Friday, February 26, 2016

Canoe Country Camping

Canoe Country Camping: Wilderness Skills for the Boundary Waters and Quetico,  by Michael Furtman.  Pub by Pfeifer-Hamilton, Duluth, MN, 1992, 194pp with additional resource list, illustrations by Susan Robinson)

With a quarter century of experience in the Boundary Waters, the author writes specifically about what leads to a successful trip in this area.  However, the topics apply equally to any flatwater paddling and camping.  I’ve read a lot of books by a number of authors, and yet I found here many useful recommendations that I had not encountered before.  Mr. Furtman feels that once you arrive at the paddling area, the success or failure of the trip will rest mainly on your preparation.  If you’ve planned poorly, it’s hard to salvage a chain of mistakes, but with successful planning, little can happen to mar your pleasure or leave you unable to deal with mishaps that do occur.  The book is not organized by topic, but takes you step-by-step from the idea of making a trip until you complete your portage and arrive at the campsite.  The nice thing about this book is that regardless of your level of experience, there is still more to be learned, and you can find it here.  I don’t think there’s any greater compliment any author can achieve, and it’s well earned.  The book was also awarded the “Best How-to Book” award by the Mid-West Independent Publishers’ Assoc.

The author made a couple points throughout the book that are important to all of us regardless of where we paddle and camp.  The first is to promote the idea of not just successful camping, but ethical and responsible camping, and he explains how these are accomplished.  The second has to do with enjoying wildlife.  He has a section on how to find and photograph wildlife, but he adds that a simple rule followed by professional wildlife photographers is that the welfare of the subjects is more important than the photograph.  The lives of birds and wildlife revolve around two activities:  feeding and reproducing.  Each time we disrupt their feeding or their abilities to care for their young, we cause them stress.  The consequence is that stressed birds and animals have lower survival rates.  He emphasizes that we paddle quietly and stop our approach when an animal begins to show signs of fright or agitation, nervous movement, quick furtive glances, muscle tenseness, etc.  All together, this is a book you will enjoy and find rewarding.

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