Solo Women

Joined: 2:18 AM - Jul 29, 2015

2:52 AM - Jul 29, 2015 #1

Hello all!

I've enjoyed reading the boards, but I have a question to which I've not been able to find an answer. I'm hoping that you might help - with honesty.

Some background:
I am a middle-aged woman without a paddling partner. I am so very tired of being confined to campground camping and I'd like to venture out into the backcountry. I've been paddling for about 35 years so I have "some" experience. Most of my canoeing has been flatwater solo. Based on past experience, my ideal distance is 10-15km/day.

I've been camping for about as long as I have been canoeing - but only on car-based campgrounds. My usual preference is for quiet northern parks and walk-in sites.
I have most of my gear - save for that specific to backcountry and canoe (need dry-bags and food pack-hanging technique).
I have only portaged once - a 59-pound 17' canoe from Smoke Lk. back to the Portage Store. I used the tripod method to get it onto my shoulders.

My question is two-fold:
Can I, as a woman traveling solo, reasonably manage this trip (i.e. what is the likely harassment factor from other travelers, am I likely to be hassled)? Where would be a good place to start, to avoid problems with those lacking etiquette?
Is it insane to try and plan to do a first-time backcountry trip solo?

Any ideas and advice is most welcome!
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Joined: 2:33 PM - Mar 06, 2014

12:03 PM - Jul 29, 2015 #2

It's not insane at all!

I'd be right there with you doing solo trips if I could just portage a canoe. Due to some physical limitations, carrying a canoe is out of the question for me - I must use a pair of hiking sticks for balance and that precludes carrying the canoe.

While I've never gone solo I can tell you that I've gone on canoe trips multiple times where I've been the only woman in the group. Aside from having to break the ice over language use and getting the guys to accept me as one of the guys, so that they weren't treating me like their mother, there's never been a problem of any kind.

Go for it!

And if you decide not to go solo, I'm always looking for a bow seat with someone who can carry the canoe...lol.

Oh and there's much lighter canoes available that would make the trip more enjoyable.

Also, because I throw worse than a girl, I invested in a bear barrel so it doesn't need to be hung - might be something for you to consider.
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Joined: 10:08 PM - Mar 07, 2006

12:44 PM - Jul 29, 2015 #3

Hello all!

I've enjoyed reading the boards, but I have a question to which I've not been able to find an answer. I'm hoping that you might help - with honesty.

Some background:
I am a middle-aged woman without a paddling partner. I am so very tired of being confined to campground camping and I'd like to venture out into the backcountry. I've been paddling for about 35 years so I have "some" experience. Most of my canoeing has been flatwater solo. Based on past experience, my ideal distance is 10-15km/day.

I've been camping for about as long as I have been canoeing - but only on car-based campgrounds. My usual preference is for quiet northern parks and walk-in sites.
I have most of my gear - save for that specific to backcountry and canoe (need dry-bags and food pack-hanging technique).
I have only portaged once - a 59-pound 17' canoe from Smoke Lk. back to the Portage Store. I used the tripod method to get it onto my shoulders.

My question is two-fold:
Can I, as a woman traveling solo, reasonably manage this trip (i.e. what is the likely harassment factor from other travelers, am I likely to be hassled)? Where would be a good place to start, to avoid problems with those lacking etiquette?
Is it insane to try and plan to do a first-time backcountry trip solo?

Any ideas and advice is most welcome!
BSCO,
Go for it! Your experience and desire are more than enough to launch into the next phase...and you will likely never look back!

To answer your questions - I think you can easily manage the trip although you will likely have to double carry each portage but that is what many folks do anyways.

As far as a good place to start to avoid potential "harassment"? It's not something predictable at all; that is, the likelihood of running into an ignorant oaf in the back-country. However, I would expect that the less frequented access points (similar to the areas you've been car-camping) would reduce that risk.

And as far as questioning your sanity, if you have carried a 59 pound canoe from Smoke Lake to the Portage Store I expect you will be able to carry a light kevlar (perhaps 42 pounds) quite a distance in relative comfort.

I would recommend becoming familiar with the process of lifting the canoe onto your shoulders - here's a link to a video from Algonquin Outfitters that makes it look easy. It is easy, after you get the hang of it!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad5HzmQORhk
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Joined: 4:12 PM - Apr 21, 2014

1:33 PM - Jul 29, 2015 #4

Hello all!

I've enjoyed reading the boards, but I have a question to which I've not been able to find an answer. I'm hoping that you might help - with honesty.

