Of Backpacking Isle Royale through the Lens of Another’s Eyes From the 9th through the 15 of September, Michelle, Duane, and I backpacked Isle Royale to some new realizations. As with all hikes, Duane and I had expectations and routines, but each person who hikes with us offers new insights simply because of their uniqueContinue reading “Moose, Wolf, and Other Views”
Isle Royale in a Cool Late August Hiking Isle Royale is a great experience at any time of year, but Lara, Jennifer, and I had an exquisite experience with the cool weather in late August this year. We arrived on the Queen IV at Rock Harbor, caught a hop on the Voyageur II to ChippewaContinue reading “Women Rocking the Hike”
Hiking Isle Royale the First Time Probably the most fun hike for me is one where newcomers to the sport of backpacking join me for a first hike on Isle Royale and exceed their own expectations–and have a great time doing it. This past weekend Lynn and Gil did just that. They jumped in, gotContinue reading “What Success Looks Like”
My friends are hiking the Minong, and I am not! Duane, Gregg, and Michael have been hiking across the Minong Ridge Trail for the last few days, and we all know that trail is my favorite. You can be sure that I am wishing I were there with them, crossing the beaver dams between WashingtonContinue reading “Backpacking Envy”
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 youContinue reading “What Our Guides Do for You”
Seniors Hiking As we age, we face the inevitable judgments about our abilities to engage in vital activities, yet these activities are necessary for us to remain vital in our senior years. The pointed commentary comes at us from all sides, from healthcare professionals, to those who mean well but don’t understand the importance ofContinue reading “Am I too Old to Hike? Are We? Are You?”
on Isle Royale National Park In 2022, I set out to prove that women can solo the Minong and senior women can, too. For a long time, the Minong Ridge Trail has been my favorite trail on the island, partly because of its mystique, but also because of its terrain. Only 10 days prior toContinue reading “Women Breaking Out”
Filtering & Treating–Alerts, Toxins, and Avoidance Windigo and Rock Harbor are the only two areas on Isle Royale where water can be obtained from spigots and does not need to be filtered or treated. Every other area, inland or on Lake Superior, requires filtering and/or treating. In addition, sources may become unusable as the seasonContinue reading “Isle Royale Water Sources & Cautions”
Lake Vistas and Lush Forests There’s a long running debate about which is “best” trail on Isle royale, and each trail has its charms. The Greenstone Ridge Trail boasts the greatest variation in elevation and in views available on the island. We attest that the Greenstone Ridge Trail views are some of the best onContinue reading “Greenstone Ridge Trail Views”
Wise Old Man Can Help! It’s daunting to arrive on Isle Royale with no experience. You don’t know the terrain, the challenges, or how to plan for your needs, and the environment is remote which creates additional challenges. Wise Old Man guides can help. Six things you need to know: First, temperatures vary greatly betweenContinue reading “Don’t Have ISRO Hiking Experience?”
Six Best Choices Base camping on Isle Royale allows for a slower and more peaceful experience than backpacking. There are six excellent choices for base camping on the main island, Including Daisy Farm, Moskey Basin, Chippewa Harbor, Malone Bay, Windigo/Washington Creek, and McCargoe Cove. Regardless of your entry point, you will need to coordinate hopsContinue reading “Basecamping on Isle Royale”
To Sit, or Swim, or Think When I have had a particularly engaged year with too much work which comes with great satisfaction from the devotion of too much energy to the success of others, I stop. I simply stop. At summer, I stop. Some say, “to smell the roses.” But that’s not what IContinue reading “Getting Lost on Isle Royale”
Five Reasons to Hike the Main Spine of Isle Royale The Greenstone Ridge Trail traverses the island from end to end. Starting at the Hidden Lake Dock in the east and progressing to Windigo on the western end of the island, the Greenstone Ridge Trail affords the quintessential experience of Isle Royale. While there areContinue reading “Finding Yourself on the Greenstone”
Ten Reasons to Basecamp at Washington Creek Campground at Windigo Not everyone who goes to Isle Royale wants to backpack, and–let’s face it–lots of people can’t afford to stay at the lodge or the camper cabins. The alternative is to base camp, but where? There are many options which I addressed in another post, butContinue reading “Don’t want to backpack? Basecamp”
4 Considerations for Senior Hikers on Isle Royale Isle Royale is a great place to hike and backpack, and it’s not only for the young. Backpacking is about endurance and preparation, not speed. Our national parks are for all of us, seniors included. You should check with your healthcare provider to make sure you areContinue reading “Too Old to Hike? Probably Not”
Let’s talk a Moose Rut Hike. What is it? We plan late season hikes each year, just prior to the close of the season to take advantage of the opportunities to see moose at the height of their prime competing to pass on their genes. As the summer season comes to a close, the matingContinue reading “Hiking in Moose Rut Season”
Join us on June 1 through 5, 2023 Each spring, we like to get out in early June to view the calves. Early in the year, the cows are really protective of their new young that are teetering around on unsteady legs. In 2021, Duane met a calf still unsure of its long legs onContinue reading “Moose Mommas & Their Calves”
It does something for each of us. We all have our reasons. Many people hike Isle Royale as part of their plans to visit every US National Park. Others run the trails because it is their way to experience the outdoors. Yet others want to get away and experience the rugged off-trail backcountry experience. IContinue reading “Why Hike Isle Royale?”
