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3/25/2016 1:51 pm  #18

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

Start small.

One night, maybe even car camping on crown land.  Then build on it.

I used to have bear bells attached to my hammock that I'd shake every so often during the night then I slept with headphones in to cover the sounds.  Now night sounds are just normal.

The other thing I found made things better early on was strenuous days where I was too tired to be anxious.

I do go a bit batty on longer solo trips.  After 3 days I start talking to animals, after 6 I start talking to myself.  I also have a pot holder that I made up as a hand puppet.


3/26/2016 5:41 am  #19

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

Methye wrote:

A certain level of reasonable caution and vigilance is required when you go solo. Your mind has just gone hyper vigilant. No big deal.

1)I wouldn't be bothered by not sticking it out for the full time. Rather look at it as a success. You went to the woods by yourself AND NOTHING BAD HAPPENED.
No bear ate you. No children of the corn. Nada. Nix. It was a great success.
The next one might be two or three nights. Nothing will creep up on you from behind except mosquitoes and black flies. Eventually your mind will wind down from its hyper vigilant state.
2)It might help to have a secondary purpose...taking pictures, identifying plants, doing bush crafty things. Takes the mind off the awareness that you are alone.
3)Bring bear spray and a superbright flashlight and an air horn for peace of mind, too.
4) push yourself so you are tired and fall asleep faster
5) I don't do this on the trail or canoe route, but some people drink or bring weed to relax themselves. Worth considering.

Alcohol is a good idea because it can calm you down or make you feel more confident. Just make absolute sure you don't abuse it! It will also help you sleep at night. As for the weed I wouldn't recommend that unless you are very seasoned with it. That sounds like an anxiety attack waiting to happen!! (trust me on this one).

Last season (2015) I spent over 40 nights (80+days) paddling the interior of Algonquin solo (with my k-9 friend).
I usually have anxiety / restlessness issues at least once per day still.. usually its mostly due to the weather though. I can't swim at all so any-time I'm on an open lake and the wind picks up I get pretty nervous.. even when I already have camp set-up and the wind picks up it can get the best of me. (All the what-ifs? run through my head). I find the more you let it get the best of you the worse off you are. At the time it might seem like leaving early is your best bet but in the end if you do chances are you will do it again next time. If you stick it out then next time when you consider packing up and leaving early you can look back and say no.. I made it last time and I was fine so I will do it again.


3/27/2016 9:40 pm  #20

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

Awesome book.  I'm pretty sure that would be fire starter on day one. 

I purchased some storm whistles this spring.  Tried one in the back yard.  So loud it blew my ears inside-out for several minutes - it hurt and left my head ringing.  I figure any bear (or other well-toothed creature) willing to stick around after that goes off is welcome to me. 

     Thread Starter

3/28/2016 10:51 am  #21

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

yellowcanoe wrote:

[While I have a lot of good memories of our dog on canoe trips, I would have no interest in bringing a big dog on a solo canoe trip.   It would mean more weight to carry -- a larger canoe, larger tent, dog food, dog dish, dog towel.  All that would work against being able to single trip portage.

My experience has been different. I've taken a 60 lb golden retriever on a couple of solo canoe trips, and didn't have any means for her to carry anything. But it didn't increase my load other than a few ziplocks of kibble, a collapsable fabric bowl and a small microfiber cloth. I used the same solo canoe and solo tent I otherwise would have, though I admit it was a little cramped in the tent and I had to get used to the dog sleeping literally on my feet. Still better than dealing with a bigger tent on a solo trip. Nonetheless I wouldn't necessarily count on doing single trip portages on your first solo canoe trip. If you manage that's great, but I'd probably plan daily distances that assume you won't.

Last edited by DanPM (3/28/2016 10:52 am)


3/28/2016 12:46 pm  #22

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

Also, the dog provides very useful ballast in the front of the canoe to maintain the proper balance!



4/02/2016 11:21 pm  #23

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

This thread was fun to read....
The fear of being eaten alive pops up a lot but as a few people have pointed out, if you're out in the middle of nowhere, the animals around you - even the bears (on this side of the rockies at least) are more afraid of you.  I've had a number of run-ins with bears on trails and wolves very close to campsites and each time they were made aware of my presence, they got the hell out of dodge.
I one-trip with a barrel so I make plenty of noise as I'm going through the bush, everything alive in the forest knows I'm coming down the trail.  If you're two-tripping, maybe add some bells to your pack to have the same effect.

I liked the comment about adjusting your rhythm; the first day/night of a solo trip, you're mind is still operating at civilization tempo, always looking for the next task, dead silence is an almost alien sound.  Once you get used to the idea of just sitting around, you start working on a different timetable, it can be quite relaxing.....Maple Whisky helps too....


