BWCA Three Season Solo 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
      Three Season Solo     
 Forum Sponsor



senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/30/2021 02:13PM  
Thanks for dropping by - I hope you're having a great day.

This thread is to be a documentation of my trip planning & a collection of useful resources/wisdom uncovered along the way. It is my hope that this thread can help others with similar trip planning by providing a comprehensive plan for a long trip & a subsequent after action review upon my return. I am going to cross-post this into some other areas (e.g. Gear thread) to get advice in these other areas & will try to compile the 'best' information here to make for a one-stop-shop. I'll improve the formatting over time, this is the first draft.

The plan:
I'm planning an extended solo for 2022. In a nutshell, I will enter nature at ice out & leave when my gear can no longer handle the weather or when it would be unwise to stay due to safety.
If I enjoy it, I may try a full year in 2023-2024 with a winter gear change in the fall.

The Details:
A) Any general advice on do's & don'ts from those who have 'been there done that'?
I've completed a ~dozen group trips over the past decades, starting with family trips as a child & I have been 'group planner' for a ~half-dozen 4 person group trips in the last ~15 years. I'm not a novice, per say, though this would be my first solo & 'long duration' trip (prior trips were typical at ~week to ten days).

B) Route/EP - Enter Fall Lake EP last week of April (early May if still iced)

Some of the route will have logistical constraints/considerations around resupply, though breaks in-between should allow for travel to every corner of the park & back. I'd say I have more high-level goals than a specific route in mind.
E.g. I would like to revisit a certain fishing spot from my youth, visit as many 'Easter Eggs' as I can that I come across in my research/preparations, engage in some hiking as opposed to sticking to the shoreline, tackle a challenge or few (I think I saw a portage called the death march, or something eye-catching like that), travel some of the historic trading routes, etc. I'd also like to bake some base-camping time into the trip so that I can tackle some skills based/personal challenges such as becoming a proper outdoor cook worthy of a wagon train, improving foraging & fishing skills, relearn flyfishing & apply it for the first time in BWCA, catch a trout, smoke some fish, etc. Basically, weave all of the things together that I always would have wanted to do if the trip was 'just a little bit longer'.

C) Canoe/paddles - Purchased a Wenonah Encounter. Need to review paddles, any recommendations?

D) Food - I am sure I'll need to coordinate with an outfitter/local to resupply periodically. Does anyone have experience they could share regarding long-term sustenance in BWCA? I imagine 'variety fatigue' would set in with too much repetition - should I basically plan to bring a 'pantry' up with me & be prepared to add variety or can one eat rice + beans for 5 months? (kidding on that last part, this is a concern)

E) Shelter - CCS Lean+/CCS 8x10 & 10x14 Tundra Tarp/Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20* 'Quilt'/Thermarest Z-light Pad/Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Mat

F) Electronics - Zoleo/Cell Phone/Garmin 32x/Ipad Mini 6 gen/2xGoPro Hero 8/FujiFilm X-T4 & mics/Rockpals 60W Solar Panel with Bracket/Beaudens Portable Power Station 166W/2xHeadlamp & Lantern (18650 platform)/Sony Walkman/Apple Tags (bluetooth track bags/gear)

G) Fishing - 8wt travel fly rod & reel/travel spinning rod & reel/Fly box/Spinning tackle box/Jaw spreader/Lippa tool/Landing net/Forceps

H) Other Gear -

I) Other Considerations - Is there anything big that I am missing? Any key differences in solo vs group travel? Differences between short & extended trips? Legal requirements? Vehicle storage?

J) Knowledge - Any knowledge tid-bits.

Welp, that's it for now.
Thanks for reading & I look forward to engaging with you lads & ladies on this topic over the next ~7 months.

New account, long time member (mostly lurker) - I was not a fan of the PII which I included in the username I chose in my youth & decided to update my ID.
Reply    Reply with Quote    Print Top Bottom Previous Next
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/30/2021 03:38PM  
I) General Plan/Trip/Route Details
Trip Constraints/Backward Planning:
Trip cannot start before southern region ice-out has begun; Trip must end by time of conditions being unsafe or lack of gear suitability for temperature. Rough estimate of 15-May to 15-Oct (154 days inclusive of start & end)

Consumable Supplies/Weight
* Reports of weight loss following trips may be indicative of a slow nutrition fade at 1.5-2lb rations (or no soda & beer is the culprit!). To ensure this is avoided, the plan is tentatively to have rations of 2+lb/day. Adjustments may be possible during resupplies if two pounds is excessive.
* I checked out Food Storage Calculator & these numbers appear to be in general agreement. My calculations worked back to 1,150 oz/mo or ~2.4lb/day average over the year, after converting everything possible except the vinegar into dehydrated form (idk & doubt that is possible, though I'm sure it has been asked & answered on the forum!). As this is the annual average, & I've seen resource burn is expected to be higher in winter, 2lb for the summer months may be reasonable & would result in ~2.7lb/mo during the other 215 days of the year. This math works back to ~36.5 days per 71.9lb bulk food during 'summer' caloric burn. At 2.7lb/mo, the equivalent food weight would last ~ten days less.
*150 day trip estimate for ease of calculations
* Food requirements are ~2lbs/day
* Target starting food pack weight is ~70lbs, 75 including pack/bear hang kit/misc.
* This estimation does not account for required fuel or other consumables (e.g. TP, tackle, bug dope, batteries, reading material, etc).
* One food pack should last 35-45 days or longer if fishing & foraging are productive.
* If the trip baseline is 150 days, 300lb of rations would be required, not including fuel.
* Four 70lb food packs would cover all except about twenty pounds.

* Food packs should be collapsible + packable to consolidate bag count over time to facilitate single portage opportunities prior to resupply.
* Forecasting trip resource consumption indicates that if two food packs are taken on Day 1 (in addition to the kitchen), one of these is not used again for the remainder of the trip following ~Day 40/45 (assuming additional food stuffed in other packs at outset provided a 5-10 days extra rations, ~10-20lb).
* Start of trip should include fewer portages & longer basecamps with exploratory day trips if two food bags are brought at start.
* If two food bags are brought at start, one resupply may be avoided. However, one food bag being brought at start & two planned resupplies would result in a more uniform trip profile as well as a second 'hot & a cot' at an outfitter.

Portage Expectations:
Over the course of the trip, gear weight & bag count will fluctuate, with one food bag being closed every 1-1.5 months followed by a period of single portage opportunity until the kitchen pantry is empty & resupply is required. The size of the panty will depend in part on the size of the kitchen - an update will be provided here when the pantry ration capacity is more well understood.
* Day 1 - 45, it is anticipated that double-portaging will be required (if taking two food packs + kitchen at launch, triple portaging may be necessary).
* ~Day 45, it is anticipated that single-portaging should be possible with a one food pack start or reduced difficulty double-portaging with a two food pack start.
# Here, the trip would 'diverge' depending on if one or two food packs is taken at start.
If one, the next leg of the trip is ~32 days of rapid-pace movement ending at a resupply point. After resupply on ~Day 77, it would then be a period of ~35-45 days of double-portaging for Day 78 - 123. Roughly Day 124 when the food pack is collapsed, the last leg of the trip would be ~32 days until the pantry runs out to end the trip.
If two food packs are taken at start, ~Day 45 - 80 is seeing a decrease in portage difficulty as the second food pack is eaten. ~Day 81 would start the next leg of ~32 days of single portaging to cover Day 81 - 113 leading up to resupply on Day 114. For this resupply, 40 days of rations may be 'squeezed' into a single portage for the close of the trip.

After compiling that, I think that the better option would be to bring one pack in to start. However, this was with an assumption that post-food pack closure would last ~32 days. At two pounds per day, this may be overly optimistic/one heavy pack... It may be possible to bring a second, smaller food bag in on Day 1 to supplement & fill this gap. I'll rebuild my workbook that crashed & provide an update.

One Food Pack Approach Double-Portage
* Portage trip 1 - One gear pack (front-loaded) & one food pack (back-loaded) + any other item(s)
* Portage trip 2 - One kitchen pack (backloaded) & canoe

Two Food Pack Approach Double-Portage (may require triple portage ~Day 1 - 45)
* Portage trip 1 - One kitchen pack (front-loaded) & one food pack (back-loaded) + any other item(s)
* Portage trip 2 - One gear pack (front-loaded) & second food pack (backloaded) + canoe
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/30/2021 04:05PM  
II) Gear - Lighter Pack
1) Communications:
a) Zoleo
i) Current plans range from $20 to $50 per month with $50 including unlimited SMS messaging. Zoleo Plans
ii) Base device at Cabelas $200
iii) Informative Video
iv) Great thread on the device

b) Garmin InReach
i) Subscription
ii) Noteworthy thread on the device

2) Canoe
a) Nova Craft Prospector 16
i) Impressive hull strength test
ii) The only way the above test could be more impressive is if he used the claw of the hammer. Still, very impressive.
iii) Canoe with TuffStuff Expedition comes in at 62lbs - is this too heavy to consider reasonable? I mean, I guess I have tripped in an Alumnicraft Quetico more than anything else & that comes in at 71lbs.
iv) The 'Blue Steel' option of this canoe weighs 48lbs & should have a good amount of strength/durability as well: Comparison Page
v) Canoe also has accessories tailored towards solo travel & be able to 'tune it in' as a dedicated solo better than other manufacturers' tandem canoes.
b) Wenona Encounter
i) Wenonah's highest weight rating solo canoe.
ii) Piragis Product Page makes this canoe sound like it may be the winner.
c) Wenonah Voyager
i) Alternate high weight capacity rated solo canoe from Wenonah which may offer better performance.
d) Northwind Solo
i) Max optimal load = 340lb (I think this is Northwind's highest weight rated solo canoe)
e) Swift Cruiser 16.8
i) Max of optimal range is 320lb
ii) Trades capacity for speed
f) Savage River Deep Creek Solo
i) Savage River's highest weight rated solo canoe.
ii) This is a tandem canoe adapted to be a solo class canoe & may have higher load rating?
g) Swift Prospector 14
i) Great looking pack boat built for the amount of weight capacity this trip requires. [3x 75lb packs + 175lb passenger = 400lb, the max of the optimal range]
ii) Swift Prospector 14 Portage Review video
iii) Swift Prospector 14 Portage Review video 2
iv) Swift Prospector 14 Portage Set-up video
v) Adirondack 13.6 Review Video
vi) More research required to confirm if this craft is suitable for the BWCA or if there are solo canoe options with high load capacities which are preferable.

