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PostPosted: July 30th, 2014, 10:42 pm 
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I'm not much of an experienced tripper, although I just got back from two trips to Killarney in the past 2 weeks. I'm considering embarking on my first solo adventure, but I have some questions about what needs to be done differently.

I figure Algonquin would be the easier, 'safer' choice, and I would probably do 2 nights (1 campsite), launching out of Canoe or Smoke Lake and doing a simple trip with only 2 or 3 portages... just to get the feel of things traveling solo

My questions...

- any canoe recommendations and where to rent from? (prefer to pick up at access point or have it delivered, not strapped to car)

- I've only tripped during mid-late July, and this trip would be the last week of August. What are the differences during these times regarding bugs, animals, weather, winds, etc.?

- any safety precautions you guys take for solo trips? Are sat phones necessary?

- any additional/different gear that you bring for solo trips?

- is two carries the norm, or do people manage to carry all their gear in one trip?

My main concern is with the differences between mid July to late August (for example, I'm normally cold in my longs + sleeping bag during mid July...how much cooler do nights get by late August?). And any other advice or recommendations for planning a first solo trip?

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PostPosted: July 30th, 2014, 10:56 pm 
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1. Algonquin is not remote..at least where you are going for a short duration. I would not worry about a sat phone. You will see people and rescue would probably be the same day
2. for a two night trip if you are happy with freeze dried food and oatmeal one pack ought to do.
3. you can single carry
4. If you rent a lightweight canoe from the outfitter at Canoe Lake.
5. The end of August can be bloody hot. The end of July can be bloody cold ( like it is now..eight degrees here)
6. Suggest you find a warmer bag or use a liner with it.
7, Bugs will be of the stable fly kind usually. This is a funny year. We just got hit here by a nasty hatch of biting blackflies. Yes the end of July. Usually Aug is less problematic bug month in the evening.


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PostPosted: July 30th, 2014, 11:05 pm 
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littleredcanoe wrote:
1. Algonquin is not remote..at least where you are going for a short duration. I would not worry about a sat phone. You will see people and rescue would probably be the same day
2. for a two night trip if you are happy with freeze dried food and oatmeal one pack ought to do.
3. you can single carry
4. If you rent a lightweight canoe from the outfitter at Canoe Lake.
5. The end of August can be bloody hot. The end of July can be bloody cold ( like it is now..eight degrees here)
6. Suggest you find a warmer bag or use a liner with it.
7, Bugs will be of the stable fly kind usually. This is a funny year. We just got hit here by a nasty hatch of biting blackflies. Yes the end of July. Usually Aug is less problematic bug month in the evening.



Thanks for the reply. I prefer remoteness, but for a first trip I figured Algonquin would be smarter in the unlikely circumstance of emergency.

So packing for weather wouldn't be much different, if anything it would be warmer? I can manage a bit warmer or colder than mid July, I was more curious if there were any 'significant' fluctuations that would make me pack differently.

Good to hear about the bugs as well. I know bears aren't as much of a concern in algonquin as killarney, but is there a difference during these dates? I have bear spray, which I assume would still be worth bringing as a safety precaution and ease of mind.

Lastly, any great lakes with nice campsites that are realistic and not too ambitious, starting from Canoe, Smoke, or possible Cache?

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PostPosted: July 30th, 2014, 11:16 pm 
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Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
South out of Smoke is Ragged and Big PorcupineLakes.. Theyve got some nice campsites but I do not give recommendations as the definition for me of a nice campsite correlates with wind, waves, getting out of a solo boat and bugs. That definition changes over time and changes in the environment.

North out of Canoe Lake is a madhouse till you get to Burnt Island. That is a nice lake.


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PostPosted: July 30th, 2014, 11:27 pm 
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littleredcanoe wrote:
South out of Smoke is Ragged and Big PorcupineLakes.. Theyve got some nice campsites but I do not give recommendations as the definition for me of a nice campsite correlates with wind, waves, getting out of a solo boat and bugs. That definition changes over time and changes in the environment.

North out of Canoe Lake is a madhouse till you get to Burnt Island. That is a nice lake.



Thanks again.

I've camped on Burnt Island before, but was considering Otterslide or Little Otterslide (if I can manage the distance). Was also considering those lakes south of Smoke.

thanks for the help, and if anyone else has suggestions/recommendations, feel free to let me know.

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PostPosted: July 31st, 2014, 7:06 am 
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Lots of good tips here.
Take your time and prepare for your comfort level.
Weather is weird this year.
Don't pack mule yourself on the portages, if it takes more than 2 trips to do it safely don't worry about it.
I like to eat well, be warm and dry, even on wet days and my camera stuff is one carry by itself.
I prefer shoulder seasons so cooler weather is the norm.
Which means more "stuff" to be comfortable.
If you get cold at night or cold from being wet with no dry warm clothes to get into self doubt about your choice of solo will come into play.
Canoe Guitar (member here) wrote a great piece about going solo last year and Hoop is forever helpful with his vids and bush skills.
And those could be on your list of things to do on your first trip to take up your time and practice for your next trip.
Having a "ruck sack" of those skills that will keep your confidence high when weather conditions make a trip mentally hard, because you already know in your mind you can handle it.
Sit back and enjoy the Sun rise, sun sets.
Jeff
(and less people)
Cooler nights and easier lighting conditions makes for better picture opportunities.

