Hi everyone:

>TRIP OR EXPEDITION PARTICULARS: Please make sure you have thoroughly reviewed the information pertaining to this trip that has been posted on the trip thread on Backpacker Magazine's Midwest Forum, the detailed trip description page on The Rucksack, and the general tripping information presented on the home page of The RuckSack.

>LAST MINUTE UPDATES: Please monitor our trip thread on Backpacker Magazine's Midwest forum from time to time for last minute updates.

>REGISTRATION: Please forward your registration info (see section 3) to me at mneiger@hotmail.com. Please paste the info into your e-mail message; do not send it as a TXT, DOC, etc., attachment. Thanks.

>PRIOR ACCIDENTS, INJURIES, & INCIDENTS: Please take the time to review section 2 of this Web page as it contains a detailed list of some of the accidents, injuries, and incidents that have occurred on prior trips. This information may help you avoid and/or prepare for similar situations on this trip.

>FOUL-WEATHER CLOTHING: Please make sure you have the insulating layers in your rucksack or sledge to protect yourself from, or recover from, hypothermia without a campfire on this trip or expedition. We have had to intervene on several cases of hypothermia in the past, 5 times in one year alone. These incidents were largely the result of trippers who were trying to go ultra-light and were not carrying the multiple, redundant layers of clothing that good bushmen and bushwomen stuff in their ruck for just such occasions. Reversing hypothermia takes hours of work on the part of others on the trip--a lot more work than is required to pack a couple extra pounds of warm clothing.

>PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY: We've had several close calls on past trip commutes--two vehicles in the ditch and more than one spin out. Please wear your seatbelt and don't be in a hurry.

>ERRORS: As usual, if you find any errors in the information presented below, please let me know about them so I can advise everyone else. Thanks.

Questions, comments, or concerns about our upcoming trip or expedition are welcome at 906.226.9620 or mneiger@hotmail.com .

All the Best,

Michael (LandNavMan)

===========================
TO:

Mary P. (NatureLady), Flint, Michigan
Jay Hanks, Perry, Michigan
Gail S. (IsleRoyaleGirl), Marquette, Michigan
Mary Ann H., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Michael Neiger (LandNavMan), Marquette, Michigan

RE:...Michigan Bush Rats 4-day Winter Backpacking
......Level: Intermediate-level, off-trail, backpacking
......Destination: Hiawatha National Forest
......Where: Vanderbilt, Michigan
......When: December 5-8, 2008 (Friday thru Monday)

FROM:.Michael Neiger
......Wilderness Trip Organizer for the Michigan Bush Rats
......313 Jonathan Carver Road
......Marquette, Michigan 49855
......906.226.9620
..... E-mail: mneiger@hotmail.com
......Web site: http://therucksack.tripod.com
......Trailhead ID: 6-2, 195, 55, beard,
........ID photo at http://therucksack.tripod.com/leaderbio.htm
......Trailhead vehicle ID: 2003 Chevy Express full-size van
........Gray, 4wd, Mich plate 2FAM88, wide black canoe racks

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CONTENTS OF E-MAIL ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>-- 1...TRIP ADVISORIES, NOTICES, & WARNINGS
>-- 2...PRIOR ACCIDENTS, INJURIES, & INCIDENTS
>-- 3...PRE-REGISTRATION FORM
>-- 4...TRIP DESCRIPTION FROM BACKPACKER MAGAZINE'S MIDWEST FORUM
Copyright (c) 1984-2008 Michael A. Neiger

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>>>> 1. TRIP ADVISORIES, NOTICES, AND WARNING<<<<

WATCH OUT FOR DEER, MOOSE, DOMESTIC STOCK, ETC., ON HIGHWAYS AND BUSH ROADS

Be careful, especially at dusk, after dark, and at dawn. When traveling on King's Highway 17 North of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, watch out for moose, especially at the bottom of the huge hill locally known as Mile Hill. This deadly location has claimed the lives of way too many unsupecting travelers over the years.

(Image courtesy of blogs.kansascity.com)

 

(Image courtesy of www.stripersonline.com)

 

(Image courtesy of crazycrashes.wordpress.com)

 

(Image courtesy of xlforum.net)

 

(Image courtesy of www.strangevehicles.com)

 

(Image courtesy of pictureserver.funnyjunk.com)

 

DRIVING MAP INFORMATION
... http://therucksack.tripod.com/drivingmaps.htm

ROAD CONDITIONS & WEATHER LINKS
... http://therucksack.tripod.com/weather.htm

TRAVEL AND CUSTOMS INFO
... http://therucksack.tripod.com/travel.htm

LIABILITY WAIVER:
Everyone participating in a Bush Rats' Trip organized by Michael Neiger will be required to read, acknowledge understanding, and sign a liability waiver at the trailhead, prior to the trip.

EYE PROTECTION:
It is highly recommended everyone wear some type of eye protection on this trip, especially when bushwhacking. One tripper severely injured his eye on the July '05 Canadian Expedition, just as he was removing his glasses as dusk set in while bushwhacking. Another eye injury occurred on the February expedition.

WATERPROOF YOUR GEAR:
Come packed and equipped for lots of rain, wet snow, and cold winds. Use heavy-duty contractor-grade trash bags (not fragile residential garbage bags) and garbage compactor-type bags, double bagging critical items.

HYDRATION AND SNACKING ON TRAIL:
It is recommended that you carry a water bottle and snacks on your pack waistbelt in separate pouches so you can snack and sip water while underway. Snacking and drinking water are essential for avoiding dehydration, hypothermia, and exhaustion when things get challenging late in the day or during foul weather.

SURVIVAL KIT:
An on-person (as opposed to an in-your-pack) survival kit is highly recommended: knife, waterproof matches, waterproof fire starter, compass, and whistle. Multi-pocketed shorts (even in the winter) work well for stowing each survival item on a lanyard in a different pocket so they don't get in the way and don't get lost. To learn more, see http://therucksack.tripod.com/hikegearlist.htm#survivalkit.

LONG-TERM PARKING ADVISORY:
Reduce problems by keeping your car locked, relatively empty, and uninviting. ALWAYS USE A LOCKING GAS CAP (they are very inexpensive [$10-15], especially when compared to the alternative of a vandal ruining your engine).

LEAVE TOBACCO, ALCOHOL, SPEAKER RADIOS, ETC., AT HOME
To enhance everyone's wilderness experience, please leave tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, cotton clothing (save a bandanna; maybe a T-shirt in hot weather), pets, speaker radios, and high-intensity Coleman-type lanterns at home.

THIS IS NOT A FAIR-WEATHER, HIGHLY-SCRIPTED TRIP
This trip is not a highly-scripted, fair-weather trek. It will go rain or shine. A good days hike will typically involve about 5 hours of moderately paced tripping with regular rest breaks and an hour-long stop for lunch. Our route will unfold as the terrain and weather dictate; sections of very challenging cross-country travel may be encountered. Map study, compass work, azimuth cutting, and pace counting will be regular tasks for those interested. If you want to participate in any of the land navigation work, please let me know.

CARRY EMERGENCY FUNDS
While the majority of people you'll run into in the bush tend to be very helpful and generous, it's always a good idea to carry some "incentive" money in case you need a big favor.

WE BIVOUAC IN RUGGED AREAS
Our bivouacs will be deep in the bush, far from campgrounds, toilets, picnic tables, fire rings, potable water, or any water source in some locations. Clear, level, dry sites for bivouacking may not be attainable.

GOOD PHYSICAL FITNESS IS ESSENTIAL
Since wilderness tripping can be physically strenuous and require vigorous exertion, you should be in very good physical condition, both cardiovascularly and muscularly, for this trip.

WE'LL FACE UNKNOWN HAZARDS & PERILS
Remote wilderness tripping--especially foul-weather travel, bushwhacking cross-country, off-trail exploration, cliff and steep slope travel, climbing, cave exploration, river fording, swimming, canoeing, portaging, skiing, snoeshoeing, winter camping, ice crossings, etc.--involves unknown and unpredictable hazards and perils.

