BWCA Planning - Identifying areas to improve in Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
Chat Rooms (0 Chatting)  |  Search  |   Login/Join
* For the benefit of the community, commercial posting is not allowed.
Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Trip Planning Forum
      Planning - Identifying areas to improve in     
 Forum Sponsor

Author

Text

JWilder
distinguished member (392)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/10/2021 11:06AM  
I am never completely satisfied or content with what I pack, how I pack, or my preparedness for any, and all situations . I am an organizational nut, who is always looking to improve the utilization of space and the efficient use of the resources I have with me. I am also never content with the knowledge I have to tackle the different scenarios you can encounter while paddling, portaging, and spending time in camp. This leads me to read a ton, here mostly:) and think through what I would do in certain situations. I'm certain many of you can relate ;)

This time of year, when temps dip below zero for weeks at a time, my mind is consumed with these subjects. During the continued planning stages of my next trip, here is where my focus for improvement will be over the next several months:

1) Complete evaluation and upgrades to my first aid kit - not necessarily in size, but in the contents in it, based on my knowledge and comfort level. I have never had to pull this out in a scenario, but it is not a matter of if, but when.

2) First aid knowledge - I have ordered a copy of the NOLS Wilderness Medicine and will dive into it soon.

3) Creation of a ditch kit - I have always carried a day pack with my first aid kit, and other "survival" contents like an emergency blanket, hand warmers, whistle, bug dope, fire starter material and such. But I have not had a kit separate from my day pack. I plan to utilize my life jacket "storage" for this. A little redundancy is not a bad idea.

4) Re-thinking how I process firewood - I aim to become safer and more efficient. In other words; to work smarter, not harder.

I'm interested in what you are evaluating and focusing on as you plan your next trip(s) into the BWCAW. In what areas do you see yourself needing to improve?


 
Reply    Reply with Quote    Print Top Bottom Previous Next
billconner
distinguished member(8158)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/10/2021 11:45AM  
Specifically to first two - good answers and training in AMERICAN RED CROSS WILDERNESS AND REMOTE FIRST-AID. Seemed like good investment, though second one was paid by Scout Troop so that not fair.

Can't help with questions 3 and 4 - don't carry a ditch kit. (I haven't been anyplace in BWCA or Q that seems to warrant it. The one mid-October I dumped it seemed easy to stay with gear and canoe for 30-45 minutes to shore) And I cook in a stove almost exclusively, though have carried 12" bow saw - like $10 - and the very smallest Granfors hatchet - and they work well for cutting and splitting wood.
02/10/2021 11:46AM  
Related to your #4 and firewood... for winter camping, I relied more on wood found on site vs. hauling split dried firewood over a mile to my site. My improvement was to go to my site in December (I could drive NF two-track rather than walk) and stash poles for easy access and drying. It worked great! I could cut and split nice stove size pieces and avoid hauling wood. No, it didn't burn as well, but that was a trade-off.
outsidethebox
distinguished member (158)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/10/2021 01:11PM  
#2. A story-oh my: When I was 20-so, 48 years ago, I packed up my 14 and 11 year old brothers and headed to the Western UP for a 4th of July brook trout venture-vey much out in the middle of nowhere. The first night, setting up camp/chopping wood, I split my my right leg a full axe head width wide open. I washed it out in the stream, wrapped a towel around it and bound the towel in place with duct tape. We camped and fished for three days-caught a ton of beautiful brook trout. There is a scar...the wound never received any other care. I am a retired pediatric oncology nurse...the "11 year old" is a pediatrician. Don't do this!

Our small stream brookies don't measure up to the ones my pediatrician brother and I caught in the BWCA last September. They are why my brother declares that the brook trout is our family fish.

schweady
distinguished member(7775)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/10/2021 01:26PM  
Timely. I am currently working on a re-do of our family first aid kit, having borrowed one in the past. Looking at purchase of a 4L Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack in bright red and I'm doing research on appropriate items to go inside. The church's kit, which I had borrowed for a few trips, is an 8L bag that seemed a bit larger than needed. (Believe it or not, the kit we took on our original group trips was a hinged metal case with sealed edges like an ammo box. Just as heavy, too. Filled with outdated and half-used ointments and sting kits, etc. One of my favorite "what-were-we-thinking?" items.)
02/10/2021 03:35PM  
Aah, the never-ending quest ;). An on-going process for me. I assume you already have a checklist . . .

The checklist has become more detailed and specific as time as passed and experience and knowledge has accumulated, both from my own and that of others.

The first-aid kit checklist has expiration dates that get checked every year. The thing that gets used most is band-aids, and I'll add some to my personals kit, which also contains my medications. Medication management has become one of the most complicated parts of my preparation.

Knowledge is certainly a good thing to have. It's easy to get CPR training and could be very useful.

I had put my ditch kit in the life jacket pockets - bought one with a bunch of pockets for that reason. I've always a few small items in my pants pocket, but I was wandering around a lot without my life jacket on, so last year I tried using a travel vest with a bunch of pockets, which worked out pretty well. I had it on almost all the time - on portages, wandering around the campsite exploring, etc. It also had enough room to carry some other general items that one often needs, uses.

