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05/25/2023 09:43AM  
My original plan for this year was a two-person, two-week trip starting in mid-September. For trip partner scheduling reasons, that trip has moved to start in early June. I'm considering a solo trip in late September or even early October in addition to the June trip. The trip can't start earlier than that, and can't last longer than one week, due to my own schedule.

Here are a few things that have occured to me so far:
1. I own all of the equipment I think I need.
2. I would have to use my Nova Craft Prospector 16 tandem as a solo, since at that time of year I don't want to count on an outfitter being open to rent a canoe from. Perhaps this is a fatal flaw if a dedicated solo is what I should really be using.
3. There must be a slew of things a soloist needs to take into consideration that I don't know about. I have no prior solo tripping experience. I do have prior solo paddling experience but only on local lakes and rivers.
4. I have a 10 hour one-way drive time, so I need guaranteed availability or reservable accommodations relatively nearby the night before my entry date. I don't want to sleep in my car unless there's no alternative. In the past I've stayed at an outfitter the night before entry date.

With all that said, any advice, positive or negative, is welcome.
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05/25/2023 10:54AM  
Have you tried the Solo Tripping group forum on Lots of solo-specific information there.

You should be fine with the Nova Craft Prospector 16 padded backwards from the bow seat. You'll put most of your equipment forward of the yoke.
05/25/2023 11:44AM  
I didn't realize that subforum exists. I will move this message over there. Thanks for pointing this out.
05/25/2023 01:48PM  
I suggest calling your outfitter to see if a solo canoe would be available to rent for your trip. Permits are available until September 30th, so outfitters should be open until at least then to accommodate people that have reserved permits. USFS campgrounds should be open, although after 9-30-23, they may start shutting off the water if it has been a really cold fall with freezing temps.

You probably know that you don't have to reserve a permit after 9-30-23, I assume.

Some restaurants and retail stores may have reduced hours because a lot of their seasonal employees have gone back to college or their home country. I think Sawbill Outfitters cuts their store hours sometime in September. Normally, they are open until around 9 pm. With reduced hours, I think they may close around 6 pm or so. The Forest Ranger stations may have reduced hours too, but I'm not sure.

The last few years since the virus, a lot of hotels/motels require a 2 consecutive night stay. I think they have problems finding workers just like other retailers and outfitters. Not sure where you are headed, but bunkhouses are a way to go. If you are going off the Gunflint, contact Rockwood Outfitters to see if their bunkhouse is open then.

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05/25/2023 06:10PM  
I've had no problem in October. Was an outfitter's last group one October 31st. But bunkhouse was fine and plenty of places to eat in Ely. Kind of nice time.

I'm not sure what your canoe weighs but I sure like portaging my 34 or 30 pound solo. On the other hand, most don't travel as far in fall as they do in summer, so not so big of issue. And with so few others, easy to pick a low portage route.

ps: I hope to be in bwca in that time period with my son.

member (49)member
05/26/2023 07:36AM  
I did two short solo paddle trips in Fall 2020. You won't have any problems finding outfitters with bunkhouses available. Permits are walk up after September 30th, I think. I paddle a 16ft canoe solo as well (although lighter than a Nova Craft). Its a great time to go and very worth it.
05/27/2023 08:30PM  
I agree with others on the time of year. Should have no issues finding accommodations and or a canoe to rent. Just make a few calls to whichever area you’re looking to go in.

Fall is my favorite time of year to go. As long as you’re prepared for weather possibilities it’s awesome. You can go into entry points usually too crowded or with permits unavailable.

From my own solo experience in the fall here are a few tips:

Safety if ALWAYS number 1. Simple things like securing your canoe with a rope at a landing before loading / unloading really stand out when you’re by yourself. Of course leave a safety plan on where you’re going and when you’ll be back. I carry a Garmin InReach for communication and just in case of any issues.

It gets dark early. Bring a good headlamp, extra batteries, and a good book.

There is no one to share the chores. If it’s needs doing, you’re doing it. As such solo I almost never bother with a fire.

Lastly - go for it! Solo is a love it or hate it experience. You won’t know until you try.
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