MENTAL & PHYSICAL TOUGHNESS ESSENTIAL
A tripper's failure to: 1) physically train for and mentally prepare for a harsh wilderness trip; 2) acquire the necessary skills and equipment for the trip or; 3) recognize and avoid the unknown and unpredictable hazards and perils which present themselves on such a trip will likely result in the serious injury, paralysis, or slow, painful death of the tripper.

NO FIRST-AID KIT, DOCTOR, OR EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS GEAR PROVIDED
* There is no emergency medical equipment provided on Bush Rats' wilderness trips organized by Michael Neiger. Please bring your own first-aid kit.
* There is no doctor, nurse, or other trained emergency medical provider on Bush Rats' wilderness trips organized by Michael Neiger.
* There is no means of contacting emergency medical personnel or rescue services on Bush Rats' wilderness trips organized by Michael Neiger. Emergency communications equipment, cell phones, GPS units, and satellite beacons are not provided, and can't be relied upon when they are available.
* Search and rescue services, emergency medical care, and evacuation of the non-ambulatory may be very difficult and costly to arrange; the wait could be very painful, or even fatal. In most locations, it may take several days of rigorous travel by uninjured volunteers before emergency personnel can even be summoned for help.

HEALTH CHECKUPS RECOMMENDED
* physical * stress test * dental exam

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>>>> 2. PRIOR ACCIDENTS, INJURIES, & INCIDENTS <<<<

The gear and safety equipment recommended for this trip are intended to increase your chances of surviving an accident deep in the bush. If you're lucky, some of this equipment will never see the light of day. However, when a trip goes bad, real bad, and you're miles from help, one or two of these items may just save your life, or the life of another wilderness tripper. Listed below are some of the situations that have occurred on prior wilderness trips and expeditions. Think about what you'd do--about what equipment and skills would be handy--if you faced a similar situation deep in the wilderness.

-- 2008: * Ill-fitting boots slowed tripper * Disabling giardia * Hiker became disoriented; was able to signal another hiker with whistle and find group * Bowie knife blade broke off at handle * Complete delamination and separation of Asolo hiking boot sole * Improperly attached rucksack floated free of zip line in rapids during river crossing * Ran out of camera batteries * 3-liter Platypus-brand water bladder ripped open * Hole worn in toe of Vasque hiking boot * Seam separation on Sportiva hiking boot * Hiking pole broke in half during fall * Two tarps shelters leaked * Piezoelectric stove igniter failed * Piezoelectric lighter igniter failed * Crock sandals melted near fire * Wool socks burned near fire * Debilitating stomach illness exhausted tripper for two days * Broken reading glasses * Trippers near hypothermic due to 48 hours of rain * Trippers cold around camp due to lack of warm layers * White gas leaked from fuel cell into pack * Topo map lost, and recovered * Two trippers ran out of compressed-fuel canisters * Non-locking blade in pocket knife folded onto finger causing a long, deep laceration * Stuff sack containing crampons, climbing rope, helmet, climbing harness, ice rescue picks, carabiners, pursik loops, and slings fell out of rear of sledge; recovered by sweep crew * Multiple sledge rollovers from improperly packed cargo (heavy items too high up) * Cracked sledge * Burned fingers on stove * Coleman Peak I tank caught fire; complete stove failure; not field repairable * Sleeping pad fell out of sledge; recovered hours later by another tripper * Broken 2" sledge harness buckle; replaced with spare carried by another tripper * MSR SimmerLite stove failure (center bolt anchoring legs/pot supports fell out in stuff sack); repaired in the field * Debilitating migraine headache * 14 frost nipped fingers (lost feeling in finger tips for two weeks after trip * plastic MSR pump housing cracked from minus 31 F temperatures, inoperable and unrepairable * half dozen major gashes in brush guards on three sledges from severe bushwhacking * flu-like illness forced one tripper to exit trip first morning * Nalgene water bottle lost in deep snow * wrist compass lost * no spare mukluk liners led to tripper's major discomfort * sledge trace hardware lost while bushwhacking, no critical backup hardware forced improvised repair * cap on Nalgene bottle cracked and leaking from severe cold *

-- 2007: Tripper left trip early due to lack of insulating clothing * Tripper left trip early due to stomach illness * Tripper left trip early due to lower back injury * While trying to find an easier route around a rugged, Canadian canyon, a 4-person group became separated from main in-canyon group for several hours * Hiker became separated from main group in Canadian bush * Two-piece fishing rod broke into five pieces from rugged bushwhacking * Hiking boot sole delaminated * Hiker unable to continue due to poor conditioning had to be evacuated from remote Canadian bush * Waist-belt pouch with one-day's snacks and lunch fell off waist belt and not recovered * MSR pump-to-fuel-bottle O-Ring leak * Plugged MSR shaker jet * 4-inch gash ripped in sledge hull * Headlamp failure * Broken snowshoe crampons * Broken shovel blade * Broken shovel handle * Wood saw lacerated finger * Beaver punji-stick ripped 10-gash in sledge * Stump punctured and caved-in front of sledge * Snowshoers broke though lake snowpack into slush and through snow-drifted riverbank ice into water numerous times resulting in wet feet, 25-pound snowshoes, and iced-up bindings, buckles, and sledges * MSR stove temporarily inoperative due to plugged fuel line * Belay loop broke on sledge * Prescription glasses lost in snow and not recovered * Tripper's vehicle spun out 180 degrees on the crown of an icy road * Recently retroed aluminum sledge traces both broke in half * Panel-loading zipper on butt pack on sledge waist harness accidentally opened while trekking, resulting in the loss of an insulated jacket, headlamp, hat, etc. *

-- 2006: Tripper's vehicle became stuck along edge of road * Black bear circled camp * Paddler forgot bailer and rescue throw rope * Water filter became inoperative due to freezing temperatures * Silva compass became inoperative due to a de-magnetized needle * At end of trip, tire was nearly flat on shuttle vehicle; tire was reinflated with portable tire pump * GPS unit became inoperative * Hiking boots got wet and froze solid * Sun glasses lost on trail; recovered * Wind shell parka with digital camera in pocket fell from sledge twice; recovered both times * Severe cold limited participant sledging on winter expedition * Two hardware failures on homemade sledge required in-the-field improvisation and repair on winter expedition * Several items of essential equipment--water bottle, tent, sleeping bag, etc.--fell from rear of sledge during winter expedition * Wind-shell hat lost * Intestinal problems and extreme fatigue ended winter expedition early * Broken ski binding had to be replaced in the field * Windshell hat lost * Minus-40 winter bag fell from rear portion of sledge and could not be retrieved * Bivy sack fell from rear portion of sledge and could not be retrieved *

-- 2005: MSR stove failure * Leaking tarp soaked sleeping bag * MSR stove failure * Tripper cut finger badly clearing sticks from bivouac area * Tripper lost Esbit Wing Stove and improvised another one * Failure to double-check rations before trip resulted in shortage of food during expedition * Pine needle branch struck eye, just as glasses were being removed late in the day, and eliminated tripper's use of eye for the duration of the trip and the drive home * Holes punched in organizer's pack allowed river water to soak certain items of clothing and first aid kit while pack was moored for a half-hour next to a large rock on the Agawa River * Improper use of PIC bug coils started a smoldering, underground fire that took a lot of work to dig up and put out * Improper knot tying resulted in the permanent loss of one trekker's hiking boot from outside of rucksack * Failure to double-check rations before trip resulted in shortage of food during trip * Trekker's failure to come prepared, both physically and mentally, resulted in a vehicle evac and trip being aborted within 24 hours * OR Water Bottle Parka slipped from waist harness resulting in long hike to retrieve it * Broken ski pole * Snowshoes fell off sweep sledge requiring hike back to retrieve them * Debilitating blisters on bottom of toes from mukluk system * Broken shovel blade * Broken sledge trace * Organizers's cold turned into bronchitis during trip * Trip participant came down with fatiguing cold on trip * Point person broke through lake ice at shoreline spring * Tripper's vehicle spun out and slid off snow-packed county road while avoiding a logging truck's fishtailing pup; extracted with nylon tow strap *

