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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum :: Group Forum: Solo Tripping :: first solo trip
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06/14/2016 06:06AM

The main reason I don't bring one, Tom, is the same reason I don't bring a lot of other things - weight, bulk, etc. I usually just sit on a log or legs stretched out on a nice slab of granite, sometimes there's a nice grassy spot. I have also used my BearVault as a stool, but Ursacks don't work as well ;). I have used my PFD as a pad, but I hear that's not the greatest thing for something you're counting on to float you ;). I might take a piece of closed cell foam . . . Gad! My brain is becoming addled by old age, Tom :). Maybe I'm just a hard-a**! :)

On a slightly more serious note, a lot of people take a chair because of their bad back. Sitting too much is what makes mine bad. To be honest, my back hurts when I get up off the couch at home, so a chair in the BW is not going to be any better. I manage to hurt about the same without a chair as I would with one, so . . .

I stretch it out, get up and walk around, stand - same as home.

You'll survive without one, Tom, especially if you're not focused on "man, I don't have a chair - wish I brought my chair". Go for it, Tom, in your quest for old school simplicity, and see if you want to bring it next time.
06/15/2016 07:40PM
I just use my canoe seat/back rest. Set it on a log, rock, or on top of my blue barrel. I custom cut a piece of foam kneeling pad that fits on the seat....both for long paddling days or for around camp. super seat
foam pad
06/13/2016 09:19PM
You might also consider Quetico. Many less people there vs. the BW.

Boonie, I'm considering not taking a chair when I solo in Sept. Do you sit on any kind of pad? How do you manage and curious why you don't bring one?

06/13/2016 08:36PM
It sounds like you are interested in solitude in "lesser-traveled" areas of the BW, which is usually achieved by taking a portage that most avoid. It also helps to take less popular entries, to enter after the summer crowds, and to enter mid-week.

If you are not averse to taking one or two longer, tougher portages, then you should be able to achieve that to a large extent.

You could, for example, enter at Sawbill and take the portage from Lujenida to Zenith, which will eliminate the vast majority of people who have entered at Sawbill. You are now in an area that is much less used. You can make a nice little loop around the lakes there and exit the way you came.

You could also enter at Kawishiwi Lake and head up beyond Malberg into the Adams, Boulder, Makwa area, which sees a lot less use. You would also exit at Kawishiwi Lake.

There are some other options depending on how much or how little you want to travel and/or portage. I double portage; consequently I add twice the portage distance to the map distance when calculating my travel. I usually aim to travel about 8 miles a day for 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 4 days on a 12-day trip.

I do not fish. I also enjoy journaling, observation, photography, and reading. I try to maximize time for those activities by minimizing others. I eat simple meals - Freezer bag meals: cold cereal, food bars, dehydrated dinners eaten of the bag - that require little or no prep and no clean up. They require little time, fuel, and no extra "kitchen items". The use of bear canisters/Ursacks eliminates the need to hang a food pack.

I do not take an axe or saw since I rarely build a fire, preferring to sit in the dark and star gaze or ponder things. There is no chair and no lantern.

Others enjoy those things and you may too, but something you'll want to think about.

There's lots of information about soloing tripping in past threads in this forum if you search. Good luck with your planning.

06/16/2016 06:10AM
quote boonie: "
You'll survive without one, Tom, especially if you're not focused on "man, I don't have a chair - wish I brought my chair". Go for it, Tom, in your quest for old school simplicity, and see if you want to bring it next time. "

It will probably be a last minute decision. I'll see how heavy and bulky my packs are and how old school I want to take this trip. I'm thinking more simplicity is a good thing.

06/16/2016 07:03AM

I don't know if you'll have the same experience as me or not, but you'll only know if you try. I assume your Vittles Vault isn't tall enough to make a stool. Another factor may be that there's not as much "fire area structure" in the Q as in the BW, but I don't usually end up sitting there that much. Maybe just a square of closed cell foam or even reflectix bubble wrap. You will be able to sit in your hammock anyway . . .?


Any more thoughts on a route or other questions?
06/13/2016 03:10PM
I am comfortable with camping alone. I have done it and greatly enjoyed the solitude. I am an avid reader and enjoy Journaling about things I love, so I think this will be a wonderful opportunity. I normally travel 5 miles on an average day. Sometimes up to 10 and as lite as just around the first point. I've been all over but I just don't know enough to say where I'd like to go. I'm not overly interested in hieroglyphics but would like to experience virtually undisturbed wilderness. Wildlife is definitely a plus. I think a loop would be the best course for my first solo.
07/02/2016 09:02PM
Great! Thanks for all the tips. I really appreciate them. I put in on Aug 18th and come out the 25th. I'm apprehensive but also very excited. I've got quite a few trips under my belt and I think I'm ready to go it alone. Book and journal will be my friends!

