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Fears while paddling or on canoe trips

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Nice.... I try to help disburse some of those fears, and you question the methodology...
My apologies if it came across that way. That wasn't my intention. The only thing I meant to question was the use and comparison of statistics (specifically, in this case, deaths by domestic dog vs. deaths by grizzly). I don't doubt any of the statistics, and they are useful, but I do think it's important to think about how they are compiled and what they mean to you personally (if you intend to put yourself in the position of being a possible statistic).

In this case, even though domestic dogs kill more people per year than Grizzlys, I'll take my chances by walking up to a strange dog rather than walking up to a grizzly. But the statistics and experiences of people like you do make me feel more comfortable when I do find myself wandering around in grizzly territory and I appreciate that.

Alan
 
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My biggest fear is losing a boat.

On one of my first expedition trips, the Missinaibi, at the end of a particularly dangerous set of rapids was a repaired canoe. Some unlucky travelers had previously run the rapids. In doing so, they wrecked and abandoned their boat. Some years later, another group of paddlers came along and fixed up that old boat, leaving it there should someone else meet the same fate. It stood as a grim reminder that you can basically survive the loss of any other gear - but losing a boat is possibly a fatal mistake.

We push our limits - we run white water more often than we should. We do it with a solid note of caution, but still, when the realities of spending 2 hours portaging vs. 10 minutes running are presented, we do take risks. And it's not just wrapping around a rock that scares me; it could be any reason we lose a boat.

Even with multiple boats, I can work around the loss of a stove, or a couple of paddles, if need be. But nobody takes a spare boat. You can't even carry your gear if you lose a boat - you're just stuck, waiting for help, and where we're looking to go in the next few years, that help might not come for weeks. And if you press the Big Red Button, you're leaving behind tens of thousands worth of gear.

So yeah, before falling ill to giardia or poison oak, my biggest fear is losing a boat - or for that matter, the maps. Both are our only way out notwithstanding a helo rescue.

(with apologies for the thread necro, I just signed up and I'm going through old threads)
 

Glenn MacGrady

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(with apologies for the thread necro, I just signed up and I'm going through old threads)

No, no, no, PacketFlend, it's much better to add your experiences or opinions onto an interesting older thread than to unknowingly start a new one on the same subject . . . or to stay silent, giving us nothing to read about your experience or opinions at all. Thanks for that contribution. It was very interesting and instructive.
 
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No, no, no, PacketFlend, it's much better to add your experiences or opinions onto an interesting older thread than to unknowingly start a new one on the same subject . . . or to stay silent, giving us nothing to read about your experience or opinions at all. Thanks for that contribution. It was very interesting and instructive.
I am neither interesting nor instructive. I've just made a few mistakes and lived to tell of them.

Opinions, though... I have plenty.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I've just made a few mistakes and lived to tell of them.

Opinions, though... I have plenty.

In my opinion, good canoeing judgment is primarily formed by making a lot of bad canoeing judgments and surviving and learning from them. So also in the rest of life.
 
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1. Wrapping my boat while solo.
2. Dumping before a waterfall
3. Driving there and back...which I consider the most dangerous part of a canoe trip.
 
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Good topic.
I started mountain climbing as a teenager, and those pre-cellphone/radio experiences definitely color my thinking. Later, I did a lot of back country solo mountain biking in the Cascades, which weren't overnight trips, unless you broke yourself. Those rides were no-fall rides...20 ft of walking is better than 15 hours of crawling. I keep a lot of "chicken" in my pocket when I'm alone.

My main fear is lack of mobility, and topping that list, as most likely, would be a leg injury that prevented me from portaging or walking out.
I can deal with losing some gear, I can deal with some cretin breaking into the car, but I really don't want to put someone in the position of having to rescue me.

I don't worry about black bears, and I don't live in cougar country anymore. The former like to get out of your way and the later aren't really a threat unless your racing through the forest on a mountain bike. If I have a paddling partner, they probably don't have any whitewater experience, so any rapids are under the no-goof-up rule.

The main thing that I learned while climbing is, fear is good. Fear is just your head telling you to pay attention.
 
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There are take outs where you can see your vehicle a long way off. At Assateague, for example, you pass your vehicle but still have to work around some guts and islands to actually get to the landing.

A recurring nightmare is I’m paddling to some takeout and can see my vehicle from a mile or two away. There’s activity. They’re breaking into the truck. By the time I get close, the villains are running away and the truck is on fire. I always wake up before landfall.

It’s not something I really worry about on trips, but reading through other’s replies, I see I’m not the only one who has fears about what’s going on with the car while they are out.

I think injury or disease striking while on a trip is my biggest fear. And ticks—the scariest critter in the forest, IMO.
 