-- 2004: * Trip-ending groin muscle injury * Frostbitten hand * New, unbroken-in boots bruised foot * Inoperative stove * Blistered feet * Twisted knee * Slip and fall resulted in severe, trip-ending trauma to rib cage and chest * Swimmer had difficulty crossing Agawa River due to swift current; designated safety person assisted swimmer by finishing pack ferry and allowing swimmer to swim through current * Organizer got separated from group while reconning ridge parallel to group travelling in a very rugged Canadian valley that split 3 ways; heavy rain limited audible search and made man-tracking impossible * Group got well off course in extremely remote Canadian bush * One of two GPS units malfunctioned in Canadian bush (only one is normally carried) * Shuttle vehicle got stuck in muddy section of seasonal county road; extracted with nylon tow strap * with darkness closing in, tripper on day-hike could not find way back to isolated bivouac location; tripper's shouts were just barely within range * All layers of polypro got soaked with sweat and wet snow from wearing too much while underway on trail and then not wearing wet layers in camp to dry them out * Near-catastrophic tent fire (holes melted/burned in roof) from cooking/heating/drying with pressurized MSR stove inside North Face tent * Extreme fatigue from lack of pre-trip aerobic training * Trip-ending fatigue from lack of pre-trip aerobic training * Broken ski pole * Bad battery prevented vehicle from starting in cold weather * Point person broke through rotten river ice, shallow water * Slack (2nd) person broke through rotten river ice, deep water * Snowshoe bindings/straps did not fit large expedition boots * Trip-ending flu * Tripper's vehicle slid off a state highway during nighttime snowstorm *

-- 2003: huge blisters from stiff, new boots * giardia infection * high winds caused ground fire with Esbit stove * inadequate 3-season sleeping bag * fall on rocks resulted in deep cut in shin * trip-ending sprained ankle from unsupportive boots * invisible holes in tarp allowed water to enter rucksack during 200-meter swim across lake * poison ivy infection * improper waterproofing soaked gear on river crossing swim * sleeping bag soaked by rain during night * lost compass * no tarp to waterproof pack and float it across deep river * inoperable water filter * inadequate warm clothing * broke through rotten lake ice * irrepairable stove failure * broke through rotten river ice * near hypothermia from lack of required equipment * irrepairable stove failure

-- 2002: * broken tooth * hypothermia * failed to pack enough rations * failed to pack required foul-weather gear * hypothermia * nausea * diarrhea * pulled quadricep * hypothermia * broken tooth * debilitating tendinitis * hypothermia * trip-ending exhaustion * failed to pack required foul-weather gear * hypothermia * trip-ending exhaustion * failed to pack required foul-weather gear

-- 2001: * trip-ending, blown-out knee (tendon damage), required surgery * trip-ending Achilles' tendon injury * giardia infection * disoriented/lost after dark while venturing out from bivouac site * turned ankle from boots that were not all-leather or supportive enough * disoriented/lost during daylight while venturing out from bivouac site * severe heat illness * severe fatigue & exhaustion * disoriented/lost after dark while hanging food * diarrhea * severe headaches * numerous stove failures * numerous water filter failures

-- 2000: * severely dislocated finger, required surgery * trip-ending flu * blistering, 2nd-degree burns * severe headaches * severe fatigue & exhaustion * soles of feet bruised so badly from lightweight boots that tripper could hardly walk * numerous stove failures * numerous water filter failures

--1999-1984: * broken arm * 2 near drownings * deep cut across palm-side of all four fingers, required stitches * severe heat illness * severe hypothermia * dislocated shoulder * torn thigh muscle * immobilizing back injuries * lost after dark without backpack * frostbite * sea sickness * 2 cases of giardia * flu * colds * severe fatigue & exhaustion * panic attacks * sprained ankles * falls through rotten river and lake ice * blisters * menacing/charging-- bear, moose, wolf, coyote * loss of all food to a mother bear and two cubs * stove and water filter failures

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>>>> 3. PRE-REGISTRATION FORM <<<<

INSTRUCTIONS
-- E-mail the info below to mneiger@hotmail.com (Please cut and paste info into message area of your return e-mail; please do not attach it to your e-mail as a separate file). Questions: contact Michael Neiger, 906-226-9620, mneiger@hotmail.com.

NOTE: FOR YOU FREQUENT TRIPPERS, PLEASE SAVE THE INFO BELOW ON YOUR COMPUTER AND IT WILL SAVE YOU FROM HAVING TO RECONSTRUCT IT FOR FUTURE TRIPS. To stay up to date and help me organize multiple trips at once, I would appreciate receiving the registration info listed below for each trip you sign up for. Thanks for humoring me on this issue. If you change trailhead vehicles after you register, please advise me.

Form revised 06-25-02 (Survival Kit Question added)

FULL NAME:

STREET ADDRESS:

CITY, STATE, ZIP:

HOME PHONE:

CELL PHONE (IF BROUGHT TO TRAILHEAD):

HOME E-MAIL:

OCCUPATION:

EMPLOYER & ADDRESS:

WORK PHONE:

WORK E-MAIL:

PERSONAL DOCTOR
..NAME:
..ADDRESS:
..PHONE:

EMERGENCY CONTACT NO. 1
..NAME:
..ADDRESS:
..HOME PHONE:
..WORK PHONE:
..RELATIONSHIP:

EMERGENCY CONTACT NO. 2
..NAME:
..ADDRESS:
..HOME PHONE:
..WORK PHONE:
..RELATIONSHIP:

SEARCH & RESCUE INFO:
..AGE:
..SEX:
..HEIGHT:
..WEIGHT:
..BLOOD TYPE (if available):
..BLOOD PRESSURE (if available):
..RESTING PULSE RATE (if available):
..ARE YOU ALLERGIC TO BEE STINGS (If yes, bring an anaphylaxis kit):
..ARE YOU ALLERGIC TO ANY MEDICATIONS, FOODS, INSECTS, ETC.:
..MEDICATIONS YOU'RE TAKING:
..MEDICAL ALERTS:
..CAN YOU SWIM:
..CAN YOU BUILD A FIRE IN FOUL WEATHER:
..WILL YOU BE CARRYING A WHISTLE, MATCHES, FIRESTARTERS, KNIFE & COMPASS ON YOUR PERSON IF YOU HAPPEN TO GET LOST (For search & rescue squad):
..WHAT WAS THE DATE OF YOUR MOST RECENT TETANUS INOCULATION:
..HIKING BOOT LENGTH IN INCHES (yes, measure it for search & rescue squad):
..SNOWSHOE LENGTH AND WIDTH IN INCHES (for winter trips):
..COLOR OF RAINSUIT:
..COLOR OF TARP OR TENT FLY:
..TRAILHEAD VEHICLE MAKE:
..TRAILHEAD VEHICLE MODEL:
..TRAILHEAD VEHICLE COLOR:
..TRAILHEAD VEHICLE YEAR:
..TRAILHEAD VEHICLE LICENSE PLATE NO.:
..ADDITIONAL INFO:

 

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>>>>4. TRIP DESCRIPTION FROM BACKPACKER MAGAZINE'S MIDWEST FORUM <<<<

Notice: The info below lacks the hotlinks and images contained in the original posting:

December 5-8, 2008

Michigan Bush Rats'
4-day Winter Backpacking Trip
Pigeon River Country State Forest

Northern Lower Peninsula
Otsego & Cheyboygan Counties
Vanderbilt :: Michigan

When: 8 a.m. Friday, December 5, to midafternoon, Monday, December 8, 2008

Level: Intermediate-level, on/off-trail, map-and-compass, winter camping.

Difficulty: Moderately strenuous for the fit; cold/foul weather; snowy, wet, slippery terrain.

Prerequisites: Participants must have prior cold-weather backpacking experience.

