BWCA Potential First Solo Advice Wanted Boundary Waters Group Forum: Solo Tripping
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      Potential First Solo Advice Wanted     

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SlickNorthwoods
member (20)member
 
04/27/2022 11:51AM  
I have been floating the idea of attempting my first solo this September -- a shorter one to "test the waters" so to speak. I landed on Mudro, EP 23 due to the ability to see a decent amount of lakes in a relatively short amount of time and still have a "human" presence so to speak to help ease the anxiety a bit. It would be 4 days, 3 nights and hopefully go up through Fourtown, Boot, Fairy, and Gun. No definitive plan (this lake this day, this site this night) but getting up to Fairy or Gun day 1 I imagine would not be incredibly difficult (weather dependent) and securing a campsite mid-late September should be at least somewhat easier than middle of July worst case scenario.

I'm more so just looking for general advice, especially for a first timer. I've perused every inch of these forums in the past few months and love all the info and perspectives offered but have not truly delved into the solo side of things. My first trip was 5 days last May to LLC with a group, and my next is 7 days in a few weeks with a group further West. I plan on renting a solo canoe (Prism, Northwind Solo, etc) from an outfitter.

1. I have a 75L backpacking pack that would house my clothes, sleeping bag/pad, tent, clothes, tarp, etc. What would be the suggestion for a dedicated "food" pack? I plan on bringing a Bearvault 450 which would be able to fit all my simple meals + hygiene essentials and other scented products so a smaller pack to fit that + Fuel and tiny backpacking stove would be nice.

2. Whats the consensus on kayak paddles vs a single blade straight/bent paddle for a solo? I imagine I'll bring a single blade straight as a backup regardless.

3. Does anyone have a packing list they like to use for a solo? I feel as if its easier to pack with a group, considering if you forgot something then someone else might have it.

4. Was considering a GPS communication device of some sort like a Garmin InReach. Anyone have any recommendations on these and how you've used them?

5. Plan on bringing two fishing rods (bungee'd to the thwart opposite of the spare paddle) so any fishing advice in that general area is also appreciated.

Sorry for the long post! Excited to try this out finally.
 
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04/27/2022 01:19PM  
Solo trips are great! I went out of Mudro in September last year myself. Single portaged and got up to Wagosh in 2/3rds of a day. By mid September there should indeed be a bit less traffic.
I just put my food in a dry bag inside my only pack, and hang the dry bag.
I bring a single blade and a double blade. Double is nice in a headwind. I use the single most of the time.
Have fun!
 
SlickNorthwoods
member (20)member
 
04/27/2022 01:34PM  
sns: "Solo trips are great! I went out of Mudro in September last year myself. Single portaged and got up to Wagosh in 2/3rds of a day. By mid September there should indeed be a bit less traffic.
I just put my food in a dry bag inside my only pack, and hang the dry bag.
I bring a single blade and a double blade. Double is nice in a headwind. I use the single most of the time.
Have fun!"


I imagine that 300+ rod portage into Wagosh started getting long on the single portage!
 
Loony_canoe
distinguished member (384)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/28/2022 08:36AM  
I pack to allow singe portages, but I tend to do double portages most of the time. I like the walking time, and when solo I'm not in much of a hurry. Plus, as an old guy, I try to stress my body less.

I use both a single paddle and double. The single paddle is used mostly in rivers and other flat waters. It is a nice long distance tool. I like the double for wind and some big water, if choppy. I feel it provides a faster response and lower fatigue.

I have attached my Solo lists, they may have some small changes as I final pack.
They are for an upcoming 20 day trip, so I have an extra carry/back pack for the extra food. I plan on carrying the pack in my off hand if single portaging, and on my back with the canoe, if double portaging. I will carry my double paddle tied to the canoe (Velcro straps) and carry my single paddle in my off hand.
One paddle is always attached to the canoe unless it is in use.

I have attached two lists. One is for the food and gear and fits in a 70 L pack. The other is for items attached to the canoe while portaging and the extra food.

I did not include my cloths and pocket carry items. But I wet foot and use Chota waterproof pants and shoe.

Canoe List
Solo Pack List
 
Loony_canoe
distinguished member (384)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/28/2022 09:03AM  
Another point.
The BV500 fits well in the Exped Torrent 20L. I know it will also fit into my 70L pack as well. But for me, the 500 barely fits 7 days of repackaged food. That is why I tend to lean towards the "spectra bear bags" and hung dry bags (DCF) for food transport and storage.
 
04/28/2022 11:06AM  
1. I have a 75L backpacking pack that would house my clothes, sleeping bag/pad, tent, clothes, tarp, etc. What would be the suggestion for a dedicated "food" pack? I plan on bringing a Bearvault 450 which would be able to fit all my simple meals + hygiene essentials and other scented products so a smaller pack to fit that + Fuel and tiny backpacking stove would be nice.