On Isle Royale Maybe it’s buggy in June. Maybe not. In the earliest parts of June, it’s not likely to be buggy, but as the season progresses and the weather warms, the breeding season for mosquitoes and other bugs comes into full swing. Are the bugs bad in July? June, September, August? Everyone asks thisContinue reading “Are the Bugs Bad in . . . ?”
My Foot, of Course! Let’s face it, I have wonky feet. Well, I think everyone has wonky feet. We have long toes or short toes, high arches or flat. We have lumps and twists and bulges that make our feet unique and uniquely hard to fit for comfortable hiking. On Isle Royale’s rugged trails, myContinue reading “What’s in a Boot?”
Over our decades of hiking Isle Royale, both as park visitors and as guides, we have learned from our mishaps and inconveniences, and we actively apply the lessons learned. Tuck and Roll We had been hiking all day, coming from Daisy Farm and were planning to camp at West Chickenbone. The cold driving rain continuedContinue reading “Mishaps and Lessons”
Isle Royale foxes both annoy and delight. Even while they can prove to make a hiking excursion really uncomfortable by digging in your pack and eating your food or running off with one or both of your boots, I have to admit that they are the cheekiest and most entertaining bandits on the island. WhileContinue reading “Scamps: Isle Royale Foxes”
Duane and I have had some moose encounters over the years. Seeing them in the different contexts is at least one of the reasons why we visit and revisit Isle Royale. The most volatile encounters concern cows and their calves, but no moose should be taken lightly. Nose-to-Nose Thinking of the momma moose and herContinue reading “Favorite Moose Moments on ISRO”
Evaluate Your Sources If your information source can’t pass a CRAP test, it is not a good source. Crap is an acronym for Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose, and evaluating your sources of information using this analytical tool can ensure you have the right information to plan a safe excursion on Isle Royale. Currency addressesContinue reading “Good Information Can Keep You Safe”
A challenge often passed by for the end-to-end experiences The Feldtmann Loop is perfect for those arriving on Isle Royale from Grand Portage via the Voyageur II or from Houghton via the Seaplane who want the full experience but don’t have time for an extended stay. It can be done as a stand-alone in fiveContinue reading “Feeling Good on the Feldtmann Loop”
Ideas for visiting Isle Royale without backpacking When we think of Isle Royale, backpacking, kayaking, and boating come to mind, but not all people want, or are not able, to backpack in order to experience the beauty of this national park. Campground hopping can be a perfect option. It requires a sufficient amount of timeContinue reading “Base camping, inter-island hopping, & accessible experiences”
This trail creates options. Malone Bay is located at the end of the Ishpeming trail which you access from the Greenstone Ridge Trail at the Ishpeming Point or by Voyageur II if you come by boat. It is a favorite of fishermen who dock with their own vessels. It is also popular with people travelingContinue reading “What about Malone Bay?”
What’s the difference? The choice of going it alone or going with friends or a guide is one that requires some thought, one that has consequences for all of the choices you make when you set out on an adventure. Last year, I hiked the Minong Ridge Trail twice in the same season, once aloneContinue reading “To Solo or not to Solo”
While there are any number of opportunities to use the Greenstone Ridge Trail to get to other points on the island, for example out to Chippewa Harbor or toward Lane Cove or Malone Bay, it is the primary means to hike the length of the island. It also provides an exit from the Minong Ridge Trail for those who choose to go from Todd Harbor to Hatchet Lake, instead of going to Little Todd or North Desor.
Let’s face it, more than any other trail on Isle Royale, I love the Minong Ridge Trail. Why? Because it’s difficult. It may be the most difficult trail on the island. Yes, there is the Feldtmann Loop which is not for slouches. There is the hike out to Malone Bay, which is ass-kicking when doneContinue reading “What about that Minong Ridge Trail?”
Know Yourself. Knowing yourself and the island, and preparing for your adventure can make your excursion an enjoyable experience. Start with a frank assessment of your level of experience and fitness.
