BWCA Trip Report - Pictorial Trip Report - My First Solo Boundary Waters Trip Reports
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Ho Ho
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06/22/2011 08:20PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
New Trip Report posted by Ho Ho

Trip Name: Pictorial Trip Report - My First Solo.

Entry Point: 23

Click Here to View Trip Report

Caution - Lots of text, lots of pictures.

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06/22/2011 09:21PM  
WOW! What a great report! Thanks for taking the time to share your story & photos. Really liked the shot of the turkey vulture. The maps are a nice touch as well. It seemed like I was literally there step by step for the entire trip.

Congrats on your first solo. Not that tripping with a partner(s) is a bad thing? But, it is amazing how much more you hear, especially at night, and how much a persons awareness is raised during a solo adventure. Experiencing things from a different perspective is usually a good thing. And I think your report verified just that?

What were your overall feelings about soloing after the trip? Would you do it again? Pros/cons.
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06/22/2011 09:22PM  
thanks hoho. You always put lot of effort in your report which make them a super treat. It is appreciated.
Itchy Menace
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06/22/2011 09:42PM  
Great report, a pleasure to read and a lot of effort put in. Loved the pics, what kind of camera were you using? Always like to hear what cameras others have.

06/22/2011 11:37PM  
great report...I enjoyed the photos, and found your observations about what was going on around you interesting. I felt like I was there too.
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06/23/2011 07:53AM  
Ho Ho.. having traveled several times in the Fourtown area I really enjoyed the trip report and the pictures. The Gull lake campsite is a beautiful site to stay at. It's to bad you don't fish Moosecamp it is a great fishing lake. You were smart to stay on the north side of Fourtown usually the south side campsites fill up fast. Thanks again I have to live through other peoples trip reports this year because I can't make it to Ely this year.
06/23/2011 09:06AM  
As always, HoHo, wonderful report and great photos. Since this is my favorite time to be in the BW and we aren't going until September this year, I vicariously enjoyed "being there" with you as I read your report this morning. Thanks. We have been to some of those lakes, but it has been quite a few years, so the memories aren't at all fresh.

You must have a fantastic memory to remember all of those birds and list them later! I am assuming you carry a notebook and jot down bird identifications as you go?

Now when we are out somewhere and I hear a bird I always think "If only Bill were here. . . .", because I have no expertise in identifying bird songs at all.
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06/23/2011 10:57AM  
Ho Ho, thank you for taking the time and effort to make a great trip report. I really enjoyed all your observations and information on birds and plants since I'm not that versed on nature up north.

Your pictures are wonderful and the maps are greatly appreciated. I hope I have expressed my gratitude enough for future reports. You have made me want to go into Mudro after all these years and push on to Gull Lake. Thank you.
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06/23/2011 11:27AM  
That was a fantastic trip report. Makes mine look like a mish mash of fuzzy mush.

I like how you used the pics of canoe to take the reader on a ride.

I think I will explore the Mudro ep for a future trip. For such a busy time of year, you did well to find a way beyond the crowds.

Cool that David got home within an hour of your return. How perfect.

Glad that the evil chainsaw psychopath didn't find you. Close call!
06/23/2011 12:33PM  
Absolutely spectacular report! A real pleasure to read and see.

I will aspire to put together a trip report as engaging and beautiful as this someday!
06/23/2011 01:16PM  
HoHo, I loved everything about your report. I want to go on my own solo trip RIGHT NOW! Thank you for including some of those thoughts that sometimes people leave out. What a great read.

I do the same thing with internal narration. ;-)

I think I like Greg, too, and loved his bongos analogy.

Thanks for the great read.
06/23/2011 01:48PM  
A great report. Thanks for taking me along and the photo's were a great companion to your written descriptive.

I smiled as I can also fixate on LP containers and fallen Aspen trees when no such thoughts are required. Why do I/We choose to do so?

