First Solo

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So, Christine won't likely be doing any tripping this year and I have my holidays booked already, so it is looking to be time for my first solo. She is all for it and I will likely do the last week of June, so at least the fishing should be good.

I have a few places I could go. I'm thinking mostly a river entry as it would be easier than trying some of the larger lakes we usually cross when tripping. The one I'm thinking of we have never been in to, it is a larger lake at the end but the fishing should be excellent. There will be 5 portages and likely need to be cleared from the big Snowdown event a couple years back since this particular lake isn't often travelled into. It can be quad'ed into and there is a boat cache on the lake, despite it being secluded. I enjoy exploring so that could be the trip I plan. The other end of the scale would be something often travelled by others, which would be further in by river but would have more people around. I like quiet so that would be a downer for me, but it would provide a safety factor. The less travelled would be a 10km paddle in, the more would be about 20km.

So, if you were going on your first ever solo trip, taking a 14 foot Chestnut wood canvas canoe and looking to spend 5-10 days out, where would you go?
 
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For a first-time solo, I'd suggest the less strenuous trip. Half of my dozen Boundary Waters trips have been solo, and I did a bunch of close-to-home 3- and 4-day solo trips before that. Although you have the paddling and camping thing down pretty well, it will be a new experience for you. Based on my experience you'll be better off focusing on that than on the rigors of a more challenging trip. The people you see will be a comfort to you, and I predict you'll welcome that, especially about day 4. You might want to scroll about 1/4 of the way down this page to a section titled "Reflections on Day 4."
http://codabone.net/canoeing/bwca/BW1106_3.htm

You will be exhilarated. You will be tired. You will be joyful. You will be lonely. You will question your sanity. And you will validate your sanity in a way you've never done before. Take the easier trip so you can live on the inside with fewer external pressures.

I don't know about 20 km in a 14-foot boat, but if you know you can do it, then do it. Whatever you do, give yourself lots of room. And above all, BE CAREFUL. The only safety net you have is between your ears. Watch your step everywhere, and don't be shy about talking to yourself; it slows down your thinking and you make better decisions.

'nuff said. Now go have fun. :)
 
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My first solo was a week in Algonquin. I picked the route cause it was not crowded but on the other hand I would surely see people every other day. Aside from a group of 20 Scouts, it turned out I saw one person! So much for Algonquin crowding!

It had maybe 25 portages and covered about 100 km. I saw a lot of moose including two standing by my front door of the tent in the morning. It may be best to dowsize any loop and also pick something you don't have to clear.

Yes you will hear voices where there are none. I still do in Woodland Caribou.
 
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Maybe the voices I hear will quiet the ones in my head. :p

I already talk to myself, out loud, every day. Far too many years living alone caused that and sometimes it is the only intelligent conversation I can get. Thankfully some of my co-workers also do it so I don't look half crazy now.

Won't be a loop trip, not many of those out here, just an in and out. Possibly the Rabbit River into Cole Lake. Head in on a Sunday morning and come out the following Friday before the July long weekend.
 
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I usually travel further when by myself. You should have no problem covering the same distance you do tandem. The beauty of solo is that you do what you want, when you want. I find in the absence of someone to worry about, I generally go from early in the morning till six or seven at night….then some book reading time, then crash. It's a nice flavour that you can get used to very quickly.
 
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Well, I doubt I can add anything useful about which trip and all, except to go slow and be careful. I'm always surprised after I've hurt myself how I ought to have seen it coming.
Do think that you've had probably more than your share of troubles lately, and if anybody deserves a good restorative time camping, it's you. Hope the trip turns out really great!

About the voices; that's one more good thing about a dog, everybody thinks you're talking to the dog and takes no notice. Although in a fourteen foot canoe it might get a little squeeze.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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I usually travel further when by myself. You should have no problem covering the same distance you do tandem.

memaquay, I wonder if this experience is unique to you and a small cadre of others. The conventional wisdom is that a solo canoeist can expect to travel about 2/3 the distance of a tandem team. Where a tandem team can expect to paddle 10-15 miles a day (with a few portages thrown in), a soloist should expect more like 6-8, maybe 10 miles. If you anticipate doing 10-15 miles, be sure to have an intermediate objective in case you bite off more than you can chew.
 
