BWCA Age Boundary Waters Group Forum: Solo Tripping
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Rye4Brkfst
member (6)member
  
04/15/2023 07:53PM  
Just my observation that a lot of solo trippers I've run into and read about seem to be older (myself included). After a lifetime of kids, partners, compromises, capitulations, meetings, focus groups, promises, obligations, distractions, interruptions, and acute awareness of one's mortality, it's freeing to go out on your own and make decisions without consequence other than what affects you. Get up before dawn if it suits you. Sleep in until the next day. There's enough calories to cover the trip so why bother with having a specified meal at a specified time? Wonder at the beauty around you or explore your inner space.

Each paddle stroke away from the entry point turns another point on the pressure release, moves me closer to equilibrium.

That said, about 5 days into it and I'm full of ideas and ready to re-engage.

(edited to change "effects" to "affects" because I can never keep them straight)
 
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YetiJedi
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04/15/2023 08:26PM  
Well said, Rye. Thank you for sharing those observations. When I turned 8 I was allowed to ride my back to a lake about a mile and a half away and fish with friends. At about age 10 I could go on my own. In my late 40's now, I can relate to everything you said about "escaping from" as well as "escaping to", so to speak. I like going into the wilderness with close family first and also enjoy going alone from time to time.

It's interesting you feel ready to return and re-engage after about 5 days...I hadn't thought about that part of it so I appreciate your perspective.

Any trips planned for you this year?
 
TuscaroraBorealis
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04/15/2023 09:13PM  
A quote from Blaise Pascal really sums this up and I have personally found it to be true. "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

...and taking it up several notches. From the Gospel of Mark 6:31. “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.”

Not Implying everyone necessarily needs to go on a solo canoe trip to achieve this! But, I believe we are all wired to occasionally take some time to meditate/contemplate and refocus in a quiet, solitary setting - where ever & for however long that may be.


I do agree that it seems age definitely plays a significant factor in realizing these truths.
 
YetiJedi
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04/15/2023 09:39PM  
TuscaroraBorealis: "A quote from Blaise Pascal really sums this up and I have personally found it to be true. "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."


...and taking it up several notches. From the Gospel of Mark 6:31. “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.”


Not Implying everyone necessarily needs to go on a solo canoe trip to achieve this! But, I believe we are all wired to occasionally take some time to meditate/contemplate and refocus in a quiet, solitary setting - where ever & for however long that may be.


I do agree that it seems age definitely plays a significant factor in realizing these truths."


Well said and I appreciate you sharing both quotes.
 
jillpine
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04/16/2023 09:42AM  
I didn't choose to start with solo trips. They chose me. My sons grew up and left home. They were my tripping partners for two decades. My partner does not enjoy backcountry trips. My circle of friends were either not interested or not able to take backcountry trips. So I went alone.
Boonie and others on this forum were instrumental in providing the encouragement and footing to head out on my own. Since 2019, I have taken more solo trips than I can count, none longer than 10 days, and none worthy of youtube-level influencing, but they have made all the difference to me.
The effect of age was very much part of it. Fifteen years ago, I would not have left my two young sons to go take a trip by myself. I brought them with me - sometimes together, and sometimes just one of them with me. Looking back on it, those trips were much trickier and riskier than going it alone. I didn't realize it at the time. I just went. No Garmin, no Kevlar, no Gortex, and all the food was homemade in the dehydrator.
As I approach the decade of my sixties, I see many years of being alone in the backcountry ahead of me. Gear is lighter, schedule is more flexible, and the pocketbook is not quite as squeaky when opening. I am grateful to the visionaries before me who saw value in preserving these areas of wilderness, and I try now to be part of that cohort for the generations that follow me. Emphasis on "try".

 
straighthairedcurly
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04/16/2023 10:53AM  
While I am blessed to still have family members (and occasional friends) to take trips with, and I enjoy those trips very much, I have come to really appreciate the simplicity of a solo trip. I carry a bare minimum of gear and I am only responsible for a single person. I can go and stop as my body and mind dictate to me. Most importantly, it is such a wonderful time to hear myself think. Jillpine and others captured so many of the advantages of starting to solo later in life. Safe travels everyone.
 
