The pioneer village general store is also used by the park staff
for registering campers.
Barkcamp State Park is in Eastern
Ohio a short distance before reaching the West Virginia state line on I-70. The interstate, originally called the
National Road, was the first federally funded highway in America. If you exit I-70 at Exit 208 and go south a
short distance, near Belmont, OH, you will reach Barkcamp. It has a small lake, Belmont Lake, with a 4.5-mi
shoreline for a relaxing afternoon paddle, hiking and bridle trails, and 123
large, treed campsites.
The original orchard barn built nearly 200 years ago.
The lake is fed by Barkcamp Creek, and
the name for both comes from the fact that there was actually a barking camp
here. During the great logging days,
crews that stayed in this work camp stripped felled trees of their bark before
the logs were delivered to the sawmill.
This was the first part of Ohio that was settled, with many
Revolutionary soldiers from the East pausing here to await receipt of their
land grants in return for their military service.
Shed and livery.
At that time, this area just west
of the Ohio River was called “The West.” This beautiful area of rolling, wooded hills
was valued by Native Americans and pioneers alike, which led to several battles
in the area. A reconstructed pioneer
village is here, but the barn is original.
It was built in the 1800’s by Solomon Bentley, an orchard owner, and is
still utilized at the park for nature and conservation programs. Lewis Wetzel, (1752-1808) the infamous
guerilla-style Indian fighter from what is now Wheeling, WV, frequented the
area, and is said to have inscribed a stone located near the barn. Wetzel died
in Mississippi, but his remains were returned and interred at McCreary
Cemetery, Cameron, WV, only 34 miles from Barkcamp.
The reverse side of the general store and camp office.
On the topic of conservation, Pres.
Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, was one of this nation’s greatest
conservationists, even being called the conservationist president. Upon coming to office in 1901, he created the
U.S. Forest Service, and led the way toward creating 150 national forests, 4
federal bird reserves, 5 national game preserves, 5 National Parks, and set 230
million acres aside under public land protection, along with protection of 18
National Monuments, like the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon. Roosevelt felt this nation was blessed and
made great by its gift of natural resources, but he cautioned that “to show
that this nation is worthy of its good fortune,” we must practice sustainable
usage of its resources. He would turn
over in his grave now to see that his Republican party endorses rampant stripping
of all resources, even on protected federal lands, through oil and gas
drilling, fracking, clear-cut logging, strip-mining in wildlife areas, and
mining for metals and coal on protected lands, even privately-owned lands. Last year, Ohio Valley Coal Co. filed for a
permit to run a coal mine directly under Barkcamp State Park, a move resisted
by the Sierra Club. The Columbus
Dispatch reports that in Ohio alone mineral rights have been applied for in 18
state forests, 24 state parks, and 53 natural areas, all endorsed by Republicans
who have forgotten their own heritage.
Curiosity creates wonderful things,
and curiosity is easy to satisfy. People
seldom get an opportunity to talk about themselves and share their lives, so it
is a rare occasion when people don’t take advantage of the opportunity to share
of themselves. Charles Kuralt made a
career out of following his curiosity, and it helped him build “A Life on the
Road,” which was also the title of his autobiography. It’s
a principle I’ve seldom had the chance to pursue, but here’s one small example
of the idea at work, which gave me a chance to meet some nice people.
I love the colors and the great attention to detail.
We were on our way with the family
to visit Kings Gap Mansion and state park, near Carlisle, PA. We were just riding down the road when we
passed a house that riveted my attention.
It was an old home, but it had been beautifully and tastefully
preserved. I wanted a picture of it, but
when we returned that afternoon, the sun was in the west and the house was
covered with the shade of a large tree.
I was determined to return the next morning and ask permission of the
owners to take a picture of their home.
I found the owner in the driveway
when I returned the next day. He
introduced himself as Clyde Widener. A
bit suspicious at first as to why I was there and what I wanted, he warmed
quickly when he understood that my interest was in something that he had
dedicated a lot of himself to. Their
home was the Coyle House, built in 1901, as part of the Coyle Lumber and
Millworks. The millworks, still operating
diagonally across Old York Road from the Widener’s, was started in 1879 and originally
ran off the water power created by Yellow Breeches Creek, which runs directly
behind Widener’s home. (I have paddled
the Yellow Breeches. Well, I paddled
most of it, and swam the last bit while upside down.) The millworks was operated by four
generations of Coyles for over a hundred years, being sold after the death of William
Coyle in 1992. They still make solid
wood windows, doors, and cabinetry, in addition to special custom jobs.