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I plan for 16 km a day or five portages, whatever comes first. Yes that usually means I camp pretty early..often at noon. Mems putting in more paddle time.

Last year one day I did 50 k but it was a long day on Lake Superior.
 
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The furthest we go tandem in a day, or have done, would be 25km with 10 portages in the mix, that one includes a 10km lake crossing to get to the first portage. I don't expect to be able to do that, even with a double blade (sacrilege in a w/c canoe I know). I am still recovering from the tendinitis in both shoulders. Trip is 2 months away, planning starts now.
 
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30 to 40 k a day is my norm for solo, usually with ports. When I travel with my buddy, who also brings his dad who is now 74, we usually try to keep it to 30 k a day. When travelling with the school kids, we usually go anywhere from 25 to 40 k a day with ports. Anything less, one is asking for trouble, kids have got to be worn out to prevent monkeyshines.

A 25 k day with ten ports is a pretty good day!
 
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Mihun said:
"So, if you were going on your first ever solo trip, taking a 14 foot Chestnut wood canvas canoe and looking to spend 5-10 days out, where would you go?"

First I always think about the gas and how much it will set me back on a solo trip. I'm not cheap, I just have to live within my means and the gas really puts a drain on the budget.
Next, I would plan a trip that can be lengthened or shortened, an out and back trip. Circuits are great, but an out and back trip is a good way to lighten the pressure. You can always bail whenever it suits your mindset. You can pack light and really learn what works and what doesn't, how much food you can go with or withoutout, how much clothing is really necessary.
If you load up and carry too much "stuff", it will be hard to move onto bigger and better routes, you won't learn and build your "solo" mindset where less is better.
I would bring a twig stove along with a gas stove and try it to see if it would suit your style. I gave up the Peak 1 and fuel a while back and it makes a big difference in the size of your pack and weight. (fire ban not withstanding)
Big lakes are fine with the 14 footer, that is if you pack a light outfit. Stick close to shore, avoid big water crossings and play it safe. I use a 15' now, at 215lbs it works for me. Islands and points help make way in headwinds, and if your on an out and back trip, you can wait the winds out while fishing in some windless bay.

I never try to put an pressure on myself to cover a set distance in one day. If I know of a campsite I want to stay at or a certain area to pass though without stopping (a burned area, buggy, swamps, flooded timber etc. poor fishing) I can adjust, start early, maybe eat lunch in the canoe, but I try to avoid that scenario and just plug along.

I like to visit campsites, old structures, fish likely looking water, take a nap on a flat rock, all when the notion hits me. I'm never disappointed at the end of the day if I didn't get from point A to B, and speed is of no concern to me. As a matter of fact, I have noticed I'm the last one in line just about every time I paddle with others. No doubt a combination of skill, slow canoe and attitude. No real problem, unless your in a group and constantly getting the last choice for a spot to pitch your tent at a campsite. :(
 
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Would something in the experimental lakes area be of interest? I am stuck with mostly weekend adventure stuff for this year so a 10 day trip would be wickedly fun to plan for! I would do an extend version of the Tulabi falls/Snowshoe route for my first. Goal would be an island camping spot here--> 50.721623, -94.726954 First part should have lots of other canoeist and the last half should be very quiet!
 
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Haven't been to the ELA at all, yet. I know the Bird, did that last September and actually had planned another September trip for this year up through Snowshoe. Elbow and Snowshoe are both large lakes and I can see where they could get very rough in a hurry. I hate the stairs on the first two portages after Tulabi Lake.

I am thinking Rabbit River/Cole Lake actually. Fairly short distance, easy enough to get into, the fishing is supposed to be good. There would be people around although I would be there during the week, but still, according to the Conservation PDF there are only 4 sites on the lake which means it should be quieter, (no wild partiers).
 
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Rabbit River/Cole is on my radar to do as well. Looks to be a very nice trip that can be done as a solo.

