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      Early May solo?     
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03/19/2016 08:36AM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
It looks like my solo this year will probably be the weekend before fishing opener. I've never done a spring bwca trip before and am very excited about it. Besides extremely cold water is there anything else I need to know?

I have tripped in June, July, August, Sept, and Oct. (high of 33 and rain, sleet, snow with 30mph winds once) I'm expecting even fewer people than Oct. and possibly being the first person down some trails and possibly to visit campsites. I fished very little my 1st 2 solos so I'm not worried about not being able to fish. My route will be small lakes.

Thanks
 
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Banksiana
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03/19/2016 10:12AM  
In my experience May is busier than October- I tend to see more people. On the other hand the days are longer and the woods are much more alive. Great time of the year to go.
 
03/19/2016 11:05AM  
Yes, the water is cold but I normally see more wildlife in May than July or August. I think the amount of people that you see is dependent on when the ice goes out as well. Last year in May there was a lot more travelers out than there had been the two previous years.

I have also seen more pines boughs cut and actual garbage (tin cans, tin foil, boot and hand heaters) from winter campers. I didn’t think that winter campers are supposed to use the same summer sites, but then again there are people year round that can’t follow the rules. Maybe I just have had the misfortune following some slobs for a couple days.

Fishing some years has been great early/mid May and other years it has been better towards the end of my trips. Once again my feelings are ice out dates and water temp.

Have a great trip, it's still my favorite time of year to trip. It will be another ten years before I can do a fall trip to be able to compare.
 
03/19/2016 03:36PM  
May is such a great time of year to go. Breaks the cabin fever, woods are waking up, birds are migrating and breeding, etc.

For the most part the people that go in that early are seasoned veterans. You'll have plenty of solitude though.

Whats your trip length and where you going?
 
03/19/2016 04:31PM  
4 days/3 nights. Probably going to get shuttled to Morgan EP, meander to Omega before exiting through Lizz, and ending at my vehicle at Rockwood. I'll see some new territory as well as revisit some areas I really like. I've been in the Lizz area a few times but have never been to Vista. I went through Omega on a day trip around 7 years ago and loved the lake. I've always wanted to get back there and camp a night.
 
03/19/2016 06:49PM  
Water levels could possibly be much higher than what you're use to. Some portage landings can get tricky and I've seen pics of some campsites under water.....or at least part of them.
 
03/19/2016 10:51PM  
quote cowdoc: "Water levels could possibly be much higher than what you're use to. Some portage landings can get tricky and I've seen pics of some campsites under water.....or at least part of them. "

True that. Weather is tricky too. I've also trudged through portages that were essentially a creek. The plus side is some creeks you normally must portage around are easily lined.

And firewood is easy to find that early in the season.

Winter will be hanging on, and trees won't be leafed out quite yet.

The thought of being the first in that season though... I believe I had that on Raven Lake a few years ago. No footprints in front of us. Had a permit for a night. It's different not just thinking your the only soul for miles, but "knowing" your the only one.
 
MattM
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03/20/2016 08:26AM  
Hey ducks,

I have been up to the gunflint a few times this winter to ski and snowshoe around the area you are planning to enter. This winter has been rough on the trees.

I needed a saw in order to ski the banadad trail--many trees down. I even noticed someone using a chainsaw to remove a large tree from the Lizz Lake Portage (outside the bwca). You will likely be dealing with some downed trees on the Morgan Lake entry. The actual portage is not too bad, but I would suggest bringing a saw just in case.

My October trip this year was very cold and windy and I was glad that I brought my dry suit gloves for paddling.

Don't forget to sleep with your water filter.

Have a blast man!
 
kanoes
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03/20/2016 07:52PM  
its an interesting time of year. have fun!
 
03/22/2016 08:23AM  
After thinking about it........ May and April are the only months I haven't been up near Ely/Grand Marais/Gunflint Trail. This is the first year I'm not coaching high school baseball and/or playing baseball in the spring. My springs have always been completely booked solid.

Thanks for the good insight. I'm looking forward to seeing a new side to the wilderness.
 
03/24/2016 09:42PM  
Depending on when you enter, we might cross paths. I'm planning to enter that area April 29th or 30th, give or take a day.

I *love* soloing before fishing opener. Last year worked out, the prior two didn't. The years before that did. It's hit or miss, but I think this year we'll make it. :)

No bugs, no/very few people, nice temps (sometimes), available firewood, no bugs, no/very few people, the end of cabin fever, no bugs...but I repeat myself.
 
MacCamper
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03/25/2016 01:47PM  
My travels in the shoulder seasons have provided a few observations:
The importance of an insulated sleeping pad during the spring cannot be overstated as often the ground is only beginning to thaw out. A good innie (or outie) is important as when the ground gives up the frost, moisture will likely follow.

