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loneranger
member (22)member
  
02/16/2023 09:42AM  
I have never been in the BWCA past July and have scheduled a 5 day solo this year from Sept. 11 to 15. What should I expect as far as weather goes?

I am hoping to have cooler temps than in July, FEWER OR NO bugs, and if it rains, I am perfectly content with sitting underneath my tarp all day passing the time.
 
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TuscaroraBorealis
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02/16/2023 09:47AM  
Never any guarantees but, you should find what you're looking for.
YetiJedi
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02/16/2023 09:48AM  
September trips are nice for many reasons. There are fewer people. There should be fewer bugs. And you can get just about anything weather-wise.

You can get just about any kind of weather in mid-September. On average, though, the weather is cooler and pleasantly so. In my experience, there does seem to be a little bit more wind too. There are some weather experts on this site who hopefully will share trends with actual data.

Hopefully you have great weather on your trip, and not just because I'll be in the BW during that same time frame!
02/16/2023 10:03AM  
ELY MN Monthly weather

Minimal bugs typically.
afromaniac
senior member (97)senior membersenior member
  
02/16/2023 11:01AM  
Minimal bugs
I have been on september trips where there's frost in the morning. Pack long underwear and have a decent sleep setup with a good mat and a warm bag. My favorite time to go.
NEIowapaddler
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02/16/2023 12:50PM  
I was there in September last year. Very few bugs, and those only for about half an hour after sundown. I was there 5 full days and it was sunny every day. Highs around 60 and lows around 40. There were more people than I expected, but I don't really have anything to compare it to since it was my first trip.
Jackfish
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02/16/2023 01:15PM  
Several years ago, we took a trip during the 3rd week of September. The first night, it was so warm, I slept in my underwear ON TOP of my sleeping bag until about 2:30am. The second night, it was so rainy and cold, I slept in long johns with my mummy bag zipped up to my chin.

The moral of the story? Plan for all extremes when tripping in September.
02/16/2023 02:50PM  
Weather As people have said and you can see there the average weather is good mid-60's, mid-40's, but is highly variable with a record high of 86 and record low of 30 for those dates. It's not the average temperature that will be a problem, but be prepared for the extremes. Overcast with precipitation and wind chill can make it feel even colder.
Northwoodsman
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02/16/2023 03:15PM  
That's my favorite week to paddle in the BWCA. Generally highs in the 50's to 60's, low's in the 30's and 40's. I have seen low's down to 29° and highs in the mid 70's. The sun comes up late and sets early. No bugs to mention. The crowds have really thinned out.
schweady
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02/16/2023 05:10PM  
Have now been in a few times around that week and the next. Counted exactly 3 flying insects, and one may possibly have been a mosquito. The crisp, clear night skies can be fantastic. If the NW gales come along, bringing the horizontal rain, be prepared with a good tarp, dress well, make some coffee, and enjoy a crossword. Lows we've experienced, according to my depth finder sitting just outside the tent, anywhere from 26 to 35. Perfect. Has easily become my favorite time of all.
02/16/2023 05:43PM  
We have been tripping in late May for 10 years now and I think the weather in late May compares to the mid September weather. 50s to 60s are common, nights in the mid 30s to mid to upper 20s are too. But I have experienced stretches of uncomfortable weather in both May and September. Last May on Brule we had 2.5 days of wind, rain and upper 40s to low 50s which wears on you after a while. The last bad day we had every layer we had with us on and were just marginally comfortable. Even under the tarp the wind blown rain could find us.

On Slim Lake in mid September a few years ago we had a similar experience, a couple very nice days sandwiched around 2 cold, windy and rainy days. Luckily that time we were in a more sheltered campsite and had a better tarp setup but it was still challenging. We have been up there enough to still enjoy trips like these and when the sun finally comes out it is truly wonderful.

My unscientific opinion is that while the weather is similar I think late May has better odds of warmer weather and less odds of extended cold rainy spells - the northwoods is warming up at that time of year rather than cooling down.

