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   Group Forum: Solo Tripping
      advice for new solo paddlers     

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04/22/2015 11:48AM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
It is pleasing to see new folks coming onto the solo tripping forum and it got me thinking; do they know what they are getting into? So let's give them some (good) advice.
*as Luke was advised, once you start down this path there is no return. Not necessarily a dark path, but others may worry about your sudden desire to go off all alone.
*solo trippers end up acquiring solo gear. The coffee pot I carry for group trips is just too big and so it goes.

add your 2 cents.
 
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gkimball
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04/22/2015 12:13PM  
Here's a few:

Don't make being solo into too big of a psychological deal. May be scary at first. You are still yourself, even without companions at the moment.

Start small and work into it.

Being solo intensifies everything - good and bad.

Listen to and trust what your senses and instincts are telling you, it will save you a lot of trouble and it deepens your connection to wherever you go.

Record what happens, what you see and do in a journal or by some other means.

Experiment and choose the style that works for what you want the trip to accomplish - traveler, base camper or a combination. They all have advantages and give different results.
 
04/22/2015 12:17PM  
Always wear your life jacket and think before you do, and remember to have fun.
 
04/22/2015 12:59PM  
Great idea Ben, but I've been doing solo stuff so long my advice may be heavily tilted to my personality. Oh well -----

Keep your sense of humor in gear at all times, depression is a self fulfilling thought process.
Safety is mostly a thinking process, think, think safe, do safely.
My only ongoing adjustment to solo travel is food/cooking/eating. Not only a learning experience, but an ongoing adjustment to age and physique.
Smell the roses, pine cones, rocks, water, moose farts, etc.
Big objectives can be broken into smaller objectives, proceed wisely.

Big one here, pay attention. Folks at home care about you! Do NOT leave them hanging, a trip itinerary, route description (close will do), phone numbers of local Ranger Station, Police force, outfitter if used.

Take a teddy bear if you wish, if anyone laughs fell a tree on em in the middle of the nite!

butthead
 
jeepgirl
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04/22/2015 01:04PM  
As a woman solo bwca tripper I do not post my dates and locations of where I am going. I do that after the trip.
Carry a Spot geo locator.
Bring a book for wind bound days and nightly reading.
Talking to yourself is a good thing.
Know what your abilities are and trust your instincts.
When swimming wear a pair of sandals or your portage shoes.
Bring a first aid kit. Hopefully you will never have to use it.
Bring ear plugs to wear at night.
 
04/22/2015 01:35PM  
Butthead, I see personality coming out in others. Jeepgirl, ear plugs, seriously? This is my personality. When I go alone I sleep when tired, eat when hungry, etc. At night I like to lay and listen to the sounds of the night. And being open minded I can really value ear plugs so you can sleep. It can be a racket some nights.

*you can make sounds in the tent or at the fire and no one will complain.
 
OldGoat
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04/22/2015 01:35PM  
OK - let's start with this. Paddling solo is normal. Think about it, how many people do you know that own a tandem bicycle? Few if any I would suspect. So nothing wrong with solo boating.

On the other hand, going into the wilderness by yourself is just plain weird/strange/unusual/crazy/abnormal/psycho-- pick your own word.

I tell my wife that I have great examples: Jesus did it, Moses did it. She tells me yes, and no one else has done it since! So expect to be challenged if you choose to go it alone. Very few people today have the interest or the skill to do wilderness travel. Far fewer have the personality to do so alone.

So start small and build up gradually. My first solo overnight backpack trip was -- shall we say uncomfortable. Since then I have increased the duration and difficulty of the trips in such a way to get slightly out of my comfort zone each time. A 10 day solo loop in the BW is just a nice vacation now.

Goat
 
hobbydog
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04/22/2015 01:38PM  
Make good decisions. While true when tripping in groups it is way more important solo. You are the only one providing inputs to the decision making process. Make them consciously.

The solo experience is different than the group experience. Set expectations differently. For example, if you like base camping as a group, that might not be true on a solo.


Your canoe is everything. Guard it closely or you could be up the creek with only a paddle.

Don't over extend on the first few trips, build confidence on each one.
 
04/22/2015 09:22PM  
Great idea for a thread, bhouse!

A lot of great advice and thoughts already.

