I couldn't agree more. Around 2017 or so I went on my usual October solo trip and woke up to a foot of snow. I was deep in there too and remember thinking how cool it was that I was probably the last one of the season to be on that campsite. Paddling in the heavy snow made me feel alive.
I went in on a 70 degree day last Oct, two mornings later there were snow flurries.
Changes quickly this time of year.
I've postponed a couple trips in Oct over the last few years, much nicer weather the following week.
Just got to go with the flow at this time of year and not be as adventurous at times.
hawleycanoeguy: "If you're thinking about doing it....DO IT! You won't have any regrets!!"
Unless it's in the 30s and straight rain/wind/snow, lol.
If you're thinking about doing it....DO IT! You won't have any regrets!! Just be prepared, be flexible with your plans, and keep an eye on the forecast. Recently, forecasts for me when I've gone this time of year have been pretty spot on, but you still have to prepare. Avoid big water if possible. Move on the water as early as possible to avoid wind. Don't overdo things, and keep in mind the abundance of darkness - I still have a hard time adjusting to this on the first night of a solo trip. I've done all of mine in October for two-three nights just as you're planning on doing. It's the best time to camp outside for sure - and a better chance to experience the BWCA in greater solitude.
cmanimal: "I like October trips, I've been going in Mid October for ~15 years.
I COMPLETELY agree on this. Literally pack for all weather scenarios! Even if the forecast looks a certain way, literally pack for all scenarios. I’ve had forecast that shows it would be nothing above 55, but then it’s gotten HOT…. And visa versa… bring a nice fleece or puffer for at night.
Definitely a nice hat to sleep in.
Something appealing by paddling a canoe with snow blowing. Glad I had the experience.
I launched on Seagull last Sept. 30 when the air temperature was 82° (ugh). Five days later it was snowing on us (yay!). Four years ago, we aborted on Isabella when we saw our weather window for a safe exit was closing rapidly.
YMMV, which is entirely the point about October. The farther you go into the month, the greater the likelihood that the wind, precip type, air temp and water temp will range from annoying to hazardous.
It’s much harder to seek shelter from the wind in October, as none of the trees have leaves anymore. So it can make for much tougher paddling, even if you’re tight to the shoreline.
LiquorPugs: "September/October is my favorite time of year to go. No bugs, minimal crowds. As for all of the worst-case-scenario water woes, the water is cooling from Summer. Not nearly as cold as Spring months after ice out. Safe paddles and have fun! "
The water temp may be warmer than in the spring but you may be trying to get out of cold enough water into a very cold air temp. If you are already somewhat hypothermic from the dip in the drink, your functional time to survive is minimal, especially if alone. Always be prepared for the worst case.
I like October trips, I've been going in Mid October for ~15 years.
The forecast at best is a guideline in October. Quite often the actual weather is different. I've had 70 and sunny and woken up to 2 inch's of very wet snow, and neither were in the forecast. We've had T-storms and hail and, last year we were breaking ice at the EP. So being weather ready for just about any condition is warranted.
Its a tricky time of the year for packing, as generally we're not conditioned for the cooler temps yet like we are in January when 40 will feel warm, compared to 60 feeling cold now. Add to that the wet, and a general inability to dry out (lack of sun and heat) is where I've seen rescues needed.
Two things I expect for fall trips 1) the ability to make warm liquids in a hurry, this goes a long way to staving off hypothermic conditions. 2) I expect every one I travel with to have a set of muck/rubber boots to wear so they can keep their feet dry.
Bring a good book, as there is a lot of night to fill. Over the next month we'll loose about an hr. of daylight, with sunset around 6:30 in mid October.
September/October is my favorite time of year to go. No bugs, minimal crowds. As for all of the worst-case-scenario water woes, the water is cooling from Summer. Not nearly as cold as Spring months after ice out. Safe paddles and have fun!
As jsmith mentioned, water temps will be cooling along with air temps. Make sure you are cognizant of cold water dangers like cold shock, hypothermia, etc. Always good to review before a trip. Carry a ditch kit on your person, wear your PFD and make sure it's not too loose, stay closer to shore, etc. There will be fewer people and many will make a game-time decision depending on weather. Consider a SOS communicator. If you are aware and prepared, it can be very nice and enjoyable. Have a good trip.
I think October in the BWCAW or Quetico is great. Few people. Fresh food is easy. Wildlife is more apparent. Bugs are gone. Just need to be prepared for snow and freezing temps.
If I solo in October I always carry an emergency, accessible, not in a pack, dry bag with dry, warm clothes and a fire starter kit, (not just a lighter or matches) . In case I end up in the water. Cold water kills quickly and when soloing in October you need a solid plan B if things go wrong.
I like using timeanddate.com to look up historical weather. For my LIS North trip coming up, I looked at October temps for both Ely and Crane Lake. We'll be closer to Crane Lake. The low for Ely last year was somewhere in the mid-20s, but Crane Lake got down to 18F I believe. If you hit a rainy spell, it's gonna be cold and wet, but the sunny spells with highs in the mid-upper-50s and lows in the mid-30s sound heavenly. As boonie said, weather seems to be quite variable. Just watch the forecast beforehand and pack clothing/gloves/hat/rain gear appropriately, and don't plan too ambitious travel days, as you don't have a lot of daylight, and might encounter slowdowns due to low water in the fall if you're going through areas with creeks/rivers.
If the weather is good, it will be a good time; if it's bad, it will be a bad time. Weather is highly variable at that time - I'd suggest you look up weather averages and especially record lows. Consider that low temps could be combined with 20-40 mph wind gusts, Rain, sleet, hail, and snow. Or it could be Indian summer. Daylight is short.
For reference, I've done a bunch of trips the last two weeks of September into the first week of October and had all kinds of weather. Prepare accordingly.
I have done several summer trips into the BWCA. A couple of years ago I did my first solo. I am thinking it might be time to try my second solo, but have never done a BW trip in the fall. I am hoping it will work for me to get in a quick trip, either the first or second weekend of October.
Is early October a good time? What can I expect for typical weather? What can I expect for crowds? What do I need to do differently or be aware of compared to a summer trip? Is this not the time for a solo?
My possible entry is #32 and traveling up the Kawishiwi, finding a base campsite for either a 2 or 3 night stay and back out.
Thanks in advance to all you professional BW goers for your expert advice.