Some background:
I am a middle-aged woman without a paddling partner. I am so very tired of being confined to campground camping and I'd like to venture out into the backcountry. I've been paddling for about 35 years so I have "some" experience. Most of my canoeing has been flatwater solo. Based on past experience, my ideal distance is 10-15km/day.

I've been camping for about as long as I have been canoeing - but only on car-based campgrounds. My usual preference is for quiet northern parks and walk-in sites.
I have most of my gear - save for that specific to backcountry and canoe (need dry-bags and food pack-hanging technique).
I have only portaged once - a 59-pound 17' canoe from Smoke Lk. back to the Portage Store. I used the tripod method to get it onto my shoulders.

My question is two-fold:
Can I, as a woman traveling solo, reasonably manage this trip (i.e. what is the likely harassment factor from other travelers, am I likely to be hassled)? Where would be a good place to start, to avoid problems with those lacking etiquette?
Is it insane to try and plan to do a first-time backcountry trip solo?

Any ideas and advice is most welcome!
Many years ago in May, three of was reached the campsite below Grass Lake on the Nipissing only to find it occupied by a single woman. It was well into the evening and there were no other campsites close by. Fortunately, she invited us to share her campsite. She was from Buffalo and a member of the Wilderness Canoe Association which operates out of Toronto. She was doing a big loop through the middle of the park at a time of year when the water was still pretty cold. We had an enjoyable evening talking to her about canoeing.

One reason why she was doing a solo trip was that she had had problems getting on to WCA trips -- some of the non-canoeing wives objected to the presence of a single woman on a trip their husband was going on.
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Joined: 1:42 PM - Oct 21, 2010

1:46 PM - Jul 29, 2015 #5

Hello all!

I've enjoyed reading the boards, but I have a question to which I've not been able to find an answer. I'm hoping that you might help - with honesty.

Some background:
I am a middle-aged woman without a paddling partner. I am so very tired of being confined to campground camping and I'd like to venture out into the backcountry. I've been paddling for about 35 years so I have "some" experience. Most of my canoeing has been flatwater solo. Based on past experience, my ideal distance is 10-15km/day.

I've been camping for about as long as I have been canoeing - but only on car-based campgrounds. My usual preference is for quiet northern parks and walk-in sites.
I have most of my gear - save for that specific to backcountry and canoe (need dry-bags and food pack-hanging technique).
I have only portaged once - a 59-pound 17' canoe from Smoke Lk. back to the Portage Store. I used the tripod method to get it onto my shoulders.

My question is two-fold:
Can I, as a woman traveling solo, reasonably manage this trip (i.e. what is the likely harassment factor from other travelers, am I likely to be hassled)? Where would be a good place to start, to avoid problems with those lacking etiquette?
Is it insane to try and plan to do a first-time backcountry trip solo?

Any ideas and advice is most welcome!
I would echo everything PaPaddler said for sure ... good advice

A solo canoe would be far lighter .. I have a larger one that's meant for 2 people and gear and its about 16.5 feet .. and it only weighs about 42 lbs ... so likely a solo one would be a few lbs lighter ... you do sacrifice a little on the durability when you go with a ultralight but I'm not doing whitewater so I'll take the chance ... definitely check out the video pa paddler has .. it made a world of difference when I watched the proper way to shoulder a canoe ... before that I looked like an idiot ...

Having said all that, and as someone with 2 girls, I would take a little extra precaution camping alone. As PaPaddler said stick to an area where there's a fair amount of traffic ... Rock/Penn lake comes to mind .. also some of the areas off Opeongo would offer a nice first time experience ... take the water taxi up and do the 1K portage to Proulx for example ... nice moose opportunities along the crow river ... tons of other options.

Sounds like you know camping pretty well ... there's not a huge difference with backcountry camping ... if you have long portages or plan to stay for more than 3 days, then it takes a bit more planning and choices to make ...

I encourage you to read some of the trip logs here ... it will give you a sense of what some of the solo trips are like and the areas ... check out Lesta's videos ... he does a really good job of capturing his solo trips ...

You'll have fun ...
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Joined: 1:22 PM - Feb 25, 2014

2:23 PM - Jul 29, 2015 #6

Hello all!

I've enjoyed reading the boards, but I have a question to which I've not been able to find an answer. I'm hoping that you might help - with honesty.

Some background:
I am a middle-aged woman without a paddling partner. I am so very tired of being confined to campground camping and I'd like to venture out into the backcountry. I've been paddling for about 35 years so I have "some" experience. Most of my canoeing has been flatwater solo. Based on past experience, my ideal distance is 10-15km/day.

