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Hello.

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This is going to be a long boring intro, but I want to get a bunch of the weird stuff out of the way right off the bat.

So for the last couple years I have been doing winter canoe trips in Northern Illinois, building up to about 800 miles next winter hooefully, Dec 1st to maybe March, depending on weather and ice, starting at lake superior (well, the Lac Veux Desert in WI will be the start of the big trip, down the Wisconsin River, then the Mississippi to the Rock, up the Rock a bit then the Hennepin Canal over to the Illinois and back and then up to Sterling IL.)

This year I hope to make 300 miles, starting on the Galena instead of the Wisconsin. Last year I bailed out at 76 miles. Mostly mental, but I just couldn't eat enough to make up for the calorie burn pulling the canoe on the ice, and on the coldest days, in places where I couldn't make a fire, my camp stove (MSR pocket rocket) just wouldn't work. I ended losing a pound a day for a month, some of it muscle mass, which I wasn't able to gain back over the summer season, unfortunately.

So food is an issue. I can resupply, but it can be a hike depending.

I'm running a Discover solo 119, the kayak looking one, with the seat removed and my own thwarts installed in different positions, because the tent I made installs on the canoe and I just sleep in it. Its actually nice. I start about 40 pounds over weight with gear and dog, and sank it a few times last winter, just like, sank it lol. I'm usually about an inch from the water at the tip of the canoe side.

I had a used drysuit (50 bucks, self repaired) last year, and went through the ice maybe 7 times depending on if you only count deep water, but it worked ok. This year my drysuit is super badass, I can swim open sections instead of the monkey fight loading gear and dog on the edge of weak ice, then trying to get out after the paddle. That alone will make a huge difference.

I could use a paddle that would be strong enough to break up ice, I got jammed up a few days last winter, where the ice was too thick to paddle, but too thin to throw the skis on the canoe and pull on the ice, my preferred mode of travel.

I'm taking less clothing this year, and hopefully won't be as overloaded. Next year I want a pakcanoe. Maybe a 16 footer. That would be the stuff of dreams.

I should be passing Bellevue Iowa around the 10th to the 15th, if the river is iced by then you should see me if you live along the river, I carry an Illinois flag on a pole as I pull the canoe, and have a US and Illinois flag sewn to the canoe tent.

I might have some questions for anyone doing 2 to 4 month expeditions.

I'm 50, and install seamless gutter, lol, so my budget is fairly limited. So if you have gear suggestions I'm definitely interested but remember I'm usually kinda broke.

Anyway. Hope to see some of you out on the water, or ice as the case may be. Doing these trips is a blast! I'm stoked for this year. I'll poke around the forum and see if anything applies to what I got going on, but nice to meet you all.
 
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Welcome to the site and I enjoyed your intro. I'm not sure I could handle the cold as well as you.
 
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Misreadingtheriver, welcome. There is a vast knowledge base on Canoe Tripping, including folks who winter paddle, camp and trek.

You might ask about suggestions for a more reliable cold weather stove and about specific high-fat/calorie/etc tripping food on the Camp Kitchen & Cooking forum in the Gear & Equipment section.
 
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Having spent much more than my share of time living outdoors in cold conditions I am a huge fan of liquid fueled stoves burning Coleman or similar camping type fuel. They will light regardless of temperature whereas gaseous fuels become harder to light and less efficient as temperatures drop.

The biggest safety hazard to watch out for in very cold weather is to not spill liquid fuel on bare skin. The combination of a super cooled liquid and further evaporative cooling can cause near instantaneous frostbite.

Lance
 
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Having spent much more than my share of time living outdoors in cold conditions I am a huge fan of liquid fueled stoves burning Coleman or similar camping type fuel. They will light regardless of temperature whereas gaseous fuels become harder to light and less efficient as temperatures drop.

The biggest safety hazard to watch out for in very cold weather is to not spill liquid fuel on bare skin. The combination of a super cooled liquid and further evaporative cooling can cause near instantaneous frostbite.

Lance
Lance,

Thanks for the reply. Just for weight concerns, I picked up an MSR reactor this season. Recommended to me by a Norwegian ex mil guy who does a lot of cold weather.. camping? Stuff? Next year when I get the bigger canoe, and can carry more weight, I may go liquid, if the Reactor doesn't cut it.
 
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