Looking forward to your next report.
06/23/2011 02:40PM  
Great report Ho Ho! Loved the pics, going on several of the same lakes as you were on this September. Can't wait to see them in person!
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06/23/2011 05:25PM  

I really like how you report on all the little aspects of your trips. It seems you really immerse yourself into the experience. Maybe in a different universe you would have become a field biologist. Some of the best memories of my trips in the woods are those little discoveries made each time. Last week I found blue-eyed grass. I think it was Sisyrinchium montanum. If it had been cloudy I would have missed it. It appears the flowers open only when it is sunny.

Oh and I know what you mean about having those large trees removed. After having dozens of 60ft plus dead birch and four 80ft dead aspen felled, I now trust that those with experience know what they are doing. Each time they went exactly where I was told they would fall, between obstacles and everything. It is kind of exciting to see them fall, but each time dozens of horrifying scenarios would fill my head.

Ho Ho
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06/23/2011 06:18PM  
Thanks for the feedback, everyone! It's always great to hear people's reactions - that's one of the reasons I like the forum. I appreciate the comments. It was a fun and interesting trip.

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06/23/2011 06:49PM  
Wow this is a great report! I love how you had a lot of pictures and explained them thoroughly throughout. I was on a part of Fourtown last year but it was windy and couldn't really explore it. Sounds like you enjoyed the solo though!
RAFA Ranger
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06/23/2011 06:50PM  
Ho Ho, great trip report. I'll be doing the same route over the 4th of July weekend. No need to buy a map, I'll just print your report and let the pictures guide me.
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06/23/2011 06:51PM  
HoHo, Great report and pics, as usual. (And lots of text/pics is okay.) I was kind of surprised to learn you'd never soloed over the years. You did a great job of expressing what I, and I'm sure many, have experienced in nervousness and misgivings that often occur solo, especially with regard to wind and weather. Your experience with "trim" was also familiar to me. (I was wondering if you considered any other solo canoes -- like the SR Tranquility -- before getting the Prism. I have paddled the Prism and it was okay, but Jim at Canoe Canada says the SR Tranquility is very popular up there.) Lord Voldemort, ha! But you are right, night noises can be unsettling when alone in the wild. Glad to hear you were good with just stashing your food, as that is what I have finally come around to, and I think many others have also. I really liked the variety of the area you covered -- especially the river/creek -- and would like to visit it sometime. Finally, thanks for the "times" you included in your narratives, e.g. 2 hours from Moosecamp to Fourtown, as that kind of info is very good to have. Thanks for sharing! --Goose
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06/23/2011 10:19PM  
Wow! That's a fantastic trip report. You remember so much. I think you'd be a fine traveling partner.
06/24/2011 01:00AM  
Outstanding report! I felt as if I had made the trip myself. I look forward to doing a solo trip in the future. I also look forward to writing my next report as now I have a clue about how an expert report should be written.
06/24/2011 12:19PM  
Yet another great HoHo trip report! I envy your knowledge of birds and their songs, but I especially envy your new living situation:

"Hmmmm, what shall I do for the next couple of days. I know! I'll take a solo trip. Let's see what EPs are open. Mudro? Done!"

And then you drive a little ways down the road and put in. Perfect.

Thanks for the report on an area I haven't been to in quite a while. BTW, Picket Creek at the EP sure looked a lot higher than the last time I was there - my wedding day.
Ho Ho
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06/24/2011 09:12PM  
Thanks for the additional comments!

Goose, in terms of whether I tested other boats, I did try out several, but they were all Wenonahs. I paddled a Bell Merlin a few years ago and it was not what I was looking for (although I admit it was the first solo canoe I tried, so I should try one again now). I was really interested in trying a Bell Magic, but alas, they are not being made right now. To be honest, I did not think about Souris River. I felt like the Prism was a solid choice and I would like it, but I also thought, I'm not get married to it, if I find something else I like in the future, I could sell it and buy the other model (or maybe keep both if David were interested in a solo).
06/25/2011 09:07AM  
Thanks for posting such a marvelous report Ho Ho. Your knowledge of the flora and fauna is incredible. Have you ever thought of guiding for groups interested in birding or naturalist trips? You'd be good at it.

Thanks for the report and wonderful pictures.
06/26/2011 02:56PM  
Excellent report as always!