I like the ELA as it is less developed in parts and you can still find quiet areas. Great fishing there too. I think the Free Press did an article on it too---> http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/sp...litude-just-an-extra-hour-away-163272866.html Just Google how many lakes you want to include in your trip and go nuts!

Jones Road (Hwy 671) north of Kenora has a huge amount of potential for routes as well, I will hopefully have some stuff up shortly on that! Just need to get out there!

Good luck on the trip planning, I loved the pics from Bird! Brings back memories from before the days of steps. :)
 
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Mihun said:
"So, if you were going on your first ever solo trip, taking a 14 foot Chestnut wood canvas canoe and looking to spend 5-10 days out, where would you go?"

First I always think about the gas and how much it will set me back on a solo trip. I'm not cheap, I just have to live within my means and the gas really puts a drain on the budget.
Next, I would plan a trip that can be lengthened or shortened, an out and back trip. Circuits are great, but an out and back trip is a good way to lighten the pressure. You can always bail whenever it suits your mindset. You can pack light and really learn what works and what doesn't, how much food you can go with or withoutout, how much clothing is really necessary.
If you load up and carry too much "stuff", it will be hard to move onto bigger and better routes, you won't learn and build your "solo" mindset where less is better.
I would bring a twig stove along with a gas stove and try it to see if it would suit your style. I gave up the Peak 1 and fuel a while back and it makes a big difference in the size of your pack and weight. (fire ban not withstanding)
Big lakes are fine with the 14 footer, that is if you pack a light outfit. Stick close to shore, avoid big water crossings and play it safe. I use a 15' now, at 215lbs it works for me. Islands and points help make way in headwinds, and if your on an out and back trip, you can wait the winds out while fishing in some windless bay.

I never try to put an pressure on myself to cover a set distance in one day. If I know of a campsite I want to stay at or a certain area to pass though without stopping (a burned area, buggy, swamps, flooded timber etc. poor fishing) I can adjust, start early, maybe eat lunch in the canoe, but I try to avoid that scenario and just plug along.

I like to visit campsites, old structures, fish likely looking water, take a nap on a flat rock, all when the notion hits me. I'm never disappointed at the end of the day if I didn't get from point A to B, and speed is of no concern to me. As a matter of fact, I have noticed I'm the last one in line just about every time I paddle with others. No doubt a combination of skill, slow canoe and attitude. No real problem, unless your in a group and constantly getting the last choice for a spot to pitch your tent at a campsite. :(

Rabbit River is about 3 hours and likely I can travel both ways on a tank of gas. Fuel is going up again, $1.35 a litre here, higher elsewhere and it will only go up. I already spend $300 a month commuting to work. Money is always an issue, I need a new sleeping pad and would like to get a Downmat 9 but the $300 for it means a lot of OT to save for it. This summer I can use Christine's and perhaps then get the new one next year. A $600 paddle like Charlie mentions in another thread would be a week and half's pay for me and not something I would ever buy, so I will take my $80 single stick and the double. I do have a Tarn 2 tent for solo tripping but it is like sleeping in a coffin, which I imagine a hammock would be like as well. My Melatonin will come in handy.

We have never really had an issue with traveling "heavy", it looks like we do but it is mostly bulky items. Once camp is up the packs are empty. We have 2 115L Eureka canoe packs, so if I can wedge everything I want to take into one and perhaps take a 30 L barrel for food, stove and what not, but keep it light, I may be able to port the canoe and food in one go, then take the equipment pack on the next. I have a single burner propane stove which I may take, (I am naptha challenged), and likely the BioLite as back-up, since it is pretty useless as a main cooking element. (BioLite, most useless $180 ever spent).

Clothing is always limited now, I will wear the same pants for 12 days with occasionally cleaning but I can never have too many socks.

I don't scrimp on fishing gear, for new water the 2 lb depth finder always goes as does a couple of rods and likely 5 pounds in tackle.

I'm looking forward to this since I have no issue being alone, rarely get lonely and would like to be able to do what I want when I want, even if that means spending all day in the boat fishing. That is relaxing. I have a "need" to spend more time in the wilderness to get used to it and hopefully lessen my Bearanoia.

