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   Group Forum: Solo Tripping
      Law of Diminishing Returns     
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jillpine
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02/06/2020 05:55AM  
When applied to solo wilderness paddling, does this law exist? :)

What have you found that you gained from:
- 14 days that you didn't gain from 10 days?
- 21 days that you didn't gain from 14 days?
- longer than 21 days?

The longest I've wilderness camped was 10 days. I was sad when it was day 10. Actually, it was more like a quiet sob session as I loaded the canoe.

 
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02/06/2020 07:06AM  
As I get older I tend to enjoy the longer trips more. Longer trips allows you to go farther and see all the little things.
 
02/06/2020 11:57AM  
I started out with a four day solo, then moved up to seven days and now up to 15 days. I enjoy exploring and fishing every lake I travel through. I like to have a good balance between travel days and fishing/exploring days. At this point I've got a good balance. I haven't reached the point of diminished returns yet. By the end of each trip I always have the urge to do more. But the longer I go, the more my wife complains.
 
02/06/2020 12:36PM  
I started with 8 nights then 10 and the last in 2017 was 12. 12 is a real good number for me. That said, I do want to do 3 weeks or a month sometime. But all that time alone is not that appealing anymore. I’d love to have other solos join me part of the time.
 
02/06/2020 01:08PM  
Like everything we discuss here, it can vary a lot from person to person.

Obviously you gain a lot of food weight, fuel, personal items. The need for careful planning. In exchange you gain time, options, alternative routes, flexibility. You lose more weight :).

Do a longer route, do the same route more slowly, do some of both. What the other guys said.

Personally I started with one week vacation, which was really 9 days - 5 days sandwiched between two long days driving there, then 2 (2 1/2) back. The 5 days was really 4 1/2 and sometimes a good chunk of that was bad weather. A couple were cut short by weather. I never really got in the flow on those trips. So having two weeks and three weekends made a big difference. That's when I started gradually do longer trips and really got the bug to do longer ones and started working towards doing those.



 
Banksiana
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02/06/2020 03:40PM  
I think 10-12 nights is the sweet spot. More and the food mass is too much of a burden at the beginning of the trek. Less and it seems like that exit day is always in your view. Want the trip to be long enough that there are a few days where you have to count back to figure out what day it is and whether you have enough nights left to reach your exit.
 
PineKnot
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02/06/2020 05:11PM  
12-16 nights is my sweet spot. I also like doing at least 2 (usually 3, sometimes 4) trips each season. Also, since I have to drive over 2000 miles round trip, I really need to get as many nights per trip to make the driving at least bearable. On the longer trips, I tend to bring less fresh food and more freeze-dried meals to keep the food pack from getting overly heavy.

Lastly, it seems that the number of solo paddlers is on the rise, which has led to increased opportunities for "group" solos....As TomT alluded to, these group solos can really help those concerned with feelings of being lonely, bored, tired, etc, especially as solo trips get longer than a couple weeks....
 
02/07/2020 09:29PM  
Banksiana: "I think 10-12 nights is the sweet spot. More and the food mass is too much of a burden at the beginning of the trek. Less and it seems like that exit day is always in your view. Want the trip to be long enough that there are a few days where you have to count back to figure out what day it is and whether you have enough nights left to reach your exit."


This is my preferred length as well. I am still never ready to leave the woods but can't justify carrying an extra pack full of food to extend the trip longer than 10-12 days.

I've done many impromptu long weekend trips and while I still enjoy them immensely it seems like I've just arrived and now it's time to exit again.
 
02/09/2020 09:56PM  
I found that I can fit 17 days of food in my barrel, so that is my minimum preferred trip length. I find the longer I'm in the more I get out of it. Thats what she said!
 
jdddl8
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02/11/2020 04:22PM  
I have been solo canoeing for at least three week trips during the last twenty two years since I retired. I think I would be very disappointed if I had to shorten my adventure. I travel somewhere every day except when I can’t - albeit sometimes on day trips. I have no problem carrying extra weight if it means I can stay in Quetico longer. I take electronics for safety and pleasure now that I am too old to paddle from dawn to dusk. By the last week with the food diminishing in quality and quantity I hit a turning point when I get near my exit point and I know I have had enough. However I start planning my next trip almost the day after I leave. With a three week trip I can go pretty much anywhere in the park and it gives me time to fish, explore and enjoy the whole experience. With the change in water levels, beaver dams, weather conditions, bugs and fires there is always something new in the Park. My 2020 trip is already planned so all I have to do is decide on the exact timing. I am going to be heart-broken when I physically can’t do it anymore. Sigh!
 
LittoralZone
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02/13/2020 07:54PM  
I've only done 3 solo trips (7, 12 and 13 days) so far, and 8 group trips. I see it the other way around. The way I now look at it for all trips is the shorter the trip the less return I get. With all that goes into a trip - planning, packing, preparing food, 2,200 mile round trip, cost of gas and tolls (tolls nearing $80 round trip) - the longer the trip I can do the better.

I like/agree with what others have said here, and I'll add this.

On the financial side - it lowers the cost per day of the trip. And now that I've bought a canoe that cost is a little less, though Quetico per night camping fees do add up. Again, I look at it as cost per day. Cheaper than most other places I could go and enjoy less.