I don't "process" firewood since I rarely have a fire anymore. When I do it's small and mostly uses smaller stuff, which can be split with a knife if necessary (batoned).

Some things I've improved over the years are winnowing down the food and fuel I take as well as some personal items. I expanded the checklist to include weights for most things, a list of things that need done to prepare for the trip, and also to include the things I take for the long drive up and back. I'm sometimes trying different clothing, footwear, etc.

A focus this year will be learning about the Garmin InReach Mini I acquired and improving my map, compass, and navigation knowledge and skill. I'd also like to develop some more paddling skills.

JWilder
distinguished member (392)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/10/2021 04:21PM  
boonie: "Aah, the never-ending quest ;). An on-going process for me. I assume you already have a checklist . . .
"


I do NOT have a checklist... now I have a 5th item to add to the list above. I can create using Google sheets as I organize and pack. The more notes the better I suppose:)

Thanks,

JW
Chieflonewatie
senior member (94)senior membersenior member
 
02/11/2021 08:31AM  
Just go and enjoy it. Don't make it more than it has to be.
JWilder
distinguished member (392)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/11/2021 08:43AM  
Chieflonewatie: "Just go and enjoy it. Don't make it more than it has to be."

Truth be told. I enjoy the prep work and pre-trip organizing. Part of the fun.
02/11/2021 10:44AM  
Every year I take out more fishing gear.
02/11/2021 11:40AM  
JWilder: "Chieflonewatie: "Just go and enjoy it. Don't make it more than it has to be."


Truth be told. I enjoy the prep work and pre-trip organizing. Part of the fun. "



Better planned and better prepared leads to better enjoyed. Like you, we enjoy the planning and organizational aspects of our BWCA/Q trips. Checklists are paramount--through the years we've generated lists for first aid, personal care, gear, clothing, food, etc. The 1250-mile commute from western NC to Ely requires that every item is listed somewhere and that each item is checked off as it's added to a pack and/or loaded into the car.

For several years I had a Wilderness First Responder cert, but those are expensive both in time and money. I've also had the ARC Wilderness & Remote First Aid suggested by Bill Conner--it's great training at a reasonable price (and you can get student info here. The NOLS book is excellent as are several wilderness first aid guides. And just because a certification expires doesn't mean you've forgotten the training, so recertifying is more important to those whose jobs require the certification than to folks like us who simply want to be prepared to treat a wilderness injury or illness.

With respect to firewood, we now carry only a folding saw and primarily use it for light portage maintenance. Like Boonie, we seldom have a fire; for that rare fire, if we can't break it we don't burn it.

Enjoy the planning and prep, then enjoy paddling!

TZ
02/11/2021 02:06PM  
My first aid kit is fairly large about 8 ounces, more bulk than weight but that stays in camp, except when traveling of course. I have decided to make up a smaller kit to go in my PFD which is my ditch bag and holds a few emergency items. I figure if I had an accident like capsizing I might need some first aid too.

I keep a small emergency kit I keep in the truck in an old binocular pouch (3.5 x 4.5 in.) that I put on my belt for when I hike with my dogs. We generally hike on logging roads and such so I felt" why worry" , then I got turned around checking out something or other and spent way too much time finding my way back. Pat McManus wrote about logging roads and even mountains getting up and walking away, I absolutely believe him.
salukiguy
distinguished member(560)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/11/2021 02:15PM  
I feel a little inspired to work on the first aid kit. Can you show us your improved first aid kit when its done?
JWilder
distinguished member (392)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/11/2021 02:44PM  
salukiguy: "I feel a little inspired to work on the first aid kit. Can you show us your improved first aid kit when its done?"

I have some work to do but yes, absolutely.

Anyone want to share a pic of their kits?
THEGrandRapids
distinguished member (348)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/11/2021 03:03PM  
Spendy for some I'm sure... but NOLS has pretty good first aid kits, along with its own bag, though the bags are not waterproof, only water resistant. I think I have the 4.0 kit.
Wharfrat63
distinguished member (141)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/11/2021 04:01PM  
Here is my ditch kit from last year.

02/12/2021 11:33AM  
I only take 2 hatchets for spitting wood and a saw for cutting wood. I don’t setting the hatchet to split the wood but rather use one as a hammer to pound the remaining hatchet. I really don’t want to have an artery sliced by a ax or hatchet. Even though I’ve had first aid training and at one time was a first responder.
Because of the first aid training I have made my own first aid kit.
02/12/2021 11:33AM  
I also carry a ditch kit me at all times.
02/12/2021 12:23PM  
I see no need for a ditch kit in the BW. I have one pack in my canoe with everything in it. I'm always trying to lighten my pack. My base weight is around 16 lbs. I could get it lighter by eliminating my Heliox Zero chair and some electronics, but i like taking that stuff. Warm weather trips I don't take any wood processing tools.
02/12/2021 12:49PM  
Blatz: "I see no need for a ditch kit in the BW. I have one pack in my canoe with everything in it. I'm always trying to lighten my pack. My base weight is around 16 lbs. I could get it lighter by eliminating my Heliox Zero chair and some electronics, but i like taking that stuff. Warm weather trips I don't take any wood processing tools. "

Right with you - 16.8 lb base weight, chair zero...