We booked another September trip this year but we booked it right after Labor Day, hoping for slightly better weather odds. In the Twin Cities where I live summer continues through mid September with 80s and 90s not uncommon but just 5 hours north of there, I do not think that is the case. Bugs are less in mid September typically and it is a good time to go, luck of the draw on the weather. But I would be prepared for extremes like a soaking 2 day rain with cool temps, or even a coating of snow on the ground at some point.

Bottom line, the best time to go is the time you can go. There are advantages and disadvantages of all seasons. Mid September could be glorious if the weather cooperates but even if it doesn't it is still pretty darn close to glorious.
gravelroad
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02/16/2023 10:29PM  
I’ve paddled on Saganaga while it was snowing right around Sept. 15. I’ve put in on Seagull when it was 82° on Sept. 30.
loneranger
member (22)member
  
02/17/2023 09:01AM  
I cannot thank you all enough for all the wisdom shared here!!! You all have shared some fantastic stories and tips for me to consider and prepare for my solo trip with.

I will make sure to be prepared for either end of the weather scale from clothes, to gear, to crossword puzzles LOL.

I can assure you that even if the weather is absolutely horrible I will still enjoy my time away from all the hustle and bustle of the world.

eagle98mn
distinguished member (170)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/17/2023 09:44AM  
September trips are **awful**. Ssshhhh! Stop talking about them. :)
02/17/2023 11:41AM  
eagle98mn: "September trips are **awful**. Ssshhhh! Stop talking about them. :)"


Yeah--our last 6 early-September trips were so "awful" that we've made it our Quetico standard. No bugs to swat, no one to talk to, empty campsites on every lake...

TZ
02/17/2023 03:13PM  
Totally agree. Best time to go, 2nd -3rd week of September, for all the reasons mentioned already.
JohnGalt
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03/07/2023 04:03PM  
Jackfish: "Several years ago, we took a trip during the 3rd week of September. The first night, it was so warm, I slept in my underwear ON TOP of my sleeping bag until about 2:30am. The second night, it was so rainy and cold, I slept in long johns with my mummy bag zipped up to my chin.

The moral of the story? Plan for all extremes when tripping in September."


100% this. Last year it was ~70* one day & cold the next, in October! September is very pleasent, few bugs & comfortable temps. The days are shorter, so plan on reaching camp earlier than you would in July. Good luck on your solo!
LaVirginienne
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08/19/2023 08:11AM  
This message has had HTML content edited out of it.
Love these comments thank you! I’m putting in the 2nd for my first Eeptember trip. Having had some October experience and a lot of backcountry experience as a mountaineer, here’s what I’ve learned to make my life comfortable as a soloist. Some of this may be useful to tandem paddlers as well?

(1) two slickers. Remarkably useful. One is the rain jacket I paddle in. This has rubber gasket cuffs to keep (most of) the rain from traveling up/down to my armpits she. Paddling and portaging. Cannot emphasize enough what a game changer this is. Orvis make them. So do Simms. The other is a calf length Gore Tex cagoule by Patagonia that I wear in camp.

(2) long scarf. I use this as a water stop in horizontally rainy weather. Material is cotton/wool. Long. You want to be able to wrap this thing around your neck three or four times and stuff it under the hood of your slicker.

(3) sharp axe, hand saw and fire starter. You’ll need to get to the heart of wet wood to start a fire. Don’t forget these. Just a reminder!

(4) 1 clothes “dryer” per person. This is a SMALL soft white plastic (BPA) Nalgene bottle. 30 for extended periods in the forecast, I’m bringing the MSR. Tents with two big vestibules are pretty important to me this time of year—both as a soloist and as a tandem paddler.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention a few things but this is what comes to mind as I prepare for my own trip, in addition to everything above.
LaVirginienne
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08/19/2023 08:53AM  
Omg like more than half my message was deleted ?? edited out! ???
LaVirginienne
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08/19/2023 08:55AM  
Ok I think I understand what happened. I used the mathematical symbol for “less than” to describe the volume of my Nalgene clothes dryer bottle and the system deleted almost the entire post after that. So ok I will try to rebuild it. The volume of the small plastic white Nalgene bottle is less than one liter, and two is better than one of you can find room for them.