3) Charts:
McKenzie Maps 25 Map set; Overview of McKenzie maps shows a significant amount of overlap.
Voyageur Maps are probably the way to go with 10 maps covering the entire region.
Fisher Maps have always been my go-to. I've poured over these maps more than any others, though the set seems to be just about double the number of McKenzie maps.
Mark Lawyer: "A NOTE ON MY EXPERIENCES WITH FISHER AND McKENZIE MAPS: I've been tripping since '91, and I get new maps each time. I've used both Fisher and McKenzie (frequently both on the same trip) and here's what I've found: They both have the same topo data, but the McKenzie maps, being a larger scale (fewer feet to the inch), are easier to navigate with, EXCEPT: I'm proficient with map and compass (Scout Leader stuff) and I use a GPS, which I use with National Geographic's TOPO program to make my own maps. The Fisher maps seem to have more accurate placement of the red dots that represent campsites. I can sit in camp with a Fisher map and my compass, orient the map and see other campsites in my binoculars right where the map says they should be. I can't always do that with the McKenzie maps. Fisher's red dots also compare more favorably with my own GPS readings when I get home and plot them in TOPO on my PC.
That's a deal-breaker for me, campsite placement accuracy is important - Fisher it is.

4) GPS
In the past, I've always traveled with map + compass & prefer that natural feel, though a GPS will be going on this trip in case I get turned around & to mark waypoints/data/backup/etc. The Garmin eTrex 32x is what is on my shortlist - the battery life is fantastic & I think it has all of the bells + whistles. The Garmin GPS 62/64 was also considered, though it doesn't seem to be worth the cost in weight, funds, or battery life.

Unorganized gear links:
High-quality USA made canoe packs.
Front-load comfort?


Ridgeline - 3/16 to 1/4;
Tie-outs -
Misc Hardware -

Interesting fry pan

TarpTent -
CCS Tarp -
Rab Tarp -
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/30/2021 05:59PM  
Route Details:
A) Expedition Goals
1) Thrive
I) Become more in tune with nature & the ways of a 'wilderness man'

2) Do something challenging
I) Reach State Lake
a) Best time of year to attempt (besides winter)? Either early in season to take advantage of nearby rivers being swollen & possibly be more navigable or at peak of summer when marshlands will be at their driest.
b) Leaning towards scheduling this goal in the mid-summer phase (Phase 2) of the trip immediately after first resupply in early/mid-July.

2) Do something incredible
I) Catch a State Lake lake trout

3) Do something unthinkable
I) Eat it

4) Do something historic
I) Save some DNA for the DNR

5) Do something forward thinking
I) Request a lifetime BWCAW permit in exchange for the trout guts

6) Practice the art of fly-fishing
I) With a fly-rod, catch: Brook trout, lake trout, largemouth, walleye, sizable pike & smallmouth

7) Practice the skill of foraging in BWCAW
I) e.g. berries/mushrooms/roots/tubers/wild rice/etc.

8) Paddle the US-CA border
I) Maybe the entire park border
a) Thinking this should be at the start of the trip to take advantage of the Lake Trout while the water is cold. Phase 1 goal (15 May - July resupply)

9) Camp the 'day bays' on the proper days
I) e.g. Monday/Tuesday/etc
a) Include in (8)

10) Visit the 'sights'
I) e.g. pictographs/highest point/best waterfall(s)/best vantage point(s)/Magnet Rock/most epic campsite(s)/etc (Good collection of Sights )
a) Include 'Northern sights' in Phase 1; South/East in Phase 2; South/West in Phase 3.

11) Visit remote locations

12) Visit challenging locations

13) Visit noteworthy waterways

14) Help the community
I) Are there any locations or feats that the board would like added to the expedition, for science?
II) Any 'recon' that I can assist with by sending an update from the field?

B) Expedition Constraints
1) Two-three resupplies will be required on specific date at specific location.
2) Potential 'woodland visitors', i.e. familiy/friends, which would have overlapping trips
3) Weather may impede travel on certain days & impact detailed schedule – route should have ample allowances prior to resupplies/other obligations
4) Food pack weight will vary over course of trip & impact travel. Fewer/less rigorous portages preferred following resupply points
5) Wildfires may occur & impact availability of certain areas for travel/camping
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/30/2021 06:14PM  
IV) Other
1) Knowledge
a) Knots & Tarp/Tent Stuff:
i) Siberian Hitch (
ii) Trucker's Hitch (
iii) Bowline (
iv) Tarp Knot Sheet (
v) Ridgeline Stuff Sack (
vi) CCS Lean+ Setup Instructions

b) Extended solo/resupply threads/trip reports
ii) Alan's food thread:

#) Other Stuff
a) Trail Sprouting (
distinguished member(2366)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/30/2021 06:23PM  
Dude, you are 121 years old. Don’t do it.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/30/2021 06:25PM  
It will be my 122nd birthday present to myself haha
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/30/2021 06:28PM  
(is there a delete?)
member (13)member
10/31/2021 09:57AM  
I'd love to watch the documentary
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/31/2021 12:13PM  
CatchMe: "I'd love to watch the documentary "

Hello CatchMe!
Thank you for your advice & for sharing Justin Barbour's channel.
I think it was reading 'Into the Wild' in my youth that corrupted me - my original post-college plan was to become a vagabond, though I (mistakenly?) decided to be responsible & got a career haha.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), circumstances are such that it 'has to be' next season. I'll soon find myself between careers with plenty of time to plan, so I'm turning lemons into lemonade & attacking the challenge while I have the opportunity.

To your point/advice re taking a 7-day solo before the big plunge - great advice, thank you.
I will plan on taking a 'gear check' trip early '22 (it won't be canoe or BWCA, though it should still provide valuable data). If needed, I should have time for a second 'gear check' trip in the spring. As a result, I'll need to plan on having all gear 'pinned down & in hand' by start of '22.

I'm a decent sleuth & with the knowledge found with you all here, I'm optimistic that this mission will be a success.
I've already uncovered a lot of information on solo|extended trips/gaps in my knowledge & have identified there are some users that have completed extended solos (Alan's epic adventure comes to mind).
As an aside, past trips I've taken as an adult have always been with 'complete novices', so I've been responsible for all of the planning/prep/etc - besides sharing some camp work & lack of company at times, I'm looking forward to true solitude vs being a 'troop leader'. I'm sure this is a common theme for those of us here haha.

Anyways, thank you for your input, CatchMe, & I hope you have a great rest of your weekend!

Edit: Looks like your reply was updated before I fired mine off. I'll be sure to provide video reports - I figure I'll complete editing work Fall '22 & have content up by '23. I've never done YouTube, limited video experience, so it may be 'crude' haha.
distinguished member(1363)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/31/2021 02:40PM  
This sounds like quite the lifetime adventure and will require a lot of detailed planning, especially in the food department. When Amy and Dave Freeman spent a year in the BWCA, they planned for a resupply every 2 weeks. A Year in the Wilderness

If you are going to be posting links, please use the "Add a link to this message" tool found at the bottom of each message box when you are typing. It is the considerate thing to do on this forum.

Your idea of buying high quality gear is smart given how many days in a row you plan to be out. Gear can take a beating when out in the elements for long periods of time. You will want to make sure you have back up basics that can be delivered during a resupply if something breaks and is not field reparable.

It could get quite expensive to use outfitters for each resupply. Consider connecting with any friends who have a love for this kind of travel and enlist them to help with at least some of the resupplies. They could also spend a few days with you as well, because this solo will be a LOT of alone time.

I recommend not buying a 1P tent. While I prefer a 1P for my shorter solos, it would start to get pretty constricting if you are out for months. I like my Tarptent for its ease of setup even in the rain. However, if you get day after day of downpours or high winds, it will be best if you pitch a big tarp over the tent for added protection. CCS tarp is definitely the way to go. Plan to seam seal it before you go if you are buying it new.

Food variety:
Are you planning to prepare your own dehydrated meals or purchase them?
If making your own, you can get good recipes in the Food and Recipe forum.

I like variety, so I would create a 2 week menu. Then repeat it for each of your resupplies. Nutrition is going to be important so make sure you plan plenty of fruits and vegetables in your meals.

I make my own oatmeal packets using the base recipe and flavor ideas from The Yummy Life I like these because they are high fiber and have everything already in the packet: milk, sweetener, oats, fruits, nuts, etc.

Breakfast rotation (2 weeks): homemade granola (2 varieties), oatmeal packets (4 varieties), homemade smoothie mixes (2...good on the go meal) , eggs and hashbrowns (3), biscuits and gravy (2), pancakes (2)

Lunch rotation: pack a variety of your favorites to eat with tortillas (salami, tuna, foil pack chicken, cheese, PB & J), also pack a variety of dried fruits (Trader Joes has incredible dried oranges, mango, etc.) and nuts

Dinner: You should decide if you want to just carry bags of basic ingredients (like butthead does) or if you want to pack ready to go meals. This is highly personal and so many options out there. If buying commercial, which I rarely do, my favorite has been meals from Camp Chow (based at Trail Center on the Gunflint Trail). Camp Chow I also make my own using The Yummy Life blog recipes (see link above) as she developed a series of lightweight dinners and soups also. One tip if you use those, most people find the salt quantity a bit low.

Any idea of how many days a week you will pack up camp and travel vs. base camping? That will make a big difference in your planning. You mentioned single portaging. I use Lighter Pack as a way to make sure my total gear load will be light enough to single portage.
10/31/2021 02:57PM  
Are you aware of the Food Storage Order issued this year. There was also a fire ban, which precludes the use of twig stoves, alcohol stoves, esbit stoves, charcoal, etc. It required the use of a gas stove with a shut-off valve. Do you have a plan to deal with one if it should arise during your stay?
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/31/2021 03:49PM  
boonie: "Are you aware of the Food Storage Order issued this year. There was also a fire ban, which precludes the use of twig stoves, alcohol stoves, esbit stoves, charcoal, etc. It required the use of a gas stove with a shut-off valve. Do you have a plan to deal with one if it should arise during your stay?"

Hello boonie!
Thank you for bringing up these considerations.
Regarding the Food Storage Order issued last year, I had seen postings regarding this though I have not researched it in detail. From what I gathered, bureaucrats made a regulatory body to control the market for bear barrels & those meeting specifications are expensive. I have never used bear barrels, I have always hung my food packs. I understand that this could be a concern, having to hang several packs or being faced with tree-less campsites.

Regarding fire bans, I was planning on bringing up an MSR Dragonfly to use during inclement weather or fire bans. Was there a fire ban for the full season last year? I saw one video where it was said this was the case because of not wanting fire crews to.. go outside (unsure if they were referring to BWCA). If there was a fire ban for the full season & the same measures are put in place next year, that would complicate fuel concerns.

Any advice you have on these or other topics is greatly appreciated!
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/31/2021 04:25PM  
straighthairedcurly: "[Incredibly helpful information]"
Hello straighthairedcurly!

Thank you for this wealth of information!
There is so much in what you wrote, my day is probably now set haha.

A couple of things in reply for now:
* I saw their 'year in the bwca' & read a bit on their account... I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous when I read about it haha. Good to know they did two-week resupplies, as you said that could get expensive. In a pipe-dream, I would solve the logistical challenge & be able to complete this without a resupply, though it is more sensible to bake into the plan one or more resupplies for this reason (it may also be a nice break from solo-tude). Based on what I've seen around & Alan's food thread/account, one full food bag may last ~1.5 months - this may drive the resupply cadence, either every 1.5 or three months (1-2 resupplies).

