View topic - Is solitude important to you when solo tripping?

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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2013, 9:11 am 
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While I do enjoy solitude, and the time alone it gives me and my mind, I fail to understand why the thought of meeting up with some other great folks is such a scary thing. Most of these people are usually like minded, and I have actually made some long term acquaintances this way. Yes, there have been a few people that I was quick to get away from, but they are by far in the minority of trippers.

I have a good friend who does a couple months every year solo, this summer he will be paddling on Great Slave Lake. He spends many days on end without human contact, but says he still enjoys meeting the folks he does along the way.

It must be just that we are all wired differently, or have had more bad experiences with others.

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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 5:46 am 
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I think there might be a gender difference in how anyone feels about encountering strangers, alone, many miles from anywhere.

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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 1:12 pm 
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Since most of my trips have been solo, and I intentionally look for wilderness trips...the solitude is incidental, and the occasional interaction with other humans is rarely unwelcome.

Unless you're in Crotch lake in APP, and the site across the lake from the island site you're on is blasting pop/rap music at midnight....then I feel it's ok to become a total jackass.


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 1:16 pm 
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sk8r wrote:
I think there might be a gender difference in how anyone feels about encountering strangers, alone, many miles from anywhere.

Good point, never considered that. I wouldn't think it would be too much of a worry deep in the wilderness, but in places that can be populated by yahoos, I could see being even more careful.

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PostPosted: April 6th, 2013, 10:36 am 
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Basically yes. I like the solitude. I do not mind (and sometimes like) having other people on the same lake as me provided it is a big lake and they are a good distance away but I would prefer to keep my interaction with other people to a minimum.

A couple of minutes at the head of a portage is OK but I move on as soon as it is polite to do so.

Not all my trips are solo so it is not that I do not like people but on my solo trips, I really want to be alone.

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PostPosted: April 6th, 2013, 3:43 pm 
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One of the main reason I go alone is for the solitude. I don't have a problem with running into to people, or having folks stop for a chat, but I much prefer to be alone.

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PostPosted: April 6th, 2013, 4:17 pm 
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I think the bottom line regarding solitude, is that anyone who does any solo tripping, whether or not they strive for solitude, are at least accepting of it, otherwise they would not go.

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PostPosted: April 7th, 2013, 1:56 pm 
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Are there different digrees of solitide? Does having a radio,canned music,a dog ect make for less solitude?
turtle


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PostPosted: April 7th, 2013, 2:35 pm 
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Solitude is in the mind. I hazard a guess it is a measurable amount of change from one's usual daily routine. I don't happen to find a radio useful for where there are no stations; so I don't carry one.

I don't trip with my dog, but that is because there is no vet care 100 miles from town, and she does not fit in my canoe. Not because of any requirements of fitting into anyone else's notion of a proper solo trip.

I have had trouble from yahoos, but only once in the Adirondacks. I'll still solo there.


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PostPosted: April 7th, 2013, 3:30 pm 
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rblturtle wrote:
Are there different digrees of solitide? Does having a radio,canned music,a dog ect make for less solitude?
turtle

This can really only be defined by each individual, as I am sure it is different for everyone.

I rarely bring a radio or music of any kind as there is usually no reception where I paddle, though on rare occasion I do take a guitar. My dog does come wherever they are allowed, he does not do anything to take away from what I define as solitude. No different than if I meet someone and chat for a while, I can immediately drop into a state of solitude right away.

A favourite song to sing while out alone.


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PostPosted: April 8th, 2013, 6:06 am 
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i listen to "come sail away" by styx on to way to the launch.it often fills my head,particularly when launching for the day. other times,on a morning with fog rising from the water,praise music or hymms run through my head. other times,some really stipid tune gets in my head and won't leave. my wilderness feeling doesn't really get going till i hear my first loon.
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PostPosted: April 8th, 2013, 8:06 am 
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rblturtle wrote:
my wilderness feeling doesn't really get going till i hear my first loon.
turtle

Interesting. For me loons are not a sign of wilderness. Probably because I can hear and watch them at home, which I don't perceive as wilderness.

A sign of wilderness for me is hearing wolves or better seeing one. Likely that is not true for others.

Wilderness. a perception of a lack of people and the presence of animals you don't meet in daily life?


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PostPosted: April 8th, 2013, 9:15 am 
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LRC,

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A sign of wilderness for me is hearing wolves or better seeing one. Likely that is not true for others.


I've seen wolves running around on my property and on Hwy 28 near Bancroft... they've increased since the ban on killing them in the townships around Algonquin.

Some have said that wilderness can be defined most easily by the absence of roads... the greater the extent of roads, the poorer the quality of wilderness. Cities and their tightly packed roads would probably rank lowest on the scale (cities being the opposite of wilderness).

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PostPosted: May 7th, 2013, 1:37 pm 
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Somewhat, I enjoy the solitude but just as much I enjoy meeting people on the portages and chatting to them about where they're from, where they're headed, what's the weather like, etc.

That being said, if I can get a day where I see and hear no one... That's a beautiful thing. So far that has not happened, I managed to get by one day without talking to a soul but I still saw a canoe or two cruise by.


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PostPosted: May 7th, 2013, 8:16 pm 
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Yes. I choose routes deliberately for complete solitude....from humans. My last big northern trip was the upper Lockhart River in 2011, when I went 35 days without seeing another human. It was great.

Critters however are everywhere all the time, and often visit.