04/16/2023 02:01PM  
As a teenager my Dad organized and led our BW trips. Work, school, marriage and kids took up my twenties and early thirties. Mid thirties thru fifties I organized and led (poorly) our rare, five only BW trips. I was in my mid sixties when I took my first solo BW trip, I hadn't planned a solo trip but it was either solo or don't go. Now I'm in my seventies and going on my eighth(?) BW solo.
This discussion has made me think about why I still do this at almost 73:
I love to plan the trips. I like my own company. I love the wilderness. I like having no one else depending on me and( This last one is hard to explain but here goes)--- I'm confronting my mortality, defying my age, celebrating my independence, proclaiming my strength, exerting my will. Sounds stupid when I write it down but when I solo there is no pretense just me. I only look like a fat old man.
,
 
Minnesotian
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04/16/2023 03:07PM  
TuscaroraBorealis: "A quote from Blaise Pascal really sums this up and I have personally found it to be true. "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."


...and taking it up several notches. From the Gospel of Mark 6:31. “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.”


."


There are a couple of quotes I write down on the first page of all my journals when I get them:

"When one finally arrives at the point where schedules are forgotten and becomes immersed in ancient rhythms, one begins to live." - Sigrud Olson

"I have never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude" - Thoreau

"The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too " - Goethe

Each one of those quotes are a reminder of a past experience where I discovered the meaning behind the quotes and now serve as a reminder of how to daily move forward.
 
YetiJedi
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04/16/2023 03:44PM  
merlyn: "This discussion has made me think about why I still do this at almost 73:
I love to plan the trips. I like my own company. I love the wilderness. I like having no one else depending on me and( This last one is hard to explain but here goes)--- I'm confronting my mortality, defying my age, celebrating my independence, proclaiming my strength, exerting my will. Sounds stupid when I write it down but when I solo there is no pretense just me. I only look like a fat old man.
,"


Merlyn, You sound inspirational to me. Truly appreciate your perspective and what you continue to accomplish. I'll feel extremely blessed if I'm still doing this when I'm 73. May you have your best trippin' season yet!
 
Rye4Brkfst
member (6)member
  
04/16/2023 03:48PM  
YetiJedi: "Well said, Rye. Thank you for sharing those observations. When I turned 8 I was allowed to ride my back to a lake about a mile and a half away and fish with friends. At about age 10 I could go on my own. In my late 40's now, I can relate to everything you said about "escaping from" as well as "escaping to", so to speak. I like going into the wilderness with close family first and also enjoy going alone from time to time.


It's interesting you feel ready to return and re-engage after about 5 days...I hadn't thought about that part of it so I appreciate your perspective.


Any trips planned for you this year?"


Thanks, YJ! I also was encouraged to explore on my own at an early age. The Mississippi in the Twin Cities provided a lot of life lessons.

I can go on after the 5 day mark, but I start feeling the pull to talk to someone after that as I'm sure a few FS rangers can attest to after running into me. Funny thing that I've never been asked for a permit after an intense round of (probably one sided) conversation.

One trip planned for Brule in June, but probably one or two more in the fall.

 
YetiJedi
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04/16/2023 04:53PM  
Rye4Brkfst: "
YetiJedi: "Well said, Rye. Thank you for sharing those observations. When I turned 8 I was allowed to ride my back to a lake about a mile and a half away and fish with friends. At about age 10 I could go on my own. In my late 40's now, I can relate to everything you said about "escaping from" as well as "escaping to", so to speak. I like going into the wilderness with close family first and also enjoy going alone from time to time.



It's interesting you feel ready to return and re-engage after about 5 days...I hadn't thought about that part of it so I appreciate your perspective.



Any trips planned for you this year?"



Thanks, YJ! I also was encouraged to explore on my own at an early age. The Mississippi in the Twin Cities provided a lot of life lessons.


I can go on after the 5 day mark, but I start feeling the pull to talk to someone after that as I'm sure a few FS rangers can attest to after running into me. Funny thing that I've never been asked for a permit after an intense round of (probably one sided) conversation.


One trip planned for Brule in June, but probably one or two more in the fall.


"


Ha! Your interactions with the FS rangers makes me laugh! My first two nights on any solo trip are the toughest - that's when I still want to talk to people, especially family, worry, keep thinking about work dilemmas, etc. Usually oat some point on the third day I hit my groove, set work problems aside, and focus on the happiness of my family relationships and then I can truly enjoy the wilderness.

Curious...any cool Mississippi River stomping grounds you can recommend?
 
TuscaroraBorealis
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04/16/2023 05:10PM  
YetiJedi: "

Curious...any cool Mississippi River stomping grounds you can recommend?"


I realize you weren't asking me, and it's an hour or so north of the metro....but, the section just below St. Cloud (especially the Beaver Islands) was always an enjoyable paddle. Usually pulled off in Clearwater. I believe there is still an outfitter there Clear Waters Outfitting Company that provides shuttles if needed and current river conditions etc. It's a great all things paddle/canoe store as well.
 
