TR: 6/2 - 6/7 2019 [Ishpeming Trail > Greenstone Trail > Windigo]

Reports or links to reports on trips.

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Gigrantor
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TR: 6/2 - 6/7 2019 [Ishpeming Trail > Greenstone Trail > Windigo]

Post by Gigrantor » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:18 pm

Hey Everyone,
Our group just finished our first trip to Isle Royale and we had a great time (for the most part). Due to some uncontrollable weather conditions we had to cut our hiking adventure short. Not ideal, but we're already thinking about another trip back!

June 2nd: Houghton to Rock Harbor via seaplane. Rock Harbor to Malone Bay via water taxi.
Probably the best weather we could have asked for travel wise. Sunny with mild temperatures in the 60's. Windy in Houghton, but nothing crazy. Our plane was scheduled to depart at 10 am. Got word from the seaplane company that they were running a little behind schedule and the pilot wanted the mechanic to take a look at something that was acting up. Turns out the plane was losing power mid flight, which meant they would have to pull it out for repairs. The company went above and beyond to make sure we stayed on schedule. They were able to split up our group of 4 and squeeze us on to two separate flights. Rock Harbor was dead because all of the rangers were in a training, so we signed ourselves in and wrote our own permit. The water taxi service out of the Rock Harbor Lodge was very understanding about our slight delay. They were waiting for us with a running boat and two scenic hours later we made it to Malone Bay. We were the only group at Malone, which wasn't a huge surprise due to the accessibility of the site. A group of rangers passing on a boat spotted us on shore and stopped by for a quick chat. Super nice guys that let us know we would be one of the first groups to do the Ishpeming trail. We enjoyed the site to ourselves and got our first taste of how quiet the island can be.

June 3rd: Malone Bay to S. Lake Desor.
Had a bone-chilling cold night. The weather forecast said lows in the mid 40's all week, but when we checked out weather radio, the station reported lows in the high 20's. Wasn't terribly bad when we got up and moving. Got packed, ate, and started on the trail early. We wanted to give ourselves adequate time to deal with deadfall/trail issues and this was by far our longest hiking day. The deadfall was terrible along the first part of the trail that bordered Lake Siskiwit. Every 30 ft we were climbing, ducking, or following the impromptu moose trail. At the very edge of the of lake, where the trail heads north, a beaver colony had dammed up the marsh area and washed away the planks installed by the NPS (See picture below). I crossed over the dam, while everyone else in my party took the much wetter way around. After much more uneventful, hilly, beautiful hiking we finally made it to our destination of S. Lake Desor. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE HILLS! I would say everyone in our group is fairly athletic, but those hills were a killer by mid day. Set up camp and relaxed for the rest of the night.

June 4th: S. Lake Desor to Windigo (Planned to be S. Lake Desor to Siskiwit Bay).
Started thunder storming around 2 am and continued on/off until we woke up at 6 am. Checked the weather radio because there were no forecasts about any sort of rain until a slight chance of showers the evening of the 4th. Both the UP and Thunderbay were still only forecasting rain in the evening, but now Thunder Bay was predicting a chance of sever thunderstorms and golf ball sized hail instead of showers. We had a group meeting and decided to take the safe route into Windigo. There we knew we would have more stable shelter and ways to dry out our already soaked gear. We let the other solo hiker in our campsite know about the forecast. He ended up joining us for the hike in. This was the most miserable leg of our trip. We were already soaked since the rain snuck up on us, the nicely maintained Greenstone Trail was now acting as a river, temperatures were only in the mid 40's, it rained steadily throughout the day, and we were attempting our new longest day of ~12 miles. We pushed through and made it to an open shelter of Washington Creek in a little under 5 hours (Pretty good pace considering our waterlogged packs). It would have been a gorgeous hike if it weren't for the weather conditions. Everyone changed into the driest clothes they had. The people that were still cold crawled into their bags with emergency blankets and the rest of us went to figure out dryer status for essential items. Windigo was just opening up, but the woman that ran the store, Irene (sp?), was more than happy to help. We got everything situated in the dryers before taking hot showers to warm up. On a whim I asked about the cabins. I knew they are usually booked well in advance, but with the bad weather, I was hoping someone had to cancel. Irene let me know one was open for just tonight and we booked that faster than you can believe. Everyone repacked their things in the shelter and we made our way up to our new home for the night. No heat or plumbing, but being out of the elements after our rough day was amazing. That evening we saw our first moose. A skinny female yearling that was just making her way through camp. We continued to warm up while we made friends with out neighbors, who were there kayaking around the island.

