BWCA 2012 Wilderness Challenge #3 (Stuck in the ....) Boundary Waters Group Forum: Wilderness Challenges
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bojibob
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03/31/2012 01:39PM  
This is #3 of 5 Wilderness Challenges for 2012 that I will be posting. The purpose of these is to get feedback on what you would do under these circumstances. I'm not looking for a "Right Answer" I'm looking to see how the many very knowledgeable people here on BWCA.com would react in a time of decision in Canoe Country.

Challenge #3: (Stuck in the……)

Situation: You are travelling solo in Quetico Provincial Park. You are on Day 2 of a 10 day solo trip. Your Canoe is Bell Magic. You have two packs and 2 paddles. You have been on 3 previous solo trips to Quetico; however, this is your first trip to this area of Quetico.

Your Current Location: You have completed your first day and camped on South Lake and have portaged into West Lake and are starting up the creek towards Jeff Lake.

*Note: This route is not a highly travelled route.

Contents of Pack #1 (50lbs)

Two CCS Zippered Stuff Bags with all your food.
Your cook set and stove.
Your saw and camp Axe
Fire Grate (this is not the BWCA)
Your TAJ3 Tent
Your CCS Tarp
Your backup Maps and Compass
2 Nalgene bottles: 1 w/water, 1 w/Everclear
Your MSR water filter
Trowel and TP

Contents of Pack #2 (25lbs)

Rain Gear
Clothes
Sleeping Bag
A Book (Paddlers Guide to Quetico Provincial Park by Robert Beymer without the Map in back?)
First Aid Kit (limited to a few bandages and generic Tylenol)
Personal Hygiene Kit (toothbrush, paste, comb, mirror, Tums)
Extra AA Batteries for your flashlight
Camera
50ft of paracord
6 pieces of beef jerky
On your belt you have knife, Leatherman style tool and a Mini-Mag Light.
In your pockets: Lighter, chewing gum, wallet with pictures of your Canoe.

*Note: You do not have a GPS, PLB, SAT Phone, iPOD, Watch or Fishing Equipment. (It’s just you and nature)

Additional Information: The current time is 9:45 AM. The Date is September 8, 2010. Sunset is at 7:36 PM, Twilight lasts until 8:07 PM. The Weather has gotten cooler and temps are in the mid 60s in the day and dipping into the low 40’s at night. The forecast for tomorrow is for even cooler temps and rain. Skies are currently partly cloudy clear with slight breeze with gusts 10-15 MPH from the SW.


The Challenge: As you progress up the creek the water becomes very shallow and suddenly ends in a boggy muck. You step out of the canoe to walk ahead with your paddle hoping to see if it opens up into water you can paddle through.

After about 15 steps, you suddenly sink to your waist in the muddy muck and as you struggle to get out you sink deeper up to your chest. The more you struggle the deeper you sink.

Your current location is the Red Flag.







Now what??

Please post your response before reading the others.



 
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03/31/2012 02:05PM  
Actually, something similar happened to me just last fall while bushwacking near a backcountry lake in Glacier National Park. Fortunately for me, there was a downed tree within reach.

Since struggling only causes you to sink deeper, I would stop that!
Since calling for help is unlikely to generate a response, I would try to relax and lean back to allow more of my body to displace some of my weight. The paddle you are carrying might give you some leverage to push against or could be placed beneath your neck and arms to help support your upper body.
Your basic hope is that by being patient, you can slowly work to a more horizontal position where your lower body actually floats to the surface and you can slither your way back to solid ground.

 
Savage Voyageur
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03/31/2012 02:18PM  
You have 50 feet of paracord so I would get it out of the canoe and tie something onto the cord. Then through it and try to hook something to pull yourself out. Maybe try to put a tarp out and roll onto it. This is a grave spot that you are in. Better be right or...
 
bojibob
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03/31/2012 02:34PM  
quote Savage Voyageur: "You have 50 feet of paracord so I would get it out of the canoe and tie something onto the cord. Then through it and try to hook something to pull yourself out. Maybe try to put a tarp out and roll onto it. This is a grave spot that you are in. Better be right or..."


The pack with the paracord is in the canoe and you are 15 steps away.... You won't be getting the cord :(
 
03/31/2012 04:44PM  
I'd still have my paddle in hand and wearing my PFD. Stop fighting, lay back,use the paddle to spread out my weight, and try to float till my lower body is free. Crawl swim slither to more solid footing and make my way back to the canoe. Turn around and find a different route.

butthead
 
03/31/2012 07:52PM  
I might take the life jacket off and stick it between my legs like a diaper. Key being getting 100% of life jacket under water pushing upwards. Then maybe use the paddle to loosen the footing/sediment underneath.

 
Woods Walker
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03/31/2012 08:40PM  
Lay flat as possible on my stomach & let the PFD take some weight off, then using the paddle shove it down along my leg to break the suction that is holding it in place, once one leg is free work on the other until both are on top... while laying completely flat, use arms & paddle to pull myself to the canoe & then find a better route.

With that said, I would most likely not be in that situation while solo, as I never leave my canoe without a rope attached... unless its on solid ground. I use extra caution when solo, especially when traveling off the beaten path.
 
03/31/2012 09:14PM  
quote Woods Walker: "Lay flat as possible on my stomach & let the PFD take some weight off, then using the paddle shove it down along my leg to break the suction that is holding it in place, once one leg is free work on the other until both are on top... while laying completely flat, use arms & paddle to pull myself to the canoe & then find a better route.


With that said, I would most likely not be in that situation while solo, as I never leave my canoe without a rope attached... unless its on solid ground. I use extra caution when solo, especially when traveling off the beaten path."



