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Solitude isn't for everyone

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I’ve never done a week long canoe trip. I’d love to! I take great enjoyment out of canoeing with others, as in other self sufficient folks. As Glenn noted, if you want to go at all sometimes you just gotta go by yourself. I agree you need to have a different frame of mind about some things though, when help is far away or no comms are available. Having never shared a tandem canoe with a really competent paddler I’d rather be in a solo boat and “solo together”.

The Econfina daytrip last weekend was interesting from this perspective. I supplied a solo canoe and paddles to my friend (he’s a kayaker) but he’s otherwise self sufficient. Since I loaded both boats on my truck, we rode together. He was so thrilled not having to be the “guide” on this trip! He’s usually a paddling instigator and planner but on this trip he didn’t have to do anything. He slipped me a $20 for gas which turned out to be almost exactly his share based on what we used for the drive. Then I gave him the canoe 😎
 
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But, I did learn very quickly after missing the plank while portaging and falling that I need to concentrate all the time when solo and be careful. On the water, trail and campsite. It did enhance skills that I learned and forced myself to be self sufficient.
I have enjoyed reading all those trip reports over the years solo and group trips. Keep them coming.
Isn't that the truth! I soloed out of necessity My work schedule was never 9-5 and I never found anyone who wanted to drive 10 hours to take a wilderness canoe trip save hubby who only had two weeks off. After we moved here I did a few group trips; mostly whitewater on day trips with a couple of times with groups on the Allagash and St John.. Group trips seemed to involve one that was into drama even though the rest were congenial.. For that reason I knew I never wanted to be a guide... My solo limit is 14 days. I talk to trees and fish after that. Now in old age company is nice ..because that plank that coldfeet missed could be pretty bad for me! I live in a rural area so escape from people is not high on my list anymore.
 
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I'm solo most of the time, as others have said it's hard to schedule times, dates and destinations with others. The down side is when I see something cool or unique and there's no one to share it with.

One example is when I saw a huge bird in a tree, it was in the fall and the sun was low in the sky and was directly behind him. As I got up close I saw he was bigger than any Bald Eagle I had ever seen, he didn't have a white head or tail and didn't look like an immature Bald. A Golden? We don't have those in Michigan!! I was fairly close and watched him for quite a while. When I got home I looked it up and it was indeed a Golden and the web site I was on was for Fall bird migration and Goldens were recently sighted heading South. Nobody I tell believes me and there was no witnesses....... oh well.

Many times I have run into interesting strangers that have a great story or interesting background and I make a new friend.
 
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I prefer solo, mainly for the convenience of scheduling. My wife has been very supportive of all my many hobbies over the years, so if anything involving our family or something I know she would be interested in comes up, I will work around it. Going solo makes that easier.
I enjoy groups, I have been on many gatherings and rendezvous and have made many friends at those. I have paddled with many others on this site and it’s always been enjoyable.
I tried solo winter camping, the nights are long, a companion around the wood stove would have been welcome.
When I was younger, an evening paddle and then a campfire would be the way to end the day. Now, it’s a quick dinner, maybe a few puffs on a cigar, then off to bed, sometimes long before sunset.
 
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It really depends on the trip for me. I like solitude and my solo time especially if I have a goal in mind. If it is more relaxing with time at camp, then someone to talk to around the campfire is enjoyable and desired.
 
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I really have a hard time just relaxing and being myself when I'm with other people. I'm wondering if they're happy? If we're doing what they want to do? Is this the route they want to take? Do they really want to keep paddling or or they just saying that because they know it's what I want? Did they take what I just said as a joke or were they offended? I didn't mean it to be mean, I was just joking. But now that I think about it it was kind of an asshole thing to say. Should I apologize? But maybe they did take it as a joke, then it might be kind of awkward to bring it up and apologize. Oh geez, was what they just said passive aggressive retaliation or were they just joking around like I was. I sure would like to go off on a walk by myself for a while. I wonder if they'd think that was weird or that I was trying to avoid them. I really think this is a stupid place to camp but they seem dead set on it. Do I voice my concerns or just go with the flow? I mean, it probably won't storm...but if it does. Why are they talking so much? Do they think I'm talking too little?