* I knew this was a life-long passion for me, so I used some gift cards to buy this monster a few years ago:
My high-level timeline is Nov-Dec learning/planning/gear selection/etc, Jan-May food prep/gear test trip(s)/resupply logistics/'real-life considerations prep'/etc. I'll be using Jan-May to hone in on the menu & will be eating this food at home to confirm requirements/palatability/etc.

* Having a gear redundancy/replacement plan is a good consideration. I had planned on using the Zoleo to communicate with the outside world via SMS. So long as the device-chain needed for this communication to occur does not break down, I should be able to request replacement gear to be shipped to an outfitter/other to be included in a resupply. If I had a critical failure & the Zoleo comms failed as well, I would need to 'end the trip' or exit to obtain required gear & get a permit for re-entry.

* For the tent, 2-person was the thought. I've heard good things about the Hubba Hubba as well, though it is 20oz heavier than the Double Rainbow & over two pounds heavier than the Double Rainbow Li. I think I just convinced myself to get the Tarp Tent haha.

* Thank you for letting me know about the link button, I had not seen it. I'll be overhauling this post & plan to make this a clean/organized thread ASAP. Unfortunately, it appears I am too 'new' to be posting links :( I'll keep an eye on this & will update links once I am able.

Have a great Sunday!
10/31/2021 05:36PM  
What a fantastic goal you've set for yourself, John! I must admit, I'm more than a bit jealous. I can't imagine doing this without multiple food resupplies, and if fire danger ratings dictate the use of a stove, then fuel would also be a resupply item. For our planned 2021 Quetico trip we chose an entry point whose parking lot would allow us to configure a "bow tie" route with a day five (of ten) resupply. When fire closed Quetico in August, we moved the trip to Algonquin, but kept the bow tie route and resupply idea, which worked great.

I'm also envious of that food dryer--we've dried our own food for many years, and there are many "dry your own" sites out there. If you don't already have one, construct a cozy for your cooking pot. Whether simply pouring hot water over a dried meal, or cooking a meal to eat from the pot, the cozy keeps your dinner hot much longer than an uninsulated pot. We also start rehydrating meat for a meal a few hours before needed. And grinding or shredding many meats improves both their drying and their rehydration.

distinguished member (198)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/31/2021 06:24PM  
Why would you make your very first solo trip a 3-season trip instead of, let's say, a 3-day trip? Just wondering. It doesn't look like you cant allocate three days for a trial run.
10/31/2021 06:28PM  
I'm not sure of the exact length of time the fire ban was in effect, but seems it was a long time. There was extreme drought, very combustible fuels, and various fires. Various parts of the BW were closed and at one point the entire BW was closed.

I haven't done any trips nearly that long, but many solos up to a little over 2 weeks. Food weight adds up quickly. For longer trips I have used a KISS plan to reduce food weight and fuel usage. Cold cereal and coffee for breakfast, nuts and bars for lunch and snacks, and a dehydrated meal rehydrated in the bag in a cozy and eaten for dinner. Try to take food that is calorie-dense. I use a canister stove. It's quick, simple, efficient, and carrying another burner (redundancy) would add only a couple of ounces. I test all canisters I'm taking before I leave along with the stove(s). You can also minimize the packaging the food is in and create very little garbage to pack out (carry around). I have finally figured out the amount of food I need to take and rarely carry much extra out. Reports are that on longer trips you will begin to crave more calories at some point - beyond what I've done. You'll probably want to have more variety than I do for my 2 weeks, but depending on how far you take that, it could overly complicate menu planning. Besides, melas aren't social events when you're solo.

As far as solo goes, you carry everything and do all chores. Gravity water filtration saves time and effort. I rarely build a fire when I'm solo and don't take an ax - there's too much accident possibility. Even small cuts can be awkward first aid solo if much of it is one-handed. Often take a saw either. No chair. Not taking things is a quick way to drop some weight if you need to.

senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/31/2021 06:30PM  
TrailZen: "[Useful information!]"

Hello TrailZen!
Thank you for your encouragement & pro-tips.

You're definitely on-point with resupplies being a necessity. I like your 'bowtie' idea - I could at least use this for the first resupply or a tertiary resupply (I'd hesitate to keep anything odorous or heat perishable in case the car gets hot or bears poke around). I took a look & saw that you wrote up a trip report - I look forward to reading it!

Regarding the cozy, do you have any 'pro-tips'?
Once cookware is finalized, the cozy will be in the pack :)

Thank you so much for the tip on grinding/shredding dehydrating meat!
I was pondering last night if 'dehydrated pulverized' or 'jerky' would would keep better. One thing I saw to improve shelf life was the pouring of boiling water over the cooked deconstructed meat to remove any remaining fats before dehydrating. I was concerned this may remove nutrients besides the target fats.
Are you aware there a 'pro method' for prepping beef that trounces others? (e.g. boil the meat & strain off the fats, or something old-timey lost to time)

Have a great evening!

senior member (85)senior membersenior member
10/31/2021 06:46PM  
EddyTurn: "Why would you make your very first solo trip a 3-season trip instead of, let's say, a 3-day trip? Just wondering. It doesn't look like you cant allocate three days for a trial run."

Hey EddyTurn!

Thanks for dropping by & providing constructive criticism - always welcome & greatly appreciated :)

Due to an alignment of circumstances in life, I have kind of a 'blank canvas' coming up. This trip is kind of a trial run for being a vagabond & may be closer to the start than the end of my grand adventure.
This is not to say I am a bum looking to 'hobo around', it is more of an Alexander Supertramp 'the less you have the more space you need' sentiment with a splash of John Galt. Eventually, I anticipate I'll settle some raw land once I find what I'm looking for. Nearer-term, once I leave BWCA fall '22, I'm thinking I'll spend a week or few to catch up with family up north & then hit the road on my steel horse to chase warmer weather + explore bikepacking/'boondocking'.

One or two ~7 day solo trips next Jan-Apr for 'gear check' is added to my list of 'to-do's'. Due to weather, I'll be camping someplace warmer & likely won't canoe (maybe one trip to Georgia & another to Tennessee, recommendations welcome!).

Any other tips or criticism are appreciated - thanks, Eddy!
11/01/2021 08:28AM  
JohnGalt: "Hello TrailZen!
Thank you for your encouragement & pro-tips.

You're definitely on-point with resupplies being a necessity. I like your 'bowtie' idea - I could at least use this for the first resupply or a tertiary resupply (I'd hesitate to keep anything odorous or heat perishable in case the car gets hot or bears poke around). I took a look & saw that you wrote up a trip report - I look forward to reading it!

Regarding the cozy, do you have any 'pro-tips'?
Once cookware is finalized, the cozy will be in the pack :)

Thank you so much for the tip on grinding/shredding dehydrating meat!
I was pondering last night if 'dehydrated pulverized' or 'jerky' would would keep better. One thing I saw to improve shelf life was the pouring of boiling water over the cooked deconstructed meat to remove any remaining fats before dehydrating. I was concerned this may remove nutrients besides the target fats.
Are you aware there a 'pro method' for prepping beef that trounces others? (e.g. boil the meat & strain off the fats, or something old-timey lost to time)

Have a great evening!


Here's a simple cozy fabrication technique. I only insulated the pot, not the lid, and I made a cook kit storage bag that holds the cozy around the big pot, which is usually our shared dinner 'plate'. You'll see it (lime green) in several of my trip reports. Some people also make a sleeve cozy for freeze dried meal packets; we don't use those much.

Our early efforts at drying meat (40+ years ago) involved drying thin-sliced deli meats cut into narrow strips, then dehydrated. The technique resulted in narrow strips of poorly rehydrated leather in many meals. We now, after trimming fat, run cooked ham and beef through a meat grinder (course setting) before drying. For chicken meals we use canned chicken, cut it into ~3/4" strips across the fiber, then finely shred before drying. We've dried shrimp for special meals; grill the shrimp (minimizes oil content), slice into 1/4" thick coins, then dry. And we now start ALL meat rehydration well before cooking; at lunch put the dinner's meat into the rehydration container. No more shoe leather for meals.

We also dry hummus--great treat for lunches or as a dinner side. We use peanut butter powder, but understand that it has far fewer calories than regular peanut butter.

We keep our dehydrated meal items in the fridge or freezer; your concern about critters or heat threatening your food in a parked vehicle is quite valid. On our Algonquin trip, the parking lot was so busy that critters were not an issue, and we stashed the food in a big cooler at a time of year that heat wasn't an issue.

11/01/2021 01:14PM  
I think you may be overlooking the mental aspects of a trip of this nature. You can do things to prepare yourself physically for a long arduous trip but how do you prepare yourself mentally?
If you have never soled how can you be sure days or weeks alone are in your make-up? The mental picture we have of ourselves can be very different than the reality.
What I would do--- plan your "big trip" but plan a small trip also. Small trip, a 10 day solo in the bwca starting May 15 ( a good way to shake down gear also) It has to be the BWCA or Q, I don't know where else you can duplicate the solitude and physical conditions needed to make an informed assessment. If you still decide to make the big trip plan to start a week or so later (gear for either trip is essentially the same only the food is different) giving yourself time to make the final preparations.

One other suggestion is to do a duel solo, another solo tripper on the same or similar route you can meet up with from time to time.

Good luck, Merlyn
distinguished member(2366)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/01/2021 02:52PM  
It's usually the mental degradation of people that gets them out of extended trips, not the end of the trip itself.
member (13)member
11/01/2021 06:52PM  
First of all, I have never gone on a truly long trip. So, what do I know. But people tend to quit when things get tough. A question that comes up in your head when suffering will be "why am I doing this?" One way to get through that is to have a more solid goal than just wandering around going "off the grid with a GPS to get you home." Problem is, if you don't have a goal that makes sense as a project, when the going gets tough, you might just go home. I think people who begin a project like paddle the entire Mississippi, or border of somewhere to border of somewhere else, have a more concrete mission. If you have a solid required path, you can't take shortcuts. Like people who hike the entire Appalachian Trail, or bike from California to New York, etc.
I climbed a popular series of mountains in Colorado, and when I failed to summit Capitol Peak, I had to try again, because, "I couldn't say I climbed them all, if I didn't climb them all."
But, perhaps a goal of being out there, no matter what, until the leaves fall off the trees is just the kind of motivation you need. I don't know, I've never been out longer than 8 days. I admire your ambition. I wouldn't mind volunteering to complete one of your resupplies if you make it to mid September.
member (11)member
11/01/2021 07:25PM  
Ambitious plan ! A couple of thoughts which piggyback onto ideas provided so far..

Whenever I get involved with a project or goal I always try to make sure to do “my due diligence” and be properly prepared and trained for the endeavor I want to take on. With that in mind, my idea of due diligence for your plan would be having at least one solo canoe trip of 10 to 14 days under your belt.

IMHO there is no substitute for using the gear and routines of actual travel in this environment to truly understand how well everything works. Gear shakeout is relatively easy but as others have mentioned the mental aspect is a bigger unknown. Especially without any solo canoe experience.