Regarding that bad portage landing on Fourtown, maybe it's only in low water, but you used to be able to cross the creek to the other shore to land/launch your canoe. It added maybe 5 rods, and you had to be careful of slippey rocks as you crossed, but the landing was flat and grassy.
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06/26/2011 09:47PM  
Wow, incredible report and photos. Hard to pick a favorite, but the close up of the Ladyslipper is pretty nice.

You provided such thorough descriptions of what you heard and saw. I really enjoyed it.
06/27/2011 04:39PM  
Bill - terrific trip report. I just returned Sunday from doing the Mudro-LBF-Friday Bay-Moosecamp-Fourtown loop and found it amazing. I think you had an easier time in your Prism on the Moosecamp River then I did in a MNIII with a bow paddler who could only paddle on his left. We made it but it was slow. We checked out your Fourtown site and thought it was very nice but our group of 8 needed more level tent pads and we could only see the one that you found. We wound up on the south end at the artifact site. Thanks for sharing your report!
06/27/2011 06:42PM  
Finally got free long enough to finish your report and loved it, Ho Ho! Among the notables, I particularly liked the 'crazed solo guy' eyes by day two and your advancing directly into monument building by only day three. Also, the Moosecamp River looks great - I need to add that to a future trip list.

Thanks for sharing the experience!
06/27/2011 09:09PM  
Good stuff! Question: How do you get the pics to show up nice and big on your trip report?
Ho Ho
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06/27/2011 09:45PM  
Hey, thanks for the additional comments, all!

Chilly - I upload my photos to and then insert a hot-link in the report, instead of using's photo hosting. Let me know if you want more info.
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06/28/2011 05:37AM  
Really enjoyed your report.
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06/28/2011 08:32AM  
As always Ho Ho, great report and great pics. Thanks!
06/28/2011 11:22AM  
Awesome trip report, loved the pics! Looks like you had a great time!
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06/28/2011 12:34PM  

Thanks for a great Trip Report and photos Ho Ho. I really enjoyed them. The photo of the backlit Lady Slipper is one of the best photos I have seen on this site! I liked the photo of the vulture too. You did a great job.
Skilletmary and I will be in the Horse/Fourtown area on a trip in mid August and your description of the route will really help us, especially the picture of the "crazy portage".
Looking forward to more of your reports and photos in the future. I also enjoyed your birding reports earlier this year.
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06/29/2011 08:43PM  
Ho Ho - Thanks for the superb trip report. This is exactly the same trip my wife and I will be making in mid August for our maiden BWCA journey. Hopefully there will be enough water on the Moosecamp River for us to paddle down it. If not, we will just double back. We will be using a stripper canoe, so I plan on lifting over the beaver dams. Thanks again for the great report. Bill
Ho Ho
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06/29/2011 09:07PM  
Thanks for the additional comments, it is fun to read reactions. Koda, look at the third to last and second to last pictures on my last day. Sylbill - have fun on your first BWCA trip! And if that stripper gets too scratched up for you, feel free to dump it at my place! :-)
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06/30/2011 11:51AM  
Thanks for sharing such a great trip and the pictures!
06/30/2011 02:37PM  
Wow, great report and pics!!
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07/01/2011 03:17PM  
Loved. It. Felt like I was there. Loved the detailed shots and amazed that you remember exactly where they were. I always THINK I will remember, but when time comes to document, I find I get things confused.

I also loved all the self portraits, showing you at the scene - makes it real. Very glad your first solo turned out to be such a perfect adventure. Thanks for sharing!!
07/01/2011 07:45PM  
Another awesome report! Love all the detail in what you were thinking and heard/saw. This paragraph stood out for me.

"As I went further and further, it started to seem absurd to turn around and go back toward Fairy, instead of continuing forward to Bullet and Moosecamp. And so I began changing my mind one last time. By the time I reached the end of the barrel, I had decided on the river route. Maybe subconsciously that was what I intended all along when I headed down the barrel of Gun. Or perhaps my adventurous side secretly ambushed my timid side with the idea of this little tour."

I'm glad you went for it down the river. These decisions can be very scary to make when you're alone.

