Loading the boat for a solo trip

In a couple of weeks I will embark on a solo trip on the Green River in Utah. 7 days, 120mi in a 16’ Wenonah Adirondack.

I will be paddling “backwards”, ie sitting in the front seat facing aft.

I weigh 230lbs.

I will be bringing 10ga of water (80lbs) in 2.5ga containers and the rest of my gear incl. tent, bag, pack, food/cooking stuff (~60lbs).

Should I attempt to load the stuff at the far end of the canoe to offset my weight, or keep it closer to center?



If it were me
I’d load the heaviest bags near the center, and keep the lighter stuff to the ends. At the same time, I’d keep the 2.5 gallon water containers near at hand. That way, if you find that your trim is causing problems you can just grab one of those water containers and move it either forward or backward as necessary to make a quick and easy adjustment.

Sounds like an awesome trip. Good luck!


I would load it so the canoe was trim
or slightly bow light.

Definately don’t make it bow heavy, or you will be zigging and zagging the whole way.

Jack L

Bring a water filter
No way would I carry that much water on that section of the Green or anywhere for that matter, carry one two gallon container and fill it when getting to camp in the afternoon let it settle overnight and pump though your filter in thr morning. Yes it’s silty but with this method the Green river or any muddy desert stream tastes great and you can travel lighter or carry something more fun than water.

hike in three canyon
If your not pulling that extra 86 pounds around you’ll have that much more time and energy for side hikes in some of the most spectacular desert on the planet don’t miss Three canyon for starters. Another thought on a good filter (Sweetwater or Pur) is you don’t have to ration it’s pretty easy for me to use over a gallon a day for drinking and cooking on the Co plateau still hot and dry out there! And with the extra fill a cheap camp shower and stay clean and comfy it is a MUDDY tamerisk lined stretch of beautiful river.

Good points by all
Use your water jugs as ballast to adjust your trim. If you are facing a headwind and it is a long stretch, bow heavy will help keep the boat pointed in the wind. Otherwise, as JackL recommends.

I did alright filtering and drinking the Green River. I carried a replacement cartridge in case the silt clogged my Kathydn Hiker filter, but I didn’t have to use it. I did let the water rest in the bucket overnight, as recommended above.

Good luck. Do leave time for some hiking. It’s a great trip!


Paddled That Canoe Extensively…
…about 50/50 tandem. Had at least one Adirondack in my boat collection from the late '80’s to a few years ago. Riverstrider hit it dead on. Put the bulk of the packs in front of you on the opposite side of the yoke and trim with your water. Here’s a picture of me soloing that boat in the BWCAW. Actually is one of the easier tandem boats to solo. WW


Agree on water jugs for trim
We did the Green from Green River to Mineral Bottom two years ago. One friend did it soloing an Old Town Penobscot with no trouble.

I would recommend taking water and a filter. Remember that the road to Mineral Bottom has been washed out by flash floods, so once you put in the only take out is at Spanish Bottom


Green R, you’re gonna love it !
Fully agree w/ what’s been posted about filtering water that’s settled overnight rather than carrying all you’ll need

Replace 1/2 lb of water w/ Michael Kelsey’s “River Guide to Canyonlands NP & vicinity” It describes every petroglyph, pictograph, ruin, cattle trail, water source, & attraction on both Green & Colorado. Found it invaluable on our trip. We found good water up 3 canyon (Mile88) Tangren’s spring @ Anderson Bottom (mile30)& others. Enjoy (& try a bow down trim if/when you’re paddling against a strong upriver headwind)

you’ll need the water for trim

… without I don’t think you could trim the Adirondack at your weight. A couple of us tripped with a much lighter guy, “Joe” in one turned backwards. Joe probably weighed about 150. With only his camping gear the 'dack was way bow light. Not good in the wind. Fortunately I was able to contribute some of my burden to his bow. Probably 40 pounds worth and it trimmed out decently.

Great advice from above.

Also, do go out and practice with a load (can be several water jugs =ing 100 lbs or so). Especially on windy days, which you may get in the afternoon and if strong enough to reach the canyon floor, could be an issue. That is worth asking for a comment from the folks who have done the river as to their experience with winds and if there is prevailing direction. As stated before, don;t be afraid to move the load around to adjust trim.

It may be quartering headwinds that will cause you the most problems, mainly because your seating position puts the power distribution where the boat may tend to weather cock. Hopefully they will be tail winds !! If you don;t know the J-stroke vs the sit-and-switch, check into this, both will be usefull (take a shorter paddle for sit-switch).

Have fun.

… on second thought

If I was doing this trip in a tandem, I would make sure I could kneel toward the center of the boat. I’d bring some kind of minicell pedestal about 9" high, or I’d install a kneeling thwart. That way I’d be sure to have plenty of trim options available, and as I used up the water and other supplies, I wouldn’t be looking for extra weight to tote. I could go with a lighter and better handling boat.

