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Kevin Callan shares dozens of intriguing and often very funny tales in this ebook of wilderness camping stories. He has written more than a dozen popular books on camping and canoeing, focusing on Ontario, Canada, but ranging far and wide. To research these guides, he has had to spend a lot of time in the wild outdoors — exploring, testing, researching — and he inevitably has had a lot of strange, intriguing, and/or alarming things happen.
entertaining tales of wilderness camping and canoeing
In Dazed But Not Confused, Callan tells you the best true-life stories he’s accumulated from years of wilderness treking and canoeing. And thanks to his self-deprecating humor, you can laugh at his misadventures without feeling guilty. He’s clearly fine.
Humility has taken me far on wilderness trips. Lacking humility in wild places is the surest way to get into trouble. I’m frequently awed and humbled when I’m out there. In fact, that’s one reason I go out.
As an example of how easy it is to mess up but good when wilderness camping, Callan tells the tale of how he and his canoemate Scott were preparing a base camp a day ahead of the arrival of Ray Mears, a British bushcraft expert, and the BBC crew that was filming him. Callan discovered that he had, unfortunately, left the cooking pots back at the boat launch — and he couldn’t paddle back to get them because it was too far and the current was too fast.
The first evening, Scott and I ate PB&J sandwiches rather than cooking up our mac and cheese dinner.
And that was okay. We dealt with the hardship. But not being able to boil water for coffee in the morning was unacceptable — as was being unable to prepare any meals for the eight-person crew about to arrive that day.
Scott and I tried numerous survival skills to heat up water. Placing hot rocks into a barrel pack containing river water was the first method, which gave us a lukewarm, murky liquid filled with dirt and ash (and most likely a few parasites). Next we spent a good hour carving a bowl out of a log, only to have it ignite, leak, and then spill its contents and douse the flames. The third method was a little more successful. We found an old whisky bottle back in the bush, filled it half-full with water, and then hung it a good distance above the flames of the fire. Not soon after, we had bubbling water to receive our coffee grounds.
At noon the film crew arrived, and I beat Scott to the punch by immediately telling them of our mishap. Then I humbly asked bushcraft expert Ray Mears how he would deal with the dilemma. I expected Ray to ramble off some of the methods we had already attempted, but instead he gave a giggle and lifted my pack out of his canoe, saying, “Well, Kevin, we could use these pots left behind by some poor fool back at the launch.”
callan gets called a “Wilderness Pornographer”
Dazed But Not Confused has 41 short chapters divided into three parts. The title of Part I, “Life as a Wilderness Pornographer”, could use a bit of explanation. Callan’s guidebooks are not universally popular, since many people who love the wilderness don’t want it full of the people who read his books, for whom he so carefully points out where the trails are and where to put in and take out their canoes. Many people hate him. Their secret spot has been ruined. The owner of a lakeside lodge, who advertised its remoteness, now has to deal with a steady string of paddlers, some of whom moon the guests — and Callan’s guidebooks made it happen.
Callan understands perfectly why his detractors feel the way they do, and doesn’t fault them for it. But he also supports people’s right and need to connect with nature and experience great beauty, make treks and have adventures. He explains that people who experience the wilderness become strong advocates for the protection of those areas they’ve experienced.
Anyway, a reviewer once called Callan a “wilderness pornographer” for making nature available to the masses. So that’s the only sense in which Callan is a pornographer, although there is a chapter in Part III called “Making Love in a Canoe”.
Sample chapter titles from Part I are “I’m an Idiot”, “Awkward Moments Onstage”, and “Adventures with Speedo Man”.
Part II of Dazed But Not Confused is called “Playing in the Woods”, which includes the chapter “Midges Up My Kilt”, and Part III is “Wilderness Philosophy”, with chapters such as “The Real Danger of Wilderness Travel”.
Entertaining, unexpected, and very real — Dazed But Not Confused is a great read.
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