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      Thoughts to Guard Against During a Solo Canoe Trip     
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thinblueline
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03/17/2015 09:12PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
There is a good possibility my nine night June trip into Quetico is going to turn into my first solo affair, at the ripe old age of 44. It's something I've always endeavored to do, but if given the choice, I'd rather take someone, as I'm a bit of a gregarious fellow.

I'm not so worried about my bush craft and outdoor skills, as I've been to Quetico about eight times already, but what I'm worried about is a touch of loneliness, a taste of guilt over leaving my family to fend for themselves, a hint of worry about what could be happening back home, and a little bit of impatience if I find myself stuck somewhere in miserable conditions with no one to talk to, and thoughts of "what am I doing here" or "what am I doing this for".

Having said that, I'm still likely to take the trip, but was wondering if I could get some perspective on how others deal with these thoughts that might crop up during a trip.
 
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hobbydog
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03/17/2015 09:58PM  
Stay busy and keep moving. Live in the minute. If you get wind bound, catch up on sleep. Stay busy. Get lost in the trip and thoughts will not drift back to home. Stay busy. Keep moving. Take pictures. Journal. Paddle hard, portage hard, and soak it in. Explore. Keep options open. Keep moving, stay busy. Do that at least the first few days and find your rhythm. Have fun.
 
AJ2008
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03/17/2015 10:03PM  
quote thinblueline: "I'm worried about is a touch of loneliness, a taste of guilt over leaving my family to fend for themselves, a hint of worry about what could be happening back home "

Bingo!! You nailed it my friend! This is also my biggest fear. Every time I am away from home I feel this way. I am about to do my first solo in May most likely, and I am in the same boat as you. Mine will only be 3 or 4 days though. I am interested to see some replies to your post. Good luck!
 
03/17/2015 10:04PM  
I have to guard against those thoughts leading to bad judgment, poor decisions, and rash actions. I plan shorter travel days, more layover (weather) days, and more alternatives to shorten a trip without having to over extend myself. I have become better at living in the moment - whatever it brings - and enjoying it. If I am bored while wind bound, I try to relish the rare opportunity to experience boredom ;). I talk to my notebook a lot. You can talk to trees, rocks, chipmunks and no one will ever know. But remember - sound travels very well across the water, so do it very quietly :). If you're not in the habit of taking a book, you might want to consider it on a solo. Or drawing/painting materials if you are artistically inclined. I take a lot of pictures. I look at maps. There are many things to do that you might not do when others are around - whittling, fire building, plant identification, weather prediction, star gazing, wildlife observation, tracking, napping, sitting doing nothing. . .

Take your time, be careful, keep it simple, embrace the moment, enjoy your trip!
 
03/17/2015 10:33PM  
"Paddle harder" -Beav

Ahh there is so much to occupy yourself on a solo. Many touched on some pastimes. Often I find my mind just wandering and thinking of...we'll nothing.

Rent a Sat phone and call in nightly. Allay those fears of being out of touch with home. I get em to solo or group, I just figure that peeps back home can get things accomplished without me. Just a thought.

I had a wind/layover day on Alice lake. I explored, sat on a ledge at edge of water and thought about nothing, lounged in a hammock, wondered in marvel at the deep gouges in the granite from the ice age, read in a hammock, napped in a hammock, marveled at the roar of a passing storm, made a nice fire in the evening, took some photos, the list goes on. I still go back to that day when life is spinning around me sometimes...

 
03/17/2015 10:36PM  
I totally agree the primary task is to plan something to fill time you would otherwise fill interacting with others. Should I find myself getting into thinking about negative things I find it helps to acknowledge them and then tell myself something positive about the concern and refocus into some activity. I like to review maps and find places I might want to explore. Keeping busy cannot be overstated unless you are one of those lucky folks that can just sit and get lost in their own thoughts.
 
03/17/2015 10:46PM  
i did my first solo trips when i was a freshman living in the besotted booze dorms at UMDuluth. i had an absurdly gorgeous girlfriend. one thought of her and it took all of my efforts to keep from doing a u-turn back to dorm hell. winter trips were especially difficult, in those days it was usually forty below, real tempts. laying alone in my cold tent, freezing, literally almost freezing, while less than a hour and a half away was heaven on earth, seemed stupid. i never got good at conquering those thoughts.
 
03/17/2015 11:02PM  
"Having said that, I'm still likely to take the trip, but was wondering if I could get some perspective on how others deal with these thoughts that might crop up during a trip."

