Ok, I'm doing my first solo this year. Going in LIS North in mid July. I want to do the loop through Loon, Slim, Eugene, Thumb, Finger, Gebe, Oyster, Hustler, Shell, etc. I realize this averages out to over 10 miles a day. I paddle and portage well, average about 3.5-4 mph in the solo (plan on single portaging). Id like to make Eugene or Fat (via unmarked portage) my first day. Is that too ambitious? Am I being foolish?
I'm an experienced tandem tripper, but I know solo is a different animal. I'm looking for some tips that can make this experience something I want to do again. Part of my desire to log high miles comes from doing lots of base camping and out and backs in my tandem experiences so I really want to open things up and see lots of lakes. I hear once you've gone solo you don't ever want to go back. Thanks in advance for any feedback!
Welcome to the solo forum. I think that trip sounds great. No super-large lakes to be windbound on, so you should be able to keep the schedule fine.
Solo tips: 1). Pack light if you want to single. You're an experienced tandem tripper, so you should know which gear is essential and which is just-in-case. Pack things well ahead of time (months or more) so you can be aware of both weight and BULK. Seriously, weigh each piece of gear individually and make a list/spreadsheet and then try to fit it all in your pack. Seeing things on paper shows clearly where the excess weight is and where it may be trimmed.
2). Plan your portage transition routine so everything has a place and can easily be consolidated for the carry, then taken apart to be stored in the canoe. You don't want a yard-sale of loose items that need to be packed every time you hit a landing. Remember that everything needs a place either on your back or strapped to the canoe. Just like you do with tandem, but you have to manage everything yourself- pack/paddles/pfd/fishing pole/etc.
3). Make your camp-time as easy as possible. You alone have to make/break camp, cook, treat water, firewood, hang food, etc. No splitting work with a partner, so try and find the easiest ways of doing each task.
4). Try and reflect a bit on your personal goals for the trip. Just completing a solo is a good goal; but a solo traveler has the luxury to do whatever they want and can create an individually-tailored trip. Take advantage of this to unabashedly enjoy whatever it is that you enjoy about canoe tripping. Sleeping in? fishing 23h/day? drinking tea at sunset? logging long and fast miles? dawdling here and there to smell the roses and explore little things? photography? What ever you want- it's your trip.
"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread; places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul" -John Muir
muddyfeet pretty well covered the basic stuff to be aware of - you'll be the only one carrying stuff and the only one doing camp chores. Since none of the community gear items will be split, you'll end up carrying more unless you make other compensations. If you're taking a 30-lb solo canoe, you'll be carrying it all vs. splitting the weight of a 40-lb tandem with someone else. Same is true of other things - tarp, stove, water filter, first aid, etc. - so be aware of that (weight and bulk) like muddyfeet said. You may decide to substitute lighter gear or simply leave certain things behind.
Since there's no social component to meal time - it's just refueling - I keep it very simple with freezer bag meals on solos, which also minimizes kitchen gear. I also rarely have a fire anymore, so I leave those tools behind too.
I also agree with the portage transition advice and lots of loose items.
You'll find lots of information and some different perspectives by searching through the solo forum.
As to whether or not it's too ambitious, I'd calculate a point of no return. In other words, if I'm not "here" by day 2, I return the way I came.
It was the area of my first solo and still one of my favorites. Have fun!
Oh, and don't forget, you'll not only have to carry everything and do all camp chores, you'll have to save yourself - so be careful.
Help keep the flying moose flying by supporting BWCA.com