4/12/2016 1:34 pm  #24

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

I'm planning to go on my first-ever canoe solo trip this year. There is a lot of great advice posted already.

I've also thought about booking a site on a smaller lake so that I (hopefully) won't have wind issues. I'd like to be out for 2 nights to keep myself moving, but think I should just stay on one site and can paddle around and explore during the day. I know it takes more than a few days to get comfortable with sounds of nature before you can fully relax, but I guess this first trip is really to prove to myself that I can do it. Especially the solo paddling.

I'm planning on bringing my dog, Banjo, with me who will be great company because she makes me laugh and I love to see her having so much fun. In saying all of that, I have a lot of reservations about her in the canoe with me. She has been tripping since we brought her home when she was a pup and is always in the stern with my husband. She really likes lily pads and is always trying to get at them causing major frustration with my husband. I'm planning to go in June (I know the bugs will be bad, but I have a mesh room for my parawing shelter) so not sure if the lily's will be out. I guess maybe this is an opportunity to test my patience with her.

Last edited by Waboose Adventures (4/12/2016 2:52 pm) 

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4/12/2016 1:38 pm  #25

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

John Connelly wrote:

Have found these help the solo mind , however I would suggest if you bring this book to read , don't read chapter 8  ( Predacious Black Bear ) before beddie byes .

LOL! My mother-in-law suggested I read The Bear's Embrace - A True Story of Surviving a Grizzly Bear Attack by Patricia Van Tighem just before a 9-day canoe trip in Killarney in the fall. Yeah, right; no way! 

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4/13/2016 9:16 am  #26

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

I do most of my trips solo now and what I find what helps is reading, it focuses the mind on something other that whatever it is your afraid of and I find it helps me sleep. Also too much idle time if find didn't help when I started out on my own, the busier you are the less time you have to think about whatever your concerned about, also puts you out faster. 


4/13/2016 9:59 am  #27

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

I think a lot of the psychological issues around solo camping begin with the apprehensiveness of the sheer concept (for first timers, anyway). I say this because I found that following my first solo trip, all I could think about was my next one. Sure, I’m a little nuts anyway so I could be a one-off, but I think a lot of the fear and wonder disappears after the first trip (or possibly the first night).
I took my first solo trip back in September 2011 and never looked back. I still love tripping with my fiancée or friends, but I also have a love for solo tripping. They are two completely different trips, both with positives and negatives and both are entirely different experiences.
As others above have said, keep busy. If that means you travel a bit further (8 hour days instead of 6 hours days) then so be it – just keep it within your capabilities and don’t push the envelope – that could land you in trouble. I’ve found that arriving at camp too early (say, before 1pm) makes me antsy and often I prefer to move on – more time on the water and portages.
If you don’t mind arriving at camp early or if you prefer to, then there are plenty of camp chores that can keep you occupied. Firewood, for one. Ever arrive at a campsite to find a beautiful stack of wood waiting for you? If you’re bored, get at it – those piles for others won’t make themselves! Lol. Or go fish, just pinch your barbs and make sure you know the limits/regs for the waters you plan to travel. Fire pit maintenance – clean out and rebuild the pit (but only if it’s going to be better than before, not worse.. ADAM!) Its like a giant puzzle and these things need cleaning too – the rangers will appreciate it – just don’t move the pit – that’s illegal.
What else.. reading is fun – especially books about Algonquin. Joe Lavally & The Paleface (Bernard Wicksteed) as well as Algonquin Story (Audrey Saunders Miller) are excellent camping reads – reading by firelight is relaxing too.
Most importantly, over everything else – RELAX. This is what you’re here to do, nothing more, nothing less, just relax. Bring a hammock, bring some whiskey, add the two and enjoy life. I mean, you ARE in Algonquin after all.
Finally, I have one other suggestion. I can’t say for sure that this will help, but I think it helped me. When I did my first solo back in 2011 it was a 5 night trip. However the first 2 nights I had a friend travelling ‘tandem solo’ with me. We began at Cache Lake and went down to Bonnechere Lake for the first night. Moving via Big Porcupine Lake to Crown Bay (Ragged Lake) for the second night. On the third day, he went back to Smoke Lake access point while I continued up through Claude Lake and westward to Hilly Lake for the third night (and my first solo night). I then went on to the Oxtongue River for two more nights before finishing at AO on Oxtongue Lake.
If you have someone willing to do this and you can work out the logistics, perhaps this might be a way to introduce yourself to solo camping. Have a night or two with someone else around to get into the vibe, then proceed solo for a night. Or two.. or ten!
Just a though – seems to have worked for me (perhaps too well).
As Bill Mason said, some people think its crazy to disappear into the wild by yourself – but no one who has ever done it, has said that.