Because of age related (?) dementia I spend a lot of time trying to remember------------give me a minute, I'll get it soon------

butthead
 
Buster
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03/17/2015 11:06PM  
Guilt, is a difficult emotion for me to deal with. Not only do I enjoy solo ventures into canoe country, but long distance bicycle touring rivals the time I spend canoeing I'm presently camping on the south rim of the Grand Canyon with hopes of securing a back country permit in the morning. Leaving my spouse and animals is difficult But i am very fortunate she understands my passion for venturing out..
 
Jeriatric
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03/17/2015 11:50PM  
Deep Thoughts by Jeriatric:

Many parents can relate stories about trips on which they took their teenage children and all the kids could think about was getting back home. Even a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Europe might have the kid all depressed about whatever it was that he had left behind (perhaps a girl he had been dating). Do you remember the girl on a Hawaiian cruise that made a bomb thread so that the family would have to return home earlier?
I think these and similar kinds of thoughts, including guilt and fear, diminish as we age but are still present to some degree when we travel.

Now in my days of seniorhood, thoughts about Bigfoot and alien abduction no longer cross my mind when I am alone. Even the "what am I doing here" question does not arise any more. I no longer am concerned about that girl back home that might go out with someone else while I am "wasting" my time in the wilderness. Also, there is little guilt since I am no longer shirking parenting responsibilities or leaving someone else to do my work (I am retired).

The "what am I doing this for" question DOES arise at times. When that question arises, it usually relates to "why am I trying to kill myself?" The solution is readily available and usually means I should stop and rest or even take a nap. That statement is contrary to the "paddle harder" or "get moving" answers because the question is different in meaning. I suspect that it is a matter of perspective....looking at the question from opposite ends of the age spectrum.
At 68, I no longer feel pressured to "rush" a trip. I am only concerned to keep a schedule, with phone contacts, that will keep my wife from unnecessary worry.
 
OldGoat
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03/18/2015 07:25AM  
I attended the Canoecopia session on solo wilderness tripping, and with the show of hands it looked like 2/3 of the 150 people that were there had already been doing it. One of the quotes he gave was along the lines of "many people have told me not to go into the wilderness alone, but no one who has ever gone into the wilderness alone has said that."

That being said, he also talked about how some personalities deal well with solitude and others do not. I would encourage you to plan for your 9 day solo trip, but prepare for it with a couple shorter solo trips to test the waters a bit.

My first solo was a backpack trip and all the fears of my childhood returned to haunt me as the mist dripped off the trees and created noises of the monsters in the woods. I didn't sleep at all that night. A few trips later and I sleep like a log, but like anything else confidence comes from doing it.

Goat
 
03/18/2015 08:22AM  
I think another way to say what many of us are trying to say in various ways would be this:

It's like an optical illusion - you'll see what you expect to see, but looked at from another perspective you can see something different.

If you go into it expecting "a touch of loneliness, a taste of guilt over leaving my family to fend for themselves, a hint of worry about what could be happening back home, and a little bit of impatience if I find myself stuck somewhere in miserable conditions with no one to talk to, and thoughts of "what am I doing here" or "what am I doing this for", then that's probably what you'll experience.

Some of those things aren't specific to a solo - whether you're alone or with a group, your family is still back there "fending for themselves and things could be happening".

But if you go into it with the attitude that you finally have the opportunity to take that solo trip you've thought about, the opportunity to experience and do some things you wouldn't otherwise, to be more fully aware of your surroundings, to live more fully in the moment, perhaps even to become reacquainted with yourself, then you may have an entirely different experience.

Enjoy YOUR trip!
 
hobbydog
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03/18/2015 08:53PM  
As far as feeling guilty......


Having said that, soloing is a selfish pursuit but in a healthy relationship the separation can be good for everyone. Nobody should be so dependent on someone else that they can't go away for a period of time.

Going solo can take some getting used to but it really comes down to building confidence. My first few trips I was ready to be done quicker than planned but when I got home I wondered why I was in a hurry, I was really enjoying it while there. You only gain confidence with experience.
 
wetcanoedog
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03/18/2015 09:04PM  
is everything ok at home,is the car ok,that's about it.
here's something to think about that i would like an answer too.
if there is a disaster at home would the park service,sheriff or someone like that try and find you?
i leave a note on the dinning room table about my trip plans and tell close friends where i'm going so if i need to be found and my wife is......whatever...someone knows where i am.
 
03/18/2015 10:02PM  
quote Exo: ""Paddle harder" -Beav

Ahh there is so much to occupy yourself on a solo. Many touched on some pastimes. Often I find my mind just wandering and thinking of...we'll nothing.

