BWCA Trip Report - June 2021- My First Solo: Looping the Laurentian Divide Boundary Waters Trip Reports
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naturboy12
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01/21/2022 10:24AM  
New Trip Report posted by naturboy12

Trip Name: June 2021- My First Solo: Looping the Laurentian Divide .

Entry Point: 40

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01/21/2022 05:53PM  
I really enjoyed your report. Maybe partly because you were on lakes with which I am familiar--although I never would even think of Brule as "smooth as glass"! Would love to see that! Our experiences with Brule weren't like that.

Nice report, good photos. Thanks for sharing.
naturboy12
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01/21/2022 06:09PM  
This is the pic I took south of the big rock slide, just north of the large island on the west end. Maybe not quite glass, but not normal for Brule either. My whole trip through it looked very similar to this.

And thank you for the kind words, glad you enjoyed the report!
WonderMonkey
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01/21/2022 08:19PM  
I appreciate your honesty about how you felt about your solo trip. You looked to be a sweaty mess on that last photo of yourself.
straighthairedcurly
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01/21/2022 08:46PM  
Great trip report, an honest look at some of the psychological challenges of a first solo. As prepared as I was for mine in terms of skill, it was still a huge mental challenge especially when I got injured. Your descriptions of the relief of swimming on those hot days triggered pleasant memories as well. Thoose big lakes are amazing when they are so smooth. II had a day like that on Winchell. Hope you don't write off solos altogether, maybe just plan short ones.
naturboy12
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01/22/2022 08:24AM  
straighthairedcurly: "Hope you don't write off solos altogether, maybe just plan short ones. "

Yes, I’m sure I will be trying it again at some point. I usually go with one of my sons or a number of different friends, but no one was available once time came for this trip to happen. If that situation comes up, I’ll go solo but likely plan for the length, both in terms of days and travel distance, to be shorter.
rtallent
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01/22/2022 08:54AM  
Good report. Yeah, hot weather trips can be taxing...
WonderMonkey
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01/22/2022 12:18PM  
naturboy12: "straighthairedcurly: "Hope you don't write off solos altogether, maybe just plan short ones. "


Yes, I’m sure I will be trying it again at some point. I usually go with one of my sons or a number of different friends, but no one was available once time came for this trip to happen. If that situation comes up, I’ll go solo but likely plan for the length, both in terms of days and travel distance, to be shorter. "


Going solo is like building up a muscle, to me. I went on a short three-night solo backpacking trip where there were no people and no phone coverage and it was all I wanted. I had planned ahead on how to occupy myself but even then it was enough. From there I've taken those kinds of trips, and even longer, with varied success. Sometimes the trip just works well for solo and sometimes it doesn't. Above all, I plan things to occupy myself. I even get meticulous on prepping wood for a fire. I'll clean those branches, organize them, etc.
01/22/2022 07:01PM  
Enjoyed the report. I hope to get through that area some time, but every year my list gets longer. Glad you got through the trip and ended up with a positive outlook for future trips. You were way better prepared than I was on my first, which was almost my last!
Argo
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01/23/2022 08:52AM  
Thank you for doing this up. I have often wondered about doing a solo. But like you, I am a social being and enjoy company. I don't think it's for me. However, I may be faced with the same prospect no available trip companions this summer so, who knows?

A couple of questions:

Did you only take one paddle on the trip?
What size is your canoe? It looks more like a 17'.

It's strange how you can cover all sorts of water and ground without much pestilence and then arrive at a site that is teaming with flies. Then you paddle a short distance to another site and its virtually bug-free.
naturboy12
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01/23/2022 12:29PM  
Argo: “

Did you only take one paddle on the trip?
What size is your canoe? It looks more like a 17'.


I had a spare paddle. It was on shore at my campsite since I was just out trolling. Bad choice for sure.

The canoe is a 17’ that I paddled backwards for the trip. Couple big rocks in the front for ballast when not loaded with my pack. I don’t own a solo canoe.
technically_rugged
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01/23/2022 06:40PM  
I'm thinking of doing my first solo this year and it was good to read your experience as I really do wonder if I'll like it anywhere nearly as much as when I'm with friends, sharing the moment with them. I think it's just a different kind of enjoyment, but I've yet to find out.