When women contemplate hiking and backpacking, they have obstacles to overcome, a lot of social conditioning that impresses on women to fear being attacked. Social media reinforces those fears. Well-meaning ideas about keeping sister, mom, or daughter safe can heighten the obstacles. Beyond that, we develop self-doubts because we are so often told what weContinue reading “Women in the Backcountry of Isle Royale”
I love a tough trail. When I hike, I’m in my own mental space. I like the sound of my own breath and the reflective effort it takes to navigate a tough trail. My core motivation for hiking has something to do with absorbing the ambiance of the forest, or the waterfront, or cliff edgeContinue reading “Hiking a Tough Trail with Old Friends”
My dear friend charged me with having avoided the core topic of the post, “On Women, Safety, and Hiking Isle Royale,” a point that may well be true. So how does the potential for rape or violence against women impact hiking Isle Royale? After all, this is the central issue voiced in the responses to my first post on women solo hikers to which my follow-up intended to respond.
Since I began talking about women’s solo hiking and women hiking on Isle Royale, I received a lot of feedback, some heated and some not. The heated responses invite me to develop thoughts on people, including women, staying safe while hiking Isle Royale. This past summer as I was returning from my Minong Ridge TrailContinue reading “On Women, Safety, & Hiking Isle Royale”
I work with a lot of women who are really fearless. They reach across to students who struggle with self confidence and they give them what they need to feel good about themselves. They coddle, nurture, push, support, chide, encourage, engage, and whatever else is necessary to ensure that the students develop the prowess theyContinue reading “Why Women Would (Not) Hike”
Experience rugged Isle Royale with women like us–mature, independent, capable, and ready for a challenge. Our adventures provide women at the beginner level the challenge to explore this rugged island paradise, to discover their strengths as backpackers, and to make friends for life with like-minded, strong women. Use coupon code 2023wom150 to get $150 offContinue reading “Women-Only Hikes with W.O.Man”
2022 July 3 & 4 I made it to Todd Harbor directly from the Voyageur II on Day 1, which was July 2, and set up camp. This was the easy day. On Day 2, I progressed from Todd Harbor into North Desor Campground, traversing 12.4 miles. On Day 3, I continued from North DesorContinue reading “Days 2 & 3 Minong Ridge Trail”
Day One: McCargoe Cove to Todd Harbor On July 2, 2022, Duane and I caught the Voyageur II from Grand Portage to Windigo where we were briefed on Island safety and proceeded to permitting. I reboarded the Voyageur for three hours to McCargoe Cove, the starting point of the Minong Ridge Trail, to start myContinue reading “Minong Ridge Trail Hike-July 2-4, ’22”
On June 11, 2022, I arrived at the Queen IV dock at 7:00 AM and checked in with Miranda at the office. I was excited for my first trip out for the year, even though the forecast was for cold and rain. I felt prepared with my cold-weather gear. Captain Ben and the crew were ready for us to board.
On June 5, 2022, Duane and I got out for the third time this year in our kayaks. We had been out a couple weeks earlier when it was warmer, circling around the entire area known as L’Anse Bay, basically from the water plant in L’Anse, across to the Ojibwa Campground in Baraga and aroundContinue reading “Kayaking on Keweenaw Bay in Lake Superior”
Clothing you bring to hike Isle Royale National Park needs to meet the diverse conditions on the island, including preparing for variations by season and terrain. We also talk about optional clothing items, bathing suits, for example, or a towel, and some style choice differences. Our Garb course addresses all aspects of clothing in a lotContinue reading “Clothes for Hiking IRNP”
How exciting! You have have made the commitment to visit Isle Royale. Let’s get started to help you have a wonderful time and an excellent adventure by preparing you for the challenges you will encounter. You have a lot of planning ahead of you, from getting your passes, to booking transportation, to getting the lay of the land, to understanding the topography and climate of Isle Royale, to choosing your gear, to planning your route, and finally to setting off on your great adventure.
Once you have decided on your itinerary, you are ready to think about all of the things you are going to need while you are on the island. Here, we are sharing an overview of what you will need, and we provide direct links to our free courses to help you examine each topic in more detail. Remember the courses are free, and they provide you with needed information and connections to help you to make sound decisions for yourself about what you will need for your particular backpacking itinerary.
Shelter is Not an Option–it’s a necessity! Shelter of some sort is a necessity on Isle Royale. You need shelter from cold, wind, and rain. Rain storms can come quickly and last for a few days. Temperatures can get really cold, with temperatures dipping into the 20s or even the teens. In many of theContinue reading “Sheltering on Isle Royale”
The Chippewa Harbor to Rock Harbor hike is one of our favorites because of its leisurely pace, which allows for time to explore attractions on the way. We get to tour along the coast of the island by ferry for spectacular views of the rugged shore from the boat and then hike back along the bays and shorelines, through the forests and over the rocky escarpments for stunning views of the water.