Painter line and a good handling rope, it makes a lot of sense to me!

butthead
 
Savage Voyageur
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03/31/2012 09:19PM  
quote bojibob: "
quote Savage Voyageur: "You have 50 feet of paracord so I would get it out of the canoe and tie something onto the cord. Then through it and try to hook something to pull yourself out. Maybe try to put a tarp out and roll onto it. This is a grave spot that you are in. Better be right or..."



The pack with the paracord is in the canoe and you are 15 steps away.... You won't be getting the cord :("



Sorry Rob, thats what I get for reading this on my IPhone screen. I will reread :)
 
Savage Voyageur
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03/31/2012 09:26PM  
Ok I would use the PFD that would still be on me like I said before as a small platform to push my way out of like a snowshoe on snow. Key here is to roll and not go any deeper. Also the paddle in my hand could be dug into the slop and maybe pull myself out.
 
schweady
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04/01/2012 08:22AM  
Some assumptions I make here are based on habits that I hope to develop, not necessarily ones that I currently possess: 1) always wear your pfd, and 2) never leave a canoe in water without remaining in direct contact -- either hand or rope. Following those rules, this isn't a tenth the problem.

Sucking mud is a real problem, however. I have experienced it, but never past the upper thighs. The pfd can be used in more ways than on your back -- either across your chest or on your legs -- to provide the leverage and buoyancy to get back to the canoe. Having the rope in hand is a good thing, too, but either way you're basically swimming back to the boat.

Gonna have to get back to West Lake, wash up, change clothes, build a fire, and reconnoiter.
 
OBX2Kayak
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04/01/2012 01:18PM  
I would try to lay back, relaxing to the extent possible, and let my PFD and paddle provide some support. After (hopefully) getting my body horizontal, floating on the surface, attempt to "swim" in the muck toward solid land or canoe, whichever is closer.
 
wildernessfan2
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04/01/2012 04:43PM  
I have been stuck in mud like that and it is exhausting to get out. So there are two scenarios for me..

First I would never leave my conoe in anything even remotely close to a muck stuck situation. That being the case I would be able to get a grasp on the boat even if I have to use the paddle to do such. I would have never taken my hand off the canoe. Eventually I would be able to work my way out of the muck with the combination of the paddle on the surface and the grasp on the canoe. 2 different positions and set of muscles as in push or pull. If I had to I try pulling the canoe forward to flip it over if need to be so I can get to the communications gear and/or protection from the elements. Relax--you're not getting pulling down and nothing is going to kill you other than the elements and lack of food.

Second scenario. If I am stuck in muck 30' from my supplies with nothing other than a paddle and my clothing. I would first remind myself not to panic and get exhausted trying to get out quickly. Muck is incredibly sticky and exhaustion is my main concern. First off forget the boots and clothing as they are sacrificed versus trying to save them and get out clean. I would use the paddle to keep the leverage and slowly push my way out while looking to grab any solid vegetation or even get water down along my whole to soften the muck and push/pull my way out.

No screaming unless I see someone..that's tiring in itself. Relax the temps are not going to kill you.. The mud will insulate so even if it takes until the rain begins to fall you will be fine. The rain will make it easier to get out. Exhaustion is your enemy..if it's going to be more than 12 hours below 35F and you are already exhausted then I concern myself with food and protection. Muck is scary stuff without water..with water to can work your way out eventually if you are of able body. Stamina and strength are more important than BWCA experience imo. Most smart solo people are pretty cautious to avoid such a scenarion but, then again well all make mistakes no matter the experience.

Now read back before I hit the submit button..Clearly a rope to the canoe is important but, again strength and stamina to pull it over muck towards you is key.. Solo it's iffy for the weak as that canoe is almost full weight even if you had the rope. Hard for you get full leverage power with just your arms..hence strength and stamina.

Text me I will come get ya.

 
SevenofNine
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04/02/2012 10:14AM  
I would lie forward and try to float. If I could reach something I would attempt to slowly pull myself out. Or if that wasn't working I might try rolling and see if that allowed me to get out.

Otherwise I would try using the paddle to provide leverage to get me out by laying it across the area I was in. If I had my life jacket on I would have to consider if it was providing floatation or whether it was only hindering rescue.
 
04/09/2012 08:33PM  
ok, i have my pfd on still (i would) so im not worried about drowning.

i have my paddle. my feet are stuck in a vacuum. i push the shaft of the paddle down one leg to let some air enter. i wiggle it back and forth enough i finally release the grip. pulling one leg out and leaning back towards the good footing, i do the same with the other foot. now im loose and i back myself out to solid ground.
 
MrBreeze
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06/05/2012 02:30PM  
If in this situation, I would have been pulling the canoe behind me through the muck. I would attempt to pull the canoe up to me and see if I can use it to pull myself out of the muck. It is possible the canoe may tip on me but will slowly rocking myself back and forth while pulling on the side of the canoe. It would take great effort but should be able to free myself from the goo. Now getting the canoe and myself to solid ground would probably be more difficult but possibly by laying the paddles on the surface of the muck, you could roll across the paddles and possibly get to shore. Change clothes into something dry and now bushwack. Rest for a bit, eat something and then bushwack to the next lake or back to the first lake.

 
05/26/2014 07:36AM  
You should sink only so far as your specific gravity is less then mud. The problem is getting your feet out of the mud because air to fill up the void left when you pull up your foot. Turn a paddle upside down and poke down by your foot to let air in as you pull your foot out. A stick would even be better then a paddle.
 
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