What Our Guides Do for You

From Start to Finish

How does one get started backpacking? Duane always says, “just book a boat.” Yes, just book a boat. If you need more help, book a guide. Then buy a backpack and a good pair of boots.

When you book with Wise Old Man of Isle Royale Guide Services, we match you with a guide that can help you define and achieve your goals. Prior to booking, we discuss your hiking experience and help you choose an excursion geared for your success, starting with assessing your objectives and your capabilities for your excursion. We measure your preparedness and make recommendations to ensure that you have the stamina and gear you need to be ready for a successful hike.

Once you book, we review the gear list and consult by email, phone, and Zoom to ensure that you have necessities and help you to select luxury items that make your hike the experience of a lifetime without overtaxing your stamina in having to carry the gear. Your guide provides feedback as you select the needed gear. We also provide loaner gear if you do not wish to purchase all needed items right away, especially for new hikers who are on their first few excursions. As you prepare for your excursion, we provide recommendations for training and encourage hiking in full gear while wearing the footwear you expect to use on the island. You need to have fully broken in footwear prior to departure.

About four weeks prior to departure, we meet and chat by Zoom. At that meeting, we fine tune your gear and review the specifics of your needs, including pack weight, food and clothing needs. We discuss important choices and options, ensuring that your planning takes into account unforeseen issues, such as weather events and environmental conditions, that might crop up and also to preempt common packing issues that new hikers encounter.

On the eve of departure, guides meet with you to review safety guidelines, conduct final pack weigh-ins, and review any last-minute details. If pack weights are excessive, guides assist you in making prudent choices for reducing weight without sacrificing safety and comfort. They understand that desire to add last-minute items, and help you decide what is unnecessary to the hike.

On island, our guides are experts in trail routes and current conditions. They are aware of obstacles and detours around them so that everyone enjoys a successful hike as safely as possible. They stay abreast of developing weather conditions and move hikers out of harm’s way. In the event of emergency, they carry a safety beacon to summon help and alert park first responders of any incidents. During the hike, guides provide security and moral support for the whole team while they traverse the island together. Guides assist backpackers in fulfilling their dreams for a rugged island experience under their skilled and watchful support.

Isle Royale is not an easy place to hike, so we help you determine which hike will work for you, whether that is beginner, intermediate, advanced, or one that allows you to adjust on the fly–pick the number of days and we can make an itinerary that flexes as you flex. On the Daisy Farm Loop for example, we can include the Mount Franklin to Mount Ojibway route as part of the excursion with full packs, or we can set up camp and day hike to Mt. Franklin from Three Mile and to the Ojibway Tower from Daisy Farm. Day hikes require carrying only some water and a snack, which makes them more pleasant than climbing the elevations in full gear.

Other Loops and cross-island hikes are possible at all levels and are tailored to the individual hiker or hikers in a group. For advanced hikers, we can even combine loops and cross-island hikes for comprehensive island experiences, for example tacking the Feldtmann Loop onto a Minong or Greenstone cross-island hike. We book based on hiker experience and capability, and we like to creatively design unique excursions that work to meet your goals and expectations.

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