Timber Wolf, Lake Superior, Ontario

A lone timber wolf greets
paddlers along the north shore
of Lake Superior, Canada
(Photo by Michael Neiger)

When you're receiving flak,
you're probably over the
   -- Anon.


We take risks not to
escape life but so that
life will not escape us.
   -- Anon.


O to be self-balanced
for contingencies,
to confront night, storms,
hunger, ridicule, accidents,
rebuffs, as the trees
and animals do.
   -- Walt Whitman
   Leaves of Grass,


A closed mouth
gathers no feet.
   -- Anon.


Wisdom has two parts:
having a lot to say,
and not saying it.
   -- Anon.


Learn as if you were
going to live forever.
Live as if you were
going to die tomorrow.
   -- Anon.


Happiness is not
a station you arrive at,
but a manner of traveling.
   -- Margaret L. Runbeck


Fear is the father of courage
and the mother of safety.
   -- Henry H. Tweedy


Nothing is so much
to be feared as fear.
   -- Henry D. Thoreau
   Journal, 1851


My life is like
a stroll upon the beach,
as near the ocean's edge
as I can go.
   -- Henry D. Thoreau
   My Life is like a . . . ,


It is life near the bone
where it is the sweetest.
   -- Henry D. Thoreau
   Walden: Conclusion,


Nature never deceives us;
it is always we
who deceive ourselves.
   -- Jean J. Rousseau
   Emile, 1762


There is no denying
that most of us,
when we arrive
at a place,
immediately begin
to think of other places
to which
we may go from it.
   -- Robert Lynd
   The Blue Lion


He travels the fastest
who travels alone.
   -- Rudyard Kipling
   Soldiers Three:
   The Winners
, 1888


The man who goes alone
can start today,
but he who travels with
another must wait
till that other is ready.
   -- Henry D. Thoreau
   Walden: Economy, 1854


The laws of nature
are the same everywhere.
Whoever violates them
anywhere must always
pay the penalty.
   -- Carl Schurz


Nature is not governed
except by obeying her.
   -- Francis Bacon
   De Augmentis


Nature's rules
have no exceptions.
   -- Herbert Spencer
   Social Statistics, 1851


Nature pardons
no mistakes.
Her yea is yea,
and her nay, nay.
   -- Ralph W. Emerson
   Nature, Addresses, &
   Lectures: Discipline


For Nature is one
with rapine, a harm
no preacher can heal;
the mayfly is torn
by the swallow,
the sparrow spear'd
by the shrike,
and the whole
little wood where I sit
is a world of
plunder and prey.
   -- Alfred Tennyson
   Maud, 1855


To drink in
the spirit of a place
you should be
not only alone
but not hurried.
   -- George Santayana
   The Letters of
   George Santayana


Nature's laws
instead of prohibiting.
If you
violate her laws
you are your own
prosecuting attorney,
and hangman.
   -- Luther Burbank


I follow nature
as the surest guide,
and resign myself,
with implicit obedience,
to her sacred ordinances.
   -- Marcus T. Cicero
   106-43 B.C.






The Rucksack Masthead
By Michael A. Neiger, Marquette, Michigan
Wilderness tripper: backpacking, winter camping, swift-water canoeing
Web site URL: http://therucksack.tripod.com • E-mail: mneiger@hotmail.com
Contents copyright © 1984-2007 by Michael A. Neiger • All rights reserved.

Web site owner info

Neiger by
reading his


Michael Neiger lives
along the southern shore
of Lake Superior
in Marquette, Michigan.
When he's not in the bush,
he enjoys researching
and writing guidebooks,
working out, and
pouring over the quads
in preparation for his
next wilderness trip
or expedition.
Contact him

Contents of this page:

   Wilderness tripping experience
   Notable wilderness expeditions
   Favorite bush gear
   Favorite bush skills

Elk Shed

An early season paddle
along the Pigeon River
in Otsego County
yields a fresh elk shed
(Photo by Ken Rizzio)

View more sheds

Arctic Face
Forty-below temps
on a skiing expedition to
the Arctic Ocean (James Bay)
create heavy frost
on the wolf-fur ruff
of Michael's parka hood
(Photo by Michael Neiger)
High Falls
Leaving High Falls behind
on the Aux Sauble River
in Ontario, Canada
(Photo by Marty Short)
Sledging out of the bush
Sledging out of the bush
after a visit to Agawa Falls
in Lake Superior Provincial Park,
Ontario, Canada
(Photo by Gary De Kock)
Roping Up on Ice
Ropin' up before crossing
rotten ice on an early season
backpacking trip in
Lake Superior Provincial Park,
Ontario, Canada
(Photo by Jess Harding)
Crossing a rickety bush
bridge over a tributary
of the Batchawana River
on a mountain bike trip
along the abandoned
Tri Bag Mine Road,
Ontario, Canada
(Photo by Gary De Kock)

Wilderness tripping experience

Michael Neiger was introduced to wilderness tripping at a young age by his parents, Arthur and Virginia, who are avid, outdoors-oriented individuals. Thanks to his upbringing, he enjoys wilderness excursions in Michigan, Canada, and Alaska via backpack, canoe, ski, snowshoe, and mountain bike.