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PostPosted: July 31st, 2014, 7:17 am 
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In my experience, late August is usually much colder than mid July, so if you were cold in mid July, you will need to do so something different, warmer bag, or a flannel sheet, or warmer long johns. The bugs are usually much less of an issue. but as mentioned above, not all Augusts are "usual". I find a toque a warm addition to cold nights. I also would bring gloves for my hands in the mornings. when I am solo I take simpler food that takes less time to cook. This reduces the amount of effort in setting up camp, but then I move camp every day so that might not be an issue on your proposed trip. For a short trip like this I can do one trip portages but I find I miss the pleasant walk back through the woods that comes with two carries. You may want to take two trips just for the fun of it. definitely take the bear spray for peace of mind and have a holster so it is always with you. I found that very important on my first two solos. As I got used to being alone in the woods I left the spray at home and take a banger now, lighter and smaller to carry. When I am solo I plan enough time to paddle along the shore of large lakes. This is safer on any trip, but solo you have less paddle power to control the canoe if the wind picks up, especially important at the end of the day when you are tired. Actually tiredness is an important safety issue when you are solo, I do not push myself as hard when solo, keeping some more reserve of strength and energy to handle unexcepctd situations, than I do when travelling tandem.

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PostPosted: July 31st, 2014, 8:01 am 
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I see you are renting.. and don't wish to cartop. Be the first in line and ready to go when the rental place opens.

Wind comes up later in the morning. Soloists are vulnerable to wind. You want to be on the water at seven or eight. Not eleven or noon! I don't agree that you are always safer near shore . Confused seas at points are notorious for flipping boats and reflecting waves bouncing off rocks can make turbulent passage. Its best to plan to be done when the wind picks up when you are on your first solo.. Later on you will learn to find wind shadows and take advantage of them.


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PostPosted: July 31st, 2014, 1:29 pm 
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Location: Montreal, Quebec Canada
Most things - setting up camp, paddling across lakes - take longer when you're solo. Don't forget the days are shorter at the end of August than in mid-July...

Rise & Set Ottawa, Ontario:

July 15, 2014
Rises 5:29 A.M.
Sets 8:47 P.M.
Day Length 15:18

August 31, 2014
Rises 6:24 A.M.
Sets 7:41 P.M.
Day Length 13:17


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PostPosted: July 31st, 2014, 6:23 pm 
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Location: Huntsville Ont.
If you haven't decided on a lake yet please book soon for the last week in August is very popular. If you can't reserve anything in that area you may have to try a different access point. When I spontaneously decide to head into the park on long weekends South River has always been able to accommodate me.

Although the portages are longer than most are willing to tackle but Kakasamic to Fassett seem to always be void of travellers. Treasure boxes have next to no use and firewood is readily available.

There are two short portages to get to North Tea and on Tea quite a few sites have sandy beaches on the northern side of the west arm. Both Kawawaymog and North Tea can get pretty choppy and I have seen tandems struggling to get back to the parking lot which is into the prevailing wind.

Two outfitters there

http://voyageuroutfitting.com

http://www.northernwilderness.com/location2.htm


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PostPosted: July 31st, 2014, 6:38 pm 
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I've had very good luck with my personal no reservation policy on the north side of the park too at the end of August.

it may be a little more of a drive for you or not.

I doubt my personal no reservation ahead policy would work on an entry off Rt 60 at the end of Aug. It works fine later in Sept.


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PostPosted: August 1st, 2014, 8:19 am 
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"I'm not much of an experienced tripper, although I just got back from two trips to Killarney in the past 2 weeks. I'm considering embarking on my first solo adventure, but I have some questions about what needs to be done differently."


if you have never soloed a canoe, you will find it to be significantly different than tandem - half the horsepower to move 2/3rds the same weight. Paddling in any wind stronger than a breeze is harder (less momentum than a heavier more powered tandem) - better to increase your stroke rate to keep up your momentum; quartering tailwinds can be tricky in most solo boats (in any of my 3 it is). Put painters on both ends - if something stupid happens and you tip, its a lot easier to catch your boat and tow it to shore - without you in the boat, wind can move that boat faster than you can swim.

Always wear your PFD!

Always tie your boat!

Bring a spare paddle - generally best to lash it into the boat for portages

Always tie your boat! , no matter if you are only stepping on shore for a minute - at portages, best to unload fully and then put the boat a bit back from the water (and tie it anyway). Loading and unloading your boat in windy conditions with waves pounding the shore can be difficult - there's no one to hand the packs to you as you load, so you want to have everything set close to the shore where you can just turn and grab it quickly.