Karin
 
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Guest
I'm not a solo paddler, but the info shared is so much appreciated. It's nice to know that my concerns and questions are understood by others as well; $ budget ( I don't want to talk about gas prices), the bear thing, gear selection, pack sizes vs # of portage carries, stove failure anxiety, and the solo state of mind. Over the years, the possibility/likelihood of a solo future has caused me to whittle away at most of these concerns. The loneliness thing is my last and biggest issue. I'm looking forward to this solo of yours Mihun. I'm confident it'll be a good trip. Do you mind if I live vicariously through your solo? It's already pulling me up by my boot laces.
Best wishes,
Brad
 
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never have too many socks

quote of the day!

I would never get a Downmat at three hundred.. Glad I got my Synmat before they became fashionable. I paid under $100. As to that $600 Quimby paddle, I have one and love it enough to leave it at home for day trips. Using a couple of Grey Owl Marathons..again under $100 each. A six hundred dollar paddle doesn't paddle six times as well as a one hundred dollar paddle but a one hundred dollar paddle IMO sure paddles twice as well as a fifty dollar paddle.

EEK..$1.35 a liter.. Its disappointing to have to use the"avoid as much of Canada as possible" tactic that I have done in the last few years.
 
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quote of the day!

I would never get a Downmat at three hundred.. Glad I got my Synmat before they became fashionable. I paid under $100. As to that $600 Quimby paddle, I have one and love it enough to leave it at home for day trips. Using a couple of Grey Owl Marathons..again under $100 each. A six hundred dollar paddle doesn't paddle six times as well as a one hundred dollar paddle but a one hundred dollar paddle IMO sure paddles twice as well as a fifty dollar paddle.

EEK..$1.35 a liter.. Its disappointing to have to use the"avoid as much of Canada as possible" tactic that I have done in the last few years.

Gas prices will likely hit $1.50 a litre ($5.67 US gallon) by Summer and stay there. Consider that the Bitumen from the Tar Sands in Alberta is sent to the gulf coast of Texas for refining then we buy the gasoline back. We could be entirely energy independent, there are at least 4 idle refineries presently, but our current government would rather sell it off to the lowest bidder and ship it elsewhere.

Everything costs more here due to many things, like a much smaller population. Synmat might be an option, is it available in the same 3.5 inch thickness as the Downmat?

I have an all wood ottertail which is my favourite paddle, bought at MEC a couple years ago. I could take the Raven carbon bent we found floating in the Wanipigow River 5 years ago, which we broke the shaft and I refused to pay $80 for a replacement shaft, so I fixed it. I'll be sitting and kneeling as I usually do, although I prefer to kneel, it is harder, literally, in a ribbed canoe.

Brad; feel free to trip with me and share my paranoia on my first solo. I say first since I do hope to do it more often in the future. A couple years ago, the last time Christine had major health issues, I planned out a WCPP solo out of Leano Lk. I still have all those maps and that route was designed around fishing entirely.

I miss having bass to fish for since moving out of Southern Ontario 5 years ago, but the finances mean I really need to stay within a 4 hour one way drive to be able to get out often.
 
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Googled Exped and I can get a Synmat 9 from a place in southern Ontario for $205. I like how small they pack vs what we use now, which are Cabela's Alaskan Guide Series sleeping pads. The guides were 2.5 inches thick, 25x75 inches and 5 pounds a piece. To replace mine, the new Alaskan Guide model is 30x80 and close to $160 now. I also looked at a Neo-Air at Cabela's and although they pack really small, it is still air I would be sleeping on which gets cold in the shoulder seasons.
 
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I have seen and felt the Neo Airs at Campmor (New Jersey) and read a little about them. They seem to suffer all along from being noisy.. crinkly when you roll over. They felt flimsy (they are not) and some folks can't get used to the crossways tube construction.

At the time I was sent fleeing by the price tag..and Campmor always discounts.

I totally understand how kneeling gets uncomfortable in a ribbed canoe, though I have a Cooke Custom Sewing Pad that is thick, bulky and works nicely. However on trips when I am trying to carry less, I don't really want to carry it.. OTOH.. I could sleep on it.. :D
 
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