Sunday, May 7, 2017

Isle Royale Itinerary and Last Minute Planning

After extensive thought, I decided to lighten my load.  Two factors had me concerned: the often muddy tent sites and the need for water filtering to eliminate tape-worm eggs.

The mud is there because the National Park Service (NPS) requires any trail backpackers to use existing, limited tent sites (or shelters).  Inland camp sites don't have shelters, so you frequently must use the tent pads.  But they are so well used, that they are just plain packed dirt--often mud.  I was worried that if I used a tarp/bivy combination, the bivy would just get exceedingly muddy.  And nothing dries out during the day in May on Isle Royale.  But I wanted a bivy for the shelters.  They are screened on one side, often face Lake Superior, and can get very windy and cold.  Some people use a tarp across the screen front.  But a bivy will stop most of the wind and add a few degrees of warmth.

The solution was to get a 2.9 oz, cuben ground cloth to put under my bivy.  I can use it as a sit pad for meal preparation if necessary, replacing a 1.5 oz cuben cloth I normally take.

The other concern was needing to both filter and then purify the water.  I have a GravityWorks (Platypus) filter system I used last time.  But it weights 9.5 oz for the system.  And I love my Steripen for purifying water, but it weighs 5.3 oz and cannot kill the tape-worm eggs.  After thinking about it, I decided to go with my Sawyer Squeeze PointOne filter and a combination of Aquamira purification tablets and liquids.  This will save several ounces and I won't have to worry about getting new batteries for the Steripen.

If my current plans don't change, I've got my base weight down to 10.4 pounds, just above ultra-light.

I almost decided to leave my inReach Explorer at home.  It weighs about 7 ounces and would get me down to ultra-light weight.  But a couple of friends wanted to see the shared Map application, so I decided to take it.  This will also give me a chance to fully test its battery in a 'relatively' safe environment.  I'll set it to listen and send to the Iridium satellites at the longest intervals (20 minutes and 4 hours respectively) to minimize battery use.  But I will log my track at 10 second intervals.  According to my calculations, that should be about every 40 feet. I'm waffling on this, and may do it at 5 second intervals for a tighter track.  Will the Explorer last all 8 days?

Now to the itinerary.  On my AT hikes, I found I don't really like stopping early for camp.  Maybe an hour extra to listen to music, and maybe 30-45 minutes for blogging.  Otherwise, there's just nothing to do.  On my previous trip, I took fishing equipment.  But most of the shoreline is difficult to access.  It is much easier to fish from the docks or a boat/kayak.  So, my plan is to hike about as far as I safely can in a day.  Since my last long hike (the AT) was a year ago, I must assume I cannot do marathon distances in my current, non-peak condition.  So I tried to average about 16 miles per day.  Here's the plan:

Day 1:  Arrive Rock Harbor (~1130) and hike to Lane Cove CG, 7 miles
Day 2:  McCargoe Cove CG, 12 miles
Day 3:  North Lake Desor CG, 16 miles
Day 4:  Washington Creek CG, 15 miles
Day 5:  Siskiwit Bay CG, 19 miles
Day 6:  Hatchet Lake, 16 miles
Day 7:  Daisy Farm, 16 miles
Day 8:  Rock Harbor, 7 miles

You have to be back at Rock Harbor by 2:30 pm to catch the boat back to Copper Harbor.  So I pushed the middle day up a bit in mileage to make a short day 8.

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