(NOT suggesting the following applies to you..). I have seen people get very consumed by planning a particular endeavor and fall into the trap of it becoming “the holy grail” One unfortunate aspect of that is that no matter how good the endeavor turns out it can’t live up to all the planning and dreaming and leaves the person disillusioned and let down. Our experience simply can’t live up to the preconceived romantic vision we have created. This is one reason a 10 -14 day solo would be useful. Again, not suggesting this applies to you. Just a cautionary tale and the challenge of big endeavors. How to plan and prepare without getting sucked into that problem.

I think you mentioned single portaging. With a trip this length and the food required I say don’t even think about single but double portage everything. You have time and can easily cover all you want in your timeframe if talking BWCA.

Good luck. Looking forward to your trip report.

distinguished member(2366)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/02/2021 07:02AM  
Why do I keep thinking of Christopher McCandles? I can’t escape it. Trying.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 08:04AM  
TrailZen: "Great Information!"
Thank you, TZ, for these tips & for the cozy tutorial link!

A cozy was always a 'to-do' of mine, I guess this is the trip it a 'to-done' haha
From my recollection, these used to be primarily 'crocheted' & made of yarn - using foil is a great idea!
Regarding the freeze-dried meal packets, I too am not a big fan & one goal for this trip is to become a better camp cook.
A piece of advice I stumbled across is to pack ~1/3 cold|instant meals, ~1/3 requiring some prep though simple/straightforward, & ~1/3 more elaborate meals. While I may not wind up at 1/3's, I do think I will be incorporating this general approach.

It sounds like you have your dehydration method pinned down.
Shrimp in the bush - now that is some pro camping!
Dehydrated hummus is a great idea & will be on the rations list. I'll need to figure a way to make a pita chip to get the full experience :) - I'm guessing this can be done with a reflector oven (& probably has been by one of the forum chefs).

Keeping certain resupply rations refrigerated would be useful, as would having some fresh goods added on top by whomever is helping to facilitate the resupply (e.g. some fresh meat, eggs, cheese, fruit, veggies, potatoes, etc.).
I'm anticipating at least the first resupply will be completed at an outfitter, just in case I require additional gear/expertise & a 'hot + cot' might be nice too :).
I'm thinking it is reasonable to expect that an outfitter providing a resupply would be kind enough to procure these goods for addition to my resupply if organized in advance.
If I do stash a bag in my vehicle, so long as I keep it to 'heat resistant' dry goods I'm not too concerned. My plan is to pack all 'stored rations' in vacuum sealed packaging & I will be taking scent control measures (wiping packaging with alcohol), just in case I am not able to hang a bag & need to stash it in the woods.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 08:42AM  
merlyn: "Relevant observation regarding effects on mental health during isolation."

Hello merlyn!
Thank you for your reply :)

You bring up a great point - the mental effects of prolonged 'social isolation' is an important consideration for a trip such as this.

'How can you be sure it is in your makeup'
While I can't say I'm sure of much, I'm fairly confident that I will be able to proactively manage this concern.
Why? I've not been too negatively impacted during prior 'isolation events' which, while not complete isolation, were still personally isolating - e.g. basic training, deployment, living in a solo apt for a few years, taking solo vacations, work travel, etc.
I think my personality type is conducive to withstanding isolation. While I enjoy the company of others, it has never been something that I've felt a need for or sought out as I find myself more contended with a good documentary, book, or forum post than I am going to a social event.
Additionally, so long as I do not have a gear malfunction, I should be able to engage in two-way text/email based communications with outside contacts via Zoleo. Text is my primary means of communication now, so this should be a good 'lifeline to society' if I find myself wanting for social feedback.

Regarding your point for a 'trial run' & the impossibility of matching the social isolation of BWCAW, I agree that the BWCAW is very unique though Hernán Cortés comes to mind: "Burn the ships".
If I 'hit a wall' part-way through the trip, I can always end the trip early, though I feel I need to prepare as if it will be for the entire duration, in large part to allow time for pre-production of rations, & also to provide a 'conquer or die' mentality. I don't want to bake a tap-out point into the plan, though I will be prepared to if required & at the end of the day, I'd just find myself with a lot of pre-purchased groceries haha.

Thank you for the advice re. 'dual solo'. I will make a point to try & coordinate some 'meet-ups' with any interested parties. I'm also going to see if any friends/family would like to take a trip next summer & rendezvous in the woods.

Have a great day, merlyn!
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 09:30AM  
tumblehome: "It's usually the mental degradation of people that gets them out of extended trips, not the end of the trip itself."

Hello tumblehome, thank you for sharing your wisdom!

This is understandable, as it is not really something that can be overcome with extensive planning, preparation, or another piece of gear.
The required 'gear' for this part of the challenge is inherent within the individual, whether or not they have the will to see it through & the fortitude to maintain mental acuity.

Kind of related though off-topic: I'm reminded of the Japanese soldiers from WW2 that periodically turn up out of the mountains in Asia. Some of these individuals were in isolation for decades & thought they were behind enemy lines the entire time - I cannot even imagine that fate.

Back to the point, are there any 'tips & tricks' for stymieing or reversing the expected mental degradation?
I'm planning on bringing some dense reading material to occupy my mind (Bible, Army Survival FM, some classical work(s), etc) & I anticipate this should help to keep me somewhat mentally grounded.
I'm also going to bring my walkman so that I can 'drift away' if I find myself wanting for a taste of normal & will seek to ensure that I have ample activities to occupy my time & thereby my mind.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 09:57AM  
boonie: "[A wealth of useful information]"

Hello boonie, thank you for this follow-up information.
It seems like last year even the wilderness was having an 'off' year, haha.

A point that arose while I was pondering your reply - how are fire bans communicated if the ban goes into effect after one has already entered the wild?
I'm guessing this information is available over weather band radio & I'm not sure how else this information could be conveyed to a camper in the bush nor how they could be held accountable for a fire ban put into effect after their entry date without the camper first receiving a warning from a park ranger.

That said, I will be including contingencies to mitigate the trip risk posed by fire bans. I'll plan to have alternative cold-prep meals/recipes for during the hot/dry months, I am also exploring how I might repurpose the reflector oven to be a solar cooker, I will be front/back loading more elaborate meals, & I'll plan for higher fuel consumption from expected increased stove usage around the mid-point of the trip.
If a certain region of the BWCA is closed, I can avoid this section while the ban is in effect - I will need to ensure that resupply point(s) are in 'safe-zones' to mitigate risk of not being able to travel to the rendezvous point. I should also prioritize visiting regions more likely to experience a ban during the start/end of the trip & plan to avoid these regions during the climax of summer.
If a complete park closure goes into effect, my tentative plan would be to have a 'backup canoe wilderness' lined up to continue my excursion at an alternate park. Fall-back plan to this will be to return to my home state, pick up my Harley out of storage & go bike-packing across the US for the remainder of the summer (this is my tentative plan for the winter following this trip anyways, so it should be a smooth-ish transition if required).

Thank you for sharing the wisdom you've amassed from your solos - two weeks is a long trip!

As you aptly noted, food weight is a concern. I estimate I'll need a minimum of 300 lbs of food & that is way too much to reasonably carry in at the start, so I am at the moment envisioning two resupplies over the course of the trip.
I think that my approach to food will be more in-line with butthead's 'raw ingredients' to enable more dietary flexibility, though I am planning to have easy prep/cold/raw options available as well because the last thing anyone wants to do at dusk after a long day of paddling & portaging is to make a four-course meal.
My tentative plan for food storage is to have in the 'kitchen + pantry' food pack, which will be used for daily cooking needs, contain food stowed in separate reusable/refillable containers by type. All secondary/tertiary food packs/resupplies will contain cleanly vacuum packed food in 'refill quantities' used to restore the stock in the main pack. I think this approach will result in less 'digging through bags' to find food items, hoisting several food bags up & down from trees every day, & spoilage + odor of reserve rations.
The overall trip is going to have periods of 'tortoise pace' with more nights per campsite while the food bag is full, followed by a period of 'hare pace' when the food bag is light prior to resupply. The former should be a good opportunity to prepare higher quality meals that require more prep time/effort, while the latter should be 'lean & mean'.
I plan on creating a recipe book to bring with & will be preparing camp meals at home to become accustomed to my menu + ensure that it will be palatable over several months. I'll keep track of what I cook to control my resource consumption to ensure that I do not consume too much of any one food item.

I pondered your points regarding stoves over the last few days & looked into various pros/cons/options; you brought up a good point & it required some consideration.
I've always been a liquid fuel stove fan. I like that the fuel container is reusable for less waste & that I can refill with my own fuel vs being beholden to a manufacturer for canisters. I am also quite accustomed to my DragonFly & like its versatility (duel-point flame control, range of pot sizes supported, runs on all common liquid fuels, shaker-jet & field serviceability).
MSR has a tempting multifuel stove that can handle liquid + canister fuel that I considered. I would have bought that model instead when I bought my DragonFly years ago had it been available - I really like having fuel flexibility in case the future sends me a curveball.
Your point regarding bringing two stoves is a valid point. I considered two DragonFly stoves for redundancy, though I think I will perform a complete a refurb on my Dragonfly & bring along ample spare parts + an extra fuel pump to save on weight. Some parts are heavier + far less likely to break/malfunction than others, e.g. the main body, & it makes more sense to me to be able to service durable equipment than to have a complete redundant system. I do not plan on keeping my stove in a pack containing food while traveling & I am therefore not very concerned about it being stolen by a bear. So that leaves loss as the remaining single-stove fault & if I lose my main gear bag, it's game over anyways. I would like to find an ultralight back-up stove to deploy if the DragonFly is lost or has multiple critical failures that I cannot overcome in the field, though it would need to be the lightest reasonably priced stove I could find that runs on white gas.

For water filtration, I am planning on using a gravity filter (Platypus) & having some water storage options at camp to provide a more comfortable experience.
I've always used a folding 'arborist' saw in the past & will be bringing one of these along as my primary wood cutting tool. As I'll be traveling early & 'off the beaten trail' I am considering bringing a folding buck saw for portage clearance, though I don't know if this is a relevant consideration or if I can expect to not come across many/any downed trees.
I am on the fence about bringing a hunters axe for use around camp. I wouldn't be chopping up any logs or anything, though it could be a useful tool to have in a pinch & for splitting wood. I've always been fairly 'anti-axe' on these trips & always cautioned buddies bringing them to be overly careful. On my last trip, a guy that didn't listen was being careless & hatchet'ed himself in the lower shin/foot before we even had dinner on the first night. Fortunately, I was a combat medic in the past & was able to patch him up & we were able to complete the trip after taking a rest-day on Day 2 to gauge his ability to continue. I tend to take safety on these trips very seriously & would only use the tool in a very controlled manner.
Regarding fire, I don't know if I'll be as enamored by them while solo, though I have always enjoyed sitting by the fire in the evening. I'd be using a stick-stove for most/all wood-fired cooking besides grilling or smoking fish.

As you rightfully pointed out, weight is going to be important to keep an eye on. I will be reviewing every piece of gear & taking its weight into account Here, though I am willing to sacrifice some 'carrying-comfort' for some 'creature-comfort'. E.g. a chair isn't likely to go with, though I may 'splurge' to bring with some things that will contribute to a better experience like a flyrod/reel, proper eating utensils, tools for additional cooking methods, etc.