I think I'll stick with solo.

Alan
I have found that trying to explain the desires and the nature of an empathetic introvert to an extrovert, while somewhat entertaining, is largely futile. Although it is impossible to say so without implying fault, It is mostly outside of their realm of comprehension. Again, with the qualifiers "in my experience" and "mostly".

Being around people is work, and it is exhausting.
 
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I'm solo most of the time, as others have said it's hard to schedule times, dates and destinations with others. The down side is when I see something cool or unique and there's no one to share it with.

One example is when I saw a huge bird in a tree, it was in the fall and the sun was low in the sky and was directly behind him. As I got up close I saw he was bigger than any Bald Eagle I had ever seen, he didn't have a white head or tail and didn't look like an immature Bald. A Golden? We don't have those in Michigan!! I was fairly close and watched him for quite a while. When I got home I looked it up and it was indeed a Golden and the web site I was on was for Fall bird migration and Goldens were recently sighted heading South. Nobody I tell believes me and there was no witnesses....... oh well.

Many times I have run into interesting strangers that have a great story or interesting background and I make a new friend.
Re: Golden Eagle in Michigan ?
I was paddling with a small group down the Little Manistee river (in MI near Wellston) when I spotted an eagle of some type in
the pines on a bluff over the river. It was all dark (on a cloudy day) and looked quite a bit larger than I thought a Bald Eagle
would look at that distance. Of course that's a matter of judgement since there was no Bald Eagle close by to compare it with.
Nick and I came to the same conclusion that it probably was a Golden Eagle. But no definite proof.
 
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I would like to take a solo canoe trip but have to settle for going on a 3 week fishing vacation alone yearly now.
 
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I think groups can definitely be fun! Like several other people have said, they’ve gone with family, friends, acquaintances, etc and have had a good time. It is a blast to have good company around and shoot the breeze with each other and tell stories around the fire. Those gut busting laughs are contagious and very much needed.

But the solitude isn’t quite there, the connection with nature. The quiet and stillness. The kick your feet up on the rock next to the fire, have some coffee, a good book (or journal) and hearing absolutely nothing other than the wildlife around you. It can have a spiritual feeling for me and I really value that. There’s No Rush… no I need to be anywhere other than where I am

And this website & BWCA are dangerous websites for me. One of these days I’ll probably end up quitting my job and convincing my wife that we need to embark on a year long canoe-venture. Any tips on convincing a wife will be will be welcome in full
 
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the nature of an empathetic introvert to an extrovert,

Being around people is work, and it is exhausting.
I've never heard the term 'empathetic introvert' but it's perfect. I really like people but, like you said, being around them is exhausting.

When I was younger I told myself I hated people. It took me a long time to realize people are fine, great actually, but best enjoyed from a distance.

Alan
 
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I like solo trips. I need my quiet time alone, even with a single companion. Friend Joel has a guide’s companion sensitivities and awareness, “Hmmm, I think Mike wants to be left alone”. During one three week downriver trip, planned to travel with separate permits, I only saw Joel every few days along the way, for a total together-time of 9 days. That was perfect, and when we did find each other we had new things to talk about.

But some of the best and most memorable trips have been planned as solo -> group, or sometimes solo -> group -> solo again.

Arrive a day or two beforehand for a paddle-in meet up. Do not take the best or closest tent site. Set up, have a quiet day or two, and here comes companionship. Maybe 6 people max if the site is large enough; too many, even with agreeably selected companions, can become a zoo.

What I enjoy most on solo -> group trips is when folks come in one or two at a time, over the course of a day or two; the change in group dynamic is especially hail and welcome, see-what-I-brung to show & tell and share enjoyable. Catching up with old friends one or two at a time, versus BOOM, the gang’s all here, let the chaos ensue.

And, best of times, if I can linger on the site for another day or two, back to solo quietude, that is even better. I can break camp on the last day, whichever favorable weather day I choose, pack up at my leisure, paddle out solo and dawdle while thoughtfully packing the truck, all on my own schedule. I need some quite time just then, to think about where I’ve been, and where I’m headed.