I've been camping for about as long as I have been canoeing - but only on car-based campgrounds. My usual preference is for quiet northern parks and walk-in sites.
I have most of my gear - save for that specific to backcountry and canoe (need dry-bags and food pack-hanging technique).
I have only portaged once - a 59-pound 17' canoe from Smoke Lk. back to the Portage Store. I used the tripod method to get it onto my shoulders.

My question is two-fold:
Can I, as a woman traveling solo, reasonably manage this trip (i.e. what is the likely harassment factor from other travelers, am I likely to be hassled)? Where would be a good place to start, to avoid problems with those lacking etiquette?
Is it insane to try and plan to do a first-time backcountry trip solo?

Any ideas and advice is most welcome!
As a man I can't claim to know what the female experience is like in terms of harassment in the Ontario backcountry. I've heard the odd story about it; it sounds to me to be rare compared to harassment in the city; I like to think the amount of it is not prohibitive, but again, I can't claim to know.

I would think the best way to "avoid problems with those lacking etiquette" would be to try to take a less crowded route, which most of us like doing anyway, just to find more solitude. If you're going to Algonquin, start from an access point that isn't labelled "quite busy" on the access point info table on Jeff's map. Put a few portages between yourself and your access point, and camp on lakes without a huge number of sites. Even better if you can camp on lakes that aren't on the main route to popular destinations/loops, unless you're headed there yourself. These are just general tips for people looking for a quiet canoe trip, I'm not telling you to do this to avoid harassment specifically.

As for your second question... eh. If you had eager paddling partners I'd go with one of them first, but since you don't, no reason to let that stop you. Go solo. The biggest difference between solo and group canoe tripping is the actual solo paddling part, and you're already comfortable doing that. Everything else is basically the same, except that you need to allow more time for camp chores (rigging up the bear hang, filtering water, setting up the campsite etc) since you'll only have one pair of hands. So don't get too ambitious with your distances.

If you're renting a canoe, get a proper solo ultralight. It should be less than 40 lbs so you'll be fine carrying it.
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Joined: 12:12 AM - Dec 07, 2014

2:31 PM - Jul 29, 2015 #7

Hello all!

I've enjoyed reading the boards, but I have a question to which I've not been able to find an answer. I'm hoping that you might help - with honesty.

Some background:
I am a middle-aged woman without a paddling partner. I am so very tired of being confined to campground camping and I'd like to venture out into the backcountry. I've been paddling for about 35 years so I have "some" experience. Most of my canoeing has been flatwater solo. Based on past experience, my ideal distance is 10-15km/day.

I've been camping for about as long as I have been canoeing - but only on car-based campgrounds. My usual preference is for quiet northern parks and walk-in sites.
I have most of my gear - save for that specific to backcountry and canoe (need dry-bags and food pack-hanging technique).
I have only portaged once - a 59-pound 17' canoe from Smoke Lk. back to the Portage Store. I used the tripod method to get it onto my shoulders.

My question is two-fold:
Can I, as a woman traveling solo, reasonably manage this trip (i.e. what is the likely harassment factor from other travelers, am I likely to be hassled)? Where would be a good place to start, to avoid problems with those lacking etiquette?
Is it insane to try and plan to do a first-time backcountry trip solo?

Any ideas and advice is most welcome!
Without hesitation I wholly support you venturing solo into the backcountry. I am a woman in my 50s and I have paddled for many years solo in the park. Most often in the spring and fall. I have never had a negative experience with other paddlers. Fellow paddlers, without exception, have been welcoming, respectful, encouraging and a pleasure to meet.




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Joined: 6:45 PM - May 06, 2015

3:21 PM - Jul 29, 2015 #8

Hello all!

I've enjoyed reading the boards, but I have a question to which I've not been able to find an answer. I'm hoping that you might help - with honesty.

Some background:
I am a middle-aged woman without a paddling partner. I am so very tired of being confined to campground camping and I'd like to venture out into the backcountry. I've been paddling for about 35 years so I have "some" experience. Most of my canoeing has been flatwater solo. Based on past experience, my ideal distance is 10-15km/day.

I've been camping for about as long as I have been canoeing - but only on car-based campgrounds. My usual preference is for quiet northern parks and walk-in sites.
I have most of my gear - save for that specific to backcountry and canoe (need dry-bags and food pack-hanging technique).
I have only portaged once - a 59-pound 17' canoe from Smoke Lk. back to the Portage Store. I used the tripod method to get it onto my shoulders.