I use a GG 60L Nimbus Trace, and a Nimbus Core. Food, cook gear, tarp, jacket in the Core. The rest in the Trace. For solo canoeing I will always take 2 packs and double portage. Your choices seem fine!

2. Whats the consensus on kayak paddles vs a single blade straight/bent paddle for a solo? I imagine I'll bring a single blade straight as a backup regardless.

I'm no fan of yak paddles, they cause warts! Quit worrying about what others use, try and decide for yourself. I like 2 ZRE, one bent shaft, the other straight, either can backup the other, and I have 2 different tools for specialized use.

3. Does anyone have a packing list they like to use for a solo? I feel as if its easier to pack with a group, considering if you forgot something then someone else might have it.

Sorry, I do not work with lists.

4. Was considering a GPS communication device of some sort like a Garmin InReach. Anyone have any recommendations on these and how you've used them?

The Garmin Inreach is a fine unit. Both as a GPS and as a sat signaling device. For myself a PLB dedicated emergency beacon is used, I have no need for messaging. I do take a Garmin GPS 62st with my own custom maps, primarily to record the route for home use. I also print my own maps at home and mostly navigate with map and compass.

5. Plan on bringing two fishing rods (bungee'd to the thwart opposite of the spare paddle) so any fishing advice in that general area is also appreciated.

Again this is best decided by you. I restrict myself to a single rod and style for each trip. Sometimes flyfishing, medium heavy bait-casting aimed at pike, or UL/Light spinning. But in all cases a single rod and style to focus on. Also I either fish or travel not both at the same time so the rod is cased or secured under the gunnels for the one piece rods.

It's your trip, have fun, be flexible, start small and work up. You are alone so slow down and be careful!

butthead
 
04/28/2022 12:26PM  
The OP appears to be well thought through. Renting a solo could be a trial run for the September first voyage. I like checklists to comfort the insecurity I have forgotten something. I start by selecting the gear and food for a given trip then sort and pack often using smaller packs designated for kitchen, personal hygiene, sleep system, etc. that are fit into two packs. I like the two packs to adjust trim when in wind and waves. It means double portaging, but that is also preferred as I stretch my joints and see/hear more. Paddling solo is a personal experience and one size does not fit all. Try a couple different style boats and several paddles. A bit like Goldilocks when it is right you will know. I use a Garmin InReach. At first to comfort my partner's anxiety when I solo I like the ability to send a short message but even more the mapping feature when paired with my phone. Always take a compass and paper maps and maps for the region. If your exit plan is blocked what route could you take out?
Pack your gear in packs you intend to take with substitutions accommodating the group effort. Take both straight and bent shaft and a yak paddle (length important) with one being backup for the other boat(s) and try them all. You have a good start. Experience will help you set a good trim.
 
SlickNorthwoods
member (20)member
 
04/28/2022 01:31PM  
Loony_canoe: "I pack to allow singe portages, but I tend to do double portages most of the time. I like the walking time, and when solo I'm not in much of a hurry. Plus, as an old guy, I try to stress my body less.


I use both a single paddle and double. The single paddle is used mostly in rivers and other flat waters. It is a nice long distance tool. I like the double for wind and some big water, if choppy. I feel it provides a faster response and lower fatigue.


I have attached my Solo lists, they may have some small changes as I final pack.
They are for an upcoming 20 day trip, so I have an extra carry/back pack for the extra food. I plan on carrying the pack in my off hand if single portaging, and on my back with the canoe, if double portaging. I will carry my double paddle tied to the canoe (Velcro straps) and carry my single paddle in my off hand.
One paddle is always attached to the canoe unless it is in use.


I have attached two lists. One is for the food and gear and fits in a 70 L pack. The other is for items attached to the canoe while portaging and the extra food.


I did not include my cloths and pocket carry items. But I wet foot and use Chota waterproof pants and shoe.



Loon, Appreciate the insight and GREATLY appreciate those lists you linked (had to remove them from my reply as I'm too "new" on the forums to link) -- I'll be utilizing this in future trips for sure. Its impressive that all fits in a 70L pack! I think my packing technique certainly needs some work but hopefully that comes in time and practice.
 
SlickNorthwoods
member (20)member
 
04/28/2022 02:02PM  


5. Plan on bringing two fishing rods (bungee'd to the thwart opposite of the spare paddle) so any fishing advice in that general area is also appreciated.


Again this is best decided by you. I restrict myself to a single rod and style for each trip. Sometimes flyfishing, medium heavy bait-casting aimed at pike, or UL/Light spinning. But in all cases a single rod and style to focus on. Also I either fish or travel not both at the same time so the rod is cased or secured under the gunnels for the one piece rods.

butthead
"


Interesting. I think the two rod approach is more so in case of issue, say one breaks a tip off or a reel malfunctions. Usually take a 7' Medium and a 6'6 Medium Light -- The 7' for a multipurpose casting rod and the medium light for strictly jigging.

