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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Group Forum: Solo Tripping
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straighthairedcurly
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06/23/2020 10:47PM  
Mental health break can't come fast enough. Tonight I finished the last details of my food prep for the 7 night solo coming up...my first solo. My son and friend finished up their food prep on Saturday, though it still needs a double check as they were a little scattered. They are going to do their first trip without a parent or a camp counselor. We are doing the same loop, but in opposite directions, so we will hopefully pass in the middle.

I have the bow and stern line installed on the canoe, and I have laid out the plan for fastening on my paddles at portages, but still need to finish setting up the BDB's to hold them.

My gear is all organized (and weighed). I have a heavier canoe than many so I am pleased that all my gear, food, and even the clothes I will wear totals under 100 lbs. Partially thanks to a switch to a CCS tarp (thanks Dan for getting that out to me in time after my son begged to take our other heavier tarp because he knows how to set it up) and swapping to Ursack for food instead of a bear barrel. Hope I don't regret that decision...

Any last words of advice are always welcome.
 
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HappyHuskies
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06/24/2020 06:27AM  
Have a great trip and be sure and tell us about it when you get back!

So terrific that you and your son and his friend are doing similar trips, but in opposite directions. Really a neat twist!
 
MidwestFirecraft
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06/24/2020 06:41AM  
Switched to Ursack 6 trips ago and have not looked back. Only negative is you won't have a seat or stool for the tarp that the barrel provides. If you have not actually portaged with your solo canoe with paddles, life jacket, bow/stern lines,etc. I would suggest setting it all up and carrying it around your property. It is amazing how a paddle and life jacket can throw the balance off, or not be as secured as you thought. Don't want items being dropped on a solo trip, especially if you are single portaging. From your posts I understand you have way more experience than me in a tandem, but if you are newer to soloing, I would highly recommend a light weight carbon double paddle. Saved my but on a every trip when the wind was just too much.
 
06/24/2020 08:10AM  
+1 on the establish good balance when you secure paddles, etc. I put my PFD in the rear thwart, paddles blade wedged into the side of the seat and BDB to the foot brace and partially fill a liter Nalgene bottle that is BDB in the front thwart. A couple test runs and I have achieved such good balance I can go hands free most of the time. Nothing else goes in the canoe, not so much the weight, as getting balance.
Have a great trip.
 
06/24/2020 10:55AM  
Not sure if this came up before in your discussions or not, but be sure to have a line at least 10 feet long tied to your bow, and then tie or wrap the other end around your seat or thwart near you. Hold on to it when you are getting in or out of the boat, and always tie up to something at portages. You really don’t want to watch your boat drift across the lake because of an unexpected puff of wind or bit or current.
Have a great trip!
 
GraniteCliffs
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06/24/2020 11:20AM  
Have a wonderful trip!
Use that bowline to tie your canoe to a tree each and every night. It is nice to be in the tent at night when the wind blows hard knowing the canoe is secure.
 
06/24/2020 12:53PM  
Enjoy your trip! You are well-prepared and experienced. I think you will love the solo experience.

As far as portaging, I changed things a few years ago and it works well for me. Only things attached to the canoe are painters and a spare paddle. I have 2 packs, the paddle, PFD, and a water bottle with a carabiner. I simply put the larger pack, PFD, paddle, and water bottle out of the way. Put the yoke on the canoe, put the small pack on and go. The second load I just put the pack on, run my arm through the PFD armholes, grab the paddle with that hand, pick up the water bottle, and go. Drinking while I walk portages has helped me stay better hydrated. I snack on the return trip between loads.

Wishing you good weather and a successful trip.

 
06/24/2020 08:41PM  
I'd second boonie's recommendations. I have a slightly different system but it's largely the same approach. The best advice is to figure your plan for portaging and go with it each time.

I usually grab the bear barrel and sling it on my back, attach the portage yoke and bungee it down. When I lift the canoe over my head, I'm off. Second trip is the portage pack and my Mountain Smith (large) fanny pack with a shoulder strap.

My fishing rods, both paddles (one is my carbon-fiber kayak paddle) and extra bungee cords are all strapped in/attached to the canoe. The fanny pack has the two bottles of water that I drink when I get through the portage the first time and finish off when the portage is over.

You'll figure it out as you go, decide what works best, and make whatever adjustments you need. Soloing gives you a lot of freedom and I'm sure you'll enjoy the experience!

 
06/24/2020 09:11PM  
The canoe is heavier than she likes so I wouldn't strap anything inside while portaging. I use a 12" gear tie to hold my 2 paddles together and carry those in one hand and my pfd with map case carabinered to it in the other when I cross with my big pack. A heavy canoe can be murder on your shoulders.
 
Minnesotian
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06/24/2020 09:55PM  

Have a great trip!
 
Portage99
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06/25/2020 06:29AM  
Have a great trip! I look forward to reading about it.