Perhaps the only thing better than planned arrivals is when a paddling friend unexpectedly shows up, having had the same “Dang, the weather looks great, I should go somewhere” urge. Walk down to the water’s edge and who do I by chance see arriving?

P4080919 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Chip had no idea I was there until he got his permit, asked “Is anyone else out there?” and received the reply “Just one guy, for 10 days”.

Chip should have had a better idea that the forecast for ankle-deep Chincoteague Bay called for unseasonably hot and sunny on his paddle-in day. Watching him pour sweat (at least I hope that was just sweat) out of his dry suit booties was memorable. What do you do with a superfluous dry suit when the skinny sea kayak is already packed to the brim?

There have been a few of those old friend tripping encounters. One family trip we found Conk in the Adirondacks, or rather he found us, but – Conk - probably not all that unusual an event.
 
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I would imagine that peoples responses would fall along introvert vs extrovert lines.

Just to be clear, the best definition of the difference between the two that I have heard is this. Introverts get recharged when alone. Extrovert’s get recharged when with other people.

If you are looking to be recharged as an extrovert, soloing won’t work. If how ever you are an introvert looking for a recharge, soloing might just be what you need.
 
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I'm solo most of the time, as others have said it's hard to schedule times, dates and destinations with others. The down side is when I see something cool or unique and there's no one to share it with.

One example is when I saw a huge bird in a tree, it was in the fall and the sun was low in the sky and was directly behind him. As I got up close I saw he was bigger than any Bald Eagle I had ever seen, he didn't have a white head or tail and didn't look like an immature Bald. A Golden? We don't have those in Michigan!! I was fairly close and watched him for quite a while. When I got home I looked it up and it was indeed a Golden and the web site I was on was for Fall bird migration and Goldens were recently sighted heading South. Nobody I tell believes me and there was no witnesses....... oh well.

Many times I have run into interesting strangers that have a great story or interesting background and I make a new friend.
driving back from the keweenaw today, somewhere between 5-10 miles West of Nuabinway, fresh deer carcass drivers left, we saw an eagle but it was larger. Turned around to double check, too big for a juvenile, thought maybe a golden. Yep! A golden eating venison. How crazy to read that you and LarrySw45 saw one here and I drive past one shortly after
 
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Bald vs Golden eagle:

I'm no bird expert but did get pretty heavy into bird watching for a few years. It's my opinion that the majority of golden eagle sightings here in the midwest are immature bald eagles. Not that goldens don't pass through but the balds are just so much more common and most people in the midwest (including me) aren't very familiar with goldens to know the differences off hand.

Most people say it must be a golden because it was so big. But how can you trust your eyes? Does a full moon look bigger on the horizon than it does in the middle of the sky? Sure it does. But it's actual size didn't change.

Also, from everything I've ever read, and limited personal experience with Goldens, they aren't bigger than bald eagles and can be smaller. I've heard people who are familiar with both say the golden often looks smaller because of its shorter neck/smaller head.

From Cornell labs:

Bald Eagle:
Length: 27.9-37.8 inches
Weight: 105.8-222 ounces
Wingspan: 80.3 inches

Golden Eagle:
Length: 27.6-33.1 inches
Weight: 105.8-216 ounces
Wingspan: 72.8-86.6 inches

Bald - https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bald_Eagle/id

Golden - https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Golden_Eagle/id

A comparison - https://www.audubon.org/news/is-golden-eagle-actually-bald-eagle

Bald eagles spend the first 3-4 years of their lives without white heads or tails, which makes the confusion easy. An immature bald eagle is no smaller than a mature. In fact, so I hear, the largest a bald eagle will ever be is just before it leaves the nest and that they actually get smaller.

A bald eagle soars with its wings completely flat while a golden soars with its wings in a slight dihedral (V). Bald eagles love fish and carrion. I don't believe goldens eat much, if any, fish and aren't as prone to eating carrion.

When I see an eagle around here it's nearly always along the river, near a lake, or eating something dead along the road. My first assumption is that it's a bald eagle and I haven't seen one yet that's convinced me otherwise.

I've seen a handful of goldens in the mountains and the size didn't look any different than bald eagles to me. What was different was the habitat, the dihedral wings, smaller head ,and the lack of white underneath on the mature goldens and the clean white patches on the immature goldens (immature bald eagles with white under the wings often looks patchy or disheveled).