Rent a Sat phone and call in nightly. Allay those fears of being out of touch with home. I get em to solo or group, I just figure that peeps back home can get things accomplished without me. Just a thought.

I had a wind/layover day on Alice lake. I explored, sat on a ledge at edge of water and thought about nothing, lounged in a hammock, wondered in marvel at the deep gouges in the granite from the ice age, read in a hammock, napped in a hammock, marveled at the roar of a passing storm, made a nice fire in the evening, took some photos, the list goes on. I still go back to that day when life is spinning around me sometimes...
"


I agree with all of this. It's sounds deep but it's really quite simple and true - "All we have is now" - Andy Shaw

When negative thoughts creep in I try to just get real present, empty my mind and just take in my surroundings without ANY thought. It takes practice to keep your mind shut off but if you can do it for even just a minute it's pretty cool. Just listen and watch very intently.

I've read that you cannot be depressed in the present moment. Try to stay out of the past and the future and just experience the now. It's all we have, those other two are just illusions.

A benefit of practicing this is that it will actually slow down time for you. To learn more about this go to Abugfreemind.com

 
03/18/2015 11:38PM  
And don't forget your drink of choice. Nothing like a small fire, a generous cup of whiskey, and the sounds of the night around you to empty your mind. :)
 
WhiteWolf
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03/19/2015 03:40AM  
quote TomT: "quote Exo: ""Paddle harder" -Beav

Ahh there is so much to occupy yourself on a solo. Many touched on some pastimes. Often I find my mind just wandering and thinking of...we'll nothing.

Rent a Sat phone and call in nightly. Allay those fears of being out of touch with home. I get em to solo or group, I just figure that peeps back home can get things accomplished without me. Just a thought.

I had a wind/layover day on Alice lake. I explored, sat on a ledge at edge of water and thought about nothing, lounged in a hammock, wondered in marvel at the deep gouges in the granite from the ice age, read in a hammock, napped in a hammock, marveled at the roar of a passing storm, made a nice fire in the evening, took some photos, the list goes on. I still go back to that day when life is spinning around me sometimes...
"


I agree with all of this. It's sounds deep but it's really quite simple and true - "All we have is now" - Andy Shaw

When negative thoughts creep in I try to just get real present, empty my mind and just take in my surroundings without ANY thought. It takes practice to keep your mind shut off but if you can do it for even just a minute it's pretty cool. Just listen and watch very intently.

I've read that you cannot be depressed in the present moment. Try to stay out of the past and the future and just experience the now. It's all we have, those other two are just illusions.

A benefit of practicing this is that it will actually slow down time for you. To learn more about this go to Abugfreemind.com

"


+1 on this. My first few solos and even group trips I got negative thoughts about home/ personal life etc.... But it just goes away with more experience (age) as mentioned. The time we spend in canoe country is too valuable to be spent worrying about things that 99% of the time have no merit. Being able to experience the BW/Q on a solo is one special/unique experience that a very small % of people get to do-- embrace it / enjoy it!!-- the opportunity to do so will not last forever.
As Joe Cocker used to wonderfully sing---

Time goes by..
No time to cry
Lifes' you and I
Alive
Today!!!
 
bwcasolo
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03/19/2015 05:15AM  
I am reminded on my solo trips, I've done maybe 20, how special my family is. wife, daughter, step son, first grandbaby. all those beautiful thoughts enhance my trip. there much to see up there, enjoy the paddle.
 
03/19/2015 06:49AM  
I get myself pumped up and the excitement of being out there sticks from day one to day forty. If there are concerns at home I try to take care of it before I go. I've come back from trips early because of a gal and other reasons. After coming back I've always kicked myself. You only get so many opportunities to paddle... Enjoy every one you get!
 
IceColdGold
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03/19/2015 11:33AM  
I have not yet done a solo canoe trip, but will likely start with some local overnight trips. I have my eye on an island on the local river.

I bow hunt and have spent many many evenings and entire days just sitting in my tree stand with nothing but my thoughts and nature. After reading this topic, I am thinking that my time in the tree will maybe have been good preparation for solo tripping. I am not that concerned with staying busy, in fact, I look forward to having nothing to do and no pressure to accomplish anything other than basic survival. I can putter around in my garage all afternoon, so I think that I can putter around all day on a lake or in camp with no problem.

As far as worrying about home, I am fortunate to have a wonderful wife who holds down the fort all day every day. She functions just fine without me in the way :-). I am also very blessed in that she encourages me to go off and do things. She just likes me to call when I get back to civilization.
 