On the mental/emotional side - it seems to take me a day or two to let go and really start settling into the flow of the wilderness. On shorter trips after a few days of being in the flow I start saying to myself "only 2 days left", "only 1 day left", "heading out tomorrow, the trip's over"... and I'm out of the flow just as I get into it. On the longer trips I have more of those in the flow days, and I'm staying in the flow until I get to the last portage and climb into the towboat for the ride back to the outfitter. And I'm a bit of a loner, I'm fine with my own thoughts and my dog Crawford's company.

On the physical side - I'm healthy, stay fit year round and I spend at least 2 to 3 months before each trip working out and getting in decent trip shape. I can get 14 days worth of good food in one pack and easily handle the weight. Crawford carries his own food. I take it slow and easy, triple portaging. As long as I can keep doing that, I'll plan on 14 day or longer solo trips.

My first solo back in 1998 was a big learning experience. The trip was tough, thanks to too much/heavy gear/food and weather. After 7 days I was more than ready to come out. In 2017 I was more prepared, both with gear and mentally. After 12 days, on one hand I was ready to head back to civilization, but on the other I wasn't. I could have easily got cleaned up, reloaded with food and headed back in for more. Last year, 2019, after 13 days I dreaded the thought of ending the trip, I was kind of somber about it. Mentally I could have stayed indefinitely, I was enjoying living out of a couple of packs. After we got home both myself and, I believe, Crawford longed to be back in the Q.

If work would allow, or if able to after retirement, I'd love to push it to 21 days or more. I'd carry another food pack if need be. Or, do two weeks, head to outfitter's to clean up and reload, then back in for another two weeks.

So, my long winded answer to your question - Law of Diminishing Returns, When applied to solo wilderness paddling, does this law exist? I say NO! It does not. It's the Law of Increasing Returns.
 
02/13/2020 08:19PM  
There's certainly that financial incentive for me too since I live far away, and I look at it like Littoral Zone - when I'm there longer, the travel cost in money and time is more spread out and more worthwhile.
 
MossBack
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02/16/2020 09:15PM  
After a lifetime of adhering to a firm timetable for re-entry back to the modern world we all try to escape from, I am longing for the day when I will return when I want to, not when I have to. I have had several discussions with paddlers who were those free spirits. Apparently the requirements are being young enough to have almost no responsibilities, or old enough to be retired.

MB
 
Nigal
distinguished member (218)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/06/2020 05:39PM  
jillpine: "When applied to solo wilderness paddling, does this law exist? :)

What have you found that you gained from:
- 14 days that you didn't gain from 10 days?
- 21 days that you didn't gain from 14 days?
- longer than 21 days?

The longest I've wilderness camped was 10 days. I was sad when it was day 10. Actually, it was more like a quiet sob session as I loaded the canoe.


"


Kevin Calin always talks about the 4 day threshold for solo trips and you have to go longer than four days before you really see mental gains. I’ve done five days and will be doing 9 days next month so I’m looking forward to seeing the difference.
 
07/06/2020 06:55PM  
Nigal, I think you'll enjoy the 9 days. I'm more relaxed when I have more time and don't have to stress about it. At least as long as I don't get over-ambitious with route, which I have been known to do ;).

Where do you plan to enter and go?
 
Nigal
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07/06/2020 07:02PM  
boonie: "Nigal, I think you'll enjoy the 9 days. I'm more relaxed when I have more time and don't have to stress about it. At least as long as I don't get over-ambitious with route, which I have been known to do ;).


Where do you plan to enter and go?"


I’m in that very position now. I’m going in at #16 to Agnes and then over to Oyster, Hustler, Loon and kind of make my way up to Lac Criox and then back south. I figured the portages yesterday and it was right at 9.5 miles. Double portaging means x3, carry the 1 and....yeah, gonna figure something shorter out. LOL!

One thing I like to do before trips is be very moody and snappish before leaving and then come home like a buddhist monk. 8)
 
07/06/2020 10:40PM  
I don't know what he does up there, but . . . he's so mellow when he comes back, grasshopper :)

Have you thought about heading straight north from Oyster instead of west there? It's pretty nice up through there and west from Pocket. Or east from Pocket would be another option.

Double portaging does add up some miles, especially if you want to do enough of them to get away from the biggest crowds. I usually just figure it in like you are, plan a couple weather days, and about 10 +/- miles each travel day. Maybe have 1 or 2 route options.

You'll find the 4 extra days good for mellowing out :). Let us know how it was for you when you get back.



 
Nigal
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07/07/2020 08:47AM  
boonie: "I don't know what he does up there, but . . . he's so mellow when he comes back, grasshopper :)


Have you thought about heading straight north from Oyster instead of west there? It's pretty nice up through there and west from Pocket. Or east from Pocket would be another option.


Double portaging does add up some miles, especially if you want to do enough of them to get away from the biggest crowds. I usually just figure it in like you are, plan a couple weather days, and about 10 +/- miles each travel day. Maybe have 1 or 2 route options.


You'll find the 4 extra days good for mellowing out :). Let us know how it was for you when you get back.
"


Yes I'm thinking of heading north through Rocky up to Geo-whatever-it-is then out to LaCroix and back out. With a day or two or meandering and lollygagging in between. I'll definitely post a trip report. Thanks.
 
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