Big Island Lake Wilderness

Joined
Sep 18, 2011
Messages
105
Location
SE MI
Big Island Lake Wilderness
5-22-24-2012
Group Members: Just Me

Day1
Lakes Paddled: Big Island, Mid, and Coattail Lakes

I arrived pretty late in the day around 3:30pm. Not the easiest place to find. Maybe that is why there is only one other car in the parking lot. From talking to the volunteer ranger couple at the end of the trip they like to keep it their little secret. Actually they said that they policy of the Hiawatha National Forest is to encourage use if you can find your own access. They do not like to use signs. It is a short 2 minute portage down to the name sake lake. Two trips down and I am off on my very first solo canoe trip.

Getting ready to push off
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Big Island Lake
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The lakes are all small in the BILW. If Sylvania wilderness is the mini Boundary Waters, Big Island Lake is the mini Sylvania. On my way across to the portage into Mid Lake I paddle to where I think the portage is located only to find it is campsite. Not ever being here before I did not know that there are established campsites. At the check in board I grabbed a map handout they had there. Once I found the campsite I decided I should to take a look at the handout. The map I brought was just a topo that I drew the portage locations on. I see that there are two camps on this lake and most of the other lakes have a single site. The portage into Mid lake is maybe two boat lengths. Push off into Mid around 4:30pm. Mid Lake is narrow but long. I paddle over to the campsite here and look around. After that it was quick paddle to the portage into Coattail Lake. This portage had a vary small landing and was up a steep hill over a ridge than down less steep into Coattail.

Coattail Lake
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From here I paddle over to the campsite. This site has a really nice landing and good views. Since it was hot and buggy I was looking for a sit that had a nice breeze. This one has everything I look for in a site and decide to set up my home for the net two days here.

My campsite
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My goal was to make into McInnes Lake, but the weather was starting to turn. I had camp all set up by 6:00pm and walk down to the lake to pump some water for dinner. I feel a couple of rain drops and move back to camp to prepare my dinner under the tarp. I finish dinner and other chores around 7:00pm. I sat around to think about the day and go to bed around 9:00pm

Day 2
Lakes Paddled: Coattail, McInnes,and Klondike Lake

I wake up around 6:30 but do not get moving till around 9:30. By 10:00 breakfast is done and I am pushing off. I make it to the portage to McInnes in short time. This one is up a step hill to the top of a ridge than down the side into McInnes Lake. On McInnes I check out the campsite. This camp has very poor landing but is really nice. It is on a point on top of a hill overlooking the lake. Back on the water I search out the portage into Klondike Lake. This portage is flat but next to swampy section between the lake. the landing on McInnes side is nice and I rest here for a little bit. The landing on Klondike side is mucky. Klondike is one of the larger lakes int Big Island Lake Wilderness and in my opinion the best looking. Even with the old logging evidence.

Logging evidence
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The western end is a very shallow bay but outside the bay is deep. I paddle to the campsite for lunch. It is a cozy little spot on a point with a good view and breeze.

Klondike camp
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I spend a lot of time here writing in my journal and munching on trail mix. Around 1:00pm I decide to head back towards camp. On the portage back into McInnes my portage yoke begins to break apart. With a strap and a little tightening I get to work. Good thing because this is a longer portage. Not to mention the steep hill portages to get out. On the portage into Coattail Lake I almost run into a couple of guys heading to Klondike Lake campsite. Now I am paying attention a little more and step of the trail for the rest of their group to pass. I spooked them a little because they were not looking forward. These four younger guys are the only people I have seen so far this trip. Around 2:00pm I make it back to camp and take a nap. After that I wonder around my campsite exploring. I call it a day around 9:30.

Day 3
Lakes Paddled: Coattail, Mid, and Big Island Lake

View from my camp
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I am up pretty early around 7:00am. By 8:00 camp is packed up and am on my way. Every campsite I pass is occupied on my way out. I make it to the exit port around 9:30. I set my canoe on my trailer after my last trip and see an older couple unloading their canoe. They are volunteer rangers that come check up on the wildlife and campsite three times a week. I chat with them for a while while they do an exit interview with the typical questions.

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Lessons learned: For a first solo trip everything went well. I no scary moments. everything except my yoke worked out. Tarp set up went quick and worked out. On to the next adventure.
 
Last edited:
W

Willis

Guest
Nice TR and pics. What is your canoe? What sort of trailer do you use? What is your camera?

Inquiring minds want to know! :)
 
Joined
Sep 18, 2011
Messages
105
Location
SE MI
Nice TR and pics. What is your canoe? What sort of trailer do you use? What is your camera?

My canoe is a Wenonah Argosy in Royalex. Not the best thing for lake tripping. But that is what I have and most of my local/close to home paddling is moving rivers. My trailer is a 4x8 that I have built 5' cross members for and an add top part (an 'A" frame that bolts to the bottom cross members) that holds a 3rd boat. The concrete block is ballast to keep the light trailer from bouncing to much. My Camera is a Canon Power Shot SD800IS, that is ready for an upgrade. Don't get me wrong my camera is great and takes good pictures. It's just that there are newer waterproof cameras available now.

Here is a picture of just the single layer two boat capacity. My Dagger Callisto, my speed boat for Saturdays race. The Argosy is behind it.
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W

Willis

Guest
I am going to build a trailer like that. Thanks for the info!
 