TuscaroraBorealis
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04/16/2023 05:20PM  
Minnesotian: "
TuscaroraBorealis: "A quote from Blaise Pascal really sums this up and I have personally found it to be true. "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."



...and taking it up several notches. From the Gospel of Mark 6:31. “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.”



."



There are a couple of quotes I write down on the first page of all my journals when I get them:


"When one finally arrives at the point where schedules are forgotten and becomes immersed in ancient rhythms, one begins to live." - Sigrud Olson


"I have never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude" - Thoreau


"The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too " - Goethe


Each one of those quotes are a reminder of a past experience where I discovered the meaning behind the quotes and now serve as a reminder of how to daily move forward. "


I like those, thanks for sharing.

Another favorite quote/thought that this thread has helped me revisit is from (I believe) Socrates. Or, at least, the thought originates from him.

"A busy life is an unexamined life. An unexamined life is rarely worth living."

 
Bearpath9
distinguished member (361)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/17/2023 10:13AM  
merlyn: " As a teenager my Dad organized and led our BW trips. Work, school, marriage and kids took up my twenties and early thirties. Mid thirties thru fifties I organized and led (poorly) our rare, five only BW trips. I was in my mid sixties when I took my first solo BW trip, I hadn't planned a solo trip but it was either solo or don't go. Now I'm in my seventies and going on my eighth(?) BW solo.
This discussion has made me think about why I still do this at almost 73:
I love to plan the trips. I like my own company. I love the wilderness. I like having no one else depending on me and( This last one is hard to explain but here goes)--- I'm confronting my mortality, defying my age, celebrating my independence, proclaiming my strength, exerting my will. Sounds stupid when I write it down but when I solo there is no pretense just me. I only look like a fat old man.
,"


My story is kind of the same. Went on a couple with the scouts, one more just before I got married, then marriage, kids, house and kind of settled for car camping. Managed to get my oldest grandson to go for a couple of trips, then his life got busy. Three years ago, with no partner, I decided I would go by myself at the age of 62. I'm 64 now and I don't think I would want a partner. And again, for the same reasons merlyn said. I still get the same objection-that I am too old. No, merlyn, it doesn't sound stupid. I feel the most of the same things. Except the fat old man part. Despite my wife being a very good cook, I still weigh about what I did in my twenties. You are only as old as you feel. And I have plans for next year, and the year after.

 
hobbydog
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04/18/2023 08:39AM  
Rye4Brkfst: "
YetiJedi: "I can go on after the 5 day mark, but I start feeling the pull to talk to someone after that as I'm sure a few FS rangers can attest to after running into me. Funny thing that I've never been asked for a permit after an intense round of (probably one sided) conversation.
"


I am an introvert but after going a week or so without seeing anyone and I run into a like minded soul, I can be an extrovert. Some of the most memorable parts of my solo trips are the "30 minute friendships" you establish along the way.

I am 66 and would like to keep going solo as long as I can. Each trip now is cherished more than the last one as we know that this one could be the last one.
 
04/18/2023 10:40PM  
I started tripping in Q when I was 30. My spouse went with me for two trips. On her last trip we were invaded by a pack stealing bear who ended my spouse’s trip enjoyment. Since then except for one other trip I have done them solo. I have spent over two years of my life in Q. And for most of the last few years I have done five weeks a year two in spring and three in late August. I am planning to do five weeks this year but at 76 I am getting near the end of my long trips. I hope I can continue as my health declines with shorter distance trips. I will really miss my second home when I can’t dip a paddle any more.

Over the years I have had nearly every bad event happen to me except being unable to continue. But far offsetting all of the bad events are my love of the place: whether it is the solitude, the vegetation, the wildlife, the beautiful lakes or the sense of fulfillment by managing to stay healthy and enjoying your sense of self. It is by far my favorite place on earth.
 
YardstickAngler
senior member (84)senior membersenior member
  
04/19/2023 01:01PM  
My first solo is this spring. I’m 39 years old, so probably a bit younger than the standard profile paddler the OP mentioned.

My career demands a great deal of time away from home. When I am home, I try very hard to pour myself out into my family (wife and four kids aged between 5-12). Keeping up with the extracurricular activities, an aging home, and acting as the primary cook and maintenance guy at home is very fulfilling and yet very, very overwhelming at times.

It takes a great deal of sacrifice from all of us to allow me to make one trip per year, and I purposely choose a week in between sports seasons so I don’t miss too much. Often, this trip seems like a very frivolous, selfish thing. But I also know that dreaming about and planning for it has pulled me through some darker moments when I have felt like the rat race of life was consuming me.

