BWCA First time trip in fall Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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04/18/2024 08:22AM  
Hello, I am planning a solo trip in the fall (beginning of Sept), I have never done a solo canoe trip before and just looking for tips from some veterans of solo trips. I have gone through an outfitter so I have the permits, route and all the gear taken care of, just looking for some additional guidance. All information is appreciated!
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04/18/2024 10:11AM  
In the other forums section you will find one titled solo tripping. Most of your questions and some you may have not considered will be discussed. Answers are generally opinions and the shared opinions of folks here are a good source of data.
Usually after school starts the crowds die down, the weather is drier and fire bans are more likely. Weather becomes more unpredictable by October so gear selection becomes more an issue.
I prefer fall trips.
04/18/2024 10:13AM  
First, there's a Solo Tripping Forum you can join - scroll to the bottom of the main message board page and find it in the "other available groups". You'll find a lot of information there and lots of knowledgeable people to provide information.

It's not clear to me what your previous experience is and what you might need to know. Have you done a BW trip, but just not solo? Etc.

Fall- it sounds like you are going early and things likely won't be much different, but generally as fall moves on, days get shorter, days and nights get cooler, weather is more variable and can be windier.

Solo- generally you do everything (camp chores take more time) and carry everything (portaging). I tend toward a KISS plan with food.

If you share more information, people can provide more targeted information.
04/18/2024 10:20AM  
Thanks for the response, I will look at the solo trip forum.
04/18/2024 11:59AM  
This is actually my first trip to the BWCA and first solo canoe/camping trip. I have a lot of experience canoeing/kayaking and camping but typically with a group or at least one other person. I have military experience, can read a map and use a compass, just need to refresh my skills a bit. I am excited about this adventure, just looking for some good tips, especially regarding portages.
04/18/2024 03:22PM  
OK, I thought maybe portaging might be a new experience.

First decision is whether to single or double portage, meaning can you carry everything as one load or will you need two. If you double you'll walk the portage 2 more times or 3X total. I double portage so if a portage is 80 rods I'll walk 240 rods total. Most route descriptions only include the distance once, so I'll add 160 rods. There are 320 rods in a mile in case you're not familiar with that. Many soloists will double portage so as not to increase their risk of injury.

You may pack differently. I usually carry the canoe and a small pack one load and a larger pack the other load. I take a spare paddle (one single blade, one double blade) and keep it lashed to the canoe. I suggest you take one too. You'll also want to take some appropriate rope for bow and stern lines. Sometimes you may need to secure it at a portage landing - they can drift away pretty easily - and you'll want to do so at camp. Generally people bring it up, turn it over, and tie it to trees.

The main thing to be efficient at potages is to have things in a pack with as few loose items to deal with at the landing. Land, put anything you're not carrying on the first trip off to the side so it's not blocking the landing. Normally I'll land, put the big pack, paddle, and PFD off to the side, clamp on the yoke, put on the small pack, pick up the canoe, and go. At the other end set it off to the side out of the way and go get the rest.

Otherwise, the difference is you do all camp chores which takes extra time. I generally try to keep food and camp chores to a minimum. Cold cereal, nuts and bars, dehydrated meals eaten out of the bag - no cleanup! Water and coffee.

You shouldn't have any trouble navigating and may not even use your compass, but good to have and know basics.

If you share your route and how many days, we'll add additional information for you. You can look up some information on portages and campsites on the "Maps and Entry Points" tab at the top. Some will be dated, some of us may have more recent experience, and your outfitter will have current information. Just ask.
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