Thanks again for your thought provoking reply!
11/02/2021 11:49AM  
Way too much stuff here for me to comment. I will mention that your idea of using a front pack with those heavy loads is ill-considered. Your chance of tripping and busting a bone are considerable. Proper carry of two bags is one on top of the other. Canvas packs are best for this as the upper pack won’t slip around like nylon packs may.

On a solo trip safety is always your number one priority
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 12:42PM  
jwartman59: "Way too much stuff here for me to comment. I will mention that your idea of using a front pack with those heavy loads is ill-considered. Your chance of tripping and busting a bone are considerable. Proper carry of two bags is one on top of the other. Canvas packs are best for this as the upper pack won’t slip around like nylon packs may.
On a solo trip, safety is always your number one priority "

Hello jwartman59!
Apologies for the messy thread - I am cleaning it up to allow for more organized digestion.

The front pack has always been my go-to, probably a result of doing so in the Army. I've not tripped in the past, though your point is valid that it would be unfortunate to have a trip-ending fall as a result of improper technique and overburdening myself on a portage.

My plan was to use canvas bags as I prefer the material to nylon, though I hadn't considered its impact on reducing slippage when double-stacking packs on one's back - thank you for that tip!

I'll practice double-stacking when preparing for this trip to ensure that I am comfortable enough with to use the technique in the field.

I concur that safety is the number one priority.
I will have an emergency beacon (Zoleo) with me at all times in my 'fanny pack' along with other means of signaling & I plan on carrying an IFAK on my person to immediately control hemorrhaging if I do happen to seriously wound myself. I don't have experience practicing medicine on myself, besides trying to give myself an IV once as a challenge, & will practice some key skills before going on the trip (e.g. self-application of a tourniquet, sling, bandages on different appendages, etc.).

Thank you for your reply - you raised great points!
11/02/2021 02:57PM  
JohnGalt: "A point that arose while I was pondering your reply - how are fire bans communicated if the ban goes into effect after one has already entered the wild?
I'm guessing this information is available over weather band radio & I'm not sure how else this information could be conveyed to a camper in the bush nor how they could be held accountable for a fire ban put into effect after their entry date without the camper first receiving a warning from a park ranger.

Typically when a fire ban goes into effect, people picking up their permits will be advised and wilderness rangers will notify as many people as they can already in the BWCA. Since most group's trips are only about 6 days, the issue of informing people mostly resolves itself pretty quickly. I do not believe it is usual for the information to be conveyed via WX radio, but you may hear it on AM/FM if you are listening, from other campers entering, or in your case you could have one of your contacts let you know by Zoleo SMS. Whether or not a ranger notifies you, everyone should comply when they learn as the risks are just too high. BTW, last year's ban lasted 69 days if my math is right.

I know you are still thinking through a lot of your logistics, but one thing you should keep in mind regarding your resupply efforts is what constitutes an exit from the BWCA. There are some old threads on this, but what I recall is that the Forest Service generally says it is ok to exit the BWCA and re-enter on the same permit provided you are "in transit" and it is on the same day. For instance, if you are heading south from Brant through Round Lake to Missing Link, or if you are crossing the Echo Trail from Little Indian Sioux North entry over to Little Indian Sioux South. It is my understanding, however, that they consider you to have exited the BWCA if you stop at a lodge for a cheeseburger and beer, shower, or to resupply. In these cases, it is my understanding that you would then need another permit to re-enter. I brought this up since you mentioned the possibility of leaving some resupply stuff in your car (which could also be a risk for mice, bears, or thieves). I believe some people have averted this exit-reenter issue by having supplies brought into them. Of course, people bringing in supplies need to have a valid permit, but day permits are not so hard to manage.

One last thought; it sounds like you want to try to have fewer resupplies and carry what I would consider an enormous amount of food. (I'll call anything over 30 days enormous; I carried 21-24 days food on a trip this year and thought that was a huge amount.) You also have mentioned gear items that might push you out of the esteemed ultra-light club (a club that would reject my membership application outright!). So thinking of the gear and amount of food you hope to carry, I am wondering how well it would all fit in the canoe you mentioned above? I have no experience with that model or brand, but it looks very narrow. The forward section and possibly the rear section don't look like they could hold a typical canoe pack unless set on its end (which will raise the center of gravity and make it more tippy). That canoe looks great, but looks built for speed and easy of carrying - not for hauling much cargo. I could be wrong on this - maybe someone else knows more about it. Still, you should definitely be looking WAY ahead on lead times. With Covid, many outdoor supplies and gear items ran short the last two years. Demand has been high and some needed supplies have run low, making inventories tight.

Good luck on your adventure.

11/02/2021 03:49PM  
tumblehome: "Dude, you are 121 years old. Don’t do it."

I'm glad I'm not the only one who checks profiles.

At age 121, I wouldn't recommend double stacking the packs on the portages.

Also, where is OP from?? His chances are better if he is from MN or WI, less if from MO or IN.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 04:03PM  
Dolpho: [Great Observations]

Hello Dolpho!
Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me.

Regarding 'Due Diligence':
Soon, preparing for this trip will be my full-time job & I'll be treating it as if it is a client engagement, I just happen to be the client this time haha.
I will heed your advice & extend a gear-check trip to be 10-14 days. It may be difficult for me to incorporate canoeing, though I will ensure 'social isolation' is maintained as much as is possible & will hike with full packs to test physical readiness (a PT plan is part of my DD - I'm not out of shape, though I am also not at peak fitness, I could use more meat on my bones, fat reserves, & cardio).

Regarding 'Holy Grail'/'Disillusionment':
Very good points.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), I think my real disillusionment has already occurred - it was with society at large a long time ago & I've just been slow to act upon it.
Presently, I find myself at a crossroads between my past & my future. Part of this trip's purpose is to reconnect with the natural order of life & to discern what my future path should be as I divorce myself from what society has led me to believe is the 'proper path'.
Following this excursion, success or failure, I will hopefully know more about myself & what is most important to me in life. As an added benefit, this 'dream' will have been tested & will no longer be a 'what if I had', as it has been since college. I recognize this could all go horribly wrong & I may absolutely hate it, though I would rather that outcome than to die unknowing with this unfulfilled 'greener grass' dream still present within my heart.
Also, I've 'always' thought working at/starting an outfitting/guide service or being a park ranger in BWCA would be a 'Heaven on Earth' career - if I am able to successfully execute this trip, it would be a great resume booster if I decide to pursue this path.

Regarding Single/Double Portaging:
I agree 100%.
I've been mulling over the value offered by single portaging & the primary purpose for it (more rapid travel) would not create as much value for this trip as the usual time constraint that makes single portaging so valuable is not present. There is likely more resource burn due to traversing the same ground twice, though it will be less exertion at one time & may help with endurance / longevity / enjoyment.
Double portaging it will be, & maybe triple at the start when the kitchen + food pack are full & I'm not yet fully accustomed to the exertion. After all, this is a marathon & not a sprinting exercise.

Thank you for wishing me well & I will be sure to take detailed notes + produce a, hopefully, captivating trip report.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 05:00PM  
CatchMe: [Great points regarding the importance of goal setting for when times get tough]

You've raised a great point.
I am glad that you were able to get going when the going got tough to complete your goal - I will think of your perseverance when my intestinal fortitude is tested.

For now, my overarching goal is to stay from ice-out until the leaves fall from the trees, though I fully agree that a more concrete/actionable goal(s) would be wise, if not necessary.
I've since fleshed out a few high-level 'goals' in the post & I envision the concrete route will come about as I have completed more research to know where I need to go. I will be preparing a 'bucket list' for the trip & will use this to aid in detailed route planning.

Thank you for your interest/volunteering to potentially aid with a resupply.
If, God willing, I make it to mid-Sept I'd be interested in meeting up with you out in the bush - if only to share a meal or say 'hello' if the timing does not align with the resupply schedule. I should, hopefully, be a pretty decent camp cook by that time & would love to share my newly acquired skillset with others :)
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 06:29PM  
tumblehome: "Why do I keep thinking of Christopher McCandles? I can’t escape it. Trying."

Your assessment is on-point, no need to try & escape it after you've already hit a double-bullseye.

I'm no longer uncertain or afraid to profess what I knew to be true all along, Alex made the right decision while I misstepped & tumbled on the trail by succumbing to societal pressures.

One of the greatest regrets of my life has been not following my gut all those years ago when I first yearned to escape 'society'.
Now, I find myself years older & impoverished (where it really matters, not materially) starting out on the redemption path which I wish I had set out upon from the outset.
I have experienced the 'other side of the glass' & I am fully aware of the color of the grass around me - I am ready to compare its color the the pastures across which Alex once blazed trails.
['other side of the glass' referring to the scene in the 'big city' where Alex sees who he could have been through the bar window & gets disgusted + leaves the city immediately... I couldn't find a link to the movie scene to provide context, though I am Christopher standing inside the bar & I can see Alex peering back at me through the glass, showing me where my soul yearns to be - I'm not fighting it any longer, I am going into the wild (to be as cliché as possible haha).]

Imho, Alexander Supertramp was a very wise man.
I'm trying to learn from the mistake which led to his demise & prepare a bit better for (the start of) my epic adventure & I'll have a reserve parachute packed in case the one I am pulling on does not deploy as I envision or for when I grow old if it does deploy.
Prior to the start of my excursion, I will be selling most all of my possession & putting into storage those items with sentimental value or which I envision being useful in my future (e.g. dehydrator/PC/Harley/camping gear/books/etc.).
Most of my material wealth is being converted into gold/silver & will be put into storage as well; I am only keeping liquid what I will need to pay my anticipated expenses through the end of '22 & will be setting 'my life' on autopay for the foreseeable future.

Is what I am doing a bit 'insane', maybe, though as Kurt said: "a sane person to an insane society must appear insane"...
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 07:05PM  
Jaywalker: [Info on Fire Bans/Resupply permit considerations/Pack weight & canoe feasibility concerns]

Thank you for these points - great info.

Fire Bans
I hadn't considered having an outside contact alerting me to a fire ban - I will include that in my comms plan with them. The intent of my concern was not to be 'skirt the rules', I just know that I will not be actively monitoring the radio much besides checking the weather once or twice a day & could be late to get the message if I'm deep in the bush.
If last year's fire ban was fairly lengthy, I will use this as a baseline for what I can expect next year & plan accordingly. ~70 days of fire ban leaves about 80 days of being able to cook with a stick stove/fire for most hot meals. Fortunately, the fire ban will also be during the hottest months of the trip & there should be less of an urge for hot food items as a result.