Canada Camp

Michael learned many of
his wilderness skills early in life
with his brother Dave
at his dad's log cabin
on Long Lake in Ontario, Canada
(Pastel by Susan [Neiger] Roubal)

Excluding day trips, he has participated in or organized 344 multi-day wilderness trips and expeditions by backpack, canoe, ski, snowshoe, or mountain bike since 1984. Over the course of those trips, Michael has logged 1418 bag nights in the bush.

He has consulted and helped train members of two North Pole expeditions. In the past, he has organized and led trips for both the Michigan Sierra Club and the School of Outdoor Leadership and Recreation (SOLAR) in Detroit.

His wilderness trips have been featured on WLUC TV-6 as well as in the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Out-of-Doors, Grand Rapids Press, and Marquette Monthly.

He's also field-tested commercial gear for Sierra Designs and the AltaMate Co., and for a Patagonia retail outlet.

Like most wilderness trippers, when Michael's not in the bush, you'll often find him training for an upcoming adventure, either running and lifting weights.

Notable wilderness expeditions

In addition to organizing wilderness trips and expeditions for over 22 years, Michael also enjoys the challenge of long-distance solo tripping in remote, unspoiled areas. In January of 1998, he completed a two-week, unsupported solo ski trip to the Arctic Ocean, pulling a sledge for 120 miles along the Abitibi and Moose Rivers to reach Moosonee, a Cree Indian village on James Bay (southern Hudson Bay) in northern Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1673, Moosonee is Ontario's oldest, nonnative settlement.

Michael has paddled solo from the Lake Superior area to the Arctic Ocean, retracing an old, historic, 360-mile-long voyageur route. He has also skied solo and unsupported across the Upper Peninsula twice.

In addition to paddling dozens of Canadian rivers, he has also completed two, multi-week-long paddling trips along the remote north shore of Lake Superior.


Seek not the trip of a lifetime, but a lifetime of tripping.

Favorite bush gear

  Retroed Dana Designs Astraplane
All-season shelter:
   10' by 10' sil-nylon tarp and
   bivouac sack

Water purification:
 Portable Aqua iodine tablets
Patagonia Capilene
3-season stove:
   Esbit NATO pocket stove
   with hexamine solid-fuel tablets

Winter stove:
MSR XGK-II shakerjet
Fixed-blade knife:
   SP-10 Marine Raider Bowie
      Spec-Plus by Ontario Knife Co.
3-season hiking boots:
All-leather Montrail Moraine AT
Winter footwear:
 Handmade mukluks
 12" by 60" Ojibwa
3-season sleeping bag:
  Plus-20 North Face Cat's Meow
Winter sleeping bag:
  Minus-40 North Face Dark Star 3D
Rain gear:
   North Face 3-layer Gore-tex
Nav tools:
Silva 54 Combi
      Orienteering Compass
   Custom, wrist-mounted Silva
      baseplate compass

Ranger Pace-Counting Beads
Bug repellent:
Muskol 100% DEET
Wilderness tripping canoe:
14' R-84 Royalite Mohawk Odyssey

Favorite bush skills

   Seminole style
   Trench with improv roof
   Off-trail land navigation      


Michael enjoys writing and research. His outdoor-related articles have been published in a wide variety of publications including the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Out-of-Doors, Silent Sports, Mining Journal, Marquette Monthly, Solar Ray, The Mackinac, and The Muir View.

In his spare time, Michael is working on detailed, map-based guidebooks for the Grand Island National Recreation Area and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


He has taught winter camping and wilderness survival courses for the Boy Scouts of America, Northern Michigan University, and the School of Outdoor Leadership and Recreation in Detroit.


Michael was born in Petoskey, Michigan in 1953. Before his family moved to Marquette in 1959, he lived in Pellston, just south of the Mackinac Bridge.

He is single, has two brothers and one sister, and currently resides in Marquette, on the south shore of Lake Superior.


Michael is 25-year veteran of the Michigan State Police who served in Manistique, Detroit, Madison Heights, Sterling Heights, and Marquette.

He is currently a freelance writer specializing in survival skills, outdoor adventures, and wilderness guidebooks.

Michael did his undergraduate work at Northern Michigan University and has a Ph.D. in political science from Wayne State University.




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In God's wilderness lies the hope of the world,
the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.
— John Muir 1838-1914, Alaska Wilderness, 1890

Content Copyright © by Michael A. Neiger
All rights reserved.
Comments? Suggestions? Dead links? Inaccurate info?
Contact the WebMaster at mneiger@hotmail.com