Way out on the central mainland barrens (NWT/Nunavut) I find that ravens are uncommon. But when I see/hear them way off, its remarkable how they make a bee line to me to check me out. Sometimes they land on the campsite perimeter and croak, and I try and respond, but I don’t speak raven very well.

Arctic terns are famous for flying out of their way to come visit, especially the juveniles who may not have seen a canoe and human before. Get too close to the colony and the terns harass me with impressive dive bombing.

When out on the big lakes, Scoters every single time without out fail will alter course and buzz by the canoe at impressive speeds, and sometimes do 2 or 3 laps around, checking me out.

Herring gulls way out on the Barrens are notorious for their grumpiness, and will fly way out of their way to harass and poo bomb you. These may be the same gulls that in the winter are down south hanging around fast food joints bumming fries, or hanging out at dumps. The birds way up on the Barrens know very well what humans are, and when up north, have a major attitude. Several times I have been tempted to uncase my shotgun and solve the little disagreement we are having...but I only carry slugs and would probably miss,.....and besides I need to save my ammo for you know who.

Speaking of which, bears have visited from time to time, but they are not welcome. Never had to use the gun yet, but have had to use bangers.

Way up north, solo red breasted mergansers usually fly by a campsite every night or morning, and often land and swim around for a while – very curious birds, and maybe lonely too.

Loons always come over for a visit. I find the pacific and red necked loons shy, but the common and yellow billed are really sociable and always come over. My best loon buddy story is when in an electrical storm when I had to pull off the river, tie up the boat and hunker down under the little stick forest way up north, a common loon kept me company in the wind, lightening and thunder, just offshore, like it was keeping watch over me. Either that, or it was bored and was waiting to see if I got fried by a lightening strike, or splatted in a downburst or something. They have so much easy fishing up north and have time on their...wings...and so I imagine they get bored sometimes, and we are entertainment for them.

On the Barrens, I have been visited by wolves in camp several times, which has been a real treat. One time I had to chase one which stole my day pack, and it eventually dropped it. Since then, anything small enough for a wolf to pick up gets packed, or tied onto something, and the daypack goes into the tent vestibule, and it never carries food. Boots are never left out. Mostly the wolves are skittish though, since they get trapped and shot at continuously, especially in winter by snowmobile. They are also becoming rarer on the Barrens now too, since the caribou, their main food source, are rapidly declining due largely to overhunting. Many of the great Barrenland caribou herds are headed for extinction with totally unregulated hunting by northern communities, using aircraft, snowmobiles and trucks, mostly during winter. Much of the Barrens now is almost empty of caribou and wolves, and its very lonely without them. It’s a sad state of affairs.

Once a big bull muskox decided to hang out and have a snooze about 30m from my tent, knowing full well I was there.

One time I had a bull caribou run into my camp, frantic from the warble flies (one of which landed on me on the way by – scary parasites those are – they deposit live larvae which proceed to burrow into flesh!). It was also blazing hot and the caribou sat down in a pool of shallow water to protect its legs and belly (where the warble flies deposit their larvae) and to keep cool no doubt. It did not even care about me being 30m away.

Don’t even get me started about the pesky sik siks on the Barrens, which, after they figure out you are harmless, begin to rummage around gear looking to get into something. They have teeth that could rip open expensive fabrics very fast, but so far I have been able to chase them and scare them. I use food barrels, which has probably saved my gear. They get very bold sometimes. In the old days sik siks never would have hung around campsites and lived. They would have been added to that night’s dinner very quickly.

Also don’t get me started with red squirrels and chipmunks in established camps. In well used campsites, where they have been coddled by campers, they specialize in shredding packs. I hurl verbal abuse and sometimes harmless debris I have handy at them to train them up to stay away. Again, in the old days it would have been different. Little kids would have been hunting and trapping them around camp, and proudly bringing home the catch to show their parents, who no doubt showered praise on them for their developing skills.

Ptarmigan can be very skittish during the day and flush at long distances, but at night they sometimes take great glee in surrounding the campsite and singing their bizarre calls, which keep me awake. I have learned to speak a bit of ptarmigan, and have been able to keep the occasional one engaged in some conversation.

Whiskey Jacks (Gray Jays) are great pals, but they have definite regional variation in behaviour. In Algonquin they come to hand, will land on your head, etc. But here in NW Ontario, and everywhere else I have travelled, they always come by to check me out, but I have never been able to coax them in for a food handout. It seems that they develop enough trust to come to hand in established camps where they get to know you over several weeks. Way out in the bush with only 1 or 2 days in camp, I have never been able to get them to come to hand, or take any food at all.

Moose have come through the campsite several times day and night, mostly night, which is scary because I worry about them snagging tent and tarp guy lines and proceeding to tear them to shreds, and stomping me in my tent. Never been any damage so far. I have not been out camping in the rut. Think I would want to keep a fire going all night during the rut.

I could drone on, but suffice to say its almost never a dull moment with all the critters around visiting, calling, and flying by. When there are no critters, the trees and rocks keep me busy in my interpretation of ecosystem processes. I especially enjoy figuring on when the last fire was, and trees display this quite readily with their age class, growth form, and scars. Trees have great stories to tell.

I am glad to be away from people for a month or more. But I do enjoy meeting fellow canoe trippers en route and swapping some stories. Heck, I have even camped with other trippers on the rare occasion while I was on a solo, when we were headed in the same direction. In every case its been a group that I have encountered, and its been a positive experience. Its always interesting to see what gear they use, and in what style they travel in. In about 30 years of a dedicated solo career, if I recall correctly, I have only met one other solo canoe tripper en route. We seem to be a rare breed, especially in the far north.

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