By "Fish or travel" do you mean you dont throw a jig out or whatnot while going to the next campsite or destination? I've never fished out of a solo canoe so that will be an interesting experience I think.
 
SlickNorthwoods
member (20)member
 
04/28/2022 02:06PM  
bhouse46: "The OP appears to be well thought through. Renting a solo could be a trial run for the September first voyage. I like checklists to comfort the insecurity I have forgotten something. I start by selecting the gear and food for a given trip then sort and pack often using smaller packs designated for kitchen, personal hygiene, sleep system, etc. that are fit into two packs. I like the two packs to adjust trim when in wind and waves. It means double portaging, but that is also preferred as I stretch my joints and see/hear more. Paddling solo is a personal experience and one size does not fit all. Try a couple different style boats and several paddles. A bit like Goldilocks when it is right you will know. I use a Garmin InReach. At first to comfort my partner's anxiety when I solo I like the ability to send a short message but even more the mapping feature when paired with my phone. Always take a compass and paper maps and maps for the region. If your exit plan is blocked what route could you take out?
Pack your gear in packs you intend to take with substitutions accommodating the group effort. Take both straight and bent shaft and a yak paddle (length important) with one being backup for the other boat(s) and try them all. You have a good start. Experience will help you set a good trim."


Thanks for the insight Bhouse. I took a more "Back-seat" approach with regards to planning last year as it was my first trip, but have done extensive amounts of research and planning for the trip in May and similar to this one planned for Fall so far.

I think some substitutions may be included, such as buying a spare cheap backpacking stove (BRS) from amazon as a backup to the Soto. Is there others you can think of?
 
04/28/2022 04:34PM  
SlickNorthwoods: "sns: "Solo trips are great! I went out of Mudro in September last year myself. Single portaged and got up to Wagosh in 2/3rds of a day. By mid September there should indeed be a bit less traffic.
I just put my food in a dry bag inside my only pack, and hang the dry bag.
I bring a single blade and a double blade. Double is nice in a headwind. I use the single most of the time.
Have fun!"



I imagine that 300+ rod portage into Wagosh started getting long on the single portage!"


Was fine, but I travel very very light on solos. Think I stopped more-or-less midway at the top of the hill; I was able to get a cell signal and touch base with home.

Angleworm, on the other hand...
 
04/28/2022 07:43PM  
I've done a lot of solos. Everyone does it his own way, but general advice, you carry everything, do everything. I simplified several things to make it easier and I double portage. If it's your first trip that time of year, days are short, weather can be quite variable but is generally very nice, nights may be chilly, wind can be an issue. It's been a long time since I went in Mudro - it's a nice area - but I'm pretty sure it's only 8-10 miles double portaging to get to Fairy/Gun. One thing about solos is just about any site will work when you only need room one tent/hammock. Your trip is short so planning a simple out-and-back will work just fine.

I double portage and have one small pack and a larger one. My food is in an Ursack these days but also have used BearVaults. I don't have a dedicated food pack, it's just in one of the packs. One of the things I simplified was food and kitchen. There's not much to it and for 4-day trip it would be next to nothing. Your style may be different. A side note - many have found they don't eat as much on a solo without the social aspect to mealtime. It just becomes fuel.

I believe in taking a spare paddle and have always taken a double blade and single blade. A Northwind solo would be a reasonable choice in a first solo.

I have a checklist. I'll attach to an email and send to you. It's pretty extensive and detailed and, of course, personal. There will be items you can delete and probably a few you might add. I'll include a few explanatory notes about it and anything else I think of. If you have questions, just email me.

I bought a Garmin InReach mini about 3 years ago. I carried a PLB for years before that. The InReach works well for me to send a preset "I'm OK" message to family and get weather reports, plus there's the SOS capability.

I can't help you with the fishing, but good luck.

 
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1439)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/28/2022 08:49PM  
Welcome to the world of solo tripping. Sounds like you have been doing your homework.

I have only been doing solo trips for 2 years. The first year I packed pretty normally, but realized that I didn't enjoy double portaging so I started down the path of going ultralight. Now I can safely and comfortably single portage (though I will double portage if I feel a portage warrants a preview before bringing the canoe).

1) I use a 50 L Earthpak for all my camp gear and food. Food is usually in an Ursack, but I can use a small bear barrel. I also carry a lightweight 12L daypack that holds my lunch for the day and other items that require quick access (sunscreen, sunglasses, rain coat, etc.).