(4) I was speaking of when to bring a stronger tent. I prefer tents with large double vestibules and I will switch out my summer tents for my heavier bulkier MSR tent if the forecast is for stronger winds the whole trip. I don’t even consider single portaging on should season trips.

(5) reminder to bring a backup stove and extra fuel in case your gravity filter freezes and you need to boil water for drinking. Try to remember to keep those gravity filters with you in your sleeping bag at night if the forecast is for frost.

(6) 10 essentials in your PVD during shoulder season. This includes whistle, fire starter, lighter and high calorie food.

(7) chair and 2 tarps, one for camp (bigger) and one for day trips (smaller). Some kind of seat cushion or crazy creek chair for cold/rainy lunches.

I think that was it!

See you out there in September!
08/19/2023 09:58AM  
Sept....great time to trip for all reasons already mentioned. I think you will notice more daytime winds. Cool nights and warm days leads to thermals which create winds which don't seem to be predicted in the weather forecasts.....imo.
mgraber
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08/19/2023 12:34PM  
boonie: " Weather As people have said and you can see there the average weather is good mid-60's, mid-40's, but is highly variable with a record high of 86 and record low of 30 for those dates. It's not the average temperature that will be a problem, but be prepared for the extremes. Overcast with precipitation and wind chill can make it feel even colder."


The record low at Ely for those dates is 20 degrees, not 30 degrees, on September 15, 2011.
08/19/2023 04:12PM  
I’ve been sunburned, froze, snowed on in the same week. Don’t trust the forecast, plan for 90 degrees, and 25 degrees…
LaVirginienne
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08/27/2023 10:23AM  
Jackfish: "Several years ago, we took a trip during the 3rd week of September. The first night, it was so warm, I slept in my underwear ON TOP of my sleeping bag until about 2:30am. The second night, it was so rainy and cold, I slept in long johns with my mummy bag zipped up to my chin.


The moral of the story? Plan for all extremes when tripping in September."


I’m heading up soon to out in solo early September. I share this experience—in August! This year it looks like the Old Farmers Almanack is correct and temperatures look unseasonably warm early in the month. These extremes aren’t easy on single portage soloists (which I’m not, I double portage, but I get it), so if you’re wringing your hands here are the main decisions/adjustments I’ve made or will make—hope this helps and have a great trip!

(1) tent. I’ve Tectroned my UL tent, and plan on taking it. I’m bringing my 3 season tent with the stronger poles in case the 10 day forecast changes abruptly for temp or wind before I put in. There’s a 2 pound weight difference between them but the 3 season tent is so much bulkier…

(2) sleep. I’m bringing my summer mat (Exped insulated) but I’m leaving my summer quilt at home. Opting instead for a slightly warmer sleeping bag that still has a top quilt type feature, which works well for hot nights. On the coldest nights, I’d sleep in my lw silk tights, puffy jacket and pants, booties and hat.

(3) layering. Here’s where it gets harder. I’ve packed two packing cubes with camp wear for summer and early Fall, and will choose at the last minute. They differ slightly to account for an average temp swing of 15-20 degrees, since right now it looks like it will be over 80 degrees the day I put in. The big decision will be whether to leave my LW insulated hoody jacket (sweater weight, warm when wet) in the car and just go with paddling in my UL down puffy — which normally I only wear in camp.

(4) boots. I’m bringing my Boundary Boots just in case the forecast changes but may leave them in the car and put in with my summer water shoes. High 70s are just too warm for Boundary Boots. Mid to low 70s daily with a lot of sustained rain—yep I’ll bring them. Still only bringing sandals for camp. Extra socks for that, packed in the Fall kit.

When I have to make last minute decisions like this involving pricey gear that’s hard to replace, I feel better blacking out the windows so people can’t see inside my car at EPs. I use a Weathertech product of reflective shades built specifically for my car. Blacks out all windows. Great for sleeping in your car too!

Have fun packing!!
 
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