This summer I embarked on an impromptu solo canoe trip.  Though I’ve been on multiple trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, I’ve never gone alone, and it definitely tested me in new and unexpected ways.  Sure, I’ve backpacked and traveled internationally solo, but I’ve never ventured out overnight with a canoe alone.  What if I didn’t tie it down right and it flew off my car?  What if I wasn’t strong enough to portage it?  What if weather came in?  Have I not done this yet because I’m scared?

That was it: I wasn’t pulling the trigger on this adventure because I was anxious about my own abilities, about the WHAT IF.  And this is important to consider: venturing out alone is more risky, and one has to consider who will be put in danger coming to rescue you if something bad does happen.  However, looking at the risks, and actively working to mitigate and manage them helped me to feel good about embarking on this short adventure.

After practicing portaging and loading it on my car in her yard, I borrowed a friend’s canoe (which made me anxious in itself, no one wants to wreck someone else’s canoe!) and took off on a Sunday headed toward Ely.  I camped at a Forest Service campground near my entry point so I could get an early start the next day.

In lieu of keeping a written journal, I made series of short voice recordings while out there to help encapsulate my story.  They were done on my phone, and with no script, and mostly in a single take – so they capture a bit of the weather conditions as well as what I was thinking right at the moment (and they aren’t edited…so, enjoy).  Please let me know if you aren’t able to listen to the links and I’ll troubleshoot! Here is a link to the transcript of the audio recordings: Solo BWCA transcript

The pictures mostly go in chronological order, but they don’t necessarily match up with the days spoken about.

Stuart Lake – Day 1 (1:22)

Stuart Lake Evening (0:52)

Stuart Lake Morning (0:33)

Nina Moose Lake (0:52)

Nina Moose Morning (1:49)

End of Trip (1:19

Though a short trip, it was an excellent way to get my feet wet in solo canoe adventuring.  I am so grateful to have been able to borrow such a sweet canoe and for the ease of access and proximity of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  Though I would do a few things differently if I venture out solo by canoe again, I am happy that I opted in on this adventure.

What is it that you’ve been opting out of because of the WHAT IFs?  Are your fears grounded, or can they be mitigated by some planning and preparation?