2) Paddle type is definitely a personal preference. I carry a single blade as a spare paddle and use a break apart kayak paddle primarily. I just find the kayak paddle more versatile and faster. I like to cover a lot of ground in a day. But you will figure out what works best for you.

3) Solo canoe trip packing list

4) I carry a SPOT Gen 3 to give my husband peace of mind. It doesn't have texting capability. I just use the tracking feature and each night I send him an "I'm OK" preprogrammed message. I may switch to a Zoleo soon for a variety of reasons. I do not carry a way to get a weather report. I do not want to have a weather report make me decide to exit early and I have experience reading weather signs. Besides, I always plan for worst case scenarios.

5) I don't fish. However, I do have my canoe outfitted with Bungee Dealee Bobs to make attaching paddles for portaging quick and easy.

Have a wonderful time and be sure to post a trip report to share any lessons learned.
 
04/28/2022 09:59PM  
Thanks, Slick, for posting the questions. Lots of really good ideas and advice and I am appreciative of the responses.

From my experience, adventuring alone in the wilderness, especially the first time, can be intimidating...just being so alone. The second night is the toughest for me. The first night I am so excited to be out there that I'm fine. But the second night I miss family, wonder if I bit off too much, feel guilty for vacationing while my family isn't, start inventing creatures when I hear a noise in the woods, etc. After I work through the mental weaknesses and stop creating scary narratives, I'm fine.

In fact, I reach a point where I have much more clarity of thought, peace of mind, and calmness in my soul. I still miss my family, but I know they are going to be okay and want me to enjoy my trip...I do the same for them when they have unique opportunities. The natural beauty speaks to my soul and I am inspired. The demands of the trip are invigorating and it is rejuvenating to embrace the challenges. I could go on...

Long story short, I hope you have an awesome first solo trip! I'm exiting Mudro Lake on my own solo in mid-September...I'll raise a paddle as we pass each other.
 
GopherAdventure
distinguished member(958)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/03/2022 09:56AM  
SlickNorthwoods: "I have been floating the idea of attempting my first solo this September -- a shorter one to "test the waters" so to speak. I landed on Mudro, EP 23 due to the ability to see a decent amount of lakes in a relatively short amount of time and still have a "human" presence so to speak to help ease the anxiety a bit. It would be 4 days, 3 nights and hopefully go up through Fourtown, Boot, Fairy, and Gun. No definitive plan (this lake this day, this site this night) but getting up to Fairy or Gun day 1 I imagine would not be incredibly difficult (weather dependent) and securing a campsite mid-late September should be at least somewhat easier than middle of July worst case scenario.

I'm more so just looking for general advice, especially for a first timer. I've perused every inch of these forums in the past few months and love all the info and perspectives offered but have not truly delved into the solo side of things. My first trip was 5 days last May to LLC with a group, and my next is 7 days in a few weeks with a group further West. I plan on renting a solo canoe (Prism, Northwind Solo, etc) from an outfitter.

1. I have a 75L backpacking pack that would house my clothes, sleeping bag/pad, tent, clothes, tarp, etc. What would be the suggestion for a dedicated "food" pack? I plan on bringing a Bearvault 450 which would be able to fit all my simple meals + hygiene essentials and other scented products so a smaller pack to fit that + Fuel and tiny backpacking stove would be nice.

2. Whats the consensus on kayak paddles vs a single blade straight/bent paddle for a solo? I imagine I'll bring a single blade straight as a backup regardless.

3. Does anyone have a packing list they like to use for a solo? I feel as if its easier to pack with a group, considering if you forgot something then someone else might have it.

4. Was considering a GPS communication device of some sort like a Garmin InReach. Anyone have any recommendations on these and how you've used them?

5. Plan on bringing two fishing rods (bungee'd to the thwart opposite of the spare paddle) so any fishing advice in that general area is also appreciated.

Sorry for the long post! Excited to try this out finally. "


1. Ursack for the food. They’re on sale right now. I just ursack my food, shove it in my pack (or use it as a second bag to trim the canoe) and you’re good to go. Hang it on a tree branch with a good knot.
2. I use a yak paddle, but it’s totally a personal preference thing. I love canoe paddles and know how to use one to maneuver the canoe well, but it’s hard to beat the speed and power of the yak paddle.
3. I have a pack list that is a little different then my pack list for group trips. Less creature comforts, lighter items, etc.
4. Another personal preference thing. I carry a SPOT device and it gives me and the family piece of mind. Costs about $120/year for the subscription, and I use it on all of my trips and so does my wife.
5. Perfect. That’s how I do it. Fishing from a solo canoe is tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake.

Have a great trip, you’re going to love it. I take one solo trip every year, usually in the fall. Great time to go.

Best of Luck,
Tony
 
SlickNorthwoods
member (20)member
 
05/04/2022 01:18PM  
Thank you all for the input. Lots of great advice and links being shared here!
 
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