I'll start with something I've said before and which butthead has already alluded to:

Soloists are very individualistic and so are their goals, ideas, and methods. You'll have to find your own way of doing things, but that diversity of opinions gives you a lot of food for thought and a lot of different things to try. Start by reading through past threads on various topics, as well as different solo trip reports.

You'll be alone. You have to carry everything and do everything, so think light, think "do I really need this"?, do I want this enough to carry it?, Think about what you want to do and how to simplify to minimize the things you don't.

You'll be alone; don't spend all your time worrying about it. Think about what you are doing, make smart decisions, and enjoy the freedom.

It's already been said, but bears repeating-

Work your way into soloing gradually, don't over extend at first, don't be too ambitious.

Tie up your canoe.

Keep a record of it all.



 
bwcasolo
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04/23/2015 04:49AM  
quote housty9: "Always wear your life jacket and think before you do, and remember to have fun."
+1 take your time, it's not a race.
 
MacCamper
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04/23/2015 05:09AM  
Invest in good gear, new or used. Good gear will make even the worst day pleasant, especially good rain gear, dry tent and a warm sleeping bag.

Be wary of the wind...think safety first and as mentioned, wear your pfd.

Laugh out loud, talk to yourself, think, do or do nothing.

Bring a "good" book as you may be stuck with it for a day.

Make a plan, share your plan and sort of stick with it.

Drink lots of water.

Be careful with sharp objects.

Keep a journal, make a post trip "list", share your adventure with others.

Expect the unexpected.

Appreciate yourself and abilities.
 
Minnesotian
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04/23/2015 08:22AM  

Go but go slow.

"I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude."
-Henry David Thoreau

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

"When in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost."
-Sigurd F. Olson
 
BlueSkiesWI
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04/23/2015 11:40AM  
Does anyone bring some kind of light instrument to play to keep a little extra sanity?
 
04/23/2015 12:31PM  
quote BlueSkiesWI: "Does anyone bring some kind of light instrument to play to keep a little extra sanity?"
I don't, I like the quiet and sounds of nature.
 
04/23/2015 01:49PM  
quote BlueSkiesWI: "Does anyone bring some kind of light instrument to play to keep a little extra sanity?"


A flashlight. :) (light instrument)

Always have options. I like to make trips aggressive with options to back off and enjoy more and still get out ok.

Know what your bringing for food. Play with it at home so there is no surprises. You'll always bring too much anyway.
 
hobbydog
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04/23/2015 02:10PM  
quote BlueSkiesWI: "Does anyone bring some kind of light instrument to play to keep a little extra sanity?"

There are just too many things to do to get bored or think about your sanity. I go to gain sanity not lose my sanity. If you are wind bound put up a wood supply for the next guy. Carve something. Re organize your gear, do laundry. Prepare a special meal. Get lost and find you way back. Catch up on sleep.Journal, take pictures, get the maps out plan the rest or the trip or your next trip.
 
04/23/2015 02:32PM  
quote nctry: "quote BlueSkiesWI: "Does anyone bring some kind of light instrument to play to keep a little extra sanity?"



A flashlight. :) (light instrument)"
Would that be for those late night hikes.:)
 
04/23/2015 03:08PM  
quote BlueSkiesWI: "Does anyone bring some kind of light instrument to play to keep a little extra sanity?"

I can play a radio.

butthead
 
04/23/2015 05:58PM  
quote BlueSkiesWI: "Does anyone bring some kind of light instrument to play to keep a little extra sanity?"

No, I just talk to everything.
 
04/23/2015 06:12PM  
Never go alone! ;-)
 
kanoes
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04/23/2015 06:38PM  
make sure every step you take is a safe one...portaging and in camp.
 
plumbbob
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04/24/2015 12:09AM  
Great advice: Keep it coming I'm taking notes
 
sunnybear09
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04/24/2015 05:52AM  
If you trip in May or Sept.-Oct. to really embrace the solitude as many soloists do, you will almost always hit cold, rainy, snowy days for a day or two, or more! As others have said quality gear, especially very good rain gear is your most essential tool to keep on enjoying your trip. The first few hours of bad weather is a bit of a shock, but then you get into the weather and it becomes your new normal -and a welcome challenge. But always, always, keep your sleeping gear dry and always, always, keep sleeping-in clothes dedicated and dry for sleeping only! Never wear what you need to stay dry and warm at night. You need long johns, warm top, wool socks, hat and gloves! And bring lots of coffee or your favorite hot drink--a steaming cup is your second best friend!
 