My hope is that I will soon be able to bring a child or two along, but ideally I’d still like to take one solo trip per season, too. I need a space in my life where I can settle into the “ancient rhythms” as mentioned in the Sigurd quote above. I don’t know how these rhythms got there, but I know that I feel deeply fulfilled by the simple tasks paddling, navigating, portaging, processing firewood, and observing the “real real world”…nature in all its untamed glory.

COVID brought a great deal of chaos to our household, a stark reminder that life is very, very short. My kids and wife are depending on me to be a present, loving provider, and I can give more to them when I press “pause” on the rat race in order to dwell in the beauty and challenge of the wilderness, where I feel the love of God most present.
 
TuscaroraBorealis
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04/19/2023 05:02PM  
YardstickAngler: "My first solo is this spring. I’m 39 years old, so probably a bit younger than the standard profile paddler the OP mentioned.


My career demands a great deal of time away from home. When I am home, I try very hard to pour myself out into my family (wife and four kids aged between 5-12). Keeping up with the extracurricular activities, an aging home, and acting as the primary cook and maintenance guy at home is very fulfilling and yet very, very overwhelming at times.


It takes a great deal of sacrifice from all of us to allow me to make one trip per year, and I purposely choose a week in between sports seasons so I don’t miss too much. Often, this trip seems like a very frivolous, selfish thing. But I also know that dreaming about and planning for it has pulled me through some darker moments when I have felt like the rat race of life was consuming me.


My hope is that I will soon be able to bring a child or two along, but ideally I’d still like to take one solo trip per season, too. I need a space in my life where I can settle into the “ancient rhythms” as mentioned in the Sigurd quote above. I don’t know how these rhythms got there, but I know that I feel deeply fulfilled by the simple tasks paddling, navigating, portaging, processing firewood, and observing the “real real world”…nature in all its untamed glory.

COVID brought a great deal of chaos to our household, a stark reminder that life is very, very short. My kids and wife are depending on me to be a present, loving provider, and I can give more to them when I press “pause” on the rat race in order to dwell in the beauty and challenge of the wilderness, where I feel the love of God most present. "


Thank you so much for sharing your heart so beautifully!

My thoughts on the ancient rhythms...is simply that we are all made in the image & likness of God, and EVEN he (on the 7th day) rested! Also check out Mark 6:31. Not saying everyone must choose a canoe trip to rest but, we are all Divinely "wired" to occasionally recharge ourselves through what gives us rest, and to be our best we MUST give ourselves that gift. It's counter-cultural but, it is soooo important. Although, that's a whole other topic in & of itself!

 
04/24/2023 09:38PM  
My Mother would tell the story of when I was 5 years old and played outside by myself in a snowstorm. Apparently I've always been comfortable being alone. I remember rabbit hunting by myself after school with my pellet gun. I would wander through the woods and swamps to hunt frogs and snakes (to keep, not kill) as a teenager.

I did my first BWCA solo when I was 24. In my 50's I wanted more companionship so did a couple trips where I met up with other solos on a predetermined lake and day to spend a few nights before going our separate ways. I call this type of trip a Hybrid Solo.

It's my favorite way to go now. It satisfies that solo "doing what I want, when I want" freedom but also gives companionship part of the time, which is really great too. I've done 10 night solo's and frankly, after day 7 or 8 I'm wishing for someone to talk with.

 
TuscaroraBorealis
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04/25/2023 02:48PM  
Great photo
 
04/26/2023 07:31AM  
TuscaroraBorealis: "Great photo"


Thanks TB! It’s out of the ordinary but a view many are familiar with.
 
GraniteCliffs
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04/26/2023 10:33AM  
I grew up on a lake several miles of water and one portage away from the BW. We were allowed to go camping alone when we were through seventh grade. Here I am now just about exactly 60 years later planning several Q trips, the first one a solo.
I am so thankful and appreciative of multiple trips each year.

For many decades until I retired I wondered: Did I love canoeing because of the escape from the rat race that many of you have described?
Or did I simply become addicted to the woods and water?
The kids grew up, I retired and the rat race glided to a near stop.
And then I got my answer.
I did love getting away from the rat race.
But more importantly I realized I was indeed simply addicted to the woods and water.

Sitting at night by the shore listening to sounds and watching the sky come alive.
Paddling silently along the shore alone just looking, listening and smelling.
Sitting around a campfire with friends or family that I love.
Crawling into the tent to sleep at night tired and totally at peace.
Yep, I love just being a part of it all.
Paddle On!
 