Costs: This is a free trip. Transportation, lodging, meals, public transit, permits, etc., are the responsiblity
of each participant.

Organizer: Michael Neiger (LandNavMan on the boards), Marquette, Michigan (Web site; e-mail; bio).

Sign-up process: After reviewing the material presented below, e-mail your first name, last name, trail
name, city, state (or province), and e-mail address to Michael Neiger (LandNavMan).

Chimo (Inuit for welcome) to fellow alumni
of southeastern Michigan's SOLAR Club,
the School for Outdoor Leadership, Adventure, and Recreation,
and fellow members of the North Country Trail Association.

The man [woman] with the knapsack is never lost.
No matter whither he may stray,
his food and shelter are right with him,
and home is wherever he may choose to stop.
—Horace Kephart, the Dean of the Wilderness, Camping & Woodcraft, 1917

Trip beta index

1—Intro
2—Pre-trip assembly info
3—Wilderness itinerary
4—Destination info
5—Permits and fees
6—Rations required
7—Advisories and notices
8—Hazards and perils
9—Insurance and SAR-comm gear
10—Equipment recommendations
11—Land-nav team info
12—Trip Internet discussion thread
13—Journals and photos from prior trips
14—Emergency contacts
15—Travel info
16—Wilderness skills info
17—Sign-up info

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
—Lord Byron (George Noel Gordon) 1788-1824
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, canto IV [1818], stanza 178

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1—Intro

The Michigan Bush Rats' December '08, 4-day, on/off-trail, winter backpacking trip will see them exploring the
southwestern corner of the 93,000-acre Pigeon River Country State Forest, including the 6,300-acre Green Timbers
Wilderness Tract, in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

This area is traversed by portions of the High County Pathway and the Shore-to-Shore Trail as well as the Sturgeon and
Pigeon Rivers.

Since this area is home to the majestic Elk, we'll be keeping an eye out for this elusive animal. In lieu of the real thing,
we'll be watching closely for signs of its passing: ground spoor (tracks, scrapes, sheds, and bones) and aerial spoor
(rubs, hair).

An excerpt from last year's December trip journal:

.......after breakfast at our campsites, we drove down to Clear Lake State Park, where we would leave most
of our vehicles for the duration of the trip. Cathy was there as were Josh and Mary Ann, who had driven
down from the Canadian Soo. Mike's car was spotted elsewhere so he could leave on Sunday to get back
to work.

The crew adjusting their layers in the morning sun. (Photo courtesy of IsleRoyaleGirl's photo
album)

Before long, we began our hike, which was to be a sizeable loop, east of the park, in the Mackinac State
Forest.

After crossing M-33 we cut a rough azimuth to the east, over a ridge, before heading south a bit to pick up
one of the many firebreak trails in the woods. Traveling on this firebreak would facilitate covering ground
since we were getting a relatively late start.

Steve S. breaks down his outfit for another day of sledging. (Photo courtesy of NatureLady's photo
album)

Though the sky had been overcast at daybreak, it was now a bright blue with puffy, white, fast-moving
clouds. With the temperature in the high twenties and almost no wind, it was very pleasant hiking weather.

By lunchtime we had seen an assortment of tracks--turkey, squirrel, mouse, deer, coyote and elk. We
stopped to eat along one of the trails. When we got moving again, we spotted an eagle soaring high above
the trees.

Mary Ann and IsleRoyaleGirl pause in their sledge harnesses. (Photo courtesy of NatureLady's
photo album)

Steve expressed an interest in the land nav and Michael set him up to cut an azimuth on point. He did an
excellent job despite having to contend with the thick brush and swamp that covered the low ground
between the ridges.

The final azimuth of the afternoon took us to what was probably an elk feeding area--a clear field decorated
with the dried remains of summer flowers…alien invaders actually: spotted knapweed and the tall spikes
of mullein.

Mary Ann and Josh M. survey three coyote-gnawed deer carcasses they discovered in the bush.
(Photo courtesy of NatureLady's photo album)

The field was bordered with a young mixed forest--aspens, beeches, and maples with a scattering of birch
and evergreens. We found a sheltered area along the north edge and began to set up camp.

When completed, our little village had an assortment of shelters--Mike's Snow Cave, Steve's heated tent,
Josh's pyramid shelter, and several, variously-erected tarps.

Looks like another fine day in the bush. (Photo courtesy of NCThiker's photo album)

We settled in to enjoy our view of the field as we prepared dinner and relaxed for the evening.......read more
of NatureLady's photo-journal.

View journals from prior Michigan Bush Rats' December Backpacking Trips

2007 :: 2006a :: 2006b :: 2005 :: 2004 :: 2003a :: 2003b :: 2002 :: 2001

View photo albums from prior Michigan Bush Rats' December Backpacking Trips

2007a :: 2007b :: 2007c :: 2006a :: 2006b :: 2006c :: 2005 :: 2004 :: 2003a :: 2003b :: 2002

This free, moderately-strenuous, map-and-compass, on/off-trail winter-backpacking trip is suitable for the adventurous,
intermediate-level, independent, fully-equipped, 10-degree, foul-weather, substance-free (tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs),
swimming-proficient, adult, winter backpacker with a strong mind and body who enjoys exploring off-the-beaten-path
wilderness and bivouacking in remote, non-campground settings.

Since our area of operation will likely be snowfree, and we will be bivouacking in pristine, highly-combustible,
non-campground settings, we will not be having any campfires (or using any twig-burning-type hobo stoves) except in
an emergency. Everyone should be equipped with the necessary insulating layers—leg, torso, and head—to stay warm
and stave off hypothermia at rest, especially at lunch when it is cold, rainy, and windy. Everyone should be carrying a
lightweight backpacking stove for heating water and cooking their rations.

I shall be telling this with a sigh—
somewhere ages and ages hence;
two roads diverged in a wood,
and I—I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
—Robert Frost (1874-1963), The Road Not Taken, 1916, stanza 4

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2—Pre-trip assembly info

Pre-trip bivouac options:

One Thursday-night bivouac option is the Green Timbers Wilderness Tract parking lot situated along the
north side of the Sturgeon Valley Road, just west of the bridge over the Sturgeon River.

Friday morning assembly location:

Our 8:00 am Friday morning assembly location will be the Green Timbers Wilderness Tract parking lot
situated along the north side of the Sturgeon Valley Road, just west of the bridge over the Sturgeon River.
This parking lot is located in Section 21 (Township 32 North, Range 2 West), about 6 or so miles east of
the Vanderbilt Exit No. 290 on I-75. The parking lot's approximate UTM coordinates are 0691540mE
5001900mN, Zone 16, Datum NAD 27.

Last-minute contact for problems or cancellations:

There will be no means of contact.

Departure time:

After signing waiver forms, we'll depart to spot our vehicles about 9:00 AM.

General Great Lakes-area tourism and travel information:

Upper Peninsula of Michigan travel information
1-800-562-7134

Michigan travel information
1-800-644-2489

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario-area travel information
1-800-263-2546

Province of Ontario travel information
1-800-ONTARIO

Ontario travel information
1-800-668-2746

For brick and mortar breed filth and crime,
With a pulse of evil that throbs and beats;
And men [women] are withered before their prime
By the curse paved in with the lanes and streets.

And lungs are poisoned and shoulders bowed,
In the smothering reek of mill and mine;
And death stalks in on the struggling crowd—
But he [she] shuns the shadow of oak and pine.
—Nessmuk (George W. Sears), Woodcraft, 1920

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3—Wilderness itinerary

In addition to exploring the Green Timbers Wilderness Tract and Sturgeon River Wateshed, we'll also trek eastward,
into the Pigeon River Watershed.

If all goes well, we should arrive at our vehicles about mid-afternoon on Monday.

Additional itinerary info may be posted at a later date.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
—Robert Frost (1874-1963), The Road Not Taken, 1916

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4—Destination info

Pigeon River Country State Forest

The 93,000-acre Pigeon River Country State Forest consists of seven campgrounds, over 90 miles of
hiking trails, 27 miles of horse-riding trails, numerous limestone sinkhole lakes, and several rivers.

