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Topic: Isle Royale, Advice< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 12:39 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey guys. I'm headed up to Isle Royale this upcoming summer. Any general or specific advice from those who have been before? I'm coming from Indy, wanting to stay for 4-5 days, going light and simple and going alone.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 7:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How are you getting to IR, when are you going? I assume backpacking?

Good info here:
http://www.isleroyaleforums.com./
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2013, 9:44 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, thats kindof what im looking for. I dont know what time to go or the best way to get there. For me the i'll have to be leaving from the UP and not MN but thats all I know. I will be backpacking though yes. Have you been, John? What's it like?

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2013, 10:43 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ddanz27 @ Dec. 21 2013, 8:44 am)
QUOTE
Well, thats kindof what im looking for. I dont know what time to go or the best way to get there. For me the i'll have to be leaving from the UP and not MN but thats all I know. I will be backpacking though yes. Have you been, John? What's it like?

I have been there a few times.
The earlier you go the better, depending on what you want
to see, ie wildlife, flora. Bugs will start to get bad in late May, blackflies are bothersome and will be through July. Mosquitoes will vary according to Spring rains and temps. The temps are moderated by the cool Superior waters, lakeside trails are usually less buggy. Moose aren't as prevalent in May-June, cows are having calves and bulls are reclusive.  
July and August the trails are busier. If you go before Memorial day, don't expect the store in RH to be open.

We have done a few trips in late May, every trip we had snow at least once, but it doesn't last.
The shelters are nice particularly if it raining, snowing or windy.
You will be going out of Rock Harbor, most folks do a loop of some sort. The Queen out of Copper Harbor allows more time on the Island. The Ranger out of Houghton, you will spend 2 full days transiting.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2013, 2:53 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I think late summer is the ideal time to visit IR, but so do many others. Still, a midweek trip in August does not leave the island overwhelmed (well, outside of Rock Harbor, Daisy Farm, and perhaps Windigo).

Reduced bugs, warm waters (relatively speaking), thimbleberries make August a nice time (2 of my 3 trips have been in August, never staying less than 4 nights).

If you are a fast hiker, a traverse from Windigo to Rock Harbor via Feldtman, Greenstone, Minong, and Greenstone is a great way to see the island. The Feldtman area is very secluded (camped at Feldtman and then Siskwit Bay in August on consecutive nights and had 1 neighbor). The Ranger occasionally makes trips out of Houghton to Windigo before heading to Rock Harbor.

If you are stuck with transport to Rock Harbor, you can still have a great time on the eastern half of the isle by checking out Lane Cove, Chippewa Harbor, and McCargo Cove. Todd Harbor is really nice too.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 22 2013, 2:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've only entered from MN, but the ferry from MN leaves 3 times per week.  I assume the ferry from the UP also doesn't run every day, so make sure to take that into account.  It sounds like you have the time to go from Rock Harbor to Windigo (or vice-versa) so I would recommend that highly.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 22 2013, 5:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Did a coast to coast solo hike from Rock Harbor to Windigo some years back.  Stayed in Rock Harbor, Daisy Farm, McCargoe Cove, Todd Harbor, North Lake Desor and Washington Creek. Coming from Dallas, TX it was best for me to depart from Grand Portage, MN, but it sound like you've got departure stuff addressed.

My trip was on the August side of Labor Day weekend for seven days and I learned the following:

1) You mention going light, but I'd pack an extra day's worth of food at a minimum. If the seas are choppy enough the ferry won't run so there's always the chance of being 'marooned' for an extra day.  I saw it happen first hand.
2) Carry all types of clothing.  Some days I got rain, other days were hot (upper 80s, especially on the Greenstone Ridge Trail), and some nights were down right frigid.
3) Late summer was real nice regarding bugs. A ranger I ran into mentioned that in July he couldn't walk twenty feet without getting swarmed by black flies. When I went I could count the total number of bug encounters on one hand during the entire trip.

Enjoy.  It was hands down the best solo trip I've taken.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2013, 10:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for all this info guys. It seems to me I would prefer later in the summer because of the bugs. I'll be sure to try to nail the timing right on the ferries. Am I right saying that Rock Harbor to Windigo is traversing the island lengthwise? I should be looking for a ferry to Rock Harbor and then back from Windigo I assume or would I be needing to do an out and back? How many days to traverse comfortably?