I've reviewed several of the threads which I think you are referring to - this forum is a wealth of information thanks to you all.
It seems like the rangers have a 'be discrete & we will leave you alone if it is same day' policy, though I wouldn't want to push boundaries or risk it even if it may be a low probability event. There is also the consideration of other canoeists if the park gets congested, I want to do right by my mates.
Tentative plan looks like either a pack brought to me near a boundary being 'thrown over the line'/meet someone on a day pass or exit at an outfitter & re-enter on a new permit. As others have noted, 'taking a day off' to have a steak & potatoes meal, a cold beer, a hot shower & some conversation might be a nice mini-vacation & a worthwhile pampering as a reward for making it to a milestone. It would also give me a chance to be alerted of a fire ban if I hadn't yet received the memo & to discuss with 'the experts' any questions that may have arisen during the prior leg of the trip.
Ideally, I'll be able to coordinate a trip or two for family or friends & they can join me for a week & bring along a new food pack. It would be a good 'first trip' for my nieces, nephews, & brother-in-laws as I would already have a lot of the gear humped in, the area around camp scouted, & a nice meal waiting for them upon arrival or meet them at the EP to help them navigate to camp + hump their gear.
My fingers are crossed for the last one, I love sharing the BWCA with new people.

Pack weight
For pack weight, my target is to have a gear pack, a 'kitchen pack', & one food pack, all ~75lbs or less at max weight.
This isn't light, though I've carried a bit of weight in the past & I will be training for ~six months leading up to the event to prepare myself physically.
I'll also be baking into the plan more nights/camp when the food pack is at it fullest.
While I am 'watching my weight', being in the bush for five months makes me think that I may want to carry a bit more weight to have a broader selection of quality/versatile gear/creature comforts. E.g. Do I really need to bring a spinning combo & fly combo, or a carbon steel fry pan & several items for baking, no, though they will hopefully enhance my experience & provide more enjoyment/activities. That being said, I am sure that I will need to make some tough decisions regarding pack weight.

I agree with you regarding the canoe.
I initially thought it would be tight when I was comparing bag dimensions & that I could bring the bags in at an angle then set them flat. However, another reply stressed the wisdom of front-loading packs & that got me to thinking about whether I would have issues with a pack or two on my back hitting the gunwales of the canoe on my shoulders.
The reasons this canoe appealed to me, besides its obvious beauty & craftsmanship, in no particular order are:
1) Weight/carry-ability
2) Durability (Whitewater package makes it sound like a tank)
3) Tumblehome for ease of paddling
4) Flared gunwales to prevent water from sloshing over
5) Comfortable looking seat options & a variety of option available.

I'm planning on using this canoe quite a bit in the future & not just in BWCA, so I may find myself carrying it longer distances than might be typical for a portage. It also needs to be rugged enough to withstand years of regular use & have the ability to handle some whitewater. I think I may be looking for a unicorn haha.

As you said, lead-times are long & not looking to be cleared up anytime soon, so I will be looking to buy my canoe ASAP. Once I find 'the one', I will be placing an order & coordinating with an outfitter to receive it & have waiting for me or have it shipped to my home. I'm planning to arrive near the outfitter a few days before my trip starts to gear check & take care of any last-minute concerns that may arise if I have it shipped directly to them.

Thank you for well wishes :)
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/02/2021 08:37PM  
bobbernumber3: "I'm glad I'm not the only one who checks profiles.
At age 121, I wouldn't recommend double stacking the packs on the portages.
Also, where is OP from?? His chances are better if he is from MN or WI, less if from MO or IN."

Hey there, bobbernumber3.

I'll be 122 years young by the trip start date! Haha

You guessed all around me : )
I'll provide another hint, even though it is probably not needed after the above hint:
The State OP hails from has had 40% of its governors arrested over the last 60 years... & that probably still wasn't sufficient...

OP was born in the wrong state or the wrong century : (
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
11/03/2021 07:23AM  
Oh - the state where the former governor now makes your licence plate. I moved from that state to one where the governor groped too much and resigned.

Following the planning. For food, you might look at the planning for long trails: AT, CDT, and PCT. It seems many abandon their meal plans for the simplicity of bars and such, and no cooking.
distinguished member (203)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/03/2021 09:26AM  
Exciting to see someone planning such an ambitious trip! Wish I had done similar when I was at a similar stage in my life a few years ago. I had a couple summers off and got pulled back and forth all over the country visiting friends and making shorter trips; it was all over before I managed to go on a longer solo.

Food Storage: It sounds like you might have as much as two 70# packs of food at one time, have you ever hoisted 140# into a tree by yourself? This is something I would recommend that you start experimenting with soon. Sometimes hanging trees are hard to find, and improper techniques can be very hard on the branches, as evidenced by a shortage of good hanging branches near campsites. Alternatively you could invest in enough Bear Vaults, which you do not have to hang. Standard bear barrels do not meet the requirement and have to be hung. Find the new regulations here.

Canoes: There is no "the one" canoe. You've picked some fine large solo canoes, but perhaps you should consider a tandem hull which will undoubtedly have greater capacity and friendlier characteristics on the water. If you have experience tripping in fast solo's, then by all means ignore this paragraph. I'm not a fan of the 3-seaters like Swift's Combi Prospector but their 16' Prospector would be high on my list, and I'd either order it solo'ized with the seat about a foot farther back than is standard or as a tandem with the thwarts in positions where I could paddle it from the front seat, facing backwards. Your total load will be close to mine for a two-week trip (230# man, 100# dog); I own an Adirondack, from Wenonah that handles the load well. I change between sit/switch and kneel/heel. I do not use double bladed paddles.

**At the end of the day, people have taken more difficult trips in absolute garbage canoes. Since your speed requirements are nonexistent and you'll probably hunker down on windy days perhaps canoe choice is not that important after all.

A lot to think about, glad to have the opportunity to follow along!
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/03/2021 01:30PM  
billconner: "Oh - the state where the former governor now makes your licence plate. I moved from that state to one where the governor groped too much and resigned.

Following the planning. For food, you might look at the planning for long trails: AT, CDT, and PCT. It seems many abandon their meal plans for the simplicity of bars and such, and no cooking."

Haha yes, they do pretty decent work on stamping the plates for us now - truly humble public servants.
Yours is pretty good too, I bet he makes on heck of a license plate.
The people sure know how to pick them haha

Thank you for the tip re looking into food solutions for long trails. I don't think I'll be coming across many bars in BWCA, so I'll probably have to look at how the purists go about it. Kidding haha, though that does make me think, a bar along the AT would be a pretty fun stop.

I'm thinking I'll have three 'ration types': 'full-prep', 'add boiling water', & 'cold cook'/bars/gorp/etc. The latter two will be more of the focus during the hot/fire ban months, which will also conserve fuel. The front portion will have more 'full-prep' meals while I can use the fire for more elaborate cooking & learn some new camp chef skills (one of my trip goals). The latter portion will likely be a combination of the three.

I'm thinking I'll be doing a fair amount of day-tripping & hiking, so I may go 'classical' for lunch & make bannock/bread to carry about with spreads/meats/etc for lunches.
Breakfast will be hot/cold oats or something when on the move or lazy, gorp during fire ban season. When I'm stopped for a few days, some powdered eggs, fried rehydrated ground beef, & a handful of veggies would be a nutritious meal.

Dehydrated fruits & veggies, powdered eggs/dehydrated beef/beans|soup mix/nuts/fresh fish, oats/rice/pasta/bannock/bread, & oil/tallow/ghee/shelf-stable|powdered cheese, spices, beverages e.g. cocoa.
These will be the primary nutrient sources. These can all be eaten cold if allowed time to reconstitute (I would need to find a proper method to cold cook the fish).
I'll likely bring pemmican or something similar & something like ship's biscuits or hard tack for eating on the trail.
I may bring a well insulated thermos to save hot water from AM/PM stove usage to use later/the next day - I could alternatively cook a hot breakfast at dinner & put it in a 'food thermos' for use the next morning. These methods would be useful to employ during fire bans or while on the move to minimize the number of times the kitchen needs to be set up.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/03/2021 02:07PM  
Z4K: [Tips on Food Storage & canoes]

Hello Z4K!
Thank you for your words of encouragement & sage advice, especially surrounding canoes.

Food Storage:
I think I have yet to see a proper bag hanging limb at a BWCA campsite haha - I'll keep a mental note on this trip to see if I can find any & document they exist. I agree that it also isn't all that great for the tree or limbs either. I think it was devised for areas with a different forest structure, like the redwoods or something.

You're correct on the packs, looking like two ~75lb 'food packs' at max burden (including pack & bear hanging equipment mass) if using two resupplies. I plan on hoisting the bags one at a time & will be using quality pulleys/ropes to reduce friction. I think I've pulled up a single bag this heavy in the past, though I may use a pulley system that provides mechanical advantage. I wish I could find an example of moving the system providing the mechanical advantage to ground level & useable by both bags to save weight. I'll have to bust out my mech eng books & put on my thinking cap.

My typical approach is to use the 'trapeze wire' between two trees & I hang the bag from that. In a pinch, I could probably rig both bags up to the same 'trapeze', though I'd probably have them on independent systems as one would be accessed daily & the other periodically to refresh ingredients in the main pack.
I would run into issues with this method if I find myself in a campsite with no clearings with trees 15-~25' apart, based on the ropes I am planning on bringing along for the 'trapeze' lines. Proper hanging trees will be one of the primary stipulations for campsite selection & one of/the first activity performed once a site is selected will be setting these lines up.
I saw another user post that they use a 10' carbon rod to help get the line over the trees - I think I may use this technique so that I don't get ropes stuck in trees or have lead weights/rocks falling from overhead, though the only thing I can find that look reasonably close are travel carbon boat push rods. I may bring one of these & make it 'multipurpose' by replacing the trekking poles for the tent 'porch'.

I like your suggestions for solo'izing a tandem canoe.
It seems the 'duck creek solo' (I may have butchered that name) is such a canoe.
I will take a gander at the Prospector 16' & the Adirondack this evening, thanks for the suggestions!

As you mentioned, speed is less important without a real time constraint. I'd be going slow & smelling the roses - I'd like to get a versatile, quality/durable canoe that can handle a load &, importantly, have enough stability to keep facing upright for safety. Paddling efficiency & tracking ability would also be important, as more calories burned through inefficient travel equals more rations required.
I'm also a fan of the traditional single paddle. The pack boat looked like a neat option, though the kayak paddle gives me pause for this reason.
11/03/2021 04:10PM  
I found the video, Solo, Labrador to Hudson’s bay The way this Canadian takes on this insanely difficult route is fun to watch. This is the best solo canoe video I’ve watched
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/03/2021 04:44PM  
jwartman59: "I found the video, Solo, Labrador to Hudson’s bay The way this Canadian takes on this insanely difficult route is fun to watch. This is the best solo canoe video I’ve watched"

Thank you, jwartman59!
You rock!

I'm cracking up.
I was missing the same tooth as he is missing up until this/last year lmao.
member (7)member
11/07/2021 08:48AM  
Very cool trip plan! I've never done a solo that long, but have done 90 days straight in the wild, and plenty of 7-14 day solos, so a few thoughts based on those (many of which have probably been touched on already):

-Echo the value in a 7-14 day trial run. Definite value in finding gear adjustments you may want to make. However, in my experience, day 5-7 of a solo is often when a mental barrier comes of "You know, it would be really nice to be home", and then getting past that is when things become a really enjoyable stride. Depends on the person of course.