History

After heavy logging between 1860 and 1910, the area suffered disastrous, uncontrolled fires
for years. Fires burned significant acreage as late as the 1930's. Unsuccessful attempts to
convert the land to farms resulted in large parts of the area reverting to State of Michigan
ownership through either tax reversion or purchase. In 1919, the area was designated a
state forest and tree planting began soon thereafter. Planting and forest recreation
development expanded with the establishment of a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp in the
region. The headquarters buildings along the Pigeon River were built between 1934 and
1935.

Elk & wildlife

Seven elk released in 1918 increased to as many as 500 by 1927. Illegal shooting of elk in
1974 resulted in a record-high loss of 45 animals. By 1975, the herd was estimated to
number only 200 animals. The herd eventually recovered and now exceeds 1,100 animals,
making it the largest wild elk herd east of the Mississippi River. To control crop damage
and allow forest regeneration, limited harvests of the elk are scheduled from time to time. In
addition to elk, the region is inhabited by deer, bear, bobcat, coyote, grouse, woodcock,
snowshoe hare, squirrels (gray, black, and fox), pine martin, beaver, otter, muskrat,
waterfowl, and numerous songbirds.

Gas & oil exploration

After the discovery of gas and oil deposits under the south-central portion of the region in
the 1970's, commercial exploration and development began. By 1984, nearly 857,000
barrels of oil and 9,200,000 million cubic feet of gas were being removed from the area
annually.

(Contains material adapted from the Pigeon River Country State Forest brochure, courtesy
of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

Green Timbers Wilderness Tract

Scenic vistas, prime wildlife habitat and over ten miles of Sturgeon River frontage dominate this
6,300-acre tract. Adopted as part of the Pigeon River Country State Forest in 1982, Green Timbers is
closed to all motor vehicles, including snowmobiles.

History

Green Timbers, so named in 1942 by Don McLouth of McLouth Steel, was developed and
used as a hunting and fishing resort. Prior to McLouth ownership, the southeast portion
was used as a recreational retreat by Titus Glen Phillips, while the north portion was owned
by Cornwall Lumber Company. The land was extensively logged, burned, and then grazed
by both sheep and cattle prior to the 1950's when McLouth purchased the property. The
logging, fires, and heavy grazing are still evident to the observant eye.

Timber

About 55 percent of Green Timbers is covered with a mixture of aspen, oak, northern
hardwood, swamp conifers, red pine, and white pine. The remaining 45 percent consists of
open grasslands and scattered pine stumps or open grown hardwoods.

Elk & wildlife

Green Timbers has been an important area for elk since the successful reintroduction of the
species in 1918. The original release site is just 1.5 miles north of the property. Large open
expanses of grassland as well as annual seeding of rye, buckwheat, clover, and alfalfa by
the Wildlife Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources provide prime habitat
for elk. Swampland (lowland forest), aspen, and hardwoods offer habitat for rugged grouse,
turkey, bear, white-tailed deer, woodcock, snowshoe hare, and a variety of other wildlife
species. The Sturgeon Valley watershed, including the Sturgeon River, Club Stream, and
Pickerel Creek, contains healthy populations of brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

Rustic Cabins

The Green Timbers Tract includes two, hike-in log cabins that are open to the public on a
first-come, first-served basis. The one-story Honeymoon Cabin overlooks the Sturgeon River
Valley from high atop its east escarpment in Section 10. Its west-facing porch--which is
highly exposed to west winds--offers magnificent views of the valley below. It is heated by a
massive, fieldstone fireplace. The Green Timbers Cabin is situated at the bottom of the
Sturgeon River Valley along the east bank of the Sturgeon River, just north of the
confluence of Pickerel Creek and the Sturgeon, in Section 10. It too is heated by a
massive, fieldstone fireplace.

(Contains material adapted from the Green Timbers: A Part of the Pigeon River Country
State Forest brochure, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

Additional Resources

Pigeon River State Forest Headquarters, DNR: 1-989-983-4101
Indian River Chamber of Commerce (elk viewing maps and tips), 1-800-EXIT-310
Gaylord Area Convention and Tourism Bureau,1-800-345-8621
Field Guide to the High Country Pathway, 1997, booklet with topo maps keyed to text, by the Pigeon River
Country Association, P.O. Box 122, Gaylord, Michigan 49734-0122 ($5, 24 pages).
High Country Pathway & Pigeon River Country State Forest Map, 2007, by the Pigeon River Country
Association, P.O. Box 122, Gaylord, Michigan 49734-0122 ($7.50, waterproof map).
High Country Pathway Map , 1990 map with text, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Information
Services Center, P.O. Box 30028, Lansing, Michigan 48909.
Green Timbers Map, 1993 map with text, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Information Services
Center, P.O. Box 30028, Lansing, Michigan 48909.
Hiking Michigan book, by Mike Modrzynski (Falcon Press, 1996).
Backpacking in Michigan book , second edition, by Pat Allen and Gerald L. DeRuiter (University of Michigan
Press, 1989).
"Hiking with the Herd," by James Campbell, in Backpacker Magazine, Oct '00, page 97.
The Pigeon River Country--A Michigan Forest book, by Dale Clarke Franz, et al., by the Pigeon River
Country Association, P.O. Box 122, Gaylord, Michigan 49735 (300 pages; history of gas exploration and
preservation efforts).
Pigeon River Country State Forest Map, 1985 map with text, Michigan Department of Natural Resources,
Information Services Center, P.O. Box 30028, Lansing, Michigan 48909.
Natural Michigan: A Guide to 165 Michigan Natural Attractions, by Tom Powers (1987)
Wikipedia on the Mackinac State Forest
Search destination in Google's search engine

Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows,
in craggy garden nooks full of Nature’s darlings.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
—John Muir (1838-1914), Our National Parks, 1901

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5—Permits and fees

Since we will be bivouacking on State-owned land during our trip, we will need to post free Camp Registration Cards (see
below).
Pre- or post-trip lodging, meals, and campsite fees are optional and the responsibility of the participant.
There are no other fees or costs to participate in this trip.

General Great Lakes-are bivouacking regulations

Bivouacking on State of Michigan-owned land:

Anyone bivouacking on land owned by the State of Michigan outside the boundaries of
state parks, state forest campgrounds, etc., is required by state law (Natural Resource and
Environmental Protection Act, Sec. 74201 et seq., P.A. 451 of 1994) to post a Camp
Registration Card (Form no. PR 4134; view sample copy) at their bivouac site. Notice:
Backpackers have been ticketed and fined for not posting Camp Registration Cards in the
past.

This permit—which is free—must be filled out in pencil (to make it legible when wet). Since
this two-part permit is perforated (for partial removal by Department of Natural Resources
officers) and made of heavy cardstock (to withstand weathering), it can not be reproduced.

These 8.5- by 11-inch permits can be picked up free at any Michigan Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) office. They can also be ordered by the DNR by e-mail.

Forest Areas and Forest Campground State Land Rules
Regulation of Land Administered by the DNR

Bivouacking on United States Government-owned land:

No permits are generally required to bivouac on federal land outside the boundaries of
national parks, national lakeshores, national forest campgrounds, national recreation areas,
etc.

Bivouacking on Canadian Province of Ontario-owned land:

Anyone bivouacking on Crown land—property owned by the Province of Ontario—outside
the boundaries of a provincial park, national park, etc. is required by provincial law to
purchase http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/fishing/crownland.htmlCrown Land Camping Permits.

