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Topic: Isle Royale July Trip Help & Recommendations< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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jbellon80 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 10 2013, 4:55 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hello Everyone,

I am looking for a little bit of advice on how to do a trip at Isle Royale.  I already have a few things figured out, my group will be leaving from the Chicago-land area on Wednesday night and drive to Houghton.  Thursday we will travel to Isle Royale.  We plan on spending 5 days on the island, leaving on Monday and traveling home Monday night.

From what I have read on the forums here, seems like we need to really prepare for bugs.  The mosquitoes and gnats are bad in July.

My big questions are, what do we HAVE to see while out there?  We are an extremely capable group and can easily do 12-15 miles a day (save for the 1st day in which we will be getting on the island a bit later).

Is water pretty much always accessible?  Places to swim each day once your roll into camp?  I did read a lot about worm eggs and having to filter water.  That really seems to be a minor problem, however, do gravity feed filters work just as well as mechanical ones (MSR Mini Works)?

Northern Lights - Will we have a chance to see them?

Camp fires - I couldn't really find information on if there are fire rings?

Also, is it possible to hike from Rock Harbor to Windigo, catch the Ferry back to Rock Harbor in order to catch the ferry at Rock Harbor back to Houghton?  Or are we kind of playing with fire in hoping that the ferry would get us to Rock Harbor in time?

We are really looking forward to this trip, and I am excited to hit up this part of the country.  We have found that the UP has been a very pleasant surprise, and very much right in our backyard.

Thank you to everyone!!

Jim
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 10 2013, 6:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've only been once and stayed mostly on the east end (ventured as far west as McCargo) so I can only answer a couple questions but here it is for what it's worth.  

I don't know of any "must see" spots on the island, it's all nice.  

I would say that water is pretty much always accessible.  Very rarely are you far from a lake or the shoreline.  I used a mechanical filter (Katadyn Hiker Pro) but I don't know why a gravity filter wouldn't work, the water's not silty or anything.

We didn't see the northern lights when there but on the boat ride back a kayaker said he saw them while on the north side of the island one night (we happened to be on the south side that night, not sure if it mattered).

If I recall not every campground has a camp fire ring.  I only remember making a fire when we stayed at McCargo Cove and it was a community ring down by the dock.

Can't help with the ferry, probably best to call the company and ask.

Hope that helps, it's a great place to visit, can't wait to make a trip back.  Enjoy.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 11 2013, 10:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Check out the following link for more information....
IsleRoyaleForums
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 11 2013, 10:07 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The answers to all of your detailed questions can best be found here:  http://isleroyaleforums.com/

From what I have read on the forums here, seems like we need to really prepare for bugs. The mosquitoes and gnats are bad in July.  Yes!  Bring really good bug juice.  IR is the only place that I’ve ever broken down and worn a head net.

My big questions are, what do we HAVE to see while out there?  The most beautiful, noise free (except for the occasional airplane overflight) unspoiled scenery in the Midwest.  

We are an extremely capable group and can easily do 12-15 miles a day (save for the 1st day in which we will be getting on the island a bit later).  With good planning you should be able to avoid more than one long day like that.  

Is water pretty much always accessible?  Planning is required.  The campsites all have access to water although one (Island Mine) can be down to a trickle at times.  To traverse the length of the island as a first timer you’re most likely to be on the Greenstone Ridge Trail where there is no water.  My recommendation would be that before leaving a morning campsite, drink a liter of H2O, and carry at least two liters with you.  If there is a heat wave, start out earlier when it’s cooler.

Places to swim each day once your roll into camp?  Except for Island Mine.  You will be introduced to leeches on the inland lakes.

I did read a lot about worm eggs and having to filter water. That really seems to be a minor problem, however, do gravity feed filters work just as well as mechanical ones (MSR Mini Works)?  Yes.

Northern Lights - Will we have a chance to see them?  It is possible if you stay up late, there are no clouds, and you are lucky.  Keep in mind that it gets dark very late at night that far north.

Camp fires - I couldn't really find information on if there are fire rings?  Most places don’t have fire rings.  There are discussions on that subject in the IR forum with a complete list that was recently posted.

Also, is it possible to hike from Rock Harbor to Windigo, catch the Ferry back to Rock Harbor in order to catch the ferry at Rock Harbor back to Houghton? Or are we kind of playing with fire in hoping that the ferry would get us to Rock Harbor in time?  

If you sail from Houghton you would be on the Ranger.  It doesn’t go over and back as often as the IR Queen out of Copper Harbor.  If you haven’t settled on a ferry choice, I suggest that you get the sailing schedules for each ferry, put them on a calendar and see how they match with your travel plans.  The Voyageur II would be your transport from Windigo back to Rock Harbor.  You need to get the VII sailing schedule and put that on your calendar as well.  The V-II more or less makes the voyage from Windigo to Rock Harbor every other day.  Without looking at the schedule, I think that you arrive at Rock Harbor in the afternoon, after any ferry to the mainland has departed.  Keep in mind that the IR Queen and the Ranger operate on Eastern Time.  The VII schedule is on Central Time.  Also keep in mind that you are on a remote island in Lake Superior so incidents, accidents, injuries, and severe storms can any of your timing.  I got to spend an extra 2.5 days there once due to a storm.  You need to plan on the unforseen as you can easily be as much as a couple of days away from a park ranger with a radio, and cell phones don't work there.