About the sloping rock put in at the Fourtown portage landing - In very low water you can just walk across the creek. In high water it is extremely dangerous especially when solo. I remember sitting in my boat debating what to do when going out of Fourtown after Ely got 5 inches of rain during the week I was in.

I came very close to going to Horse Lake then out through Sandpit. I really think an alternate portage trail needs to be built for high water conditions here.

And thank you for name checking me in your report. Pretty cool to do that. Now, you didn't answer the question of if you liked soloing. Would you go on another?

Ho Ho
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07/05/2011 11:16PM  
Glad to read the latest comments! There has been no phone (and hence no Internet) service for several days up here on the Echo Trail, so I'm just catching up now.

TomT - I definite would do it again, but probably only under similar conditions - going to be on my own anyway, so why not? I liked it a lot - but I think I like traveling more with the perfect trip mate David. So I doubt I'll ever do a really long solo like 10 days. But experience has taught me - never say never. We'll see!

BTW I really enjoyed your report a lot, not just the parts I referred to. I was glad I my weather was better than what you experienced in the same area, though!

07/06/2011 09:21AM  
You always have the best photo's. I wish some of that could rub off to me. Keep up the good work.
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07/07/2011 01:15PM  
Nice report. I have never been to that area but now feel like I have.
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08/01/2011 11:41AM  
Great report HO HO My sons and I made the same trip (except for the day trip to Thunder) in 2001 .....It was their first experience in the BWCA and both really enjoyed fact we've been back on different routes 4 times since... Thanks for the memories of our tripping in 2001

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08/05/2011 07:47AM  
Wonderful report, great pictures too! I love the detail to fauna and flora. You are setting the bar pretty high!
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08/08/2011 01:28PM  
You are obviously are superior writer. Fantastic photos and narration. I always marvel at those of you whose knowledge on the flora and fauna is so extensive. I doubt I'll ever be that versed in the biology of the area, but I do delight in hearing about all the beauty that I often see but know so little of. I'll be submitting my first trip report after my adventure this week and I hope it's only a tenth as interesting both visually and verbally.
08/14/2011 02:37PM  
Loved all the pictures. Enjoyed the report too. Thanks for sharing.
08/14/2011 07:00PM  
Nice report Ho Ho! That's one nice boat you are paddling-as pristine as the waters of the BWCA. Also, I think I may have to borrow your "beyond the burka" idea. Thanks for sharing!
08/15/2011 12:35AM  
I was wondering about that Bannock...I don't remember that steep landing, we must have been able to go the other way on our trip a few years ago.
08/15/2011 12:41AM  
I really enjoyed your report. Just like a good book, I didn't want it to end. Thanks!
08/18/2011 07:58PM  
great report. Photos and maps were excellent. Taking my first solo next month, can't wait. Thanks for sharing your journey.
Ho Ho
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08/19/2011 09:31AM  
I'm glad to see that folks are still enjoying the report. That was a great trip! The summer has flown by since then, but the yearly "big" Q trip with David still lies ahead . . .

08/19/2011 11:07PM  
Thank you, I am looking forward to heading up to the Horse Fourtown area in a couple weeks. I appreciate getting an idea of how long it takes to get to point a to b ect. I am entertaining the thought of going West into boot and fair but fishing is a priority for dad and I and it might be to much of a wild card.
08/19/2011 11:15PM  
Great report! Thanks for sharing and congrats on your first solo - may there be many more!
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08/30/2011 06:29AM  
Great report enjoyed reading it
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08/31/2011 01:05PM  
great report,heavy on the photos and you really know your wildlife,a loon is the only call i know.i have never been to this part of the BW but i can see it's busy and would be best in the very early spring of late fall.thanks for the work you did on this.
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09/03/2011 03:49PM  
Holy Ho Ho's! Took me an hour to read the whole report. Very nice though. You do know your songbirds. Nice pictures. Great narrative. Do you keep a journal as you're tripping?
09/04/2011 07:18PM  
I can see why there are so many readers of this report, as it is very interesting and well-written. The photos are excellent, and the map diagrams situate the reader well. I spent more than an hour living this trip along with you. I can't add much more than what the many readers have already said.