I will third and idea of having as little in the canoe as possible. I bungeed my paddles in. But besides that I don’t like danglies.
 
straighthairedcurly
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06/25/2020 08:02AM  
Wow, thanks for the great tips! I had not thought about some of these. I am used to carrying an even heavier tandem canoe that had paddles attached (including while bushwhacking thru the PMA...at times with the canoe tipped up and balanced one shoulder to squeeze thru tight spots, LOL) so I am going to start by trying to have my take apart carbon kayak paddle and carbon canoe paddle strapped in to the canoe. I think they are balanced, but I will definitely double check that at home before the trip. If I don't like it, I can always strap the take-apart to the larger pack and carry the single blade with the main pack.

I have a bowline and stern line attached for tying off, and I have tested that those don't throw off the balance when portaging. But I like the idea of the 10 foot rope tied off to the bow thwart.

I think most everything will fit in my main pack except for my lunch each day and basics like sunglasses, water bottles, sunscreen, etc. which will be in the day pack. Last summer I alternated between carrying a light pack along with the tandem canoe and not. For the typical BWCA portage it usually works fine for me, but I will stay flexible and willing to do any combo that works. I am not in a hurry. I typically wake up a LOT earlier than the teenagers so while they might travel faster at any given moment in time, I think our loops will work out pretty evenly.

I have practicing paddling on the local lake in progressively stronger and stronger winds. I love the kayak paddle in the wind and the canoe paddle for the calm. I feel quite comfortable wind ferrying and handling decent size waves, but I will be on high alert when I get to Brule. I should be able to hug the north shore and duck into bays, unless I end up with a wind from the south, in which case I will use my planned wind day as needed. The rest of the lakes are pretty small.
 
jillpine
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06/25/2020 08:51PM  
Have a wonderful trip! Let us know how it goes. I've been excited for you for a year now! :)
Third on the no danglies.
 
straighthairedcurly
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06/27/2020 06:53AM  
Forgot to take a pic before I came over to my dad's this morning, but last night I tested the paddles bungied in and the canoe was nicely balanced. I have to admit I was impressed with myself a bit.
 
GraniteCliffs
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07/02/2020 03:51PM  
I hope it went well. I hope the solo traveling met your expectations and you had a great trip.
 
07/03/2020 02:18PM  
I hope you have a great solo! Sounds like you are ready to go. Make sure to bring a note pad or journal and make notes about gear not needed or missing for next solo. Sure helped me a lot my second trip.
 
straighthairedcurly
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07/06/2020 03:34AM  
Exited yesterday morning. Working on my trip report this week. It was an emotional and humbling trip for many reasons directly and indirectly related to the actual trip, but so worth every moment. I journaled a lot. I learned a lot about efficiency as a solo traveller. Some gear successes...loved my CCS gear, my Tarptent, and homemade insulated "food jar". Some gear zeroes...leaking alcohol fuel bottles, a SPOT gone haywire, and a spork (what was I thinking?!).

A huge thank you to everyone (past and present posters) for all the info and encouragement.

In addition, my teenage son and his buddy, who did my loop in reverse, came off trail grinning from ear to ear. They were so proud of completing their first trip without parents or a camp counselor. They were supposed to have been Nor'Westers on a Camp Menogyn trip this summer before everything shut down. I took one look at them and told them, they were definitely Nor'Westers having accomplished what they did. I am hoping my son will write up a trip report, too.
 
07/06/2020 06:27AM  
I'm eager to hear more of the details and your thoughts. I've always found solo trips very conducive to journaling . . . about many things. Happy to hear you found it so worthwhile.

I don't know how old your son is, but it had to be a confidence-boosting accomplishment for him. I hope he writes a trip report; he'll be glad he did years later.
 
MidwestFirecraft
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07/06/2020 07:09AM  
straighthairedcurly: " a spork (what was I thinking?!).

"In addition, my teenage son and his buddy, who did my loop in reverse, came off trail grinning from ear to ear. They were so proud of completing their first trip without parents or a camp counselor. I am hoping my son will write up a trip report, too. "


First thing I throw out of someones bag if they are new and tell them to get a spoon AND a fork if they absolutely need one.

So glad to hear their first solo went well. It is a trip they will never forget and will always be a confidence booster to fall back on in the future when things get hard. I too hope he writes a trip report for his own sake. It will be really cool for him and his kids to read it 10-20 years from now.
 
straighthairedcurly
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07/06/2020 02:25PM  
He is only 16, almost 17, and his friend is 17 almost 18. My son was definitely the leader of the 2 and really took charge. I know that seems young to many people, and I was nervous at times, but I knew in my heart they were ready and already had more experience than many adults who go.

I am starting transpose my journal, but a busy day caring for my dad...
 
tomo
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07/06/2020 05:29PM  
So glad the Menogynites were able to get out for a trip despite camp being canceled. Congrats on the solo--looking forward to reading the trip report.
 
jillpine
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07/07/2020 05:14AM  
Welcome back. Great to hear the initial reports, looking forward to the trip report, spork and all.
 
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