These permits cost $10.00 Canadian per night, per person and are generally available from
any Ontario sports shop that sells hunting and fishing licenses, such as the one below,
which is conveniently located along the east side of Highway 17 on the northern outskirts of
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Chippewa Trading Post
1332 Great Northern Road
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario P6A 5K7
1-705-759-4518
Fax: 1-705-759-0887
E-mail

The trail has taught me much.
I know now the varied voices of the coyote—the wizard of the mesa.
I know the solemn call of herons and the mocking cry of the loon.
I remember a hundred lovely lakes,
and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees.
The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk,
opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets.
It has given me blessed release from care and worry
and the troubled thinking of our modern day.
It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful.
Whenever the pressure of our complex city life
thins my blood and benumbs my brain,
I seek relief in the trail;
and when I hear a coyote wailing to the yellow dawn,
my cares fall from me—I am happy.
—Hamlin Garland, "Hitting the Trail," McClure's, February 1899

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6—Rations required

The following rations will be required for this adventure:

Breakfasts—3 (4 if bivouacking Thursday night)
Snacks—4
Lunches—4
Dinners—3
Backup rations—1 full day(s) (breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner)

How to pack your rations:

Measure, weigh, and triple check your rations. You should be carrying about 1.75-2.75 pounds of dry
weight food, or about 2700-4500 calories of food per day, depending on your body weight and exertion
level. It is recommended that you avoid "bulk" packaging and instead consider packing each complete
meal serving in its own, separate, plastic bag, which is sealed with a simple overhand knot. This system
has the following advantages over putting all of your snacks, say nuts for the whole trip, in one bag:

You'll know for sure at home (visually) that you've packed enough rations;
In the bush, you'll now exactly how much to eat without eating into another days rations; and
You'll further reduce the chances of your food getting ruined if moisture penetrates the food bag
itself as the moisture will still have to work its way into each and every individual ration unit.

Meticulous ration planning, measuring, and packaging is tedious, but its essential for safe and successful
long-range recon of remote wilderness.

A nature lover is someone who,
when treed by a bear,
enjoys the view.
—Author unknown

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7—Advisories and notices

Wildfire hazards on snow-free terrain:

We must be extremely careful with our cooking stoves and when burning bug coils to make sure we don't
start a ground fire, which has happened more than once on past trips of ours. Please bring a fire-proof
stove base (aluminum pot lid, etc.) for your stove and bug coils.

During snow-free periods, we will NOT be having any campfires—or burning any hobo stoves—unless we
find a very, very safe area, such as an open mud-gravel-or-sand-covered area immediately adjacent to
water. If a fire ban is in effect, which is sometimes the case during the summer, we will not have any
fires.

Fire-proof stove base:

To prevent accidental ground fires during snow-free periods, everyone must have a heat-resistant,
fire-proof stove base. This has been a problem in the past with both solid fuel (Esbit) stoves as well as
liquid fuel stoves, especially MSR-type stoves.

Biting insects in warm weather:

If the weather is very hot, come prepared to do battle with swarms of mosquitoes, black flies,
no-see-ums, ticks, and biting beach flies while hiking, swimming, eating, and bivouacking.

Loose-fitting, tightly-woven, full-coverage, light-colored clothing treated (saturated) with permethrin (e.g.:
Repel's Permanone Clothing and Gear Insect Repellent) before the trip combined with liberal doses of
100% DEET (e.g.:Muskol's Maximum Strength 10-hour 100% DEET Insect Repellent; Repel's 100%
DEET Insect Repellent), a head net, and a love of the outdoors should do the trick.

Since they are so critical to one's sanity, bring an extra bottle of DEET and an extra headnet. If you are
going to experiment with alternatives to DEET, pack some 100% DEET anyway as most experienced
deep-bush travelers swear by it when all is said and done, especially most Bush Rats, who bivouac sans
tent.

A supply of smudge-creating bug coils (e.g.: Pic Mosquito Coils) are also a staple of most deep-bush
travelers (note: a flat, fireproof base must be used under these to prevent accidental fires).

Out of 8 billion applications of DEET from 1966 to 1999,
less than 40 instances of toxicity appeared in the medical literature.
—Dr. Mark Fradin, in the May 2000 issue of Backpacker Magazine, on his study of DEET

Safety glasses:

It is highly recommended that some form of eye protection—safety glasses—be worn while
bushwhacking as several trippers have suffered near-incapacitating eye injuries on past trips.

Bivouacs:

This is a tour, not a basecamp-type trip. We will move everyday, bivouacking in a different location each
night.

We do not go to the green woods
and crystal waters to rough it,
we go to smooth it.
We get it rough enough at home,
in towns and cities.
—Nessmuk, (George W. Sears), Woodcraft, 1963

Long-term parking advisory:

Reduce the threat of thefts or vandalism to your car by keeping it locked, relatively empty, and uninviting
looking. To help stymie gasoline theft or vandalism, consider using a locking gas cap. The expense of a
locking gas cap—$10 or $20—will look pretty cheap compared to the alternatives: having to get someone
to haul gas to your remote location, much less have your car towed and repaired after vandals
contaminate your gas tank.

Liability waiver form:

All persons participating in a Bush Rats trip or expedition organized by Michael Neiger must read,
acknowledge understanding, and sign a liability waiver at the trailhead.

Prohibition on cotton clothing:

No high-cotton-content clothing—save a bandana or two—is allowed to be worn or carried for safety
reasons. When wet, cotton is VERY hard to dry and often leads to hypothermia. Wool or synthetic
clothing fashioned from nylon, supplex, polypro, fleece, or microfibers are much safer and easier to
manage during prolonged bouts of foul weather.

There's no such thing as bad weather—
only wrong clothes.
—Author unknown

Survival kit:

An on-your-person, in-pocket, survival kit (knife, waterproof matches, firestarters, compass, and whistle)
secured with a loss-prevention lanyard is highly recommended.

The beginning of wisdom is a salutary shock.
—Arnold Toynbee

Water supply:

Bring an adequate amount of water to the trailhead as there is generally no water available.

Water-hauling capacity:

Everyone should have the containers (Nalgenes and bladder) to hump 4 quarts of water when needed.
While we often trek with just a quart or so of water in our rucks, when we range far from water—like when
we bivouac long distances from surface water—we will fill up all our containers so we can remain
independent for an afternoon of bushwhacking, dinner at night, breakfast, and a morning of bushwhacking.

Equipment waterproofing:

To keep your gear dry during foul weather, consider lining the main compartment in your rucksack with a
huge, heavy-duty "contractor-grade" plastic bag. Critical items within the "contractor" bag, such as
clothing, sleeping bag, and rations, should be further protected from moisture by lining their respective
stuff sacks with heavy-duty "garbage-compactor" bags. Avoid using regular garbage bags as they tear
much too easily on long, rugged trips.

Hydration and snack consumption while underway in the
bush:

It is recommended that you carry a water bottle and snacks on your waistbelt in separate pouches so
you can snack and sip water while underway, without stopping to take your pack off. Regular snacking
and hydration are essential for avoiding dehydration, hypothermia, and exhaustion, especially when
things get challenging, like late in the day or during foul weather.

Allergies to bee stings:

If you are allergic to bee stings, consult your physician about carrying an injectable epinephrine
unit—such as an EpiPen or Ana-Kit—in your rucksack.

Canadian trips:

Canadian money: You may want to consider getting Canadian money from your local bank before the
trip, or using one of the money exchange services located in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, if they are open
when you cross the boarder. Currency exchange calculators on the Net include XE.com or X-Rates.

Gasoline: You may want to consider topping off your gas tank, before you cross the border, in Sault Ste.
Marie, Michigan

Identification: Bring appropriate identification with you to reduce problems getting into Canada as well as
back into the United States. If you don't have a visa, you must have a copy of your birth certificate to
establish your identity.

Prescription medications: If you are carrying prescription medications in your first-aid kit or elsewhere
that are not in a properly-labeled container, it may be a good idea to stow the original, labeled containers,
with at least one example pill in each, in your vehicle to reduce problems with Canadian and U.S.
customs officials.