The difficult portage landing jogged a memory of mine. For 15 years I had a cabin up on the Seagull River at the end of the Gunflint Trail on the east end of the BW. I spent my summers there, and when I first got the cabin I did a number of two-day solo trips in every direction. One of these trips I journeyed into Jap Lake from the south. It has a notorious two-mile portage in from Seagull from the north. The one from the south was worse. I walked a quarter mile in waist deep muck that locals call goose-shit, after which I had to lower the packs and canoe by rope down a steep 30' cliff into the lake. Needless to say, I took the long portage out the next morning.

Where are you and David going in Quetico? I'll be looking forward to that report as well.
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09/27/2011 01:14PM  
Forgive me if this item has already been covered. While I read most of the trip report and most of the threads, I didn't read every single word.

That said, I thought this TP was really great and I really enjoyed the photos. I would like to suggest that everyone who posts photos tell us what type of camera they used. I'm thinking about getting a new camera, and nothing is more important then seeing pictures to determine what type of camera to buy.

Ho Ho
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09/27/2011 09:25PM  
It's fun to read the additional feedback. A couple answers to questions -

RookiePaddler, the camera is a Canon PowerShot SX20 IS, it's a couple years old, so I'm guessing they've updated the model since then. It's a very easy but versatile camera, kind of a high-end point and shoot, as opposed to a DSLR.

rr, we went on our Quetico trip earlier in September, to the McEwen Chain, Falls Chain, and Man Chain. I'll be working on that trip report during the winter . . .

mc2mens, I kind of keep a journal most trips with some odd notes about what I saw etc. I don't write in it every day, so I'm sure I forget a few things when I catch up with the notes. A lot of detail in the reports comes from the memories triggered by the pictures . . .

10/03/2011 10:01PM  
Great photos...did almost the exact same trip this summer, all the photos really brought me back
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11/03/2011 05:22PM  
Well here it is four months later and, Bill, you are STILL getting report comments! J-stroke suggested I read his report and the thought that now the paddling season was just about over, I should go through the trip report list. The first one I picked, naturally, is yours.

My first solo, in a Prism, was about 6 years ago and I picked a variation of your trip - only taking off west towards Angleworm and ending at South Hegman Lake after a Chainsaw Sister shuttled my car. That Gull Lake campsite is neat! That was the year that Mars was the closest to earth it had been in ages and I remember sitting near the end of the long narrow rock spine and watching the vivid light of Mars piercing across the waters of that near calm lake the night I camped there.

I did enjoy your report immensely! Your knowledge of BW flora and fauna is admirable, oh heck! I am jealous rather! I found your on the spot decision to go out via the Moosecamp River almost humorous. Solo tripping makes this possible, really. You do not have to make any compromises, no collaborations, just do something when you want to! But soloing does have its lonely times too. Simply put, it is different from tandem or larger group trips. They all have their pluses and minuses. I have to stop by your new abode up North and see you some time!
Ho Ho
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11/03/2011 10:47PM  
Glad you enjoyed the report! And definitely give us a head's up when you are coming north . . .

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11/25/2011 05:38PM  
Primo pics, as usual. On a cold dreary February day I will return to read it in full.
Prism has a beautiful, sleek design. I love the solo experience and I love my Prism.
Savage Voyageur
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11/25/2011 06:08PM  
Thanks Ho Ho very nice. Part of my problem is that I don't stop to take pictures enough. You just stop paddling and stop portaging and take pictures. I need to learn that lesson. You also take close up pictures. It is amazing how much cool stuff is on the forest floor. Very good composition also.
11/26/2011 11:48AM  
Glad you brought this back mjmkjun. Exquisite trip report Ho Ho. Planning a 6 day solo in the spring next year into Mudro; your report has me almost wanting to pack my trash up right now and wait for the spring iceout. Awesome preview for me. Thanks Ho Ho, excellent job. Can't wait to follow in your footprints/ paddle strokes.
11/27/2011 02:52PM  
Bill -

Another fine report. Thanks for taking the time to craft this!

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