My question is two-fold:
Can I, as a woman traveling solo, reasonably manage this trip (i.e. what is the likely harassment factor from other travelers, am I likely to be hassled)? Where would be a good place to start, to avoid problems with those lacking etiquette?
Is it insane to try and plan to do a first-time backcountry trip solo?

Any ideas and advice is most welcome!
I don't have any specific canoeing advice for you but as a solo backpacker, I say good on you! I'm sure you'll surprise yourself with how capable you are.

The one thing you might have to watch out for though, is the usual desire to upgrade your gear after your first experience carrying all your heavy car camping stuff.
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Joined: 1:13 PM - Aug 18, 2014

3:54 PM - Jul 29, 2015 #9

Hello all!

I've enjoyed reading the boards, but I have a question to which I've not been able to find an answer. I'm hoping that you might help - with honesty.

Some background:
I am a middle-aged woman without a paddling partner. I am so very tired of being confined to campground camping and I'd like to venture out into the backcountry. I've been paddling for about 35 years so I have "some" experience. Most of my canoeing has been flatwater solo. Based on past experience, my ideal distance is 10-15km/day.

I've been camping for about as long as I have been canoeing - but only on car-based campgrounds. My usual preference is for quiet northern parks and walk-in sites.
I have most of my gear - save for that specific to backcountry and canoe (need dry-bags and food pack-hanging technique).
I have only portaged once - a 59-pound 17' canoe from Smoke Lk. back to the Portage Store. I used the tripod method to get it onto my shoulders.

My question is two-fold:
Can I, as a woman traveling solo, reasonably manage this trip (i.e. what is the likely harassment factor from other travelers, am I likely to be hassled)? Where would be a good place to start, to avoid problems with those lacking etiquette?
Is it insane to try and plan to do a first-time backcountry trip solo?

Any ideas and advice is most welcome!
I highly recommend a solo trip!

I've only done one and I'm eager to do another (the challenge for me is convincing my husband to stay home). I can only speak from 1 trip of experience so take that with a HUGE grain of salt. I didn't experience any harassment but I did experience some discomfort when the group of loud, drunk men started calling my name across the lake late at night (we had met earlier in the day). But, that was one of the very few trips where I've ever encountered a group of seemingly frat boys so I think that was just a total fluke. Everyone else I've ever met in the backcountry has been amicable and helpful. On the same lake was a group of women I'd also met earlier who were lovely which gave me some comfort.

One thought regarding access points: yes it would be nice to go to a more remote access point but you may want to consider a busier one. For my trip, I chose a busier access point because I felt more comfortable having people not too far away in case something went wrong. It made me feel a bit safer on my first trip.

I agree with the previous poster who said you'll be surprised what you're capable of. That combined with the awesome feeling of solitude and confidence that I got after my solo trip makes it highly recommendable!
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Joined: 9:39 PM - Jun 03, 2009

5:36 PM - Jul 29, 2015 #10

Hello all!

I've enjoyed reading the boards, but I have a question to which I've not been able to find an answer. I'm hoping that you might help - with honesty.

Some background:
I am a middle-aged woman without a paddling partner. I am so very tired of being confined to campground camping and I'd like to venture out into the backcountry. I've been paddling for about 35 years so I have "some" experience. Most of my canoeing has been flatwater solo. Based on past experience, my ideal distance is 10-15km/day.

I've been camping for about as long as I have been canoeing - but only on car-based campgrounds. My usual preference is for quiet northern parks and walk-in sites.
I have most of my gear - save for that specific to backcountry and canoe (need dry-bags and food pack-hanging technique).
I have only portaged once - a 59-pound 17' canoe from Smoke Lk. back to the Portage Store. I used the tripod method to get it onto my shoulders.

My question is two-fold:
Can I, as a woman traveling solo, reasonably manage this trip (i.e. what is the likely harassment factor from other travelers, am I likely to be hassled)? Where would be a good place to start, to avoid problems with those lacking etiquette?
Is it insane to try and plan to do a first-time backcountry trip solo?

Any ideas and advice is most welcome!
It's funny how it's supposed to be "odd" that women go backcountry camping, yet the majority of folks we see in Algonquin are women. Some times in groups with men, but most often in groups of only women. There's actually an outfitter who organized trips for "women only". (or used to be..not sure now)

You need to read the posts by "kayamedic" as she is known here on AA. "Littleredcanoe" over on CCR.

For example:

http://www.network54.com/Forum/352882/t ... o+question



B.
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