Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Isle Royale 2017 Planning

I'm hoping the trip this year to Isle Royale goes better than it did in 2014.  That year, ice on Lake Superior delayed the first boat out for over two weeks.  I was working then, and had to change reservations twice, along with my scheduled vacation.  What made it worse was that the boat company wouldn't cancel a boat until a couple of days ahead of time, only a day longer than my drive time to get there.  I had a backup hike planned in Kentucky, and wasn't real confident the boat would go out until after I started my drive up north.  With the delays, I was there over Memorial Day weekend; so the boat coming back was packed.

This year, there's not supposed to be any ice on the lake.  I'm hoping that also means no snow on the north side of the hills.  I've reserved a seat out of Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor on a Monday and a return trip the Monday after that.  The boat out goes from about 0800 to 1130.  The boat back goes from 1445 to 1815.

I used DeLorme Topo North America to create a route around the island.  I did an alternate route using  Both used the same trails, but stopped at different campgrounds.  I like the second one better since it only has me doing 7 miles (instead of 12) the Monday I return.  The mileage per day is higher than what I did on the AT, but the highest point on the island is just over 1,000 feet.  As long as there are no major storms, I should be able to handle the mileage.

The Park Service changed their fees this year.  In 2014, it was $4/night.  So it cost me $28 for my stay (plus hotel room costs in Copper Harbor).  This year, its now $7/day, which would cost me $56.  Fortunately, they changed their position on accepting the National Parks' annual pass.  It wasn't accepted in 2014.  This year it is.  So it actually is costing me $80 to enter (the cost of the pass), but I'll be able to get into other parks for a year.

There is another irritating change for the park.  In 2014, the worst water risk was cryptosporidium.  I used a filter and tablets.  Now I have the Steripen UV device, which handles cryptosporidium.  I was looking forward to the simpler filter process and less weight.  But reading up, they now warn that all water is likely to have tapeworm eggs, which Steripen does not kill.  So I have to still bring a filter plus my Steripen or chemicals.

Since I now have an iPhone 6S+ instead of an iPhone 5S, plus an inReach Explorer, my electronics weight is going up too.  Also, most of the camp sites have shelters that will be open this time of year.  In 2014, I used a 1.5 oz groundcloth in the shelters.  This year I'm considering a 5.6 oz bivy--to help with the wind.  So more weight there.

The campgrounds without shelters were usually mud or close to it; they don't want you to set up a tent anywhere but on well-used tent sites.  Hence, I don't want to use a tarp/bivy combination, which would have saved me extra weight over the tent+bivy combination.

I'll still be about 5 lbs lighter in my base weight than in 2014, but that's not nearly as much as I would like.  Much of that will be from a lighter pack!

I can cut out a couple of pounds on food weight. I now know what snacks I want to eat, and what I need for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I had a lot left over in 2014.

So my pack with food, fuel and water is going to be about 25 pounds.  If everything goes right, I'll hike about 106 miles and see some beautiful country.  I might even see a moose or two.

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