Thursday, August 19, 2010

Isle Royale Trip Planning

Here are some helpful resources if you are planning a trip to Isle Royale.

Isle Royale National Park Website
(Make sure to take a look at the park newspaper under brochures, handouts, and park newspaper.  It includes transportation information and schedules.)

NG Trail Map
High quality waterproof map.

Isle Royale, Foot Trail and Water Routes
Book by Jim DuFresne.  Has information on park history and detailed information on the trails.
Here is a preview of the book: Preview

Mileage Map:  Shows mileage between campsites

Forum/WebBoard: Read trip reports, post questions, etc.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gear Review: Ursack

Tired of critters doing this to your food bag?
This bag was on a 10ft bear pole when they chewed a hole in it.

Check out these critter and bear resistant food bags!

Since we won't be in bear country we just picked up a couple of the Ursack minor bags.  Nathan and I purchased the ursacks directly from their website and were impressed with their quick shipping and bag quality. The bag is very lightweight but still appears to be very durable.

Another HUGE bonus is the bag is not required to be hung from a tree branch or bear pole, you just need to secure it to something so the critters don't drag it away.

Update:  We have returned from a 9 day trip to Isle Royale where we used the ursack minor. Each night we tied the ursacks to medium sized trees at waist height.

-The bag carried about 5 full days of food for 2 people (about 10 lbs.) with a little bit of room left over.
-It is not waterproof but it did not pool water on the inside and appears to shed water when left unprotected on a tree overnight in the rain.
-The first set of stitching appeared to be stressed, from our load on the inside, but there were 3 separate lines of stitching holding the bag together.
-The rope tie is heavy duty and at first it was hard to fully close the bag, but if you pull the ties opposite of each other (but crossing in the middle) it tightened up perfectly.
-We did not purchase the metal liner.
-Machine washed when we returned.

Bottom Line: We are happy with our usack minor purchase, they are durable and gave us peace of mind.  They came back in the same condition as when we left. We did not see any animals chewing on the bags, but also did not wake up to food bags with holes in them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hike In My Boots (Lacing Technique)

I just wanted to share a boot lacing technique that works well with boots that have closed metal eyelets over the foot and open hooks up the side.

Starting at your toe, comfortably snug up the laces going through the metal eyelets.  Do not make this area too tight and if your feet swell leave a little extra wiggle room.

Then make a VERY snug double or triple overhand loop (also known as the surgeon's knot). This locks off the top from the bottom and keeps your heel snug in the boot.  Keeping your heel in place will prevent sliding around which in turn prevents blisters and you won't bump your toes in the front of your boots when going down hills.

Now tighten the laces fairly tight going through the open hooks, if you feel it is slipping you can add a double overhand loop between these as well, however I do not. Another variation at this step is instead of going up and over the hooks the normal way... you can go down over the hooks.

Once you reach the top do another double or triple over handloop to keep the knot in place and tie a double knot bow.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has spectacular views.  It is located on the shore of Lake Superior and is a GREAT place for backpacking. I highly recommend spending some time out there and if possible hiking the entire 42 miles.  Pictured Rocks is part of the North Country Trail and is located between Munising and Grand Marais.  The sightseeing is amazing!  From sandstone cliffs, sandy beaches, rivers, bald eagles, and the ever so beautiful backcountry.

Must see links if you are planning a trip:

Google Earth Tour of our Hike:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gear Review: Sea to Summit X-Bowl

Tired of carrying a plate and a bowl, and having to pack all your clothes and gear around it?
Check out the X-Bowl!

OK, seriously this thing is awesome.  It is a collapsible bowl that is also a cut resistant plate!  It is the perfect size for a meal and easily tucks away into my pack.  I have carried this for a few years now and still really like and recommend it!

Product information: Sea to Summit X-Bowl
$14.95 at REI: X-Bowl

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dry Food For Thought

In preparation for our hike across Isle Royale, Nathan and I have been dehydrating a lot of food.  I am amazed how easy this is and how well it tastes dry or re-hydrated!  We are dehydrating meals for many reasons including:
-Reduced weight
-Space savings
-Food Preservation
-Healthier meals

Some of our favorite dehydrated items are:
-Apple chips and apple sauce fruit roll ups!
-Zucchini chips
-Pineapples, strawberries, watermelon... Yes,  I said watermelon!
-Beef jerky
-Pizza sauce
-Cooked and dehydrated noodles (dehydrated noodles is not the same as uncooked noodles. Cooking before hand saves a lot of fuel, since you are not boiling in the field for 10 minutes)

There are a lot of resources for meal recipes, meal plans, dehydration techniques for different foods.
One link we really like is:

There are also a lot of different books on the subject.  I rented all of these from the library and used different ideas/recipes from each.  I purchased the dehydrator bible because it shows how to dehydrate almost everything you can think of, plus provides recipes for backpacking as well as car camping and home cooking.
The Dehydrator Bible
Backpack Gourmet
Simple Foods for the Pack
Trail Food
A Fork in the Trail

The dehydrator we are using is the Nesco Snackmaster Encore.  I purchased 4 extra trays and some extra fruit roll sheets to maximize use of the dehydrator. You can buy this online from Nesco or at Bed Bath and Beyond or Meijer for about $65. If you want something bigger and more industrial you should check out Excalibur.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pack it in, Pack it OUT!

We spent the weekend at Nordhouse Dunes, it is about a 1.5 mile hike in from the Nurnberg trailhead.  It rained for most of the day on Saturday but we made the best of it and tested all of our rain gear.  The beach was absolutely gorgeous and we went for a swim despite the rainy cloudy day.  Later that evening a couple more of our friends met us and hiked in to pitch their tents.  We rehydrated one of our home made dehydrated meals and it worked great!  Sunday was warm and sunny, another great day for swimming.

I have to say I'm honestly amazed at how inconsiderate some people are with their trash. Some guy came running through our camp while we were having breakfast.  We thought it was weird, but later realized he dropped this large heavy bag of garbage in the woods.  We later saw him and confronted him about it. He admitted it was his and said he would get it soon since they were on their way out.  Obviously they didn't.

Even if you don't care about other people enjoying the same area, please at least respect nature.  If you pack it in, please pack it out.