I would also like to note that my response is on topic because one of the reasons I travel (and do everything else) solo is because I often can't keep my mouth shut and think people will appreciate it when I try to tell them how they might be wrong. :)

Alan
 
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Very nice summary, Alan. It’s often very difficult, at least for me, to distinguish between immature bald and golden eagles. You have nailed it, though.

I have sometimes heard people refer to the “bald-headed eagle.” The eagle is not actually “bald,” in the common, modern sense of the word. It is my understanding that “bald” is an older English word meaning ”white-headed.”
 
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I was moose hunting in Matane Park. I came around a corner and spooked 5 goldens that were feasting on a gut pile. So they do go for carrion, but given the quantity of it in the park, it might be a localized/learned behaviour. One of the few moments that I would not have minded some company during my hunt.
 
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Bald vs Golden eagle:

I'm no bird expert but did get pretty heavy into bird watching for a few years. It's my opinion that the majority of golden eagle sightings here in the midwest are immature bald eagles. Not that goldens don't pass through but the balds are just so much more common and most people in the midwest (including me) aren't very familiar with goldens to know the differences off hand.

Most people say it must be a golden because it was so big. But how can you trust your eyes? Does a full moon look bigger on the horizon than it does in the middle of the sky? Sure it does. But it's actual size didn't change.

Also, from everything I've ever read, and limited personal experience with Goldens, they aren't bigger than bald eagles and can be smaller. I've heard people who are familiar with both say the golden often looks smaller because of its shorter neck/smaller head.

From Cornell labs:

Bald Eagle:
Length: 27.9-37.8 inches
Weight: 105.8-222 ounces
Wingspan: 80.3 inches

Golden Eagle:
Length: 27.6-33.1 inches
Weight: 105.8-216 ounces
Wingspan: 72.8-86.6 inches

Bald - https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bald_Eagle/id

Golden - https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Golden_Eagle/id

A comparison - https://www.audubon.org/news/is-golden-eagle-actually-bald-eagle

Bald eagles spend the first 3-4 years of their lives without white heads or tails, which makes the confusion easy. An immature bald eagle is no smaller than a mature. In fact, so I hear, the largest a bald eagle will ever be is just before it leaves the nest and that they actually get smaller.

A bald eagle soars with its wings completely flat while a golden soars with its wings in a slight dihedral (V). Bald eagles love fish and carrion. I don't believe goldens eat much, if any, fish and aren't as prone to eating carrion.

When I see an eagle around here it's nearly always along the river, near a lake, or eating something dead along the road. My first assumption is that it's a bald eagle and I haven't seen one yet that's convinced me otherwise.

I've seen a handful of goldens in the mountains and the size didn't look any different than bald eagles to me. What was different was the habitat, the dihedral wings, smaller head ,and the lack of white underneath on the mature goldens and the clean white patches on the immature goldens (immature bald eagles with white under the wings often looks patchy or disheveled).

I would also like to note that my response is on topic because one of the reasons I travel (and do everything else) solo is because I often can't keep my mouth shut and think people will appreciate it when I try to tell them how they might be wrong. :)

Alan
I could very much be wrong on what I saw, there’s no doubt about it. But after doing some research, while waiting for the bridge to open back up, on IF it’s possible that golden eagles can exist in northern Michigan. I found some info where the DNR state that although goldens do not nest here, they can be seen during fall and spring migrations. This doesn’t necessarily validate anything, and I’m ok with that. Seeing bald eagles is very common where I live, I’ve even had them swoop into the tree with me then take off. They’re big! But after seeing my first golden, on the coast of Washington, it was more majestic.

So whether I saw a golden or not, it’s an eagle and I never get tired of seeing them. Your links were interesting and I appreciate your post. Some good references.
 
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I love paddling alone. I go with my sons a couple'ah, three times a year, but there is nothing like being alone in the woods on a well laid out easy trip. No real schedule, just time alone.
 
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This is Off-Topic but if you aren't familiar with Golden Eagles this is an interesting video (youtube.com):
An Eagle, Golden or Bald , is truly a savage bird.
 
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