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Last minute advice for first solo?
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Author:  Mike McCrea [ September 2nd, 2016, 11:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

recped wrote:
Adding on to this comment, SLOW DOWN and enjoy yourself, the beauty of solo tripping is that is ALL about YOU, nobody else to please and/or accommodate.


Adding to that comment, a lot of the enjoyment of solo tripping is all about me, or more specifically the sights and sounds that are around me.

Take the time to sit quietly and simply observe; study the waves of wind sweeping through the boughs above or the behavior of the little grey birds flitting in the bush. Take the time to really look and listen.

There is a lot of interesting minutia going on all around you that goes unnoticed when a companion is wandering around packing gear or asking if you have seen his titanium spork.

That quiet observation takes time and an uncluttered mind. I bring a small day hammock specifically so that I can hang quietly and largely hidden in the hammock folds, allowing the place to come to me.

Author:  canoeguide [ September 2nd, 2016, 6:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

Thank you all for the great advice! This seems to be a good thread (and I'm not leaving for another week) so feel free to add to it.

I'm still wavering between planning longer days (and adjusting downward based on weather and how the trip plays out), or planning easier days with potential side trips. I don't think I'd like to get into camp too easily or early each day while soloing. I like to cover distance and have full days paddling/portaging. I'm also the type to get up and on the water as soon as there is light. To form this into a question: would you plan easier days, or plan slightly more ambitious days and have alternate plans/routes if wind and weather or physical desire are not the best?

I don't like the idea of getting to camp by 1pm and having all day to sit.

Author:  canoeguitar [ September 2nd, 2016, 7:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

Though I will often get up early & hit it, sometimes paddling a few hours before stopping for breakfast, I do really like a leisurely morning. Make a nice meal, enjoy a second cup of coffee, swim, read. Then, by the time you get on the water it's about 11:00 or so. You can put in a half day and pull in at around 4pm. By the time you do camp chores, make dinner and have a fire there's no time to get bored.

Author:  my_self_reliance [ September 2nd, 2016, 9:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

canoeguide wrote:
Thank you all for the great advice! This seems to be a good thread (and I'm not leaving for another week) so feel free to add to it.

I'm still wavering between planning longer days (and adjusting downward based on weather and how the trip plays out), or planning easier days with potential side trips. I don't think I'd like to get into camp too easily or early each day while soloing. I like to cover distance and have full days paddling/portaging. I'm also the type to get up and on the water as soon as there is light. To form this into a question: would you plan easier days, or plan slightly more ambitious days and have alternate plans/routes if wind and weather or physical desire are not the best?

I don't like the idea of getting to camp by 1pm and having all day to sit.


Go for broke! I like to cover some distance and explore without the impediment of companions. i made the mistake of planning some short days earlier this week, and it drove me crazy setting up camp so early. I ended up exploring until dark anyway, but when the weather wasn't as accommodating on the last day, I just packed up and headed home.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ September 3rd, 2016, 7:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

canoeguide wrote:
Thank you all for the great advice! This seems to be a good thread (and I'm not leaving for another week) so feel free to add to it.

I'm still wavering between planning longer days (and adjusting downward based on weather and how the trip plays out), or planning easier days with potential side trips. I don't think I'd like to get into camp too easily or early each day while soloing. I like to cover distance and have full days paddling/portaging. I'm also the type to get up and on the water as soon as there is light. To form this into a question: would you plan easier days, or plan slightly more ambitious days and have alternate plans/routes if wind and weather or physical desire are not the best?

I don't like the idea of getting to camp by 1pm and having all day to sit.

You may find there is way more to a trip than paddling, portaging and setting up camp.. Sometimes it takes time to set up a tarp, finding and cutting firewood gathering water, doing any laundry . You may also find yourself dehydrated and need down time or wish time for a swim. Planning overly ambitious days can lead to injury later in the day

Till you find out your exact tripping rhythm and stamina I would stop at seven hours or so of paddling/portaging.

Author:  Mike McCrea [ September 3rd, 2016, 10:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

littleredcanoe wrote:
Till you find out your exact tripping rhythm and stamina I would stop at seven hours or so of paddling/portaging.


Aye, there’s the rub. You don’t yet know your preferred solo tripping rhythm. It may be that you’ll be happiest busting out miles every day. It may be that you will find contentment in an occasional camp dawdle. Time will tell.

In any case for a 6 day/5 night trip I would build in at least one “insurance” day that could be spent windbound, or exploring on land, or base camp day paddling. Or laying quietly in the hammock reading and resting.

EDIT: For me insurance days are most important, and most appreciated, when doing lake(s) trips. Not just for the increased chance of being windbound, but for the opportunity to base camp for a layover and spend time day paddling and exploring up a tributary or back in some deep cove.

Those are often the most interesting places, and they are the very places that I would otherwise paddle past when going from camp to camp.

Maybe more so on big lakes, where an unburdened explore in more intimate surroundings is a nice change of pace from another day of nothing but miles and miles for miles and miles.

EDIT TO THE EDIT: I have moved camp but a few miles after finding a Top 10 campsite during a day explore.

Stumbling across a great, well drained site with an easy landing, breeze for bugs and water views, deep swimming hole sans leeches, trail to a springhead to chill the last warmish beers. . . . . “Oh hell, I have to camp here. And I will be by this afternoon”

Author:  bgiroux [ September 7th, 2016, 7:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

See...really see everything around you...for this you have to clear the clutter from your mind, slow down and truly open your eyes to see all the wonder nature is availing you

Hear... Close your eyes, sit quietly and listen to every natural sound ( my favourite activity and memories from my solo trips) try this in different locations at different times - drifting in your canoe, up a tree, beside a stream...

