Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

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eliump2147
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Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by eliump2147 » Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:09 pm

Looking for feedback on this potential itinerary: Sept. 2nd - Arrive in Windigo at about 10AM. Hike 6.9 mi to Island Mine Camp. Sept. 3rd - Island Mine 5.5 mi to S. Lake Desor. Sept. 4th - S. Lk Desor 8 mi to Hatchet Lake. Sept. 5th - Hatchet Lake 10.4 mi to McCargoe Cove. Sept. 6th - McCargo Cove 11 mi to Moskey Basin. Sept. 7th - Moskey Basin 3.9 mi to Daisy Farm. Set camp and day hike to tower and coast. **Will spend two nights at either McCargoe, Moskey or Daisy** Sept. 9th - Daisy Farm 9 mi to Rock Harbor Lodge for the night. Sept. 10th Depart 3PM.


Bobcat1
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Re: Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by Bobcat1 » Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:02 pm

Daisy Farm to RH lodge is more like 6 miles on the Rock Harbor trail. If you are going up the Greenstone to Mt Franklin (great overlooks) maybe it is closer to 9. Other than that, you describe a pretty standard end-to-end. What route are you thinking from Hatchet to McCargoe? Via Todd Harbor on the Minong, or via W.Chickenbone? The section as you approach Chickenbone jct on the Greenstone from Hatchet Lake is one of my favorites because of the sweeping overlooks of the southern side of the island.
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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Re: Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by dcclark » Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:09 pm

Welcome to the forums! (And, soon, welcome to the island!)

This looks like a pretty straightforward itinerary to me, and I like the option for a rest day. I'd recommend taking your extra day at McCargoe or Moskey -- those are huge favorites.

But... please tell us a bit about yourself and your party. Feedback can really vary depending on your experience with backpacking and different types of terrain. For example, are you used to hiking these distances with a 30-40 pound pack? What kind of terrain do you usually hike on? (Midwestern "rolling hills" are very different from the island's up-and-down rocky terrain, for example).

You may also want to double-check your numbers. McCargoe to Moskey should be about 9 miles. The rest look about right, but it's worth being careful.


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Re: Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by eliump2147 » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:34 pm

Thank you for the feedback and mileage corrections. I'll take another look at the mileage for this route.

My friend and I are experienced ultralight backpackers. We've both done a multi-night trip in the Beartooth Mountains and I have backpacked the Tour du Mont Blanc, Everest Base Camp, the Cutler Coast Trail, 500 miles across Northern Spain and portions of both the AT & SHT. I anticipate our packs will weigh about 21-22 pounds a piece, including food enough for the duration of our trip. I have not been very active of late, so huge mileage days aren't high on my priority list. Also, I made the ferry reservations without first figuring out our itinerary. The duration of this trip seems fairly casual and comfortable for me.

Oh, I was thinking the W. Chickenbone route, Bobcat1. I wasn't aware of it's beauty, so your input is great here.

Moderator Edit: posts merged.


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Re: Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by yanman2008 » Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:17 pm

eliump2147 wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:34 pm
We've both done a multi-night trip in the Beartooth Mountains and I have backpacked the Tour du Mont Blanc, Everest Base Camp, the Cutler Coast Trail, 500 miles across Northern Spain and portions of both the AT & SHT.
This is a most impressive resume.

My wife and I will be heading the opposite direction, Rock Harbor to Windigo from 9/2-9/5. We will probably pass each other at some point near South Desor Lake.

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Re: Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by dcclark » Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:58 pm

eliump2147 wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:34 pm
Thank you for the feedback and mileage corrections. I'll take another look at the mileage for this route.

My friend and I are experienced ultralight backpackers. We've both done a multi-night trip in the Beartooth Mountains and I have backpacked the Tour du Mont Blanc, Everest Base Camp, the Cutler Coast Trail, 500 miles across Northern Spain and portions of both the AT & SHT. I anticipate our packs will weigh about 21-22 pounds a piece, including food enough for the duration of our trip. I have not been very active of late, so huge mileage days aren't high on my priority list. Also, I made the ferry reservations without first figuring out our itinerary. The duration of this trip seems fairly casual and comfortable for me.
Sounds like you should have no trouble whatsoever on Isle Royale then!

You'll love the island -- and fall is a great time to be there (early September is definitely fall). Be ready for cooler temperatures, fewer people, and wonderful views.


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Re: Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by Bobcat1 » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:37 pm

I have looked at this again and I have a couple more comments. You must be piecing together ferries and seaplanes, is that correct? Otherwise how are you arriving at Windigo at 10am and leaving Rock Harbor at 3pm? If you are taking the Voyager, you will be leaving Rock Harbor at 8am (Central time). Just checking, because people tend to get confused about the Voyager schedule.

