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Fears while paddling or on canoe trips

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."
Al,

I would not camp at a spot that has so many bear attacks. The risk is much higher than I am willing to accept!

In addition to the concerns I mentioned in my last post, I have always had concerns about being able to cook meals on our canoe trips on the Barren Grounds, where there is often no available wood. I always take my Coleman Peak 1 backpacking stove. But what if it failed? Well, I also always take a second Coleman Peak 1 stove as a backup.

I have never needed it until our first night out on the Yukon River in 2017. Even though I had tested the stove before leaving home, it did not work. So out came the backup stove. Good thing I had it, as we were camped in what was a very popular spot at the beginning of Lake Leberge. No firewood was available. My concern of 27 years was justified!
 
So, I think we are on the same page here Michael. With good risk management and judgement you can minimize fear, or in your case eliminate it.

There is something satisfying about having and using that spare item that you've been lugging around for all those years. I'm sure having that gun along over years provided you with a lot of comfort during all of those bear encounters and I wish you continuing good luck in never needing to use it.
 
Another one of my concerns is making open crossings on the Barren Grounds, where sudden strong winds can turn a pleasant paddle into an unacceptably dangerous situation in a matter of minutes. This past summer, our route required three open crossings, and I did worry a bit the night before. Were Kathleen and I afraid to make the open crossings? No, but we paddled as hard as we possibly could. Turns out my concerns were justified.
 
I got very "concerned" on an open water crossing last summer. We put in in the lee of a wind that I didn't know was even blowing until we got away from shore by about 50 yards. I had my MR Malicite instead of the OT Tripper that I usually take, and it felt a little overloaded. I thought it would be a good idea to pull over and tie my packs down to the bottom of the boat to act as floatation in case we took on water. I quickly realized that I never rigged this boat for that and had nothing to tie off to. We went ahead and made the crossing in a trailing wind and did have two waves splash over the stern. We were never in danger but I was very relieved to get to our campsite. It could have been a different story if we had another quarter mile or so to go, as the waves were getting bigger as we went.

I would much rather take on waves coming at me in a headwind then those coming from behind that are harder to see and react to.
 
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."
Correction, this was actually nationwide. According to the local paper I was able to find 5 to date. The furthest one away was 60 miles, on Sept 20, three were in Anchorage between Sept 2 and August 14th one being a black bear attack. The other, was a soldier on Elmendorf AFB back in May, that one unfortunately was fatal. The last 4 are all within a dozen miles from where I live.

I'm going for a hike now behind the house. I will be taking bear spray.
 
I'm going for a hike now behind the house. I will be taking bear spray.
Kathleen and I live on 565 acres, and commonly see black bears during the summer. On our walks along the trails, I always take bear bangers. We have never needed it scare off bears, but in the 14 years we have lived here, while walking the dogs, I have used it three times to scare off coyotes who were following us close behind (as close as 3 feet) and would not leave in response to our yelling.
 
All canoeists should be afraid of Class IV rapids. I am allergic to them.
I don't like Class IIIs much any more.
I have some fear of getting pinned.
I have had some bad experiences in serious rafting accidents and want nothing to do with those again.
 
I always take my Coleman Peak 1 backpacking stove. But what if it failed? Well, I also always take a second Coleman Peak 1 stove as a backup.

I have never needed it until our first night out on the Yukon River in 2017. Even though I had tested the stove before leaving home, it did not work. So out came the backup stove. Good thing I had it, as we were camped in what was a very popular spot at the beginning of Lake Leberge. No firewood was available. My concern of 27 years was justified!
just like any stove, the peak1's can have problems especially with less than pristine fuel, I've had o-rings crack on MSR's Primus, and even the old bluet stoves, for that reason my "ditch bag" has a Whitebox, alcohol stove as back up, it's slower than molasses in January but generally will do the job, perking a pot of coffee is an exercise in frustration though...
 
I'd like to think that my fears are better called "a healthy respect for." Those would include waves/wind on open crossings, getting pinned on a rock or strainer, and bear and/or critter derived food loss.

A fourth, more recent concern is a falling tree. In the spring of 2021, my brother and tripping partner was feet from being hit by a random, large treefall, and then little over a month later, we had a random treefall almost landed on my car as we were approaching the put-in for the Bog River–Oswegatchie Traverse. I was forced to drive off the road to avoid being hit. Both incidents happened on calm, sunny days. These incidents were preceded by the tragic treefall death of Tupper Lake guide Lynn Malerba. While I don't live in fear of getting hit by a tree, I now visually survey the surrounding trees before pitching my tent.
 