The tendency nowadays to wander in wilderness is delightful to see.
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people
are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home;
that wildness is a necessity;
and that mountain parks and reservations
are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers,
but as fountains of life.
—John Muir (1838-1914), Our National Parks, 1901

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8—Hazards and perils

Wilderness tripping and expeditioning—especially remote, foul-weather travel, bushwhacking cross-country, cliff and
steep slope travel, climbing, canyoneering, cave exploration, river fording, swimming, canoeing, portaging, skiing,
snowshoeing, winter camping, ice travel, ice crossing, deep cold, high winds, etc.—involve unknown and unpredictable
hazards and perils.

Forewarned is forearmed:

A wilderness tripper's or expeditioner's failure to physically and mentally prepare for a harsh trip or
expedition; acquire the necessary skills and equipment for a harsh trip or expedition; and recognize, take
responsibility for, and avoid the unknown and unpredictable hazards and perils that often present
themselves on a harsh wilderness trip or expedition will likely result in the serious injury, paralysis, or
slow, painful death of the tripper or expeditioner.

Nature never overlooks a mistake,
or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.
—Thomas H. Huxley (1825-1895), A Liberal Education, 1868

First-aid kits:

On Bush Rats trips and expeditions organized by Michael Neiger, the only first-aid equipment available is
that which is carried by each participant. Each participant should carry their own first-aid kit, which
should be stocked with the items and medications recommended by their personal physician.

We need the tonic of wilderness. . .
We can never have enough of nature.
—Henry D. Thoreau (1817-1862), Walden: Spring, 1854

Emergency medical care:

On Bush Rats trips and expeditions organized by Michael Neiger, there are no doctors, nurses, EMTs,
paramedics, or other trained emergency medical personnel. At best, other participants may only be able
to render the most basic of first-aid care.

Search & rescue services:

On Bush Rats trips and expeditions organized by Michael Neiger, no one is trained in rope handling,
rappelling, climbing, caving, ice travel, high-angle slope travel, swift-water travel, etc. No one is trained in
rescue from any of these activities either. There are no search-and-rescue personnel, and no one is
trained in high-angle rescue, ice rescue, swift-water rescue, etc.

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments—
there are consequences.
—Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)
American lawyer, orator, and civil war cavalry commander
Some Reasons Why, 1896

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9—Insurance and SAR-comm gear

Insurance:

On Bush Rats trips and expeditions organized by Michael Neiger, no insurance coverage is provided for
participants. It is recommended that participants consider purchasing their own insurance coverage such
as:

Trip cancellation insurance
Dental insurance
Medical insurance
Prescription insurance
Evacuation insurance
Disability insurance
Life insurance

Early and provident fear is the mother of safety.
—Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Speech, 1792

SAR-comm gear:

On Bush Rats trips and expeditions organized by Michael Neiger, emergency communications gear such
as cell phones, satellite phones, and satellite beacons (ELTs, PLBs, & EPIRBs) are not provided. Even if
a participant carries SAR-comm gear, it can't always be relied upon, especially in rugged terrain, remote
bush, or extremely harsh weather.

The only way to summon search and rescue personal or emergency medical personnel on Bush Rats
trips or expeditions organized by Michael Neiger is for another uninjured participant to walk, snowshoe, or
paddle to a point where help can be summoned.

The wait for assistance may be very long—sometimes measured in days—and could possibly be very
painful, maybe even fatal. Since the evacuation process will be very difficult and costly to arrange,
participants should consider purchasing evacuation insurance and carrying their own communications
gear.

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal.
My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
—Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French biologist & bacteriologist.

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10—Equipment recommendations

On-person survival gear

[ ] Waterproof matches with loss-prevention lanyard
[ ] Waterproof firestarters with loss-prevention lanyard
[ ] Magnesium firestarter with loss-prevention lanyard
[ ] Sturdy pocket knife with loss-prevention lanyard
[ ] Compass with loss-prevention lanyard
[ ] Whistle with loss-prevention lanyard
[ ] Signal mirror with loss-prevention lanyard
[ ] Map of area in plastic bag

First-aid kit

[ ] Elastic ankle wrap
[ ] Moleskin
[ ] Vaseline
[ ] Band-Aids
[ ] Waterproof first-aid tape
[ ] Pain relief medication
[ ] Anti-inflammatory medication
[ ] Cold & flu medications
[ ] Small tweezers
[ ] Small scissors
[ ] Powerful, prescription-grade pain killers for long trips (see your Doc)
[ ] Broad-spectrum antibiotic for long trips (see your Doc)

Repair kit

[ ] 50 feet of 1/8-inch braided nylon cordage (lashing, repair, difficult [2-rope] bear hangs)
[ ] Small roll of duct tape
[ ] Sewing kit

Head gear

[ ] 1 very thin balaclava
[ ] 2 thick hats that can be worn together
[ ] 1 pair of sun glasses
[ ] Protective eyewear for bushwhacking (very important)
[ ] Prescription glasses (spare pair if important)
[ ] Bandana
[ ] Wide-brimmed sun/rain hat

Upper-body gear

[ ] 3 or 4 thin polypro tops
[ ] 1 thin breathable nylon windshirt
[ ] 2 1/4-inch thick micro-fiber-insulated or fleece jackets
[ ] 1 hooded, synthetic-insulated parka in (early spring, late fall)
[ ] 1 nylon rain parka (no vinyl; no ponchos)

Hand gear

[ ] 1 pair of mitten shells (early spring, late fall)
[ ] 2 pair of mitten liners (early spring, late fall)

Lower-body gear

[ ] 1 pair of polypro undershorts
[ ] 1 or 2 pair of polypro long underwear
[ ] 1 pair of thin nylon hiking/wind pants with zip-off legs
[ ] 1 pair of 1/4-inch thick micro-fiber-insulated or fleece pants (sidezips are very handy)
[ ] 1 pair of heavy synthetic-insulated overpants with sidezips (early spring, late fall)
[ ] 1 pair of nylon rain pants (no vinyl)

Footwear

[ ] 1 pair of sturdy boots (insulated in early spring, late fall)
[ ] 3 pair of thick synthetic or wool socks
[ ] 1 or 2 pair of liner socks
[ ] 1 pair of gaiters (to seal boot-pantleg opening against mud and debris)
[ ] River-fording footwear

Rucksack gear

[ ] 1 large rucksack lined with contractor-grade plastic bag
[ ] Full-coverage raincover
[ ] Waist-belt water bottle parka
[ ] Waist-belt snack pouch
[ ] Waist-belt map pouch

Bivouac gear

[ ] Tarp and bivy (or small, light tent)
[ ] Stakes and ropes to rig tent or tarp
[ ] Sleeping bag with appropriate rating
[ ] Sleeping pad (& repair kit if needed)
[ ] Sleeping booties (early spring, late fall)
[ ] Flashlight (LED with headstrap is recommended)
[ ] Spare battery
[ ] Candle(s)

Hydration gear

[ ] 2 one-quart durable (Nalgene) water bottles
[ ] 1 two-quart water bladder
[ ] Water purification system (pump, iodine tablets, etc.)
[ ] 1 spare bottle of iodine tablets (even if carrying a pump)

Ration-heating gear

[ ] Lightweight backpacking stove (repair kit for liquid-fuel stoves)
[ ] Fuel for stove (five to six Esbit fuel tabs per day for NATO-type stoves)
[ ] Lighter on loss prevention lanyard
[ ] Windscreen for stove
[ ] Fireproof base for stove
[ ] Pot holder
[ ] Pot
[ ] Lid for pot
[ ] Spoon
[ ] Mug
[ ] 50-foot food-hanging rope (use cheap, hard, 1/8-inch-diameter, slippery poly-rope for heavy loads)

Hot-weather bug-management gear

[ ] 1 bottle of 100% DEET per week
[ ] 1 spare bottle of 100% DEET
[ ] 1 headnet
[ ] 1 spare headnet
[ ] Several anti-bug smudge coils

Personal items

[ ] Personal medications
[ ] Driver's license
[ ] Birth certificate and/or passport (recommended for Canadian trips)
[ ] Emergency contact names and phone numbers
[ ] Credit cards
[ ] Cash and travelers checks
[ ] Medical, prescription, and dental insurance cards
[ ] Sunscreen
[ ] Lipbalm with sunblock
[ ] Wrist chronograph
[ ] Paperback book