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I don’t really mean to be provocative or contrarian, but I don’t have any fears on canoeing trips. In fact , I feel much more secure on canoeing trips than I do while living in urban areas, where who knows what crazy will suddenly strike out at me while innocently walking down the sidewalk. I can deal with challenges on canoe trips. Only patience and perseverance are required.
 
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2 legged predators

For some reason when deep in the middle of nowhere my biggest fear is encountering another human. Maybe Deliverence scarred me for life. I was once camping in a remote area and got woken up at 1am by the sound of an approaching ATV. Adrenaline dumped, I could feel the heat starting at my feet working it’s way up my body. If you’ve been terrified before you’ll understand that sensation. Lots of public lands here have old logging trails so I guess you are never far from one. It kept moving on through but that was unnerving. Just something so creepy and unwholesome about people showing up at camp in the middle of the night.
 
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…also I am hyper paranoid now about dragging my canoe well onto shore and tying it to a tree.

I was camping on an island once. It was windy and we beached the canoe and started unloading to set up camp. I walked back to the beach and my heart sank as the canoe was gone. I frantically looked around and saw it about 50 yards offshore and drifting away fast. I kicked off my boots, put on my PFD and swam in after it. Finally caught up to it at the opposite shoreline. Luckily I do triathlons.
 
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I don’t really mean to be provocative or contrarian, but I don’t have any fears on canoeing trips. In fact , I feel much more secure on canoeing trips than I do while living in urban areas, where who knows what crazy will suddenly strike out at me while innocently walking down the sidewalk. I can deal with challenges on canoe trips. Only patience and perseverance are required.
I admire your confidence and positive attitude Michael but due to the potential hazards of tripping in the remote places that you go to, you must have at least a high level of concern, if not fear. You do take a gun I believe, don't you?
 
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I admire your confidence and positive attitude Michael but due to the potential hazards of tripping in the remote places that you go to, you must have at least a high level of concern, if not fear. You do take a gun I believe, don't you?
Yes, I do take a rifle on most trips. But that’s just preparation. Just another tool. i first bought the rifle in 1980, when Kathleen and I were backpackers in the mountains of British Columbia. One area we went to every spring had a lot of bears, both black and grizzly. People told me I shouldn’t go there anymore without a weapon. So I bought the rifle. I have no illusion, though, that I could actually bring down a charging grizzly. In my life I have been on the ground, at closish range with about 50 grizzlies. Never been charged or threatened. I have been on the ground with about 200 black bears. Never been charged or threatened. Twice, though, a bear came into camp and wouldn’t leave, despite our encouragement. Scared them off with a bear banger. Six times I have been on the ground with polar bears. Never charged or threatened, but have been followed. I have never had a high level of concern, but I do like to be prepared, just in case. Hence, the rifle, bear bangers and bear spray.

We also take a fairly complete first aid kit, just in case. Have never used most of its contents. Also take cold cure and kevlar cloth in case we need to repair the canoe. Have never used it, but want to be prepared. Also take tent repair materials, just in case. Have never used it on canoe trips. Just want to be prepared, not out of fear or high levels of concern. Just being pragmatic. We also double bag all our gear and food in garbage bags even though they’re in waterproof containers. One could capsize. But we never have. And I don’t expect to. Just being prepared.

Kathleen and I feel very comfortable and at ease in remote areas. That’s why we go. We are always very happy when the float plane drops us off. Our new adventure begins the moment the plane flies away, leaving us all alone.

But, indeed, things can go wrong. On our trip this past summer, which was planned as our last, for the first time I thought there was a slight, but not insignificant possibility that we might not survive. Still working on the trip report.
 
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Preparedness supports confidence. Not confidence that one is invincible, but that one has the tools at hand to meet adversity and succeed.

Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. There’s a 6th P but you shouldn’t need it with the first two 😉

P.s. I’d probably radiate attractant around that many bears!
 

Glenn MacGrady

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The topic need not require actual hormonal fears. Your main concerns or worries—to use softer synonyms—while paddling or on canoe trips would be of interest to discuss.
 
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Being prepared and using good judgement aren't a guarantee that bad things won't happen. There is an element of risk out there that can't be denied, but like Glenn said it may be more concerns or worry then actual fear. There are bears where I just did my recent trip and I was concerned but not scared. The older I get the less brave I've become so if I was scared I would have stayed home.

Good judgement plays a big part. I've camped on rivers during salmon runs many times without fear, but there is also good camping and fishing spots close to home that I won't camp at because of the high concentration of bears. One of those places is at the bottom of the Kenai River gorge on Skilak Lake, a good place to get a thirty inch rainbow. A guy was killed there last year. There were 7 bear attacks up here as of the end of May so that number probably is up by now. Stuff like this plus knowing two bear attack survivors personally is why I have "concern."
 
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