04/26/2023 02:54PM  
GraniteCliffs: "I did love getting away from the rat race.
But more importantly I realized I was indeed simply addicted to the woods and water.

Sitting at night by the shore listening to sounds and watching the sky come alive.
Paddling silently along the shore alone just looking, listening and smelling.
Sitting around a campfire with friends or family that I love.
Crawling into the tent to sleep at night tired and totally at peace.
Yep, I love just being a part of it all.
Paddle On!"


Well said!

I’m wondering if there will be a return to natural places in response to the craziness of the modern world. Some people believe AI will provide virtual experiences that are safer and easier to manage. I hope I’m not around for “The Falls Chain AI Experience”.

Maybe, just maybe people will gravitate back to the wilderness areas and we will see many more young people on the trails and message boards.
 
04/26/2023 08:24PM  
An enjoyable thread I honestly was skeptical about at first. Many of our stories are similar ultimately being in the position of going solo, the learning curve and the serenity. And the learning curve of physical limitations.
On my first solo I was paddling a 14'6" plastic kayak and tripped to Kawnippi up the Man chain. I was napping on one of the rocks in the Fall's chain, water levels were low, and when I woke up an emerging dragon fly was about two inches in front of my face. I have always carried an affinity with dragon flies and once the shock wore off I realized what was happening. Serenity comes in many forms.
Good memories are great friends and it is wise to collect them.
 
Bearpath9
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05/13/2023 07:35AM  
Got a rude awakening last month. I applied for a job with the county parks department (which I ended up getting) and had to take a physical. Now I don't like going to doctors, so it had been awhile since I had one. Long story short, I had high blood pressure. So, I have to go see a doctor at my health provider. Yup, I am now on high blood pressure drugs. And to rub salt in the wound, I also an on high cholesteral meds, which was a shocker. I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, avoid processed foods when I can, and watch my salt intake. Lol, IT'S NOT FAIR ! To tell the truth, I was a little overweight (normally I'm 155-165, I was 177) but still not bad. Since the alternative is pretty drastic, I guess I will get older. But I am going to keep on going on trips until I absolutely cannot.

P.S. I did get the job, and got assigned (so far) to maintenance and upkeep. Get to be outdoors, and keep the parks clean and work on the trails. Absolutely love it. It doesn't even seem like work.
 
05/14/2023 07:01AM  
Here’s what I know. It’s true for me.

I’ve worked a very physical job since 23 years old, I’m 63 now. In 2014 I had joint pain in one elbow and both knees. You see, I own a window cleaning business and I’ve always been on a crew. So think carrying buckets and climbing ladders and roofs.

I got turned on by a fam member to very high quality supplements and started taking them 2x a day. The pain was gone in 2 weeks and never came back.

Here’s the interesting part. In the cold months of Jan and Feb I go on unemployment and rarely work. I get out of shape fast!! Real fast if I don’t exercise and break out the cookies.

So come March and it’s time to portage the 28 footer to the back of a big house. It’s hard and it’s now heavy. I climb the ladder and it’s a strain. Later that night I’m wiped out and crash at 8 pm.

The next day I’m sore all over. My knees now ache. This lasts for a good 2 or 3 weeks as I struggle to build back the muscle I lost that support my shoulders and knees. Gotta build those core back up and shed the 10 pounds of cookies and ice cream now.

By May I’m feeling strong. I cut out the bs desserts and eat healthy and take my supplements. Usana is the brand if you need to know. The best. I’m not a distributor anymore but a lifetime customer.

So the moral to this is that if we want to have an active geriatric phase of our lives and still be portaging and paddling well into our 80s and even 90s here’s the secret. Get in shape and STAY in shape. It’s got to become a habit you love.
 
straighthairedcurly
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05/14/2023 08:26PM  
TomT, what specific supplements have worked best for you. I am always interested in what others have tested out and what improvements they have experienced to their health.
 
05/15/2023 01:50PM  
straighthairedcurly: "TomT, what specific supplements have worked best for you. I am always interested in what others have tested out and what improvements they have experienced to their health."


Usana has a multivitamin called the Cellsentials. It’s two different supplements and I take 2 of each every 12 hours. So 7:00 am and then pm. With these I take a fish oil capsule and glucosamine tablets. Usana calls these Procosa. Their fish oil is called Biomega. Very high quality stuff. My sister in law is a distributor and I can hook people up with her for more info.

They ship every month or every 2 months. I learned I can save the $10 shipping by getting 2 months of product every other month. I’ve had great results. Haven’t had a serious cold since 2014. I feel great with no joint pain. I’m 63 so that’s pretty good.
 
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