03/19/2015 12:16PM  
You just described a big portion of my own start in solo camping/canoe tripping. Spending days at a time sitting in a tree, scouting in the forest by myself, plain old day hiking alone. Not to mention all the fishing alone in a tandem canoe.
My first truly solo trip into the BWCA seems more just a logical extension of what I had been doing for 20 years.


butthead
 
03/19/2015 11:07PM  
IceColdGold-

It's a good plan. I used a similar one. Like you and butthead, I had done plenty of solo hunting, fishing, hiking, and even camping at campgrounds, but there was always somebody around and I wasn't far from the car. I started with very short overnights into the backcountry, going a little deeper and a little longer each time. The first couple of nights a couple of miles from anybody and anything were a little nervous, but I got comfortable pretty quickly that way.

"I am not that concerned with staying busy, in fact, I look forward to having nothing to do and no pressure to accomplish anything other than basic survival" describes me pretty well. I think you will enjoy it :). I keep camp chores and meals very simple, usually don't even build a fire. I am getting better and better at "sitting doing nothing" :).
 
03/20/2015 08:02AM  
Kinda like several guys here, where I do a lot of hiking, hunting (not much lately), paddling and other stuff solo, I took a shorter 1st solo to make sure I would like it and to see how the wife would handle it, no problem for either of us, now all my trips are 7 days or longer, but the wife made me buy an InReach so they can bring me back dead or alive :).
 
thinblueline
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03/20/2015 10:09AM  
You guys provided some real good stuff here. If I end up going alone, my first trip will be nine nights. Like everybody else, I get limited vacation time, so I don't want to cut the trip off early, just to sit around the house the rest of my vacation. Plus, the last thing I want to do is drive 12 hours for a 3 or 4 night trip just to see if I like it. I figure if I can make it 3 or 4 nights, I can make it nine, since whatever heeby jeebies I experience, I will get over them after 3 or 4 nights.

My plan is to enter at Nym, head down to Jesse, through Walter, (maybe one night side trip into Draper), through Lonely, down into Fred. From Fred, into Camel, over to Baird, up through Chatterton and into Russell. From Russell, head north through Sturgeon, reaching Pickerel. Then head across the west end of Pickerel, through Batch, and back out at Nym. That much traveling, plus all the fishing I like to do, should keep me busy.
 
03/20/2015 11:54AM  
You will love it enjoy.
 
03/20/2015 02:47PM  
quote thinblueline: "You guys provided some real good stuff here. If I end up going alone, my first trip will be nine nights. Like everybody else, I get limited vacation time, so I don't want to cut the trip off early, just to sit around the house the rest of my vacation. Plus, the last thing I want to do is drive 12 hours for a 3 or 4 night trip just to see if I like it. I figure if I can make it 3 or 4 nights, I can make it nine, since whatever heeby jeebies I experience, I will get over them after 3 or 4 nights.


My plan is to enter at Nym, head down to Jesse, through Walter, (maybe one night side trip into Draper), through Lonely, down into Fred. From Fred, into Camel, over to Baird, up through Chatterton and into Russell. From Russell, head north through Sturgeon, reaching Pickerel. Then head across the west end of Pickerel, through Batch, and back out at Nym. That much traveling, plus all the fishing I like to do, should keep me busy."


Good route. I did about 75% of that two years ago-- joined a group of guys on Batch, dropped down Lonely to Sturgeon (good island site on Jesse). They went into Russell and I headed out via Twin, Dore, PP (nice site next to short portage here) into Pick Narrows and out Batch/Nym. Two nights with the group, 4 nights on my own. Pickerel Narrows was a perfect, windless sunny day. You will enjoy your time out there!
 
markaroberts
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03/24/2015 05:57AM  
A lot of "worry" can be overcome with the ability to contact home or they to contact you. I currently use a spot to let my wife know where I am at. However, if going solo I would invest in a Sat phone. When you have kids, grand kids and older parents just "disappearing" for a canoe trip and being unreachable is not an option.
 
GraniteCliffs
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04/14/2015 11:43PM  
When are you headed in in June? I am curious as I am planning a June solo in the Q, possibly in the same area. I have not nailed down a date yet.
 
Jackfish
Moderator
 
09/05/2018 03:20PM  
OldGoat: "One of the quotes he gave was along the lines of, "Many people have told me not to go into the wilderness alone, but no one who has ever gone into the wilderness alone has said that." "
What a great quote.
 
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