Kneeling in Center

– Last Updated: Aug-31-10 10:31 AM EST –

While that may be "Ideal," I am a big guy larger than 230 and paddled the Adirondack exclusively from bow seat when I was solo. The nice thing about this boat is when you turn it around, your stern becomes the bow. The Stern in this canoe is only 16-17" deep, so wind is not as difficult as it would be soloing most tandems. Trust me, no B.S. here, I have extensive "Butt time" in this boat, and paddled the Adirondack for about 2 decades, often solo. Using the bow seat backwards "Works" in this canoe. WW

Trim items
You’ll be carrying a groover, right? I think its required down there. That’s a pretty heavy item that could be used to keep your bow down, if the bow is wide enough to accommodate it.

Regarding water, I think I’d be a bit concerned about clogged water filters even after letting Green R. water settle overnight. The advise about bringing extra filters, if that’s what you choose to do, sounds prudent to me. Settled river water is fine for washing though…

We did part of the stretch you’re doing last year and we carried our drinking water, but if I were to collect water while going down river, as has been suggested and done plenty of times, I suppose, I think I’d collect it from the heads of the side canyons.

Being that deep in the canyons, there’s quite often a seep from a small water table over you. The waters that you’ll find in small pools near the heads of side canyons - waters which seem to rarely make it to the river before soaking into sand or evaporating - were quite clear and generally looked much better for drinking than the river water. I’d filter that rather than river water.

This is not an environment I’m really used to, but I hear you should look for aquatic insects before drinking any standing desert water. There is arsenic and such in some seeps. All those old uranium mines down there give me pause also. I’m not sure what might be leaching into the ground water there, but I’d be a bit cautious. If it kills or won’t support bugs and algae, its probably better not to drink it yourself, filtered or not. I don’t care much how many microns its filtered to or if its boiled and charcoal filtered arsenic - I don’t want to drink it. Just funny that way.

We encountered some very weird winds down by Hell Roaring Canyon (hmmm… wonder why they call it that?), just above Mineral Bottoms. Set camp there on a clear windless evening. Hit us at about 11:30 pm, must have been near 60mph. Sent us all scurrying about in the dark in our underwear to tie down boats and chase our camp chairs and such around the sandbar, put in extra tent stakes… then stopped at 12:30 sharp. It blew sand through the closed mosquito netting of the tent. When we met up with some campers who were set up upstream the next morning, they were surprised to hear of it - they had a perfectly calm night. I don’t know if that happens at other areas of the river or if only under certain weather patterns or seasons - but when I go back I guarantee that I’ll stake down well and tie everything up every night even if it doesn’t look like any chance of a wind. That’d be a heck of a place to have a boat blow away and have to walk out of. Could turn “epic” mighty fast.

too thick to drink, too thin to plow

– Last Updated: Aug-31-10 1:30 PM EST –

You've pointed out a number of my concerns surrounding water. Potash is another that I'd thought about, not sure about the toxicity dosages but I'd rather not find out the hard way. Hence, I am bringing the recommended (by BLM) 1ga per person per day with a bit of a buffer. I will have a filter and bucket in the event of an emergency but the water I bring will be my primary.

I'm not bringing a "groover" in the traditional sense. I'll be using "wag-bags" and will have a storage container to keep them isolated.

I have the Belknap guide. I think I'll purchase the Kelsey one as well. Can't have too much info.

Thanks everyone for the insight and recommendations. Much appreciated.


Kelsey’s Book
Kelsey’s River Guide to Canyonlands National Park and Vicinity was out of print when I went looking for it in 2009. It has a 1991 copyright, so is dated, but still is relevant. However, some things do change in 19 years, and just because Kelsey describes it as a “tamarisk-free landing” does not mean it is not overgrown today.

There is a small bookstore on the main drag through Moab. I didn’t see the Kelsey book on the shelf so asked about it. The manager or proprietor, or both, went in the back and brought out a copy, for which he was asking $50. I hesitated on the price, but after thumbing through the book, bit the bullet. My reasoning was that Kelsey described things not in the other guide book, such as the LOCATION of SPRINGS, trails and ruins, and if my group could take advantage of even a few of those things, the book would be worth it. Do you need this book? No. Some of the others in my group brought the more commonly available river guides that were pretty good. Will the book add details and context to the trip you might otherwise miss? Yes.

I suggest looking for this book online. Perhaps there will be a used one for a reasonable price. Maybe you can look up the several bookstores in Moab and call them ahead of time about available copies of the book.

Finding springs Kelsey identified is another way to work the water supply. But I was too nervous about not finding them to go without my filter.