Keep busy - read the thread "Alone in the Wild" below about that. I wouldn't want to have too much down time - me, I'd get bored.

If you aren't a habitual early riser, do bring a small travel alarm and use it to get up extra early on travel days - try to hit the water at first light or as soon after as you can - best time to make miles is before the wind starts to get strong.

everything will take longer because there is no one to gather wood while you filter the water etc. - so allow extra time for camp set up and take down.

on portages that are unfamiliar to you, it is best to take your gear across first and the canoe second - that way, if there is any doubt about which way to go, you don't have to try and figure it out with a canoe nearly blinding you

always take a last look around before you leave your camp - helps to keep from leaving things behind - same at portages, and try to keep the same process for each portage - i.e. do it the same every time, it is more efficient

for the most part, I don't do anything different on a solo trip vs a tandem trip vs a group trip - I just allow for the extra time - doing anything less safely on a tandem trip than you would do solo is stupid - you should be careful and safe on any kind of trip, but the consequenses of a mistake will be harsher - sprain an ankle with a partner, and you can hobble along - doing it solo, now you have to hobble and carry your gear too. I think its best to not try and single portage unless it is a very easy trail - if its wet, every rock and tree root is going to try and take you out - easier to stay up with a lighter load.

when packing, work from a printed list - check off the items only when you are actually putting them in the pack - there is no partner to have a spare anything - so matches for instance, have 3 boxes, one in your shirt pciket, one in with your cooking gear, and a third in with your first aid kit.


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PostPosted: August 1st, 2014, 9:22 am 
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Sorry Trippy

Some of us, including myself, are offering advice that you did not ask for.

Yes it is normal to make two trips on a portage. Experience and a bit of coin will eventually lead to lighter carries. Have a good trip.


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PostPosted: August 1st, 2014, 3:36 pm 
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I did what you are proposing. Algonquin late summer for my first solo canoe trip. Previously had done one solo overnight trip at Silent Lake car camping to get my gear worked out, and one overnight hike on the Highland Trail at APP to work out any other bugs.

--I rented a purpose built solo canoe from Algonquin Outfitters (Osprey) rather than using a tandem canoe. They get less pushed around by the wind.

AO will deliver to the access point, but you can save by picking up at Oxtongue Lake (assuming you are coming from the west) and car topping it. They show you how to do that well, and the actual travel distance from Oxtongue to say Smoke lake is minimal, maybe 25km and not too high speed 80km/h limit. Also check out the Portage Store at Canoe Lake, and see if they have solo canoes.

--- weather? late August days can be hot, but nights can get down around 6 or 7 degrees C. Toque, fleece vest, good sleeping bag or liner for thin bag.

--Safety or satellite phone? I didn't bring any satellite phone etc. Algonquin is not wilderness. Lots of folks around. Note the locations of logging roads on your map. In an emergency they might be the best way out, and surprisingly close to your campsite. Since then, I have done 6 or 7 solo trips and have only just now picked up a satellite device.

Just make sure someone knows where you are going, expected time back, and then time at which to freak out.

Bear spray to help you sleep.

--additional gear? I wear a ditch kit fanny pack with enough stuff to survive a night or more away from canoe and packs. (Emergency bivy, mini flashlight, ziplock and water treatment tablets for water, lighter, firestarter, a few power bars.)

I used a kayak paddle most of the time to beat the wind.

--two carries? Absolutely. More chance of hurting yourself if you strain on a single carry. And going solo you can't afford to hurt yourself.

--route? For a short trip, I'd recommend starting at Smoke and going into Big Porcupine. Far enough in to feel away from it all, but if bored you can get into Little Coon or Bonnechere or go back to Ragged Lake.

My first solo was actually from Rock Lake, which is a good option, too. Go to Pen or Clydegale from Rock. I had more time so I did a loop from Rock-PenHarry through Louisa. Not recommended for first solo...portages too long!

Check out some pics from my trip reports...all solo, all in Algonquin. neelands dot smugmug dot com

Hope that is useful.

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PostPosted: August 2nd, 2014, 12:21 am 
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Thanks for all the great replies. There are definitely some things that I overlooked/forgot to take into account...Mainly the difficulty of canoeing alone; setting up camp, portaging twice, etc. I'm not too worried about, but loading/unloading and canoeing with the wind could prove to be difficult.

@Hopalong, that's another good point that I forgot to take into account. I don't think it makes the trip any less doable, it's just one more thing to consider when scheduling the day

@bearburrito, the proposed trip is still up in the air in terms of whether or not I am able to do it...and I probably won't know until the week of, so I may have to make some compromises. I hope to do a proper solo trip next year (4 nights, switching camp sites, etc., in Killarney), so I was hoping I could get a very simple 2 nighter done this year just to get the 'lay of the land' while travelling solo.

@Mattt, lots of good advice, thanks

@sturgeon, thanks a lot, will definitely check out your trip logs


Once again, thanks all for the great replies so far

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