If this is your first visit, don’t feel obligated to conquer the Greenstone your first time there.  It’s not going anywhere and I guarantee you will want to go back.  Consider following the trail down to Daisy Farm, Moskey, maybe out to Chippewa Harbor, over to McCargo, Lane Cove and back to Rock Harbor.  You will feel quite fulfilled and be ready to plan for your next visit.  It takes several trips to see IR properly by foot, and then you’ll have to buy a canoe or kayak to see the rest.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 11 2013, 12:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You are gambling with your return ferry.  I took my boys a few years back.  We were delayed 1 day getting to the island by weather.  When we finished, we were delayed by a ferry mechanical problem.  We were using Grand Portage, MN as our arrival and exit point from Windigo.  You roll the dice and take your chances.  Good luck.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 11 2013, 12:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(gimp @ Jun. 11 2013, 10:07 am)
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If you haven’t settled on a ferry choice, I suggest that you get the sailing schedules for each ferry, put them on a calendar and see how they match with your travel plans.

Planning a trip in September and this is exactly what I did.  I decided the days didn't align well enough to do a one-way hike and take the ferry back around the island.  I also chose to drive the extra hour to Copper Harbor instead of Houghton because of the ferry schedules.  

Very excited as this is a bucket list trip for me.  Between that and Boundary Waters next month, I'll have my Midwest checklist complete and hopefully will then get the heck out of here!


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 12 2013, 9:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We did Isle Royale in 2009.

We took the ferry from Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor.  We hiked to Daisy Farm, then McCargo Cove, then along the Minong Ridge to Windigo.  We took the plane back to Rock Harbor and the ferry back to Copper Harbor.  If you get an early enough flight, you should have plenty of time to take the Copper Harbor ferry.  Not sure about the one going to Houghton.

The Minong Ridge is nice because you'll have access to water at every stop.  It can be more rugged than the Greenstone, however.

Some members of our group went back in 2011.  They flew out of Houghton to the Island and Back, and really liked that option.

Lots of options.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 13 2013, 1:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have done 3 trips to IR, and I think the ideal time is from late August to late September, depending on your temperature preferences. Bugs are largely gone by then, berries are available (in August), and the water is warmest (still cold--60 degrees or so).

Lake (Superior or inland) water is available at almost every site, with a few exceptions. No fires on IR, to my knowledge.

The camp sites at Feldtman Lake are ideal for swimming. It has a shallow sandy beach. Siskiwit Bay is another good one. If you are taking the Voyaguer out of Houghton, I assume your stop is at Windigo, putting these sites within easy reach via the Feldtman Loop, which is reportedly a wolf area.

If you are strong hikers you could probably get back to Windigo via the western half of the Minong Ridge trail, using the Greenstone and Hatchet Lake spur to reach Minong jsut west of Todd Harbor.

My last trip was a traverse from Windigo to Rock Harbor via Feldtman/Greenstone Ridge/Todd Harbor/Chickenbones/Daisy Farm, which was 5 nights and about 66 miles. We could do this only because the Ranger had made a special stop at Windigo (it normally runs only to Rock Harbor) to start our trip.

If you are going to go in/out of Rock Harbor, it is easy to fashion a 40+ mile loop using Moskey Basin, Lake Ritchie, McCargo, etc. It is a good way to tour the island. I would recommend heading over to Lane Cove on day 1, as a lot of people head to Daisy Farm, which is like 42nd and Broadway. Lane Cove is beautiful and relatively secluded.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 18 2013, 1:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Hungry Jack @ Jun. 13 2013, 1:10 pm)
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If you are going to go in/out of Rock Harbor, it is easy to fashion a 40+ mile loop using Moskey Basin, Lake Ritchie, McCargo, etc. It is a good way to tour the island. I would recommend heading over to Lane Cove on day 1, as a lot of people head to Daisy Farm, which is like 42nd and Broadway. Lane Cove is beautiful and relatively secluded.

This is pretty much what we did - over to Lane Cove first night and it was quiet.  The hike up and over the ridge was not much fun with a full pack but that's the price to pay.  It didn't help that my wife came down with a nasty cold that night so the hike back up was even more dreaded by her.  Then we went all the way down to Moskey Basin on day 2, I don't think she remembers much of that day.  She slept until 11:30 the next morning.  Ahh, good memories   ???
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 19 2013, 3:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I would recommend trying the camp one night at either Little Todd or Todd Harbor. Todd would be easier to get to with your time schedule from Rock Harbor. I like the campsites on the northern part of the Island for the great sunsets over the Lake and looking at the topography of the Canadian shoreline. Being so close to Thunder Bay and the light pollution may make these sites harder to see the Northern Lights if that is one of your goals.

I have never stayed at Lane Cove, but my next trip will include that site as I have heard nothing but good things.

You could also look at getting a shuttle service to Malone Bay or taking VII to Windigo right away and then walking back on the Greenstone or Minong to Rock Harbor.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 19 2013, 6:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I hiked from Rock Harbor to Windigo back in 2006. First night Rock Harbor, night number two was at Daisy Farm, number three was at McCargo Cove, number four was at Todd Harbor, number five was at North Lake Desor and I finished up at Windigo.

Can't help you regarding the return ferry as I departed and returned via Grand Portage. I went in late August so the bugs were non-existent (except for bees in certain areas), but the Ranger I chatted with said that around mid summer the little beasts were everywhere.

Saw the northern lights at Daisy Farm. Water was pretty much only available in the lakes.  The Greenstone got hot in midday when I was on it and the Minong was breezy and comfortable.

My only concern was camping opportunities at North Lake Desor. I don't know if things have changed since '06, but North Lake Desor had only three campsites capable of comfortably holding two tents each. Given it's a nice log slog from Todd Harbor to North Lake Desor and an almost equal task from Windigo I was concerned about finding a site.  Fortunately I managed to get one, but all the sites were occupied by 5PM.  

I only recall fire rings at McCargo Cove and Todd Harbor.  Personally I'd pass on the fire option.

Isle Royale has been my best backpacking trip thus far, and the only one where I've actually planned out a return trip.
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