-For food boredom, you may want to acquaint yourself with the NOLS style of expedition food planning, discussed mostly in this book: NOLS Cookery.
The premise is more or less: Take the numbers of days you need food for, determine the overall weight of food to sustain you for that time (0.7 kg - 1.0 kg/day typical, depending on trip), and pre-weigh and bag the weights of various 'raw' ingredients. E.g. half-pound bags of dried pasta, rice, cheese, oatmeal, quinoa, trail mix, peanut butter, vegetable protein, dried fruit, and FLOUR/CORN MEAL. That last item is key - you can bake quite well on a MSR stove if you learn to do it, and it vastly opens up your food variety.
In addition, bring the associated spices to keep food tasty (and of course, baking power, baking soda, oil, salt, etc for baking). Bring a spice kit of other spices you like. And dried vegetables. And multivitamins.

-You'll have gear break in some form or fashion over 3 months. Get familiar with how to do field repairs - stove repairs, patch a hole in a tent, etc. And have the small field repair kits.

-You'll inevitably have terrible weather sometimes. Know how to keep yourself and your gear dry, and may sure your shelter is up to the task.

-A lot of people benefit from some other forms of mental stimulation over that long of time. You have the benefit of not needing to move extremely quick. Give yourself the room to carry a little extra weight for whatever this is for you. Read. Write. Art. Textbooks to teach yourself something. Whatever will keep you sane, especially during a 5-day continuous storm.

-On a trip that long, you have to actually keep yourself healthy. A 14-day trip allows you to abuse your body and recover at home. 3 seasons doesn't allow that. (see multivitamins in food section above). Hygiene is important. Stretch and warmup each morning. Watch your feet. Take care of issues like blisters early. Keep aware of the early signs of a health issue that needs attention, and attend to it early. Be proactive.

-Related to that last point, you're likely to need to do a little first aid on yourself over that long of a trip (hopefully not much!). Get familiar and practice some basic self-first aid. Make sure you know to use everything in your first aid kit. Since you have the the time, signing up for a Wilderness First Aid course wouldn't be a bad idea.

-If you're looking for SMS communication options, Garmin InReach mini is a popular one.

Hope these help - looking forward to seeing the outcome of the trip!
distinguished member(1363)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/07/2021 09:58AM  
ChadW has some solid advice. It is great he brought up foot health. The biggest challenge on my 35 day trips was foot fungus. I developed a routine that I keep today. As soon as I reach a campsite for the day, I wash and dry my feet and inspect for any issues. I rinse all the grit and mud out of my socks and set them to dry. I rinse all the grit and mud out of the insides of my boots. Only when my feet are totally aired out and dry do I put on my dry socks and shoes, or wear sandals around. Make sure you have some anti-fungal cream in your 1st aid kit.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/07/2021 10:19AM  
straighthairedcurly: "ChadW has some solid advice. It is great he brought up foot health. The biggest challenge on my 35 day trips was foot fungus. I developed a routine that I keep today. As soon as I reach a campsite for the day, I wash and dry my feet and inspect for any issues. I rinse all the grit and mud out of my socks and set them to dry. I rinse all the grit and mud out of the insides of my boots. Only when my feet are totally aired out and dry do I put on my dry socks and shoes, or wear sandals around. Make sure you have some anti-fungal cream in your 1st aid kit. "

Thank you for these tips!
Foot powder & an anti-fungal will be in the first aid kit.
I take foot health seriously - having been an army medic, it was always something I was proactive with (I had to keep myself healthy if I was going to be taking care of my guys).
I plan to do as I did in the army & have an inner silk sock liner with a wool 'over-sock' + liberal usage of foot powder.

'Funny' foot story:
In basic training, this guy in my platoon got a flesh eating bacteria on his foot from marching through a dirty puddle & he refused to go to sick-call until I forced his hand as platoon guide - his toes were literally wasting away & he was like nah, f that, I ain't no sick-call ranger haha. He was a tough kid.
11/07/2021 11:07AM  
JohnGalt: " - having been an army medic..."

Methods and medicines have improved since WWI
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/07/2021 11:28AM  
ChadW: ""

Hey ChadW!
Thank you for dropping by & sharing your wisdom with me. You provided a wealth of great information & I am excited to/have already started diving in.

You've done 90 days?
That is impressive & quite honestly, a 90 day & 150 day trip are probably much more similar than dissimilar.

Thank you for the tip on NOLS - I'll be picking up the cookbook you recommended as the approach to rations you outlined is the approach I am likely to employ ('pantry' of staple goods vs 'pre-prepared' meals).
Baking is high on my list of skills to acquire & refine while on this trip. I envision many lunches consisting of left-over bread baked at breakfast or the previous evening's dinner with a fruit or meat 'spread' & a handful of gorp or jerky.
I've always been on the fence with multi-vitamins. I've never taken them & do not care to take synthetically created vitamins (long story short, I do not trust that synthetic chirality = natural chirality in vitamins & I don't want to mess with nature). I'll try to find a naturally derived multi-vitamin, though honestly, I'll likely be eating a healthier & more balanced diet in the bush than I do at home haha {sad face}.

For gear maintenance, I plan on rebuilding my stove to become acquainted with its function & ensure it is in peak shape. I'll also be bringing a full kit of replacement parts & an extra pump. I've always been one to 'have & not need vs need & not have', I'll hopefully have ample repair ability in the field & my back-up plan will be to limp along to the next resupply & request the outfitter/whomever is fulfilling the resupply to add the required widget.

The tent I am looking to bring is the Tarp Tent Double Rainbow. Another member here let me know that this tent can get overwhelmed during prolonged downpours, so I will be bringing along an additional tarp to use as a rainfly (this would honestly be a wise thing to do for the longevity of the tent as well to protect it from UV + tree sap).

I am very much looking forward to the 'mental stimulation' component of this trip. I plan to bring along several 'dense' books & materials for writing/drawing. I'll have the Bible, the Army Survival FM, a fiction, & a non-fiction/philosophical work. At resupplies, I intend to have a replacement fiction/non-fiction work. I am also planning to load an assortment of reference pdfs to the phone I will be bringing for use with the Zoleo (the sat comm I am currently considering).

Regarding health, I will be focusing on this & one of my goals for the trip is to improve my health so that I am healthier leaving than when I entered [Thrive >> Survive]. While I have yet to determine what I will use for a 'shower', I have been thinking that I will have a weekly routine to wash clothes/bag liner & get a good wash of myself + 'whore's bath' with a washrag & soapy water in between 'showers' (I may make this a daily routine while traveling/sweating to ensure skin health in sensitive areas).

For stretching, it is funny that you mention this.
Last trip I took brought along a complete novice from India [I wish I had a picture of the gear he packed - going through it at the EP parking lot while it was snowing out was an eyeopener for him haha].
Anyways, every morning he would do yoga while everyone else packed up camp... While frustrating at the time, thinking back on it now I see that he had the right approach to start the day & I think I will incorporate a brief yoga routine into my morning to ensure I begin my day with a good stretch & meditation.

I will check out the Garmin InReach, thank you for providing a recommendation. I am currently looking at the Zoleo & will compare the two.

A wilderness first-aid course would be great to complete prior to the trip.
At the very least, I will be completing my DD to watch/read materials on the subject. I have some experience in medicine which should help, though self-application in the bush complicates things & it is best to have established knowledge & practiced procedures before they are needed.

Looking forward to keeping you all updated & further discussions on how to best plan for the worst while preparing for the best.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/07/2021 12:06PM  
bobbernumber3: "JohnGalt: " - having been an army medic..."

Methods and medicines have improved since WWI"

Haha - 'back in my day, we'd just saw the leg off in the field & cauterize the stump with a skillet or some lit powder in a pinch'

To be fair, some of the methods employed in WWI are likely pretty applicable in the bush.
'Modern Medicine' relies on supply chains & echelons of care with usually rapid medivac. In WWI, they had to be much more self-sufficient in how they practiced medicine.

That being said, I'd probably rather have a 'modern' medic if I went down in the field lest they try & treat my wounds with leeches or mercury.
member (7)member
11/07/2021 02:25PM  
JohnGalt: "That being said, I'd probably rather have a 'modern' medic if I went down in the field lest they try & treat my wounds with leeches or mercury."

That would be the general focus of a Wilderness Medicine course ( NOLS Wildness Medicine ). They focus on first aid when a primary care facility is >24 hours away. That said, at least the NOLS courses linked are generally focused on dealing with another person who is injured or ill. Still useful items for being alone, but maybe something focused on solo first aid exists. Not sure. Of course, the real key when solo is preventative medicine - take the extra care to avoid being injured or ill in the first place! That's what the morning stretching is mostly about - trying to avoid musculoskeletal injuries.

And sure, the multivitamin thing specifically is a personal one. I think you got the key point - if you'll be out there for months, you want to think hard about how to maintain a proper diet, including proper vitamins and minerals. Unless you have people shopping for you for each resupply, you're likely not taking any perishable food, because it would presumably be sitting for 100+ days waiting for your resupply.

If you've ever seen the show 'Alone', the aim is to not look like them at the end! (If you haven't seen 'Alone', check it out - very cool. Those ladies and gentlemen are hardcore and outdoor geniuses, but you also get a look at what 90 days of malnutrition can do - mostly lack of calories for them, but some issues related to diet balance.) You got the key point - make a nutrition plan that will have you leaving the wilderness healthier than you entered. It can definitely be done - healthiest I've ever been was after my 90 days out there.
11/07/2021 08:02PM  
ChadW: “If you've ever seen the show 'Alone', the aim is to not look like them at the end! (If you haven't seen 'Alone', check it out - very cool. "
Someone on this forum once described Alone as having become a competition to see who could starve to death the slowest, and I think they were on the mark. I second ChadW’s emphasis on nutrition and wilderness medicine. You could just eat rice and beans for a 2-3 week trip and get by, but for an ice in to out trip real nutrition needs to be planned for. If a wilderness medicine course can not fit in the plans, at a minimum I recommend (as I have done many times before on this forum) the NOLS Wilderness Medicine book. I find myself brushing up on that book every year. It might even be helpful to list out what are the real threats to your safety that you will face in priority order so that you can think of ways to avoid or handle situations. Regarding “echelons of care”, this too should be studied and thought through. You are not going to be in the deep arctic tundra and you are going to have some sort of emergency device. You will likely be no more than 1-1/2 days from any entry point at any time, you will for several months have multiple groups paddling past you every day, and you should be aware of how the S&R process works in the BWCA.

Oh, and be sure to use a Dremmel type tool to grind off the barbs on all your hooks before you go. You may lose one out of every 3-5 fish, but if you get a barb through your skin you will wish you had.
distinguished member(623)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/07/2021 09:41PM  
JohnGalt you have obviously put a lot of thought/planning into this idea. Do it your way and what you feel will best set you up for success of the trip. Everyone will have ideas on how to do things but the reality is there are many ways to go about a trip like this. A buddy and I did a 21-day trip in college and outside of the absurdly heavy food pack the first week of the trip it went very smoothly. Once you figure out the resupply you'll be fine. What an adventure; I wish you luck and am jealous of the opportunity. Godspeed.
distinguished member(2366)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/08/2021 07:07AM  
bobbernumber3: "JohnGalt: " - having been an army medic..."