Foot gear is of utmost importance to me as well in the spring as often the portages become a watershed system for all the thaw to ravel upon. My chottas and trekkers keep the moisture out and warmth in. And watch your footing as "black" ice will materialize overnight on unlikely rock surfaces.

Place anything you don't want frozen or crusty into your tent at night, including contact solution. Invert your water bottles so you can unscrew the cap should the bottle freeze up.

Bring along a thermos. It is great for holding heat in your water for coffee or a quick second cup of oatmeal. Well worth the minimum weight as it really cuts down upon your fuel use. Nice to have hot water to wash your morning cup just prior to hitting the trail.

Be sure you have a cold rated sleeping bag...or bring along a small fleece throw and cover yourself at bedtime. Don't use a tarp as a top bedcover or you may find condensation has permeated your bag from the top.

Wear your pfd all the time... the insulation value is amazing and it will never notice it.

Just a couple of thoughts/lessons learned the hard way when camping during potentially cold months.

One more thing, bring a marginal paddle as a cold snap may find you breaking ice.

Mac
 
03/25/2016 08:07PM  

I've done a couple pre-fishing season trips, and second MattM's comment about more downed trees across portages. On my next early trip, I might be more inclined to bring a bigger saw than my smaller folding one. Even in my last trip in January I stopped twice to take good sized trees out of the portages that I doubt were there in the fall.

One cool thing to watch for - and I'm curious to see if anyone else has seen this - on one trip in second week of April a few years back I found the ground in campsites was sort of spongy, as if water had soaked in, frozen, and expanded. Even in a couple of busy campsites, it was like walking on a sponge, and I could see each of my footprints where I sunk in maybe 1/4 inch or so. A couple portages also had this, but also showed a lot more wolf and moose prints. Very easy to see that no one had been there since the thaw.

 
03/26/2016 01:31PM  
Pack the same as October. Also, my first thought was the same as others have mentioned - portages with downed trees. If they are big, you don't need to totally clear them. Just remove enough branches to get over or under them.
 
03/29/2016 07:10PM  
Permit booked and Northstar Northwind Solo reserved. Melt ice Melt!!!
 
kanoes
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03/29/2016 07:42PM  
so where ya headed?
 
03/29/2016 08:34PM  
quote kanoes: "so where ya headed?"Entering at Morgan, making my way to Omega, and exiting at Lizz. I'll see some new territory and revisit some areas I like. Very loose plan and may adjust on the fly......

 
03/29/2016 08:59PM  
Have fun, ducks! Take a good book, pencil & paper, camera. Be careful.
 
03/29/2016 09:35PM  
Outstanding! I believe everyone will want to hear about your Northwind Solo canoe!
 
03/30/2016 12:14AM  
Have fun ...and be very careful ...as mentioned, wear your pfd at all time. The water will be very cold. Last May, I was involved in helping someone who capsized in Gunflint lake ...it wasn't pretty ..the guy was so lucky .
 
03/30/2016 06:31AM  
quote Exo: "Outstanding! I believe everyone will want to hear about your Northwind Solo canoe!"

Yeah, that's a boat I have my eye on. Please do a trip report for us. Thanks!

 
03/30/2016 06:39AM  
Thanks for all of the great advice everyone. Yes, PFD is always on even in the summer. When solo or my daddy/daughter trips I wear the PFD anytime I'm even near the water like filtering water or fishing from shore. My route is all small water (except Poplar on exit day) and I'll always paddle close to shore. I'll pack like I do for my Oct. trips and I'm going to bring my wife's 15 degree bag instead of my 20. Probably even an extra 40 rectangular bag to cover up the dog if he's wet and we have a cold night. The saw will be in the pack and I'm going to beef up the ditch kit for this trip.

I will be using my dad's favorite line.... he even has personal license plates that say "Ride Easy".
 
03/30/2016 06:56AM  
quote TomT: "quote Exo: "Outstanding! I believe everyone will want to hear about your Northwind Solo canoe!"


Yeah, that's a boat I have my eye on. Please do a trip report for us. Thanks!


"


I rented one last Aug. from Sawtooth for my solo to Malberg and back from Kawishiwi Lake and absolutely loved it. It went straight (even with me paddling it ;) but yet turned very well in the twisty Kawishiwi River. It was rock solid stable even w/ a 90 lb lab in the bow. I was so excited to hear that Rockwood also carries it in their fleet now. I hope to own one some day. I'll give another report on it after this trip.

Here are a couple of pics of the Northwind Solo from my last trip.
 
03/30/2016 05:29PM  
Did you have a solution for keeping your dog's e-collar charged? One of my labs is good as gold even if it's off of dead, but the other tests me once in a while to make sure it's on...

How was stability with a dog moving about in the canoe? Any experience with other solos with dog for comparison?
 