Otter,
Falling trees are much more of a hazard than a lot of people realize. I get laughed at by my companions sometimes. Recently I woke up to the sound of an old growth red fir crashing to the ground on a calm morning.
 
Big wind storms blowing trees over on tents is a thing to worry about. I remember one camp on an island in WCPP when the root balls of the pines were heaving, no way to leave, sleepless night ahead.
 
Otter,
Falling trees are much more of a hazard than a lot of people realize. I get laughed at by my companions sometimes. Recently I woke up to the sound of an old growth red fir crashing to the ground on a calm morning.

Big wind storms blowing trees over on tents is a thing to worry about. I remember one camp on an island in WCPP when the root balls of the pines were heaving, no way to leave, sleepless night ahead.
I'm spending a couple of nights doing some prewinter chores for my flying club in south central Ontario right now. My trailer sits under a couple of very mature silver maples. The idea that, in a windstorm, one of them could lose a very large piece of itself, has not escaped me. We have a high water table and then that infamous southern Ontario red clay to hold them up, so entire trees falling over isn't a concern. The ground is very "rootable", for lack of a better term.

In more northern locales I've also seen those root balls lifting the whole ground. It gets worse the further north you go. But it's not necessarily a whole tree falling down - one storm can take down a large piece of a tree (in my case, right now, the fear of those silver maples dropping a two ton branch on my trailer has driven me to the clubhouse for the night once or twice, and it's why I insured my otherwise worthless trailer).

We have a couple widowmakers we need to take down before they destroy something, or worse, hurt someone. You're both right - falling trees, and falling pieces of trees, are a far greater hazard than most people realize.
 
one storm can take down a large piece of a tree (in my case, right now, the fear of those silver maples dropping a two ton branch on my trailer has driven me to the clubhouse for the night once or twice, and it's why I insured my otherwise worthless trailer).

Not a canoe trip, but here's one trunk of a maple tree that come down in a windstorm, crushed my back deck, and almost smashed through into my dining room. Beware camping under trees in the wind!

Maple tree crushes deck.jpg
 
I’ve seen the huge live oaks in my back yard whipping around in a hurricane. It’s sort of exhilarating in a way; an truly awesome sight. They haven’t dropped any large limbs, but the tree down the street at my in-laws has and we had to dice it up in place on the roof because there was no way we could have moved it otherwise. It had also anchored itself by poking a 2” branch through the roof into the attic.

In my area, water oaks and sweet gums topple in storms. The tap roots of the gums rot and the part of their root balls that tip up are rather small. I guess rot and brittle roots contribute. The water oaks- those darn things rot out from the inside and they drop branches or simply fall over. We’ve taken all that trash out of our yard.

A neighbor’s laurel oak dropped a small limb on our new Toyota minivan. As in, we hadn’t changed the oil for the first service interval, nor made our first payment. This small limb blew out the sunroof, spiderwebbed the windshield, and damaged the roof structure. Imagine what it would to to a person in a tent!

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Note the rolloff container; we were re-siding the house at the time. Oh, and when the van was at the body shop, Irma rolled into Florida! So this is also when we made the push to clean up/out the garage so we could get my 19’ pickup into a 21’ space! We had also decided we weren’t gonna repeat the new van/old tree trick.
 
Getting caught at a remote campsite and a big storm/tornado pops up.

So far I’ve been lucky with that with canoe camping but got caught in a tornado while car camping. It was my wife and I. We were holed up in the tent up hearing the deafening roar of the wind and rain. I had my weather radio monitoring the situation. Many times we contemplated making a run for the car but figured the tent’s still holding and we are currently dry, we’ll ride it out. It came in waves and in each lull we thought the worst was over…but then another storm popped up. We eventually had enough and in another lull, frantically packed up camp in the raining darkness and drove back home. That was a storm that did end up killing a camper in a nearby location due to a falling tree.

That’s always in the back of my mind now when camping somewhere remote. Is there a place I can seek shelter if mother nature decides to unexpectedly unleash her fury?
 
Most of my boat experience is in larger boats than canoes, sailboats 10-39'. Even a partial capsize, with water pouring over the gunwale, can be alarming. That's true with my canoes too. I'm more cautious than when I was young, and sometimes a little nervous. That's appropriate, I have less ability now. Two times I remember being scared both had to do with fatigue, long solo days sailing left me tired and scared. I found that rest and a meal let me relax. Now I try not to over-commit. One other time I was out alone in Long Island Sound when an emergency broadcast announced a thunderstorm with winds of 80mph. "Now I'm flocced, this boat is 26' with an open cockpit" I made a plan in case I had to abandon ship, and watched the sky. The storm missed me.
 
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