4/13/2016 10:39 am  #28

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

I just wanted to thank everybody again for all these great comments.  I'm going to try to work a trip in this summer.  I've been looking at the schedule, and then the big hurdle: discussing it with wifey.  I don't mean to imply that she'll be difficult, the situation is more scheduling it around some other things, and yeah, she'll be a bit reticent about the whole thing.  For sure, even with great precaution and care, you can certainly get yourself in trouble.  For me, the concern is not the camping part at all, my deal is the what is behind me thing.  For her, she sees the what if you get hurt thing, and that's what she worries about.  I figure if I do get hurt, you know, snap an arm or something, I'll just tell her that I didn't want her to think her concerns weren't legitimate and that I didn't want to disappoint her. 

     Thread Starter

4/13/2016 11:56 am  #29

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

I don't want to shift the conversation too much from its starting point, especially since I know there are forum members with very strong opinions on this topic, but... *deep breath*

Regarding the wife: I take a SPOT with me on all of my solo trips. It lets me let her know that I'm okay. For her it's the difference between worrying like crazy the whole time I'm gone, and getting mildly worried now and then when I forget to 'call home' for too long. It makes a huge difference for her peace of mind - she wouldn't be okay with all of my solo camping if I didn't have that with me. 


4/14/2016 9:26 am  #30

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

That makes sense to me.  Gives her a little piece of mind that you are on the right side of the dirt, and certainly if she would feel some anxiety in its' absence then done deal.  I'll probably have to do that for the same reasons you stated. 

But I can also see how this branch of the topic could be kind of a holy war topic. 

     Thread Starter

4/14/2016 10:48 am  #31

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

well now, isnt this interesting. As im a female that sometimes solo's, and my OH is not interested in camping and never was, i leave a detailed trip outline with him, and dont differ from that, although i plan for unforseen circumstances and I always have a 1 day leaway on my trip. Other then that, we go by the motto "no news is good news". He is to call the access point if im 3 days overdue for coming home. After 37 years of having done things this way there was only one trip where things got a little screwy. I had gone on a kayak trip in georgianbay, and driving out of parry sound drove right into stopped traffic on hwy 400. I could not see a way through this and by 4 pm was  still only near barrie, I decided i would stay the night at a motel and carry on home next day (within the planned date i was coming home) and promptly forgot to call home to my husband. In the meantime, the rental place where i had brought back the kayak found a full fuel bottle in the nose of the kayak and  at 3 pm called my home number to tell him i forgot it and just incase i wanted to pick it up. He calculated i should be home somewhere between 8 and 10 pm if i left there at 3pm. Ofcourse i did not show up, having gone shopping in Barrie and after that being sound asleep at the motel. This caused a bit of anxiety on his end (i dont have a cell phone) .
But, we still go by the same thing: No worries, no news is good news. (in all those years ive done about 50 trips)


4/14/2016 12:01 pm  #32

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

tentsterforever wrote:

well now, isnt this interesting. As im a female that sometimes solo's... (in all those years ive done about 50 trips)

Amazing! I'll bet you have some interesting stories to tell! I'll get my feet wet with a couple of nights at first but hope to work up to at least a 5-day in the next couple of years. I need the time to myself. 

Since my husband and I both love to canoe trip, we go together. But, we're different and I'm always lagging behind anyway with my camera, so it would be nice to go without someone always waiting for me ;) 

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4/14/2016 12:46 pm  #33

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

I love to solo cause I can spend time with my camera and not worry about any one elses timetable. My first solo was in 1996 in Algonquin and was for a week.. The only jeebies I have and still do is leaving gear unattended.   So I break up portages so I am never far away from my gear. 

I have seen bear aplenty and do think about the fact that they are active during my day and perhaps sniffing my gear when I am gone. But mostly its been seeing back ends of bear though one walked 10 feet in front of my canoe going to Radiant while I was carrying it. It left fast. The scary part was the second bear..the cub that stopped and walked under the bow of the canoe  to stare at me before..thankfully..following mama.

I have seen some wonderful bear antics as cubs and mama played in the water for a few minutes before the fleet of Girl Scouts in Grummans arrived.

Watching wildlife is so much more possible solo.


4/14/2016 1:12 pm  #34

Re: How do you solo trip without freaking out?

Or you could just single portage to not leave your gear far behind... ;)

And yes, the absolute best thing about solo tripping is being on your own schedule. I book routes that I want to do, at the pace I want to do them, and spend my time however I choose. Sometimes that's wandering around with the camera, sometimes it's lying on a rock by the water's edge, thinking and doing absolutely nothing. I get up when I want, eat when I want, move camp when I want. I have to confess that I've turned down invitations to go camping with other people because I only have so many days I can spend in the park each year, and camping with others means less time out there by myself. 


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