I will say, I was in the BWCA during that stupid heat wave at the beginning of June, entering on a new record high for Ely. The heat didn't let up for a week... it's the kind of heat that will break anyone after a while. I think you handled it pretty well!

Thanks for the report, and I look forward to reading more.
01/23/2022 09:56PM  
I enjoyed this very much. I swore the first 4 solos I did that it would be my last. Wondermonkey is right when he says "soloing is like building up a muscle". It's not normal to be alone for a stretch of time. It doesn't happen for the huge majority of us in real life so it just takes time.

I find it's great to get into a good book when I'm not daytripping or out fishing. A small radio is good too. I like to pull in AM stations from around the world at night. Hearing people's voices that way can take the edge off the loneliness.

Oh and a dog with you is even better. You're solo but not really. And hey, I bet you'll always have your spare paddle in the canoe from now on. I swam for my canoe once when it blew away from shore. I was lucky to see it or the swim would have been a 1/2 mile instead of 20 yards.
Savage Voyageur
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02/21/2022 10:44PM  
Thanks for the trip report. I really liked your pictures, they were the real pictures not post processed to death.
MidwestFirecraft
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02/22/2022 07:18AM  
Thank you for the very personal account of your first solo. We are the same age and I recently started taking 1 and 2 night solos last year. Concern for my wife and kids is the greatest mental difficulty for me on solos. Something that worked for me was to ask a young neighbor couple that I trusted if they would be willing to help my wife and kids if anything came up from flat tire, to needing to watch the dog for whatever reason. With that settled it is much easier to relax and enjoy the trip. I have found in a good way, that a solo trip forces you to really "know" yourself. Your mind brings to light things you were not even aware of about yourself in the busyness and noise of your normal life. Once you learn to embrace that and learn from it, it is enlightening and quite enjoyable. I also found that as the trip leader on the group trips there is a hidden pressure for everything to be perfect. Not from the people on the trip, but placed there by me. This is absent on solo trips, and you can just truly enjoy being in the moment.
One of the biggest game changers for me on warm weather solos is a good hammock setup. I found that I have a lot more downtime on solos and as you experienced it is no fun baking in a tent. Being able to just chill out or rest in bug free comfort while looking out at the lake is amazing.

naturboy12
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02/22/2022 08:42AM  
MidwestFirecraft: "I have found in a good way, that a solo trip forces you to really "know" yourself. Your mind brings to light things you were not even aware of about yourself in the busyness and noise of your normal life. Once you learn to embrace that and learn from it, it is enlightening and quite enjoyable. I also found that as the trip leader on the group trips there is a hidden pressure for everything to be perfect. Not from the people on the trip, but placed there by me. This is absent on solo trips, and you can just truly enjoy being in the moment.
"


Looking back at this trip and writing this report made me realize all of this, and you put it into words quite nicely. I'm not sure it really "hit me" while I was still in the BW, but it has definitely come up in my conversations and memories of the trip since.
naturboy12
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02/22/2022 08:47AM  
Savage Voyageur: "Thanks for the trip report. I really liked your pictures, they were the real pictures not post processed to death. "

Thank you, I'm definitely not a professional photographer even in the loosest of descriptions and these were taken with my phone. The pictures in my mind are often times more vivid, and these photos help me to keep them there!
naturboy12
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02/22/2022 08:49AM  
TomT: "I enjoyed this very much. I swore the first 4 solos I did that it would be my last. Wondermonkey is right when he says "soloing is like building up a muscle". It's not normal to be alone for a stretch of time. It doesn't happen for the huge majority of us in real life so it just takes time.
"


This is great perspective, and I laughed a little when you refer to your first 4 (FOUR!) solos being your "last". I too hope to make a similar progression when I have to solo, and I'm sure I'll be doing it again at some time out of necessity. The lessons I learned on this trip will certainly help during the next one.
 
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