re: First Trip

Post by Gigrantor » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:49 am

Thanks for your advice Jerry! We are all fairly new to backpacking, but have done hiking and camping trips separately. I love the hiking, exercising, exploring aspect of it, so the longer days don't bother me. Definitely something we will have to talk about collectively as a group though.

I see that the campsites are first come first serve for our size of group. For the stops we chose, will it be a problem getting a space in mid June? I think that is my biggest concern. Long day of hiking to a destination only to find out that it is full and we have to go to a backup plan.

Have you done any shore fishing around the island?

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dcclark
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Re: First Trip

Post by dcclark » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:16 am

Your days look mighty long to me too. I spent many years hiking and camping in the Keweenaw and Porcupine Mountains -- very similar to Isle Royale in many ways -- but I still got my butt kicked on my first trip to the island. The terrain is rougher and less "tamed" than most mainland hiking in the midwest. I would err on the side of lighter days and more time to enjoy the campsites.

(That said, I've done exactly your first day in reverse -- 12 miles from Moskey to Rock Harbor. Those are the flattest trails you'll find on the island, and I was dragging when I made it in to Rock Harbor. Worth it, though.)

What group size do you have? Assuming you're 6 or fewer -- In June, the island probably won't be too full yet. You'll be able to get campsites, and probably even a shelter occasionally (especially if you get started early enough). But even if a campground is "full", it's expected (and friendly) that everyone will share their camp sites. The sites are generally big enough to hold 2 or 3 tents. In bad weather, it's reasonable to expect to share a shelter.

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Ingo
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Re: First Trip

Post by Ingo » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:07 pm

Also agree that those are awfully long days, especially for a first trip. It seems that a lot of first-timers say they did too many miles and plan to cut back on their next trip. For Day 1, keep in mind that the seaplane is most affected by weather (fog and wind) and therefore the least reliable schedule wise--a morning flight may not go until the afternoon (or even the next day), so have a backup plan.

The fuel canisters sold on the island will fit virtually any new canister store sold today--you don't have to worry about the brand. They also sell white gas, but need to bring your empty bottle to fill. They do not carry alcohol or other types of fuel. I've used an MSR Micro Rocket (older version of the Pocket Rocket 2) for some years and it's been reliable and efficient. I mostly boil water, but have also used it for pancakes, fish, and stir fry successfully--you just need to hold and move the frying pan around as you cook, since it's a pretty focused flame. And it will simmer, contrary to some reports.
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


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Gigrantor
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Re: First Trip

Post by Gigrantor » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:19 pm

Thanks everyone for the input/advice. We are rethinking the route and probably will incorporate the water taxi to Malone Bay from Rock Harbor. That would allow us to "skip" a couple of the long days up front to pace the rest of our trip out better. I'll post another version here in the next couple of days if you all would be nice enough to stop back!


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Gigrantor
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Re: First Trip

Post by Gigrantor » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:44 am

So the new route is looking like:

Day 1: Seaplane > Rock Harbor; Water Taxi > Malone Bay
Day 2: Malone Bay > South Lake Desor
Day 3: South Lake Desor > Siskiwit Bay
Day 4: Siskiwit Bay > Feldtmann Lake
Day 5: Feldtmann Lake > Windigo

There are still some longer, unavoidable days, but nothing like we had before. Any thoughts on this route? What does the difficulty look like for most of these trails?

Thanks in advance,
Grant

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Ingo
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Re: First Trip

Post by Ingo » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:31 am

That looks more reasonable to me. I would probably suggest doing it in the opposite direction, however. The trail out of Malone is probably the least used and maintained on the island, so it's possible that winter deadfall may not yet be cleared by the trail crews. And any transportation delays with the plane or water taxi could really mess with your plan and make for an even more difficult day 1. Starting at Windigo puts your shortest day first instead of your longest and gives you more of a cushion to work with.
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


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Gigrantor
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Re: First Trip

Post by Gigrantor » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:42 am

Thanks Ingo. I should have probably been more transparent. There is actually a sixth day and we will be staying in Windigo overnight to ensure more of a cushion/pickup time. Didn't add it to this list because it required no traveling, but without it being mentioned it looks much more tight.

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Ingo
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Re: First Trip

Post by Ingo » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:58 am

Gigrantor wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:42 am
Thanks Ingo. I should have probably been more transparent. There is actually a sixth day and we will be staying in Windigo overnight to ensure more of a cushion/pickup time. Didn't add it to this list because it required no traveling, but without it being mentioned it looks much more tight.
I also missed the part that you're staying at Malone the first night. And if you haven't had enough by the end, tack on Huginnin Cove :D .
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

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hooky
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Re: First Trip

Post by hooky » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:16 pm

Malone is a great campsite. How about float plane to windigo, Feldtman, Siskiwit, S Desor, Malone x2, Voyageur to Windigo and float plane back to Michigan?


JerryB
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Re: First Trip

Post by JerryB » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:49 pm

hooky, that would nicely avoid backtracking over the Malone trail.


torpified
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Re: First Trip

Post by torpified » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:18 am

Looks great! I bet it'll inspire you to check out the east side on your next trip.

Two comments about timing:

(i) in mid-June, IR isn't exactly Manhattan. I'd be surprised if crowds were an issue at any of the camps you're visiting, or anywhere in between.

(ii) that far north, that close to the solstice, it stays LIGHT long after hikers' midnight. You might want to bring some sort of dedicated sleeping eyeshade, lest you wind up pressing a deet-soaked buff into service....


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Gigrantor
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Re: First Trip

Post by Gigrantor » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:26 am

Thanks everyone for the opinions, tips, and advice. We are all looking forward to the trip!

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philranger
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Re: First Trip

Post by philranger » Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:36 pm

Good that your planning early. There are lots of helpful folks on this forum. Part of the joy of Isle Royale is just enjoying the scenery and solitude.

Hiking too many miles makes you tired and less likely to enjoy the island to it’s fullest. Remember you won’t see everything in one trip. Leave yourselves plenty to see so you’ll come back.
Isle Royale Trips: 2005-RH to Windigo via Greenstone. 2006-McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2007-RH to Daisy Farm and back. 2008-Feltmann loop. 2009-McCargoe Cove to Chippewa Harbor. 2013-Minong Ridge. 2014-Windigo + Huginnin Cove. 2015-Lookout Louise to LC to DF to MB. 2018-McCargoe to Todd to HL to Malone Bay.

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