Feel...revel in the variety of textures around you, the lichen, smooth river washed stones, bark of a 100 year old tree, the water carved rock you are sitting on

Reflect...this may be the most difficult, but take the very rare time to realize who you are, what you're thankful for and who you want to be in the future - maybe it's the person you are today or the person you left behind when life got busy or maybe it's a new invention of you

Rest, relax and let your natural surroundings reinvigorate you

Author:  sturgeon [ September 7th, 2016, 10:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

If I can see it's going to be a clear night, i drink a lot before bed. this ensures i will wake up at 3 a.m. Then I use my red light to find an open spot by the shore with a view of the night sky. Drink in the heavens! My favourite part of the solo trip.

Author:  gunnelbob [ September 8th, 2016, 11:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

Drinking before going to bed ...would that be called setting a "bladder alarm"?...interesting.

Here is one piece of solo paddling advice you may not want to take.
Earplugs before bed.
Your mind is pretty active when its dark, every sound may spook a first time solo-ist.
Earbuds with music will calm you or earplugs, but then again you may not hear that bear!

Author:  Mike McCrea [ September 9th, 2016, 3:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

gunnelbob wrote:
Drinking before going to bed ...would that be called setting a "bladder alarm"?...interesting.


After a certain age you don’t need to preset that alarm.

Some late night stuff does hold great interest for me; lunar eclipses, the midnight or pre-dawn timing of an active meteor shower, even odd astronomical alignments.

I look at the coming year’s astronomy events and write those on my calendar, including every meteor shower, direction and peak time, and plan some trips for dark skies venues specifically to be there then.

Best effort ever; the Leonid meteor storm in 1998. Four or five hundred long colorful streakers, including dozens, maybe hundreds, that screamed across the entirety of the horizon, some that exploded and scattered in the atmosphere and one that skipped like a flat stone on a pond.

Probably the most awesome display I have seen in the sky, including some serious northern light displays.

That stuff is happening damn near every month; you might as well know when and where and what you are looking at.

Author:  canoeguide [ September 21st, 2016, 2:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

Just coming back to thank everyone again for the great advice - though the French isn't particularly remote (it's difficult to ever be more than a day away from an occupied cottage or motor boat), I had an awesome trip. Some observations:

1. I was fairly paranoid about leaving the canoe to scout a portage or check something out on shore, even tied up well. This is a healthy paranoia as losing your only boat would indeed be awful (and at the very least, embarrassing). I felt best when my canoe was on the shore, empty, and upside down (or when it was on the water with me in it).

2. I traveled every day, and even on "light" travelling days, I didn't have a lot of down time. Taking down and setting up camp, finding firewood, changing into dry shoes and doing some laundry etc, all take up a lot more time when soloing than they do with even just two people. This is obvious and was stated by several people in this thread, but I was still a little surprised.

3. Going solo, handling wind is of course, a bigger deal. There was tons of ferrying across winds and adjusting weight (usually adding rocks forward against headwinds), or just electing to shorten a day of strong headwinds in favor of an easy paddle the next morning to cover the same distance in 1/4 the time. Nova craft prospector is a little tall and caught a lot of wind in ways I didn't love, but learned to manage!

4. I saw one solitary bear, that walked to within 10 meters of me while I was preoccupied trying to shave on the next-to-last day out. We both seemed to see each other at the same time and it ran away pretty quickly. It made sense to keep a sharper eye for the next hour or two, to make sure it wasn't too interested in my smells or my food, but I never saw it again.

5. Nobody mentioned how difficult it would be to return to daily routine after the trip! This was, without question, the most relaxing and peaceful vacation/trip I've ever had, and the adjustment after going solo for a week is noticeable. I'm mentally planning the next one.

Author:  jedi jeffi [ September 21st, 2016, 3:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

:clap: :clap: :clap:

# 1 Yep, even at night I will tie it down or to a tree.
I have heard of a few here having the wind take their boat for a bounce or two.

# 2 :wink:

#3 Adjusting, improvising, adapting just a normal solo (any) trip

#4 You shaved.... 8)

# 5 The solitude is a great drug and recharge.
Not so bad now that I am retired.... 8)
I find it harder winter solo because it is that much more quiet and the heat in the home feels un-bearable.
Or a late shoulder season trip the same way, usually much more quiet (no city sounds) but I miss/crave the cold night air.

Sounds like you had a great successful trip!
When is the next one?

:D

Jeff

Author:  bearburrito [ September 21st, 2016, 8:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

After portaging all day I'll go barefoot at camp and let those dogs dry out. My feet last so much longer. Dirt, moss, granite and the odd sharp twig is therapeutic. Funny... I'll pitch a tent under a leaning pine but I'll be damned if I put my canoe under one. Good bear, bad bear? Haven't met a bad one yet.

Author:  gunnelbob [ September 26th, 2016, 10:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

A big round of applause for canoeguide!
Once you try solo its easy to get hooked.
I know you have only posted 5 times before, but keep on posting and tell us more of your future solo trips.
Cheers!

Author:  canoeguide [ February 18th, 2017, 7:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Last minute advice for first solo?

A few photos from my trip - just came back to add this for anyone who's interested. It was fantastic. (No FB account needed.)

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 1f0c4f35d4

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