Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

The Four Solos - 2006
by Bannock

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 10/06/2006
Entry & Exit Point: Sawbill Lake (EP 38)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
The 4 Solos Trip October 6 – 9, 2006 Larry Ricker, Steve Freeman, Jim Balow, Ken Brown Sawbill, Kelso River, Kelso Lake, Lujenida, Zenith, Duck, Hug, Mesaba
Part 1 of 7

The title, "The 4 Solos" makes me think of "The Three Amigos". You know that silly movie about the big screen cowboys with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short? I guess Steve would be Steve Martin, Larry would be Chevy Chase, and Jim would be Martin Short. I guess that makes me the donkey. Hmmm ... maybe I’d be Jon Lovitz. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

The trip planning went smoothly via email. Assignments were made for gear responsibilities. Jim was once again "Cookie" though he admitted that his wife, Rachel, played a part in the planning and pre-prep. Rachel earned her "Honorary 4-Solos" certificate many times over (I guess that makes her Patrice Martinez).

Weather is very variable in the month of October, so planning the proper clothing is a challenge. I made a SWAG of lows in the 20s and highs in the mid 50s and packed accordingly. The temperatures turned out to be much warmer than my SWAG.

Sawbill Weather History from

Date HighTemp LowTem Baro RelHum7AM 9AM Temp Moisture  Snow

10/09/06 62   27  30.16  77%    29   0"

10/8/06  62   34  30.39  72%    35   0

10/7/06  68   51  29.86  74%    58   0

10/6/06  61   38  30.06  69%    51   0

Of course a week later, the lows were in the 20s, the highs in the upper 30s, and there was 10" of snow!

Most of my personal and group items were quickly assembled two days before the trip with two exceptions: 1) a sleeping bag; and, 2) a canoe. The researching and purchase of both of these took considerable time during the planning period.

Regarding the sleeping bag, I own a summer and a winter sleeping bag, but nothing in between; hence I was in the market for a 20-degree bag. After much shopping I wound up with a Slumberjack Ultimate 20°F Thermolite® Extreme Sleeping Bag (carry weight 3 lbs). I had been leaning toward a down bag because of its weight and pack volume, but was very pleased with my choice.

Of canoes, I knew that I did not want to do the Lujenida to Zenith portage (480 rods) carrying my Old Town Penobscott 15, and so was in the market for a lightweight one. What I was looking for was something similar to the Penobscott but made of Kevlar. I thought the Souris River Tranquility or the Swift Shearwater would be nice, but with no prospects as my deadline approached I had to compromise. I went with the Wenonah Encounter (fitted with a CVCA Yoke & Back band). The Encounter is 17' long, 31.5" wide, 25" at the gunwales, and made of Kevlar Ultra-light, weighing 38#s.