We left Grace Island on Day 12 early in the morning as we wanted to get to Windigo prior to the arrival of backpackers who would come in throughout the day for departure to Grand Portage the next morning. Our aim was to get a shelter, so we could get a shower and the bestContinue reading “Day 12: Grace Island to Windigo”
The hike from Malone Bay to Rock Harbor in six days and five nights is an advanced itinerary. This hike can also be done as an intermediate hike, with shorter distances after the first grueling hike up Ishpeming Point to the Greenstone Ridge Trail and down into Hatchet Lake. As an intermediate hike, the itineraryContinue reading “Malone Bay: Intermediate-Advanced”
The Greenstone Ridge Trail is sometimes called the Green tunnel because it crosses so many forested areas across the spine of the main island. The island is some 45 miles long, so the trail is of similar distance, traversing the Greenstone Ridge from Windigo to the Hidden Lake Dock. Many people choose to hike theContinue reading “Greenstone Ridge Trail”
The Greenstone Ridge Trail traverses the ridge from Hidden Lake Dock to Windigo, some 45 miles away, and can be done in either direction. The trail provides views of the vistas to the north and the south of the island. It brings hikers from Lookout Louise into the Washington Creek campground. To join an adventureContinue reading “Rock Harbor-Lane Cove-Daisy Farm Loop”
Our departure from Attwood Beach was less than ideal, but we still planned to make it into Windigo. That morning, the fog was so thick we had to use our Garmin devices to locate ourselves in relation to the shore. At one point, I did not come out far enough to clear the pinnacle ofContinue reading “Day 11: Attwood Beach to Grace Island”
On Wednesday, March 9, 2022, Wise Old Man of Isle Royale received its Commercial Use Authorization from Isle Royale National Park to be able to offer guide services to backpackers. Our plans start with pre-trip planning with Zoom meeting and telephone consultations as you assemble your gear and supplies followed by a pre-departure safety briefingContinue reading “Wise Old Man Offers Guide Services”
We departed Chippewa Harbor with Dogger. He headed north to catch his boat from Rock Harbor, and we headed south and west out of the mouth of the harbor to our destination at Attwood Beach. We wanted to cross the open water at Siskiwit Bay if the water was calm. Had there been a challenge,Continue reading “Day 10 Chippewa Harbor to Atwood Beach”
The paddle from Daisy Farm to Chippewa Harbor was uneventful. The water was glass calm, reflecting the clouds overhead, as we left the Daisy Farm dock just before 10:00 AM ET. As we passed out of Rock Harbor, near the Rock Harbor lighthouse, we were overtaken by a small open boat with a tiny outboardContinue reading “Day 7 Daisy Farm to Chippewa Harbor”
After a fine meal at the Greenstone Grill and a good night sleep at Shelter 6 in Rock Harbor, we got up early and set out for Daisy Farm. We planned to stay overnight at Caribou Island, so we paddled across the Rock Harbor channel only to discover the campground was full, so we veeredContinue reading “Day 6: Rock Harbor to Daisy Farm”
Belle Isle was lovely with the charm of the beach and the mysterious ruins, the fireplace too formal for its environs and the moss-covered cement stairs ascending up to the promontory to view entrants into the small cove where the paddle craft were landed. Paddling out of the harbor was bittersweet as we looked toward more north-shore paddling past Hill and Locke Points and on toward Blake Point.
The paddle from Little Todd to Belle Isle was not planned as the destination following Little Todd Harbor. Originally, we expected to stop at Birch Island, visiting places that you can’t access by hiking. After talking to the park rangers via the marine radio, we discovered that Birch Island was fully occupied by boaters. GivenContinue reading “Day 4: Little Todd Harbor to Belle Isle”
As experienced big lake paddlers, we have navigated quite large waves, just not with the straight up cliffs that also descend straight down into the water for 85 to 110 feet to create the rebounding waves that have no forgiveness. We know that Lake Superior claimed 3 paddlers in 2021 and 2 in 2020. We were not interested in joining them.
An Unplanned Zero Day The rocks shielding Huginnin Cove from the big lake offered a great place to sit in the sun. Behind campsite one, I stepped from rock to rock out to the largest boulder. Sleeping Giant reposed in the background, the provincial park visible on the Canadian coast to the north. This formationContinue reading “Day 2: Huginnin Cove”
At one’s core, though, is the need to persevere, if for no other reason, than to say you did it, that you are indeed capable. Bolstered with that bravado, we headed toward the northwest corner of the island to make our way east along the north coast, brisk wind at our backs.