First Solo Canoe Trip: Planning

I decided one week before heading out that I would do this trip. I had wanted to do a solo trip for a long time to really challenge myself to be alone in the wilderness.  I’ve done many trips in my life, but always with family or friends. I have never had to plan and lead every aspect of the experience myself.  This was going to be it.

Within 30min of the initial thought, I had booked my campsites online through Ontario Parks, reserved my canoe at the Portage Store outfitter, and booked Parkbus for the ride up.  I don’t drive. This is a real problem for getting out of the city regularly, so I really appreciate that there’s now an affordable service that aims to help people like me get out of the city. I booked a last minute day off work to accommodate the trip and quickly started to plan.

Since I had never done anything solo before, I wanted something easy and manageable that would allow me to test all elements of a trip in a controlled way. Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario is my go to place for anything wilderness. There are many options in Ontario, but I’ve been going to Algonquin since I was a kid and I love it. Over the years, it’s become increasingly popular on long weekends and at the easy to access lakes. But if you venture far enough away from the access points, you can find some amazing true wilderness still just a few hours away from the city.

I knew I wanted to keep this trip easy, so I had to come to terms with staying on the more popular lakes as I wouldn’t be going very far. But it wasn’t a long weekend, so I figured it would be OK. I picked the Canoe Lake Access point, they have The Portage Store outfitters right there and access to a wide variety of entry level trips. It’s a great starting point, especially if you don’t have access to your own canoe. I’d paddle up through Canoe Lake, do the short 295m portage into Joe Lake and camp on Joe Lake for 2 nights. Everything on my own: food planning and prep, packing, campsite setup, organization, passing time alone, starting fires, etc… I had done each element on many trips before, but never all of it on my own. I was excited. I was scared.



I made many lists. I made two trips to MEC that week to pick up extra gear that I didn’t have. I planned, packed and repacked until I was ready to go. My first solo adventure.

For all of my trips, I try to make a detailed plan document using Google Sheets. I store all of my lists, notes, etc.. on it. Here is my detailed plan document for this trip, Algonquin Solo Trip: July 8-10 2016


Day 1 of the Trip…


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