In cold weather I do carry a small 'ditch kit' in my PFD, but it's only a space blanket, hurricane matches and a small bit of homemade firestarter.
JWilder
distinguished member (392)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/12/2021 01:21PM  
sns: "Blatz: "I see no need for a ditch kit in the BW. I have one pack in my canoe with everything in it. I'm always trying to lighten my pack. My base weight is around 16 lbs. I could get it lighter by eliminating my Heliox Zero chair and some electronics, but i like taking that stuff. Warm weather trips I don't take any wood processing tools. "


Right with you - 16.8 lb base weight, chair zero...


In cold weather I do carry a small 'ditch kit' in my PFD, but it's only a space blanket, hurricane matches and a small bit of homemade firestarter."


I'm certainly leaning in this direction. I travel solo, so my first aid kit is looking quite small. Add those few other small items you would find in others "ditch kits" and it is not adding up to a lot. I can have everything in one place. I've seen a Nalgene work for this. I may look at this as an option...
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1439)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2021 12:46PM  
I love the planning process. I have various checklists depending on whether I am solo or family tripping. I also started using the Lighter Pack website to figure out how much my gear weighs.


I make notes after trips as to what gear was great, what gear was serviceable, and what gear was not worth taking. I have finally gotten my husband to decrease the bulk of what he carries.

This year has been too busy at work for me to have my normal trip planning time and I am missing it...maybe over spring break I can get started.
jillpine
distinguished member(794)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2021 06:41PM  
Nice topic, JW.
I love to pass the time, regardless of season, in my head in the canoe in the woods. I’d rather be hopeful than bored, and planning seems full of hope.
I like your list a lot. I unconsciously started a pattern the past few years that less is definitely better. And I’ve found that less actually takes more effort. Less of me (keep the weight off), less gear, less weight of gear that I do bring, and this year a stronger focus on - ironically- less expectations. Plans to paddle mostly in Canada were waylaid by the pandemic and I found myself disappointed and disgruntled with the heavy use in the BWCA. This year will be the same if not worse. So, in the trajectory of “less”, I’ve lessened my expectations and will work on practicing more grace and patience. I’m not saying it will work (see earlier comment that less is often more work) but that’s what I’m working on in the quiet season.
You mentioned splitting wood. Totally off topic for BWCA is the Kindling Cracker. This has been a real game-changer for the woodstove. Kindling Cracker#
JWilder
distinguished member (392)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/15/2021 07:53AM  
Straighthairedcurly - I hope life affords you the opportunity to take a breath and focus on some planning!

Jillpine - I like where your planning is focused. If I'm reading correctly, you are looking at some personal goals and preparing mentally for what you may encounter on your next trip in the BWCAW. I think that is good for us all to do. I hope you get there!

JW

02/15/2021 09:50AM  
As with others, an overview of my first aid kit and ditch kit are in order for me. I used to travel in a group and so my first aid kit was group oriented and the ditch kit was always an afterthought. However I do have items in my F.A.K. like quick clot, staple kit, Aspirin, Benadryl, Sami Splint that will always remain.

JWilder
distinguished member (392)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/15/2021 08:23PM  
salukiguy: "I feel a little inspired to work on the first aid kit. Can you show us your improved first aid kit when its done?"

I have revived a First Aid Kit thread in the gear forum. My updated first aid kit is ready for feedback...


JW
pswith5
distinguished member(3563)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/16/2021 05:23AM  
Because I am a bit of a smart a** , the first thing that popped in my head after reading the thread title was " oh, lord it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way" ....but, seriously I would like to be a better paddler. I have a fair amount of stamina but my strokes need work.
03/16/2021 10:40AM  
My ditch kit is quite simple. I just put a lighter in my life jacket with a couple other basic items. Knife, permit, and emergency blanket if it's cooler weather. The important factor is that it is attached to you. If your ditch kit isn't on you, it's pretty worthless.

For processing firewood, it really depends on the time of year, how far you are going, and how popular of an area it is. Earlier season in less crowded areas, you can get by easier with just a simple saw. There is likely to be more down branches and trees that you can cut for firewood. Later season or more popular areas, that easy to grab firewood is usually gone. An axe can really help here and allow you to take some of the wood that others might skip on. It just comes down to where you want to put in the effort though. Do you want to carry the extra weight so that you can gather a wider range of firewood and split it so it is easier to cook with, or would you rather save on the weight and put a little more effort into gathering firewood and cooking?

If safety is the big factor, then consider a small hatchet that you only use as a splitting wedge with a handle.
 
Reply    Reply with Quote    Print Top Bottom Previous Next
Trip Planning Sponsor:
Rockwood Outfitters