June 5th - 7th: Windigo day hikes. Windigo to Houghton via seaplane.
We made the best of being in Windigo. After moving all of our things from the cabin back to a shelter, we decided to take it easy with a zero day. The veiws from the docks, and even the shelters, were amazing. We treated ourselves to some of the food in the general store. Not as expensive as you would think for a store in the middle of nowhere. The next day two people from our group did part of the Huginnin loop, while the rest of us took another day off (One person injured their knee from a slip on the S. Desor to Windigo hike). We saw a few more moose crossing the outlet to Washington creek visible from our shelter. Woke up early on our last day to get everything packed before a 9 am departure via the seaplane. When we made it down to the dock a ranger let us know we weren't scheduled to be picked up until 11 am. We double checked the email from the seaplane company and it clearly states 9 am departure, be there at 8:30 am. The ranger said it was a beautiful day in Houghton and the weather was incredible in Windigo, so we're unsure about the delay. We hypothesize that there was no one scheduled to come earlier and they had us wait for cost saving reasons. The pilot didn't say anything when he arrived and no one in our group felt like making a big deal out of it after such a relaxing couple of days. All in all, we made it back safely with a smooth plane ride.


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Gigrantor
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Re: TR: 6/2 - 6/7 2019 [Ishpeming Trail > Greenstone Trail > Windigo]

Post by Gigrantor » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:29 pm

Moose 2.jpg
Moose 1.jpg
Beaver Dam.jpg
Couple of moose close up. Beaver dam after crossing. The washed out planks are visible down below the dam.

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dcclark
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Re: TR: 6/2 - 6/7 2019 [Ishpeming Trail > Greenstone Trail > Windigo]

Post by dcclark » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:12 pm

Glad to hear that you had a good time, despite all the difficulties. Weather on the island can be really hard to predict!
Gigrantor wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:18 pm
We treated ourselves to some of the food in the general store. Not as expensive as you would think for a store in the middle of nowhere.
I'm always amazed at this too. Some of the prices are straight out of the 1990's. They could easily charge an arm and a leg (and heaven knows we'd all pay it), so I really appreciate the low prices.


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Re: TR: 6/2 - 6/7 2019 [Ishpeming Trail > Greenstone Trail > Windigo]

Post by torpified » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:19 pm

What an adventure---congratulations on contending with the elements and the deadfall! The trail to Malone Bay is still on my to-do list, and people don't write about it very often, so I'm grateful for the scouting report. Did the NPS people at Windigo give anything away about whether there were plans to work on the deadfall or restore the beaver-ravaged boardwalk?


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Gigrantor
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Re: TR: 6/2 - 6/7 2019 [Ishpeming Trail > Greenstone Trail > Windigo]

Post by Gigrantor » Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:53 am

The Ishpeming trail was fun with the nice weather we had. I enjoyed the challenge of finding routes around the deadfall or other obstacles like the beaver dam. It would have been an entirely different story if that was the rain filled day with low temps. The NPS people in Windigo didn't seem too concerned about any of the trail conditions when we turned in our finalized trip plan. Barely asked how the hike went. We caught the feeling that they were a little understaffed and overwhelmed about "opening up" Windigo just a couple days prior. Not necessarily a bad experience talking to them, just could tell that our input was going to have little impact on their plans.

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Re: TR: 6/2 - 6/7 2019 [Ishpeming Trail > Greenstone Trail > Windigo]

Post by IncaRoads » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:05 pm

torpified wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:19 pm
Did the NPS people at Windigo give anything away about whether there were plans to work on the deadfall or restore the beaver-ravaged boardwalk?
In September of 2017 that same bridge/boardwalk (at the west end of Lake Siskiwit) was not passable. One side of it was floating as it was not attached to the piers. Like Gigrantor, I had to do a precarious scramble along the top of the nearby beaver dam to pass.


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Re: TR: 6/2 - 6/7 2019 [Ishpeming Trail > Greenstone Trail > Windigo]

Post by Bobcat1 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:19 pm

Good info about the Ishpeming trail. Also good call to head to Windigo to get dried out! I did that on one trip too - I was actually headed to Malone Bay, got soaked in a thunderstorm overnight (torrential rain pooling on a tent pad flooded my tarp-tent and everything in it), and just turned around and headed down the hill back to Windigo.
19 RH-ML-TI-RH by kayak
16 RH-DF-MB-TI-RH-3M-RH by kayak
09 RH-DF-MC-TH-HL-SD-WC
00 WC-IM-WC
96 WC-FL-SB-SD-HL-CE-3M-RH
94 RH-DF-MB-3M-RH
92 RH-DF-LR-CW-HL-SD-IM-WC

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