03/30/2016 07:04PM  
quote Exo: "Did you have a solution for keeping your dog's e-collar charged? One of my labs is good as gold even if it's off of dead, but the other tests me once in a while to make sure it's on...


How was stability with a dog moving about in the canoe? Any experience with other solos with dog for comparison?"


On a 4 day/3night trip the charge lasts through the trip. I turn it off in the tent at night and most of the time in camp during daylight. I leave it on while traveling in the canoe and on portages. I'm not sure how many more days/nights the charge would last.

My first solo trip with Echo I rented a Souris River Q16 set up as a solo w/ seat in the middle but that canoe is really a small tandem. 16ft, 34in wide, and a lot taller. I do not have experience w/ him in another true solo.

The Northwind Solo is very stable w/ him. In the SR Q16 he was able to turn around and move around up in the bow but the bow of the Northwind Solo is smaller so he didn't have room to turn all the way around. When we were heading away from the EP and across Kawishiwi Lake he decided to turn and face the bow and there wasn't quite enough room for him to maneuver. He got stuck half turned w/ 3 legs in the canoe and 1 paw dragging in the water. He did that a couple more times on Kawishiwi Lake before he figured things out. The canoe was very stable and by the time we crossed Kawishiwi Lake I was no longer worried about him causing us to go for a swim. If his paw dragging the water didn't tip us I didn't think anything would. He never got himself in that predicament the rest of the trip either. He would just sit up for a while and lay back down when he needed to stretch a little. The owner at Sawtooth said that the Northwind Solo is his preferred solo canoe for taking a dog.
 
04/06/2016 07:55PM  
I just ordered some Camp Chow from the Trail Center for my trip. I need that ice to melt a little faster up there. The 10 day forecast is cold....... brrrrrr I hope whitewolf is correct and the second half of April and beginning of May warms up for me.
 
WhiteWolf
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04/15/2016 02:07AM  
You should have no worries when it comes to ice--- Enjoy!!
 
04/15/2016 12:13PM  
quote WhiteWolf: "You should have no worries when it comes to ice--- Enjoy!!"

Thanks. .. webcams are showing a lot of melting today :-)
 
PortageKeeper
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04/15/2016 01:59PM  
Wind. Expect more wind. Plan for more wind.
 
BlueSkiesWI
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04/15/2016 05:01PM  
"The thought of being the first in that season though... I believe I had that on Raven Lake a few years ago. No footprints in front of us. Had a permit for a night. It's different not just thinking your the only soul for miles, but "knowing" your the only one."

Very true. Backpacking over spring break a few weeks ago on the Ice Age Trail, we were the first campers of the season. A few daywalkers, but that's it. Kind of a cool feeling.
 
FOG51
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04/16/2016 05:38AM  
The first thing I thought of when I saw the first of the three pictures was paddle faster Ducks there's a bear cub in the canoe behind you. The second thing I thought of was Kanoes is going to thrash your tail for using a yak paddle LOL. Have fun and be careful, have a good trip. FRED
 
05/11/2016 06:04AM  
Returned from my trip last night. Amazing!!!!!

Portages were a mess... Trail Center people said there were way more trees down than normal because of a wet/heavy snowfall followed by immediate deep freeze while the snow was still on the trees. Morgan EP portage took me 2 and 1/2 hours and the poor brand new Northwind Solo had a lot of scratches before it even saw the water.

Weather was incredible... 60's during the day and 30's at night

Solitude......... only saw 2 people but saw 4 moose, 2 wolves, and 1 bear

Hope to get some pictures posted this weekend from the trip. It will take me a while to get caught up on posts on the messageboard, work, and the kids have activities the next 2 nights.
 
MattM
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05/11/2016 07:03AM  
Awesome ducks! I'm glad to hear that you had a great trip. Can't wait to see some pictures.

I'm doing the frost river over Memorial Day weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.
 
05/11/2016 08:06AM  
Eager to hear all about it and see pics when you get time.
 
GoSpursGo
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05/11/2016 09:23AM  
quote boonie: "Eager to hear all about it and see pics when you get time."

+1 - Looking forward to this trip report
 
05/11/2016 05:59PM  
Thanks guys....

Matt M. Are you renting a Northwind Solo from Rockwood? or did you end up buying something? Have a great trip! Looking forward to your report as well.
 
05/11/2016 10:28PM  
I posted some pics in my thread in Listening Point titled.... "just returned from my solo (pics added)"

I also have a few more pics from the trip in my photo album
 
05/12/2016 08:07PM  
ducks-

Couple of quick Q's:

Were you singling or doubling the Morgan portage? How long do you think that might take under normal (clear trail) conditions?

How was the Northwind Solo? I'm renting one this fall . . .


And an observation: I've found that I make ambitious solo plans, but often don't complete them. I thought maybe I was just getting old, but maybe it's just something about solos . . .
 
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