Longpaddler
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04/24/2015 10:29AM  
Pack even less than you would for a tandem trip...
small tent or hammock
be overly cautious about everything...every step, every cast, every move
when the squirrels start talking back to you...time to go home
 
04/24/2015 10:47AM  
"when the squirrels start talking back to you...time to go home"

If that's the case I'd never get started!

butthead
 
04/24/2015 11:38AM  
quote butthead: ""when the squirrels start talking back to you...time to go home"


If that's the case I'd never get started!


butthead"




Is that because your car runs by squirrels?
 
04/24/2015 02:27PM  
Yes! Eager little devils.

butthead
 
Haze311
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04/24/2015 08:19PM  
I'm new to solo canoeing but have done a good amount of solo backpacking. Some things I've learned from my backpacking trips:

Plan your route well in advance and study it as much as you can, try to have it memorized.

make a gear list and weigh everything you're bringing, it's easier to leave behind unnecessary items when you know how much it all weighs and it's tougher to forget items if it's all documented.

It's been mentioned before but bring quality gear. It will last longer, is typically lighter and can be safer.

Share your route with friends/loved ones.

Cotton kills! Wear merino wool, keeps you warm when wet and doesn't retain much smell.

Take your time and always error on the side of caution, don't take unnecessary risks.

Test out your gear prior to your solo. You shouldn't be using gear for the first time if your on an extended solo. Good luck pitching your tent for the first time in a downpour.

Use a journal and take lots of pictures!

Have fun and don't be surprised if people think you're nuts :)
 
04/25/2015 05:58PM  
Trust your intuition at all times. Err on the side of caution. Going solo is great for taking pics, especially when walking back on the portage with no load.

I also think journalling is great and can actually simulate companionship. The action of physically writing down your thoughts is very cathartic.

I would also pack a lightweight hammock (if you're not a "hanger" already). nothing beats a nap in a hammock in complete solitude. It's good to have a warm breeze to keep the bugs away too.

 
04/26/2015 09:17AM  
Every thing should be in good repair from the get go. I found footwear can deteriorate pretty fast for one.
 
04/26/2015 10:50AM  
Get some hiking and paddling in before you go on your trip, it will make your trip alot easier.
 
labman
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05/05/2015 08:28AM  
quote housty9: "Get some hiking and paddling in before you go on your trip, it will make your trip alot easier."

I have tried to make one solo trip per year. So far I am at 4 years and counting.

I learned on my first trip ( EP 52) that I was too cocky. A know it all, been here done it all mentality. Turns out, I took a wrong turn and caused extra portaging, brought too much gear and forgot what I needed. I also realized that I was scared poopless the first night being alone. Then storms rolled in right when my bladder decided to inform me of it's status.

Since then I learned to respect mother nature, to slow down and enjoy the moment, keep busy and be in good shape. Last year I slipped and fell getting out of my canoe on the Menominee river. Good thing I didn't bust my head.

Other tips: Stay busy. Move more often then when you go with a group. Find stuff to do. My solo in 17 days will consist of 3 moves over 6 days with lots of fishing. I also bought a new camera with 3 lenses to keep me busy as well.

Bring a GPS and mark key locations. I.E. entry point, certain portages or camp spots. Having a reference point to understand how far away you are is good for piece of mind.

Good luck to all the soloists out there.
Be safe!



 
PineKnot
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05/05/2015 08:11PM  
Always tie down your canoe at night, even when it's calm out...and try not to let your paddle(s) float away....ever....
 
OBX2Kayak
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05/05/2015 08:31PM  
Learn the "J" stroke.
 
TheBrownLeader
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05/06/2015 03:53PM  
If you snore, and you are sleeping near the water, that loud chunk you hear in the water is not bigfoot throwing rocks at you. Just a beaver you startled with your snoring. Go back to sleep.
 
05/09/2015 05:53PM  
quote OBX2Kayak: "Learn the "J" stroke."

What the hell's a "J stroke"? This isn't a calligraphy session.

butthead

PS; Been going in circles for years! bh
 
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