Methods and medicines have improved since WWI"

That’s awesome!
11/08/2021 01:49PM  
There is a Trip partner finder forum associated with the main BWCA forum. I suggested earlier about a "duel solo" or meeting up with other trippers periodically and this could be a way to do this.

I just ordered a Lumen-Aid solar lantern that has a cell phone charging feature, check it out for keeping up on the forum , on line aps like onX and several other reasons. Not much coverage in the BW but you will be covering alot of territory and should hit a hot spot now and again.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/09/2021 08:29AM  
ChadW: Follow-up re medicine & nutrition

You are right on the money with preventative medicine being the key - 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'.
I've started taking a look at the NOLS resources, thank you for providing the suggestion. It would be nice to find a 'solo oriented' resource - I'll report back if I find any useful nuggets.
The high-level way that I see it, if a solo traveler goes down in the field they will be in one of two states: 1) They cannot egress themselves - in this case, focus would be on stopping any arterial or substantial venous bleeding & maintaining temperature/fluids while awaiting evac, which would need to be alerted via 'PLB' or other signaling device [these tools should always be 'on-person']; or 2) They can egress themselves - in this case, focus would be on preventing infection while moving towards the EP or determining if the injury may be safely healed in the field.
I found on my last trip that this last point is possible, even with a seemingly substantial wound, & that I did not prepare properly with enough gauze/bandages. We ended up using handkerchiefs/cravats & boiled them to sterilize + reuse.

For food prep/nutrition, my plan is to rely primarily on dehydrating raw ingredients (e.g. fruits/vegetables/beef/etc.). I have commercial' dehydrator from Cabella's & will be a dehydrating machine in the spring. Dehydrated/other ingredients will be then packed into vacuum sealed bags in 'refill' portions (going to bite the bullet & purchase a MAXVAC PRO CHAMBER VACUUM SEALER ... buy nice, don't buy twice can sometimes be painful haha)

I'm unsure if I have seen 'Alone' specifically, though I have watched similar 'starvation survivor' series & oftentimes find it pitiful. The one's that I enjoy are the ones that thrive! E.g. There was a guy on one of those shows that build a small structure that had a door & all - that is the general goal, to thrive, as you did on your 90 day expedition.
member (38)member
11/09/2021 09:12AM  
So was that an "Axedent" ?

11/09/2021 09:23AM  
A useful solo-oriented nugget for you: practice wiping left-handed (or right-handed as the case may be).
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/09/2021 09:36AM  
boonie: "A useful solo-oriented nugget for you: practice wiping left-handed (or right-handed as the case may be). "

Good to know!
I hadn't thought to practice that before my trip haha
Makes sense though - reduces chances of foodborne illness if a good handwashing doesn't follow & prepares oneself for a potential primary hand injury.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
11/09/2021 09:37AM  
LarrySw45: "So was that an "Axedent" ?

Yes it was.
We went into Sag very close to ice out (it was snowing). The patient was to be our navigator Day 1 & brought us across a more open patch of Sag than I would have wanted to cross on a windy day (I should have known better/interjected, though I was 'burnt out' from a stressful launch/start). We all made it to an island camp & stayed the night after I refused to get back on the water & was able to talk the others into agreeing. After a stressful camp set-up, I had just had my first swig of a drink to settle in & I hear a yelp/expiative. Patient was standing on two ends of a wet log/stick & chopping with a dull axe. The axe 'skipped' off the wood with a glancing blow (when 'chopping', swinging with a slight left/right angle, you know the thing) & chopped his leg instead.
He got lucky. ~an inch or less in a few directions & we would have been paddling to the hospital.
We cleaned it up well & I eventually got some butterfly stitches to stick & sealed it up a bit with a medical 'super glue' equivalent. We stayed at camp the next day to determine if we would need to take him for stitches or if there was any artery nicked that would need to be addressed. Luckily, it looked manageable & he is a tough dude (former Alaskan airborne intel), so we decided to press on & made a plan to keep his wound clean by keeping his foot as dry as possible, limiting his carrying weight until he was more healed, & allocated a series of cloths to be used as bandages with him changing them often + boiling them daily. It healed well.
Same gentlemen later in the trip stumbled backwards on some boulders at night & I thought he had done himself in at the apex of our trip by distance. I was sitting having a cigar with a line in the water & was quite surprised to see him 'drop by'. He had been drinking & I thought he broke his neck/spine on first assessment (he had JVD from being at a downward incline & said it hurt everywhere). Luckily, once again, he was able to pat himself off & drive on with just a bit of bruising to his body & 'ego' haha.
He is a very good friend who I'm sure I'll trip with again, with more caution...& maybe a helmet haha - he & we are both wiser as a result of his 'sacrifice'.
I share this in good spirits & as a learning opportunity for others.
distinguished member(2702)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/02/2022 08:05PM  
I'm late in the thread here - and possibly too late for you to see this, John, but here goes just in case.

Lots of great advice here. I was a volunteer re-supply paddler for Dave and Amy's year long BWCA paddle. As mentioned earlier, they had resupplies brought to them every two weeks. When I went in, I brought in additional fresh lettuce (and salad dressing), fresh eggs and a bag of Grand Marais' World Best Donuts. They devoured it all. Ask for stuff like that from your resuppliers.

I didn't see anyone mention total body and clothing cleanliness. Most of us want to shower, shave and drain the grime off of us by trip's end, no matter what the length. Also clothing gets dirty fast. I'd bring a small lightweight solar shower and use that for both body and clothing. You'll smile more.

Several years ago, I met a solo paddler in mid August coming out on Lake One. Came to discover that he was doing what you plan to do, but was going in for around 5-7 days, coming out for a shower, shave, beer, cheeseburger and a soft bed. Then right back in again. I assume his permits were all in order. Really interesting guy. Wish I had remembered his name now to follow up on that.

Lastly, I hope there is some way we would be able to identify you when you're out there and perchance we cross paddles.

All the best!
Grandma L
distinguished member(5491)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
05/05/2022 10:02AM  
I got a Zoleo message from John last week. He is up near Ely waiting for Ice Out.
05/05/2022 11:38AM  
Grandma L: "I got a Zoleo message from John last week. He is up near Ely waiting for Ice Out. " Do we know which lake he settled on for entry, and which direction he will go first? Also, to OneMatch’s point, do we know how to identify him if we are up there?
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
05/05/2022 12:38PM  
OneMatch: "I'm late in the thread here - and possibly too late for you to see this, John, but here goes just in case...

Hello OneMatch!
Thank you for the tips :)
I was going to ask for a bag of spinach to get some greens, though a dox of doughnuts would probably be a fantastic addition - great idea.

I'm bringing along a black sealline water bag which has a small showerhead attachment. I figure I'll let it sit in the sun for a while & top it off with some hot water before using it.

As far as identifying me if we happen to cross paddles in the wild, I'll be in a heavily laden wenonah encounter ('outfitter special' with go-pros & non-outfitter stickers likely affixed to it). Tall guy with long hair, olive pfd, mostly frost river packs & a bright yellow camera bag, probably taking 4-5 trips across the portage haha. My camp should have a white lean+ with green/grey &/or green/brown tarps, two yellow/red rope food pack hangs, & may have a hammock set up.

If you happen to see me at camp, feel free to stop by - I'll likely have tea/fresh coffee to spare & share.

senior member (85)senior membersenior member
05/05/2022 12:53PM  
Jaywalker: "Grandma L: "I got a Zoleo message from John last week. He is up near Ely waiting for Ice Out. " Do we know which lake he settled on for entry, and which direction he will go first? Also, to OneMatch’s point, do we know how to identify him if we are up there? "

Hello Jaywalker!

I'll be entering via Moose Lake. Canoe Country Outfitters is who I'm working with for support. Spoke with someone from their entourage this morning & they didn't seem to optimistic about my hope for a Tuesday entry :( We'll see - it's warming up quickly around here, with more in the forecast, & there has been a lot of melt the past few days.

As far as where I'll be headed, I'm not settled on a direction though likely west. I'm going to discuss it with CCO, though I figure moose & trout are the two things which will be less prevalent later in the season, so I should target these first - I'm not sure if west is best for this & I may wind up going east. I'll provide an update before I shove off & I am in contact with Grandma L to communicate in the field. I don't mind my zoleo contact info being shared with those interested, I just didn't want to post it on the open web & get spam while in the woods.

I'm planning on getting a few youtube videos up today/soon & that should assist with ID.
05/06/2022 05:46PM  
^^^Good luck to you, John. I’ve been watching Moose on the webcam several times a day. It has really gotten dark, and I think I see cracks forming. With a warm sunny day tomorrow and winds coming in, I think it will only be a couple days. I have been tentatively planning to paddle in from Moose on Wednesday, but have not pulled my permit yet. Plenty left. I’ll be in a red canoe with a black lab - not hard to spot. Wave if you see me.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
05/06/2022 07:10PM  
Jaywalker: "^^^Good luck to you, John. I’ve been watching Moose on the webcam several times a day. It has really gotten dark, and I think I see cracks forming. With a warm sunny day tomorrow and winds coming in, I think it will only be a couple days. I have been tentatively planning to paddle in from Moose on Wednesday, but have not pulled my permit yet. Plenty left. I’ll be in a red canoe with a black lab - not hard to spot. Wave if you see me. "

Thanks, Jaywalker!

Drove out there again today & it is melting day by day :)
Wednesday would be great. The weather expected Sunday through Tuesday should help speed up the process & might get us clear for Wednesday. I'll keep an eye out & will say hello if we cross paths.

senior member (85)senior membersenior member
05/09/2022 06:13PM  
Moose Lake was looking nearly navigable today:

Saw a bear crossing the road... I'm not sure why he was crossing the road - perhaps the chicken could enlighten us. [Chicken was unavailable for comment.]

Took some photos of the sunrise yesterday after a night of practicing astrophotography:

senior member (85)senior membersenior member
05/10/2022 12:32PM  
Some pictures (hopefully I don't have any reposts - apologies in advance if I do!) & a link to some youtube content: Galt's Gulch Woodsman Youtube

Looks like tomorrow will be the day :)
distinguished member(1363)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/10/2022 08:06PM  
Be careful out there and have a great trip. I'll be following any updates.
distinguished member (178)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/10/2022 08:36PM  
Good luck, John. We’re all rooting for ya.

Happy paddling & hope to see ya on the water.
distinguished member (334)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/11/2022 07:43AM  
Good luck!
distinguished member (117)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/13/2022 11:44AM  
Good luck!
Grandma L
distinguished member(5491)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
05/16/2022 04:52PM  
Just got a location message from John. He is on Birch Lake - site 1238 on the east side just past the big peninsula. No other news.
member (50)member
05/16/2022 06:30PM  
Envious of the adventure he is beginning. What a great opportunity to spend the open water season paddling through the BWCAW.
Reply    Reply with Quote    Print Top Bottom Previous Next
Trip Planning Sponsor:
Sawbill Canoe Outfitters