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2013, 7:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes, Rock Harbor to Windigo (or vice-versa) is a lengthwise traverse of Isle Royale.  You should not need to hike an out-and-back, but do take note of the days that ferries arrive and depart each of the harbors.  

The mileage is about 50-55 miles depending upon the route you choose.  The elevation gain/loss is moderate and the trails are in really good condition for the most part.

Also, although every campsite has water, you probably won't find any water between sites so if water weight is an issue, this is something to remember.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2013, 7:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If you want to hike either the Greenstone or Minong or combination of the 2, to Windigo, keep in mind you will have to take the VII back to RH, which gets you in at 3 Central. The boats out of  the Keweenaw are on Eastern Time and would be gone. You could do a nice loop on the East end in that time period.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2013, 9:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I did the Rock Harbor to Windigo option because the ferry came in on a daily basis (not sure of the schedule now).  If I chose Windigo to Rock Harbor, which was my original intent, the departure from Rock Harbor back to Grand Portage was every other day.  That was going to either force me to kick the hike into high gear or slow it down and add an extra day to the trip.  Neither was an option for me at the time.

The time I took was a nice pace.  The Minong was a bit challenging in some areas so the ten plus miles I did from Todd Harbor to North Lake Desor and from North Lake Desor to Washington Creek were good workouts, but by then my pack was lighter as most of my food was gone.  

Another thing on the ferry...I would suggest getting to your destination the day before the ferry arrives.  That way you're not in a rush.  It was nice getting into Washington Creek with time to chew on some decent food and clean up somewhat before departing the next day.

I haven't seen it mentioned on the other posts, but if you're looking for a decent map the Trails Illustrated map of the island is the best I've seen.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 15 2014, 2:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I haven't been to Isle Royale, but planned a trip last year that fell through fairly late in the planning.  So, I'm planning a solo trip this year in early September.  

Here are some notes on campsites that I jotted down during my research:
Campsites to Avoid:
Island Mine
East Chickenbone
Good campsites:
Moskey (sunrise)
Feldtmann (sunrise)
Todd (sunset)
Lane (sunset)
Lane Cove
McCargoe
Siskiwit
Rainbow Cover nearFeldtmann
Hugginnen Cove

I've opted for the longer drive to Grand Portage because I think the ferry schedule will give me more flexibility.  When planning last year, I had a hard time figuring out how to cross the island and coordinate ferries without some big mile days (more than 10 is too much for me)  So this year, I will take the ferry from GP to Windigo and then on to Rock Harbor and spend 8 nights hiking back to Windigo and take the ferry back to Grand Portage from there.

Here is my tentative plan - I welcome any suggestions!
SAT - Voyageur Ferry - Arrive  RH at 3pm
SUN - RH to Daisy Farm 7.1 miles
MON - Daisy Farm to McCargoe Cove 8.2 miles
TUE - McCargoe Cove to Todd Harbor 6.7 miles
WED - Todd Harbor to Hatchet Lake 4.1
THU - Hatchet to Desor South 8.1
FRI - Desor S to Island Mine - 5.5 miles
SAT -Island Mine to Windigo 6.6 miles
SUN - Windigo - 1:00 ferry


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 15 2014, 10:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Firedancer,

What happened to your trip to Wyoming?  I thought you and Double Cabin were going around Jackson...???

Have you ever gone solo before?

RS


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 16 2014, 10:16 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(rangersven @ Jan. 15 2014, 10:22 pm)
QUOTE
Firedancer,

What happened to your trip to Wyoming?  I thought you and Double Cabin were going around Jackson...???

Have you ever gone solo before?

RS

No, DC went and got a job and the trip fell through.  Can't remember if that was last year or the year before?!  I think it was 2012, actually.

I have not gone solo (overnight) before, but I think IR would be a good place to try it out.  For some reason, I feel safer on an island, and no bears to worry about!


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 16 2014, 1:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My plans for last year fell through as well and now I'm looking at a May/June time to go.

My big question is getting from the airports to the ferry (any of them) and then back to the airport. Which airport is most convenient? If I fly in the day before how easy is it to find a place in town that is close to the ferry?


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 17 2014, 2:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tomas @ Jan. 16 2014, 1:03 pm)
QUOTE
My plans for last year fell through as well and now I'm looking at a May/June time to go.

My big question is getting from the airports to the ferry (any of them) and then back to the airport. Which airport is most convenient? If I fly in the day before how easy is it to find a place in town that is close to the ferry?