07/02/2016 09:54AM
I did a layover day on Pan a couple years ago and the fishing was pretty good. I stayed at the northside campsite.
07/01/2016 12:58AM
Booked my permit for entry 37, kawishiwi lake. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. I think I'm ready tho. Is it too much to try and get back to Pan lake in 2 days? I've heard great things about the fishingame. I know you don't really fish but is this too much to try and do? I'd like to spend at least a full day on pan so getting there in 2-3 days is crucial. I know malberg, polly and some of the other lakes also offer good fishing but Id like to set a difficult yet achievable goal.

07/01/2016 08:40AM
I agree with the others. Last year when I did my solo I made it to Malberg on day 1 even though I left home at 2 am to pick up the canoe and permit in Tofte at 7am so I didn't get to the Kawishiwi EP until 9am. Getting to Pan on day 2 would not have been a problem.

Have a great trip!
07/01/2016 09:08AM

Yes, you can get to Pan Lake in 2 days. A couple of old, out of shape guys did it in 2014 - se my trip report and inspector 13's for some details. Here is a link to my photo album on shutterfly if you want to look at some pictures in the 2014 album. We went on up through Little Sag and exited out Sawbill.

If you double portage, it's about 9 miles to Polly and about 9.5 to Pan. There's about 3 miles of portaging each day assuming double portaging. One of the portages on the way to Pan was flooded out in 2014 and required a little extra work. If planning to stay on Polly, I'd get there early. We didn't see anyone from Koma to Pan. Actually, only one couple between there and Kelso.

When are you entering? Water levels from Kawishiwi up through there can vary with the season. We went in Sept.

Good luck. Enjoy your solo.
07/01/2016 08:09AM
You should be able to get to Pan on day 2
07/01/2016 08:06AM
You shouldn't have a problem getting to Pan in 2 days, just depends how hard you want to push it, I was there in the spring but came from the other direction, the campsite on the north side of the lake is a very nice site, have a good trip and be safe and have fun.
06/11/2016 04:55PM
Take the hammock for sure. As for route - where haven't you been that you would like to go? Have you gone off the Echo Trail? How about the Gunflint Trail? The Robert Beymer books have lots of detailed route selections. I would get one of those. That's how I got started. My first solo in 1984 went through Gaskin, Winchell, and Vista. I believe my entry was Ham Lake.

Keep a journal to give ideas on how to improve for the next time.

Beymer Book&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

06/11/2016 05:45PM
Take full advantage of only having to please yourself. Keep your route easy and flexible so when you find yourself in paradise you can stop and enjoy it.
06/11/2016 01:50PM
I just got back from the BWCA, Gabbro,Iturtle lake, Pietro, Bald Eagle loop, and Im already itching to go back. I've considered doing a solo trip for some time as I have been on many groups trips over the years, and I feel its time to take the plunge. With all the options and lakes out there, it can be a bit overwhelming choosing a new route. I enjoy fishing and eating fish but this is not a must. I like to travel but don't want to overdue it considering this will be my first trip alone. I have been carrying my canoe for a couple months now in preparation, so long portages aren't a huge problem. However I do not want to regret over working myself. I would like to stay in for 7 days, 2-3 days resting the rest traveling. I slept in a hammock on my last trip, in which it rained everyday May 31- June 7, and managed to stay dry warm and comfortable. Is this a good idea to do again or is it smarter bring my 3 man tent? Any suggestions on routes? Less people the better, as always, but I am most concerned with doing something different than I have ever done before. Not necessarily route wise, but to experience the BWCA in a new light. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

06/11/2016 02:25PM
If you have the urge to try a solo trip, you will probably enjoy it, so take the plunge. Are you generally comfortable alone in the woods? Ever camp overnight alone?

Solos tend to be very individualistic by their very nature. Generally speaking you may carry slightly heavier loads since no one shares the weight of community gear, so you may want to consider ways to lighten the load. You'll find many ideas for doing that by searching back through old threads in this forum.

You'll also be the only one doing camp chores, so no one will filter water while you set up the tent, etc. I try to simplify these camp chores, especially for solos. I like lots of relaxing, quiet time on my solos, but some people like to keep busy.

I usually plan shorter travel days - a couple of miles or an hour at least - than I would otherwise. You may travel faster or slower than you do on a group trip - only time will tell. How far do you normally travel in a day?

I would take the hammock since it worked well for you and is probably lighter than the 3-person tent.

Are you looking for a loop trip or would a point-to-point with a short shuttle or short walk be OK? Maybe the Lady Chain from Kawishiwi to Sawbill, or Cross Bay to Poplar, or Cross Bay to Missing Link, or a short loop out of any of these.