Joined
Sep 18, 2011
Messages
105
Location
SE MI
When I get a chance I will add a picture with the other part on to show how I carry 3 boats. Since the trailer is so short and the lights get hidden easily, I do have reflectors on the tail end of all my boats. Those cross member parts slide into brackets on the side so I can take them on and off easily. I have built this little trailer to be very versatile. I have short sidewalls that also fit into those brackets, or I can use it as a flat open trailer.
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,831
Location
Schenectady, NY
Mr. Roadends,
First, a confession: I know nothing of MI paddling at all...all of my paddling is in the NE, mostly in the Adirondacks.
Do you need any type of permit to camp there? I assume there are regulations to protect the area, here in the ADK's the regs are simple and you can camp most anywhere you want as long as it is more than 150 ft from trail or water, except at designated sites. Bury your waste or use a privy (if available), use only dead and down wood for fires. Some areas are more restrictive, requiring bear canisters.

And the volunteer rangers asked questions in an exit interview? Not familiar with that at all...what might be some of the "typical" questions?
How about wild life? Probably bald eagles, osprey, hawks, owls, coyotes, black bear?, moose? Anything much sighted on your trip?
 
Joined
Sep 18, 2011
Messages
105
Location
SE MI
Do you need any type of permit to camp there? I assume there are regulations to protect the area, here in the ADK's the regs are simple and you can camp most anywhere you want as long as it is more than 150 ft from trail or water, except at designated sites. Bury your waste or use a privy (if available), use only dead and down wood for fires. Some areas are more restrictive, requiring bear canisters.

In Big Island there is a self permit needed. There is a box at the entrance to write out your intentions on a permit. There are no fees and you do not have to chose a campsite. You can camp anywhere you want but they want you to cook only at designated campsites. No fires except at fire rings. No bear canisters required. After that pretty much the "Leave No Trace" rules.


And the volunteer rangers asked questions in an exit interview? Not familiar with that at all...what might be some of the "typical" questions?

It was a first for me to. They asked questions like: How did you hear about the place? Was it as expected? What kind of wildlife do you see? Would you come back again? Any changes I would make?


How about wild life? Probably bald eagles, osprey, hawks, owls, coyotes, black bear?, moose? Anything much sighted on your trip?

Saw lots of wildlife, all listed above except bear, wolves coyotes. Lots of Bald Eagles and Sand Hill Cranes.
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,831
Location
Schenectady, NY
Mr. roadends,
I just looked at Big Island on a map and GE...looks interesting. That whole area is on my someday list. I have been patiently trying to explore the Adirondack waters for about 40 years, every few years NYS buys more land, or at least buys easement rights, and I have to add more paddling to my list. It seems to want to list grows longer every year.
I see a Jeep in the background of one of your photos, I have been driving and building and rebuilding Jeeps since 1986!
I like that trailer setup, I'm going to add something like that to mine.
 
Joined
Sep 18, 2011
Messages
105
Location
SE MI
I hear you about the want to paddle list. Mine is rather long as well.

That Jeep is my dads 06? Rubicon. That poor thing sits in the garage most of the time. I have an 09 that is my daily driver. It sees off road a couple times a year. Have not done much to it. So far just Mud tires. Once I need new suspension I will lift it.
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,831
Location
Schenectady, NY
Mr roadends,
Phew!! I just got Google driving directions from Waterford to Big Island Lake...we're talkin' almost 400 miles!! But you know that already...
My wife complains if we take more than an hour to get to paddling in the Adirondacks!

And the Jeeps? I have a heavily modified 1977 CJ5 on 35's, and a stock 2002 TJ for plowing, and a 2005 LJ on 33's that I just bought as an insurance wreck.
My son and I restored from the ground up his 1984 Scrambler (CJ8) when he was 15...we had a great time!!
 
Joined
Sep 18, 2011
Messages
105
Location
SE MI
6 hours is not bad, I would do that everyday even by myself. Sylvania Wilderness was almost 10 hours. That is long. I find the key to long distance is an early start. I work at 5:00am so my 5:00am leave time is nice for most long road trips.

As far the jeeps I am an upgrade as needed guy. I am far from a mechanic but can handle most bolt on or off parts.

I was looking through your pictures and it looks like you have had a lot of good trips in the ADK's.

BTW, my name is Kaine. "Mr" sounds weird to me. LOL.
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
70
Location
Western NY between Buffalo and Rochester
Hey Kaine--
Just found your trip report, we were just there in the UP 3 weeks ago..planned to go exactly where you were. Ended up staying in Pictured Rocks area. I found it on the map...I guess it looked good to me because of the limited restrictions...very AdirondackY' feel to it up there..a little sandier. There is some good info on the Hiwawatha areas at the visitor center in Munising. Now I have to get there!!!
Nice TR
Scott
 
Joined
Sep 18, 2011
Messages
105
Location
SE MI
Scott,
Pictured Rocks is a gorgeous place. A little too busy for me in the summer. Not much as far as canoeing unless you go out on the big lake. Beaver Basin is one of favorite place to go there. It is one of the newest designated Wilderness. Lots of waterfalls in the Mining area as well. Look forward to see your trip reports.
Kaine
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
425
Location
Maryland, USA
Roadends,
I'm interested in your comment about your yoke not working out. What yoke were you using? I am almost done with a solo canoe build and haven't settled on a removable yoke as yet.
Dave
 
Joined
Mar 23, 2015
Messages
114
I will be paddling Big Island Lake Wilderness this coming weekend as my first solo trip 4 days, 3 nights. I will be sure to post my trip report. Should I post it on this topic, or begin my own?
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2014
Messages
182
Location
Wisconsin
Anyone know a good place to get a good map of Big Island. I enjoyed the trip report, sounds like a nice quiet place for a quick weekend paddle camping trip.
 
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