You would fly into the Houghton / Hancock Airport.  That's a very short taxi ride to the Ranger that departs out of Houghton.  Hotels are within walking distance.   The downside of that ferry is the limited schedule for the trips and it's a 6 hour or so ferry ride to the island.

Leaving the airport, it is closer to an hour long ride to get to Copper Harbor where the IR Queen departs everyday.  Motels are next to the dock and it's only a 3 1/2 hour ferry ride to the island.  It's my understanding that you can hire a shuttle from the airport to Copper Harbor.  It returns in the evening so once you get a ride back to Hancock, it would be the next day before you could fly out.

Consider the 3rd option which is the float plane.  From the time you lift off - out of the Hancock airport - it's 25 minutes until you will be putting your feet on the dock at whichever end of the island you choose as your entry point.  You can get picked up at the opposite end of the island and within half an hour of leaving IR, you back at the Hancock airport.  The float plane goes back and forth all day long.  The float plane costs more in dollars, but it can be worth it if you add up all the hours you avoid in ferry travel, and you don't arrive with a huge group of people who are all trying to get on the trail at the same time.  If you're doing a Rock Harbor to Windigo trip you can also avoid the time and expense of the Voyager II taking you back to your start point.   Did I mention the view from the air?

Downsides of the float plane are that you can't carry fuel onboard.  You have to buy it at a store on the island and those aren't open before about Memorial Day.  Also, the float plane is a bit more likely to get weathered out than a ferry.  I got to spend 2 1/2 extra days sitting at Rock Harbor a few years ago due to a severe lake gale.  Actually, that caused the ferry travel to stop too.  As frustrating as that was, it ended up providing good memories.

I've taken the IR Queen over twice and the float plane over twice.  The float plane is my preference.  I'm planning a trip for next July and will be taking my daughter and a niece and I expect to use the float plane again.  Last summer I went over on the IR Queen because I had a canoe.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 27 2014, 6:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Firedancer,

I've made more than a dozen trips to the island and two of them solo.  Isle Royale is a good place to try solo.  Because you have to camp in the camping areas you see more people ( a nice safety net, if you need it ). Trails are easy to follow. No bears or raccoons to protect your food from, but watch out for ground squirrels (they'll eat through anything to get your stuff).

Your route sounds like you are going to see I little bit of everything. Going as an individual (as opposed to a group) your itinerary can be changed.  You might decide to skip Island Mine and hike onto Windigo. I know it is more than your 10 mile limit, but very doable.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 30 2014, 4:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Planner "No bears or raccoons to protect your food from, but watch out for ground squirrels (they'll eat through anything to get your stuff)."


Planner is correct but there is another sly furry friend who managed to grab my favorite spork (albeit not food but a valuable tool, IMHO) on my last visit (the shinier, the better chance of it being snagged).  Fox!  I followed the fox as best I could and managed to find it's den (with kits of course). I left the area undetected and bowed to the victor and promised myself to never get taken again. :)

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 07 2014, 7:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Usually you are lucky if you see a fox. They hang out around the bigger/busier campgrounds (Daisy Farm, Moskey Basin, McCargo Cove). Just be aware that they are out there.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2014, 11:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(johnhens @ Dec. 21 2013, 10:43 am)
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I have been there a few times.

That made me laugh a little.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2014, 10:17 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

1. The trip over to IR  from Copper Harbor is a classic.  

2. This is a heavy snow and ice year and it will impact the animal population.  So it will be difficult to predict early/later bug problems.

3. By early September the crowds are gone and there is a very relaxed feel to IR.  Another big plus for early- mid September:  Thimbleberries!!  They are the size of a sewing thimble and have the appearance of a large raspberry and they are less sweet than a raspberry but absolutely great eating.  

4. Isle Royale is addicting.  The majority of backpackers you will meet are on their 2nd or 3rd or 4th trip.  I have been twice.  I am now retired from MI and live in AZ but of all the places I have backpacked, and there are several, I consider Isle Royale to be my favorite.  No place like it.

4- 5 days will be barely adequate but your 2nd trip will be longer.  My 2nd trip was 10 days and I got my first 100+ mile trip in on Isle Royale.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2014, 11:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hmm. Now I'm wondering if I should push this back to September. It sounds a better time to go with less crowds and bugs.

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