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Canadian Canoe Routes

Alone In The Wild
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Author:  canoeguitar [ May 18th, 2014, 10:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Alone In The Wild

There have been a few recent posts regarding solo tripping, and notably, a first solo that became too stressful and demanding, and is likely to be the last. As a result, I thought I'd post a link to this multi-part film regarding an inaugural solo. But first, a few thoughts on solo tripping....

For those contemplating their first solo, here are a few things to keep in mind...

1. Have something to do out there. The days can be long when you're alone, especially if you're not used to that level of isolation. Photography, writing, sketching, wood carving, a musical instrument, a few books to read - can help mitigate "The Lonelies". Having a sense of purpose can be a real psychological boost.

2. Route planning - not too ambitious at first, especially regarding long portages. Not too easy - a lack of daily goals or itinerary can start to weigh on you, particularly if you haven't acknowledged tip #1.

3. Start small - keep your first solo to a week or less. Post-trip reflection will help prepare and centre you for the next outing.

4. Accept that you will experience periods of loneliness and vulnerability. Like bugs and bad weather, it comes with the territory. However, it does diminish somewhat with experience, ultimately becoming but a minor aspect as you become more familiar with going solo.

In the following film, the adventurer, who by all accounts was an experienced outdoorsman at the outset (climbed Everest, trekked to the North Pole, etc), bit off more than he could chew for a first solo. Too much time; a lack of itinerary or daily goals; no hobbies or sense of purpose to help pass the time...all conspired to defeat him mentally and emotionally.

Being alone in the wilderness takes some getting used to, but can be a very rewarding endeavour with the right approach.

Author:  was hardcore now pg [ May 18th, 2014, 11:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

I think for me a lot of my problem was lack of secondary activities to stop from getting the lonelies. My route planning was pretty good but my mistake was anticipation of gear failure. I was taking a long 9k cart trail and at the 8 k mark my canoe cart underwent spontaneous existance failure. While an alternative way out was available the work involved was spirit crushing.

Author:  frozentripper [ May 19th, 2014, 10:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

Having a sense of purpose can be a real psychological boost.

Yep... your reason to be there. Some say it's not the destination, it's the journey... well, if you find yourself repeating what the <expletive> am I doing out here after a few days, maybe some sense of higher purpose will help. The mission statement, some sense of discovery. It will help keep you from getting the blues, brother...

There are two kinds of journeys to be had out there... those that are guided by a mission and those that are not (although seriously, it's all good).

OK.... that's enough gravity for now.


Author:  true_north [ May 20th, 2014, 12:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

Mike, you provide excellent advice for anyone contemplating a solo adventure. The Ed Wardle videos are intense! Thanks for providing a link to the first of them. It may be that solo tripping suits some personality types more than others. I think I'll stick to canoeing with my brother - I like the company and the sober second thought he provides when things look like they're gonna go crazy!

Author:  canoeguitar [ May 20th, 2014, 3:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

@ true_north...

You & your brother have a good thing going - I look forward to your in depth trip reports. Maybe I'm more geared to solo tripping as I'm an only child....really, who knows??? An uncompromising type A perhaps?? ;-) It's hard to say.

Author:  gunnelbob [ May 21st, 2014, 1:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

I found the Ed Wardle videos both haunting and somewhat surprising. If someone has done Everest twice , he knows the amount of preparation and training required to mount such an ordeal. Not having enough food for a three month excursion is the first , "hunh?" Also if you spend 5 minutes on the net you can find others who have done the long solitary trips and you can expect the loneliness .
He only changed his site once , how boring is that ?
Wilderness tripping like everything else should be done in start with a 1-2 day trip graduate to 3-4 and then move into longer trips.
Ed was doomed from the beginning, he became lonely as soon as the plane left and I don't think that having a "phone call" would have ruined his effort.

I agree , having a "purpose " sure beats the lonelies..Dick Proenneke had a project as did Wendell Beckwith .

Author:  SteveBoal [ May 22nd, 2014, 11:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

I guess I'm an odd duck; I don't get lonely paddling by myself. But I like being alone, and now live by myself up in the woods.

Author:  SteveBoal [ May 23rd, 2014, 12:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

Re: The youtube videos with Ed Wardle in the northwest

He's an ignorant fool with money

Author:  canoeguitar [ May 23rd, 2014, 2:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

In my experience, my first few solos leaned a bit heavy on the "What the f*#k am I doing out here?" side of things. However, I knew that this was a matter of conditioning; that if I really wanted to get the most out of a solo trip, I had to unlearn a few things, and learn how to slow down and be present in the here & now. To embrace the solitude rather than wrestle with it.

The big break for me came while on a solo kayak trip on Lake Superior. The trip began under steady rain and 1m chop along a formidable coastline - another WTF moment. However, on day 3, camped on a beautiful isolated beach, I had a bit of an epiphany. I crossed a psychological threshold and never looked back. I came to embrace the solitude and what Bill Mason referred to as "...the greatest feeling of freedom I know." Since then, while I do greatly enjoy paddling with friends and family, the solo trip has become sacred - like a pilgrimage on which I feel more present, alive, aware, and at peace than at any other time in my life.

Author:  mich [ May 24th, 2014, 5:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

the solo trip has become sacred - like a pilgrimage on which I feel more present, alive, aware, and at peace than at any other time in my life. x2 that I am going for a solo canoeing fishing & exploring trip in 2 days. Nothing challenging just base camp for 3 night and explore around .It is great for the soul.

Author:  kgd [ May 24th, 2014, 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

It is always interesting to watch somebody else in how they react on a video documentary. But, one also has to consider that he provided video footage, probably raw, and it was edited into a story by others. Who knows how much of the real story was a job of editing versus a real reflection of what took place.

I know when I edit my own videos, I generally try to make myself as close to superman as possible (albeit there is only so much stuff I have to work with). Imagine handing your footage to someone that wanted to make you look like the ultimate whiny whimp? I'm sure I could make the complaining KGD video just as easy as the - "wow this trip is great" video.

Also, even in my own experiences, it is always so much easier to look back on a trip and think 'That wasn't that bad'. Heck, hours after being chilled to the bone, shivering and pounding a tent stake into a thin veneer of soil over solid rock while fighting a driving rain trying to get your tent up...thinking - "this the worst thing ever"......cup of hot chocolate, dry underwear and a new t-shit, it suddenly becomes - "that wasn't so bad". The easiest thing in the world is to be a couch potato watching somebody's video and thinking how much better you would react than that poor sob on TV. Who really knows the truth of it? Only the protagonist I suspect.

Author:  greenriver [ May 26th, 2014, 12:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

Thanks for the new string Mike. Lots of interesting stuff. Now I gotta do it too,.....maybe someday.

Author:  sk8r [ May 29th, 2014, 6:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

I just think everybody's different - some folks like to trip in company, and others, like me, would much rather be alone. In fact, I resent it, and feel intruded upon, if someone just paddles by on their way somewhere. I've never felt 'lonely' out there - only peace and contentment. :)

Author:  Mihun09 [ May 29th, 2014, 8:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

First solo coming up in 3 weeks. Christine cannot paddle at all this year so if I want to go, it has to be alone. Planning 6 nights but it will be easy to bail if I need to earlier as it is an in and out route of about 10km.

Sk8r, if you were in that camo with that rifle, I would be paddling right on by... quickly. :o

Author:  canoeguitar [ May 29th, 2014, 8:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alone In The Wild

@ Mihun09...

Have a great first solo, and put that new camera of yours to good use! Looking forward to some pics from the boreal.


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