Personal hygiene gear

[ ] Toilet paper
[ ] Synthetic pack towel
[ ] Toothbrush
[ ] Toothpowder (or toothpaste)
[ ] Toothpicks & dental floss
[ ] Handcleaner

Vehicle gear

[ ] Extra car key on lanyard
[ ] Vehicle registration papers
[ ] Vehicle insurance papers
[ ] Locking gas cap
[ ] Heavy-duty battery in good condition
[ ] Road map (Michigan 1-800-292-2520; Canada 1-800-268-3736)
[ ] County map book for Michigan trips
[ ] Spare tire (check pressure!!)
[ ] Tire jack and lug nut wrench
[ ] Shovel
[ ] Windshield scraper and snow brush (winter)
[ ] Safety Check—Tire pressure (including spare)
[ ] Safety Check—Tire tread wear
[ ] Safety Check—Wiper blade condition
[ ] Safety Check—Wiper fluid (front and rear)
[ ] Safety Check—Oil level (level; thinner in winter)
[ ] Safety Check—Radiator fluid level (level and rating)
[ ] Safety Check—Transmission fluid level
[ ] Safety Check—Headlights, taillights, brakelights, & turn signals
[ ] Jumper cables
[ ] Nylon tow strap
[ ] Single-bit axe (optional)
[ ] Bow saw (optional)
[ ] Hi-lift bumper jack (optional)
[ ] Hand-operated winch (optional)
[ ] Pick axe (optional)
[ ] Tire inflation system (optional)
[ ] Battery jump-pack power unit(optional)

It is one of the blessings of wilderness life
that it shows us how few things we need
in order to be perfectly happy.
—Horace Kephart, the Dean of the Wilderness, Camping & Woodcraft, 1917

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11—Land-nav team info

Topographic maps:

1:24,000 Hardwood Lake, Michigan
1:24,000 Green Timbers, Michigan

Note: UTM easting and northing grid lines may or may not need to be drawn on these quads

Topo map ordering info and waterproofing info

County maps:

Cheboygan and Otsego

County map ordering info

Additional Pigeon River Country-area cartographic
resources

Pigeon River Country State Forest, 1985 (free, 8.5 by 11), Pigeon River State Forest Headquarters,
1-989-983-4101
Pigeon River Country State Forest Access Map, 1994, (free, 17 by 22), Pigeon River State Forest
Headquarters, 1-989-983-4101
Shingle Mill Pathway Map, 1992, (free, 8.5 by 11), Pigeon River State Forest Headquarters, 1-989-983-4101
Green Timbers Map, 1993 (free, 8.5 by 11), Pigeon River State Forest Headquarters, 1-989-983-4101
High Country Pathway Map (free, 8.5 by 11), Pigeon River State Forest Headquarters, 1-989-983-4101
Field Guide to the High Country Pathway ($5, 24 pages), Pigeon River Country Association, P.O. Box 122,
Gaylord, Michigan 49735, (May be available from the Indian River Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-EXIT-310)
Clear Lake--Jackson Lake Hiking Trail (free, 8.5 by 11), Pigeon River State Forest Headquarters,
1-989-983-4101
Sinkhole Area Map, 1990, (free, 8.5 by 11), Pigeon River State Forest Headquarters, 1-989-983-4101
Sinkhole Pathway Map, 1990, (free, 8.5 by 11), Pigeon River State Forest Headquarters, 1-989-983-4101
Elk Viewing Map, Indian River Chamber of Commerce, 1-800-EXIT-310

Gps setup:

Grid coordinate system:

1000-meter Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Grid

UTM grid horizontal map datum:

Michigan Trips:

1927 North American Datum CONtinental U.S. (NAD 27 CONUS)

Canadian Trips:

1927 North American Datum Canada (NAD 27 CA[nada]) for older edition
maps; 1983 North American Datum (NAD 83) for newer edition maps

UTM grid zone:

Zone 16

UTM grid hemisphere:

Northern hemisphere

Unit of measure:

Metric

Battery type:

Use lithium for deep cold and long-range use

Battery setting:

Select type of battery being used for accurate battery-life readings

Owner info:

In the setup menu, key-punch in your name, address, and phone number so if your GPS is
lost and found by a willing party, it can be returned to you.

Magnetic declination:

December 2008 Magnetic declination for Lat. 45° 10' 00"N, Lon. 84° 30' 00"W:

06° 51' west

Deviation of UTM easting grid lines from meridian of longitude lines:

01° 44' east

Magnetic declination of UTM easting grid lines:

8° 35' west (we'll use this magnetic declination figures to correct our field and map azimuth
calculations in the bush)

Roamer utm plotter scales:

Michigan destinations:

1:24,000 and 1:25,000

Canadian destinations

1:20,000 and 1:50,000

Ranger pacing beads:

Metric: Nine 100-meter beads and four 1-kilometer beads

I can’t rightly say I’ve ever been lost,
but I’ve been mighty perplexed for two or three days runnin'.
—Davy Crockett (1786-1836)

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12—Trip Internet discussion thread

To keep up to date on the latest developments on this trip as well as learn who else is going, point your Internet
browser to the trip's discussion thread (message board) on Backpacker Magazine's Midwest Forum Web site.

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature,
which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), "Walking," Atlantic Monthly, June 1862

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13—Journals and photos from prior trips

To review journals and photo albums from Michigan Bush Rats' trips and expeditions, visit the RuckSack's Journals and
Photos Page.

To review photos of sheds discovered on Michigan Bush Rats' trips and expeditions, visit the RuckSack's Sheds and
Skulls Page.

Years from now
you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do
rather than the ones you did do.
So throw off your bow lines,
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
—Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens, 1835-1910)

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14—Emergency contacts

Cheboygan County Sheriff: Cheboygan, 1-231-627-3155
Presque Isle County Sheriff: Rogers City, 1-517-734-2156
Otsego County Sheriff: Gaylord, 1-517-732-6484
Montmorency County Sheriff: Atlanta, 1-517-785-4238
Michigan State Police: Cheboygan, 1-231-627-9973
Michigan State Police: Alpena, 1-517-354-4101
Michigan State Police: Gaylord, 1-517-732-5141
Hospital: Cheboygan, 1-231-627-4339
Hospital: Rogers City, 1-517-734-2151
Hospital: Gaylord, 1-517-731-2100
Hospital: Alpena, 1-517-356-7252

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal
and give strength to body and soul alike.
—John Muir (1838-1914), The Yosemite, 1912

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15—Travel info

Driving maps
Road conditions and weather reports
Tourism info
Road-trip gear

In every walk with nature,
one receives far more than he seeks.
—Anonymous

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16—Wilderness skills info

All-season skills:

Low impact travel
Land navigation

As you sit on the hillside,
or lie prone under the trees of the forest,
or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream,
the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.
—Stephen Graham, The Gentle Art of Tramping, 1926

3-season skills:

Backpacking
Swift-water safety
River fording
Rip current safety
Water purification
Lightning safety
Backpacking links, books, & vendors
Ultralight backpacking links, books, & vendors
Swift-water canoeing links, books, & vendors

It is impossible to overestimate
the value of wild mountains and mountain temples
as places for people to grow in,
recreation grounds for soul and body.
—John Muir (1838-1914)

4-season skills:

Winter-camping
Dressing warm
Sleeping warm
Ice-safety and rescue
Snowshoe links, books, & vendors
Winter-camping links, books, & vendors

In the school of the woods there is no graduation day.
— Horace Kephart, the Dean of the Wilderness, Camping & Woodcraft, 1917

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17—Sign-up info

If this sounds like your kind of wilderness adventure, kindly e-mail your first name, last name, trail name, e-mail
address, city, and state (or province) to LandNavMan (Michael Neiger) of Marquette, Michigan. Thank you.

See you in the bush.