solo trip report

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I am back home after a fantastic trip. My belly is full and my mind is clear. I wanted to recount this experience for you all. I was too busy to take pictures on this trip, also wanting to save my battery, I opted for this medium instead.




Saturday morning: 8 AM. The car is packed. A quick trip to the coffee shop for a brew and some light breakfast gave me the energy I needed to get my trip going.

There is something fun about just driving with a canoe car topped. I really quite enjoy it. Probably since my Dad taught me to do it and now I'm following in his steps.




When I arrived at the marina, there were only 1 to 2 cars. This is good news. While I'm confident on my solo canoe, I'm uneasy with speedboats roaming about. This would be a day with few boats. A fine start.

Within a quarter of an hour, I had my boat loaded and I was off to the camp site. Hoping for the larger camp site with a better view, I paddled around the point. As always, there were people there, so I returned to the camp site on the point where I usually spend my time.

My boat unloaded, I set about erecting my tent. It's a bulky 2 person tent, but perfect for a paddle trip like this one. One of the luxuries of paddling is the ability to carry heavy things long distances.

After setting up my hammock and organizing my things, the urge to find firewood became too much to overcome. On my previous trip here (Black Friday), I sawed some deadfall, which in warmer months was good habitat for bass. With the water drawn down by the dam, I aimed to take advantage of this again. Instead, I opted to scout out the hill side for some good wood. To my surprise, a quick survey revealed a spectacular dead standing tree at least 30 feet high. My tree ID in winter is admittedly weak, but the forest floor was littered with red oak leaves, and sure enough, the density of the wood confirmed my suspicions. The task of sawing/bucking the wood was an exhausting one, and 30 minutes later I had the wood loaded fore and aft.

After a quick paddle, I arrived back at camp, and set about splitting the wood.




To my surprise (and delight), this wood split beautifully. No knots, completely straight grained. Every swing of the hatchet split straight down the middle. Batoning for kindling was quick and easy work. I cannot stand wood that doesn't split well when I need it to. This tree was a gem. My trip was off to a good start.




Fatwood litters this island, so I knew where to find fire starter. In retrospect, dry leaves and pine needles would have been hugely helpful, but the fire went up just the same.




A major hitch in my trip nearly occurred when I hung my bear bag in a nearby Y tree. I mistakenly set my toggle up incorrectly, and couldn't retrieve my food for the day/night. This was before noon, and I was hungry. Uh oh.

My only option was to stack items up high enough that I could get a foot hold in the Y and hang onto a limb I had placed in a marlin spike hitch for balance. With some strain, I was able to free the food bags and avert disaster.




Somehow in all of this, it was now 215 pm. As always in the woods, it had felt like no more than an hour.




Trail mix and cheerwine served as a pick me up before dinner. The water was cold, but not as cold as I wanted, as I was using it to chill my drinks between some rocks.




The real magic of the trip started near dusk. It was time... for steak! My favorite recipe by far... a common ribeye cooked in salt, pepper, butter, and garlic. I decided to cook it in a pan and slice the steak into thick strips. My friends, sitting down to eat this steak after the toils of firewood collection was perhaps one of the best feelings I have ever encountered in my life. Delicious, hot, and cooked on a fire that I busted my ass to make with skills learned on this forum. I will never forget that steak.

I washed it down with some hot chocolate, and layed in the hammock, watching the sun dip below the steep banks of the shore opposite my camp site.




As I lay in my hammock, turkeys could be heard calling to each other. I couldn't make out from which direction the calls originated, but in all my years of being in the woods this makes my first time hearing one.




I decided to go for a moon lit paddle. The new otter tail paddle proved far easier and more efficient. Money well spent. Sticking close to shore in case of an issue, the only sound I could hear was the slicing of my canoe in the water. Catch. Feather. Catch. Feather. I really do love to watch how quickly this little solo boat moves when near the shore.




When I returned to the site, I was beat. The temperature had dropped to mid twenties. It was time to curl into a sleeping bag and watch a WWII documentary. Sleep came before 8 pm.

One of the things I will recall most about this trip is how incredibly bright the moon was this night. The stars were out, and the moon's glow was such that I had no need for my headlamp on each of my trips to void my hot chocolate.




I awoke to find my water filter frozen.. time for a new one now I suppose. I had enough fresh clean water to fill up the aero press. I enjoyed some amazing coffee and chicken noodle soup by the fire, watching my breath turn into fog as the sun, which had hidden from me hours earlier, made another appearance to signal the start of the second day. Sadly, after two cups, I ran out and resorted to hot chocolate again.




The rest of the events were not memorable enough to record, but I didn't want to leave. This was one of those trips that sticks with you, and I can't have done it without the incredible amount of support and advice from this forum.




Hope you enjoyed reading this report!
 
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Outstanding. This would count as a top notch trip no matter where it was. Happy paddling.
 
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Thanks for sharing this Chansta, that was delightful. I love the night world under bright moon and stars. And your meals sure sounded right. Good coffee. Hot soup. Sizzling steak. I'm looking forward to your next trip.
 
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All, the trip took place at Lake Moomaw in Virginia. It is an hour from where I live and the only flat water place around with primitive sites. There are reports of lake trout, but none would take my spoon:)
 
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I'll post pics next time. I need to get a portable charger under the tree, first. The cold weather kills my phone battery.
 
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