The mad planning from early in the week transitioned to mad packing a couple days ago, and by the time you read this on Friday, Julie and I will be in the car and driving up to Grand Portage, MN where we’ll spend the night at a hotel and then catch the ferry out to Isle Royale National Park the next morning.
This is my first backpacking trip. Yeah, Isle Royale is kind of ambitious for a first-timer, but that’s how I roll.
Last year in May I added ascend Mt. Whitney (the tallest peak in the lower 48) to my dream list, and to do that I need experience hiking to the top of tall mountains and experience backpacking, neither which I had. My tallest mountain up to that point was Mt Washburn in Yellowstone, which is a paltry 10,243 ft in comparison. A few months after setting that goal my truck broke down in Leadville, CO, and while waiting to hear back on the damage I hiked to the top of Mt. Elbert (the second tallest peak in the lower 48 at 14,433 ft) on a whim with a friend who was visiting. So now I know that I can do that kind of elevation, and need to make sure I enjoy backpacking… I’m fairly certain I will.
Julie has backpacked across Isle Royale before, so at least one of us knows what’s up. She’s spent a lot of time digging through her memories and collectively we’ve reviewed lists of what to bring and are fairly confident in our choices. Planning a backpacking trip is somewhat similar to boondocking in that you need to think ahead as you’ll be in the middle of nowhere, but it’s even more pronounced since we won’t be able to hop in a car and drive if something is forgotten. Some of the gear I have is my own, most of it belongs to Julie or her family. As a first-timer, it’s great to not have to commit to that expense right away while I figure out what I like.
We’ve got seven days on the island (six full days and two half-days) and so have the luxury of being able to take it slower than most visitors. We have a couple possible routes planned out, and will choose between them based on weather and how we’re feeling. The challenge of a longer visit is all the food we’re going to have to carry, but water won’t be a problem at least.
I’ve been pondering whether this trip has been easier or harder to plan for than Leviathan, the jury is still out. No international border crossing or airplane regulations, but this time I need to bring everything myself.
If I can I’ll respond to some comments today, we’ll see how the drive goes. Starting Saturday I’ll have no internet at all.