BWCA solo

Would like to do a solo canoe trip to BWCA in August. Any thoughts or advise on a solo trip , were to paddle, equipment, portaging and anything else. Let me hear your thoughts on this.

Waiting to see the sun !

random thoughts
Going solo… where to begin … I think soloing is great, but not for everyone. Here are some random thoughts:

It is great to go where you want to when you want to.

You have to do all the work (water, wood, set up, cooking, dishes …)

Make meals very simple. I don’t feel like cooking on a solo.

No one else to blame if you swamp.

No second set of eyes to help you from getting lost.

The boogy man comes out when you travel alone especially late at night.

Talking to yourself is all right, but when you start telling yourself jokes you haven’t heard before, it is time to leave.

Take pictures.

Keep a journal.

Strive for single portaging but double portage anyway.

Be more careful when solo.

Pack light.

Go to an area with smaller lakes even if it means more portaging. Poplar Lake area is good. Or Kawishwi Lake. Or Mudro.

You will have a great time.

solo thoughts

– Last Updated: Mar-21-05 1:44 PM EST –

Pack lightweight. Try not to carry two person-type gear as in tents, cook kits and canoe.

Plan your distances to travel accordingly. Weather that makes tough going for tandem paddlers might very well have a solo traveler shorebound.

Travel when the wind is good. Early mornings especially. Get up and out as it gets light enough to travel. Don't lay over on a good traveling day.

Double trip your portages, unless you have an extremely light outfit. There is more risk involved in trying to single trip a portage. The portages are not like hiking trails, they are often wet, boggy, bouldery with poor footing. This is where injuries occur.

Travel deliberately, think about what you are doing and how you are feeling. If you are tired, better to camp and let that next portage go until the morning. The person who bails you out of a serious situation may not come by for a day or so. Don't take chances.

Avoid big open lakes in planning your route unless you get great enjoyment out of dealing with the wind and waves.(I do!).

After all that gloom and doom I must say that the solo trips I've done have been the most enjoyable of all and I would not hesitate to do it again!

People ask if I was lonely on a 10 day trip. Not a bit. You get engaged in the landscape and the wildlife. Enjoy!

double blade
I love double blading my solo in the wind. A lightweight kayak paddle is really worth taking for your spare.

I second the idea of rise before dawn and make time before ten am.

I dont avoid big lakes. Agnes in Quetico was a blast in a 60 mph wind because the windward side had a beautiful wind shadow and the water was dead calm. Use maps and calculate wind direction to plot your safest route and if in doubt dont go! There is only you to answer to and only you to whine to. You wont be lonely as you will meet an occasional person.

I aim for ten to twelve mile days with about 4000 meters of portaging. The number is what gets you solo, not the length. You and only you have to load and unload. I get fed up after six portages, which is why I like larger lakes.

Consider double portaging. A light pack with the canoe and a heavier one without on the second portage.

You might consider Sawbill to Smoke, Brandt, Kelly,north to Temperance to Cherokee and back on Sawbill. Not too bad portages and the only big lake is Sawbill. You could reverse if you like. If you hit Sawbill last you might stay on the north end and padle it early the next day. 4 days about. OR, go in off the Gunflint at the Cross Bay entry (near Tuscarora Resort), to Snipe, to Tuscarora (I’m not looking at a map, but I think that is right), to Missing link and back out at Round near (1 road mile)where you started. Mostly small water except for Tuscarora. Also, this has the mile long Tuscarora to Missing Link portage which is a nice (I mean pleasant - no sarcaism)hike to get your second pack and come back.

couple of practical suggestions
Check w outfitter or ranger on any problem bear campsites or portages on your route and avoid if possible.

If you see bear prints, scat, or sign on portage put packs in tree rather than just leaving it at one end.

A bad berry crop can turn into bear problems in August. Not likely, but on a solo you want to be aware.

Always prepare camp for worst possible overnight weather (drainage around tent and boat and all equipment well secured).

Enjoy yourself.