As far as where to spend your extra day, wherever you might need the rest is good. But if you want day-hiking then my favorite would be Daisy Farm or Rock Harbor. At Daisy Farm you have several variations on hikes up the hill to overlooks. If you feel like stretching it out on a day hike you could even loop as far as Mt Franklin which is debatably the best hike-to overlook on that end of the island. McCargoe and Moskey are beautiful campsites (as is Todd Harbor) but there are less dayhike routes intersecting those campsites. Or, you could blow your extra day at the beginning and do dayhikes the first day, staying at Washington Creek (Windigo) the day you arrive. Then you could go straight on to South Lake Desor your second day.

At Rock Harbor you will get a half-day canoe rental with your room, be sure and use it to explore Tobin Harbor and the Hidden Lake/Lookout Louise trail. And, the Stoll Trail to Scoville Point is spectacular 4-mile loop to stretch your legs before you leave. If you haven’t used your extra day yet, you could always use it at the Rock Harbor campground the night before your lodge reservation which gives you plenty of time for both Tobin Harbor and Scoville Point as well as possibly ranger programs. It is getting late in the season but there may be lodge excursions available too. And, the one-night limit at Rock Harbor and 3-Mile ends on Sept. 1, so file that fact in case it is useful to you.

Have a great trip!
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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Re: Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by eliump2147 » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:39 am

Thanks for the reply, Bobcat1. Very helpful info. Yes, checked my ticket after reading your reply and we do leave on Voyaguer II at 8AM on the 10th. I didn't know about the half day canoe use. With all this in mind, yes. If we don't use our extra day earlier, it would be a good idea to stay a night at the Rock Harbor campground prior to our room reservation.

Cool, yanman2008. :-)

Moderator Edit: back to back posts merged.


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Re: Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by eliump2147 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:49 am

Thanks to those of you who responded to my post. Now that the trip is done, I thought I'd post my experience over the course of the trip.

Beginning at Windigo on Sept. 2, we hiked in beautiful weather to Feldtmann Lake Camp where we spent our first amazing night on the island. Before going to bed for the night we did a packless hike to Rainbow Beach to watch the sun set. The beach was a gorgeous, water-formed bed of rocks we had all to ourselves. We had to laugh a lot though as on this evening, it seemed as though the sunset never really happened. This, likely because we got there too early. Day two on the island greeted us with a moose swimming and eating its way towards us across Feltdmann Lake. That day we backpacked in an all day rain to Siskiwit Bay Camp where we were fortunate enough to land a shelter. From about half way to Siskiwit Bay the trail was very overgrown, but by paying good attention, we were able to follow the trail. Though we both had the best rain gear one could have, we were both fully soaked. Day three had us hike to South Lake Desor Camp. A treat to our ears, the call of the loons was spectacular. On day four we hiked to Hatchet Lake Camp to spend the night. I don't remember a lot about this camp, but the call of the loons was a constant on our trip. Day five was awesome, taking us to W. Chickenbone Lake. Descending the trail as we neared camp, a HUGE bull moose was just inches off the trail about 30' from me. I slowly moved behind the safety of a tree to take in the moose in all it's full rack majesty. Only later while I was watching the moose did I think to bring out my camera. When I did, I tripped a bit over a rock, scaring the moose deeper into the woods. None of my pictures are great, but at least you can see this moose really was there as I described. A few steps further down the trail there was a large female moose deeper in the woods. As I stopped and scanned the woods I saw at least six moose in this location! As I was making dinner in camp, Sara quietly got my attention and pointed towards the woods at the edge of our camp. Here there was a sweet, curious fox that trotted calmly into our camp, taking time to stretch and yawn before it did its rounds within our camp. He was beautiful! About an hour later, he returned to make his second round through our camp! Lovely!!! Day six we hiked to Moskey Basin where we again got a shelter for the night. The sunset view over the lake here was nothing short of spectacular. On this night, in addition to the loons, we heard the wolves howling and yelping over what was almost certainly a kill. Being there had been rain on just about every day of our trip, on day seven we decided to not do a short day, passing up Daisy Farm to spend the night at Rock Harbor, again in one of the shelters. Here people, I should say very clean and neat looking people, were plentiful. Still, our final night spent in camps was fantastic. On day eight we checked into the Rock Harbor Lodge, dropped our packs and did a loop hike from that location. The views of Lake Superior we brilliant!

What a fantastic trip!!!! With 30 pounds in each of our packs, we packed just enough food for the duration of our trip. As an added bonus, I lost 13 pounds and Sara lost seven!!! (I have more to lose than she does). TIP: Order the fish sandwich from the Rock Harbor Grill. YUM!!!!! In total, 62 miles hiked.

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Re: Windigo to Rock Harbor Itinerary

Post by dcclark » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:44 am

Congrats on wonderful trip (you'll be back)! You might consider posting this (with a photo or two?) in the Trip Reports forum. Lots of folks would love to read it there.

Twilight lasts a loooong time that far north. At summer solstice you can get a decent afterglow from the sunset until well after midnight.

Sounds like you had a wonderful batch of wildlife sightings too. You're especially lucky to hear the wolves. The camp fox I once met at Moskey was also bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and looking out for every opportunity to steal food, clothes, shoes... anything at all.

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