The cooking house still stands
directly behind the Wideners’ home.
Meals were prepared there to both reduce fire risk in the house, and also
keep the house cooler during the summer.
A hand pump by the back porch was used to pump water up from the cold
creek so they could bathe right there on the porch. There was a lot less traffic by the house in
those days. Mr. Widener took special delight
in showing me the moldings around the eaves and windows. When they bought the house, many of those
custom-made moldings were in bad condition, and several sections were missing
entirely. On a lark, he went over to the
millworks to see if there was any way they could make a molding that would come
close to matching. To his amazement,
they still had the original handmade molding cutter blades from a century
before. It’s refreshing to find that
there are indeed still a few places in America where everything isn’t thrown
out with the release of the newest catalog.
Kings Gap Mansion from the front lawn. A tent is set up to the
left for a wedding.
The James McCormick Cameron summer
mansion at Kings Gap, PA, is but a footnote in this long trail of old money,
but an impressive footnote well worth the visit. To start at the head of the trail, James’
grandfather, Simon Cameron, was Abraham Lincoln’s first Secretary of War and a
United States Senator four times. The
family began buying up land around Harrisburg, Carlisle, and Lancaster, PA,
having five simultaneous summer estates available for the family’s use during
Simon’s life. A son, James Cameron,
served as Secretary of War under Pres. Ulysses S. Grant. James McCormick Cameron was born in
Harrisburg in 1865, the end of the Civil War.
He attended Harrisburg Academy and Exeter and Harvard College, and
studied law under his father. After
college, he decided to enter the steel business, which had also been part of
his grandfather’s commercial enterprises.
James operated steel furnaces, owned the Iron and Steel Company, owned
the Elk River Coal and Lumber Company, was director of the Buffalo Creek and
Gauley Railroad Company, was director of the Harrisburg Bridge Company,
director of the Harrisburg Railway Company, and a member of the Dauphin Deposit
Trust Company bank.
The front of the mansion as seen from the driveway as approaching
the entry portico.
The panorama of the surrounding countryside as seen from the
Wanting to escape the summer heat
in the city of Harrisburg, he decided to build a mountain-top mansion in 1908
to enjoy the cooler breezes. Being
afraid of fire, the mansion was built of Antietam quartzite stone, which was
quarried from a nearby ridge. Being
innovative for the time, it was also the first structure in the area to utilize
a new construction technique employing steel-reinforced concrete for interior elements
of the building to make it as fireproof as possible. It was originally designed as an Italian
villa of 32 rooms with large windows and a huge flagstone terrace to partake of
the cooling breezes coming up the mountain.
While caretakers remained at the mansion year-round, the family only
stayed there from May until October, between 1908 and 1948.
Another view from the terrace, half of which is covered for shade,
leaving half open in full sunlight.
The water tank and tower to supply water to the gardens and the
mansion. An apartment sat below the tank.
The property also includes a water
tower, large gardens, ice house, caretakers’ house, generator building, and
carriage house. The first floor of the
mansion is open to the public on Sunday afternoons from Memorial Day until
October, and both floors are open the first two Sundays of December for the
Christmas celebration. The 200-ft. long
building was enlarged to 38 rooms during a renovation project begun in 2000 to
include an environmental education center.
The property’s 2,531 acres on South Mountain comprises the Kings Gap
State Park with 18-miles of hiking trails.
Current uses of the mansion range from an orienteering course,
conference center, educational courses, overnight lodging, and is a favorite
venue for weddings.
Beautiful gardens included flowers, herbs, and a pond.
It was a Sunday bike ride, part of
my 3-P-100 (paddle, peddle, or plod 100 miles/month), that took me by several
fields of Helianthus, a lower classification of sunflower. In this one, I found a bunch of late migrating
monarch butterflies. I was hoping to get
a picture of one with its wing outstretched, but there was enough of a breeze
that as soon as they landed, like a sailor furling his sails, they would
immediately flatten their wings. The
breeze would swing them into the wind where they could then pretty much ignore
the wind as they inspected the blooms.
The huge I-beams and hanging channel iron made it clear we weren't
going through here with the canoe intact.
We were on our way to a family
reunion at Nockamixon State Park, near Quakertown, PA. It was a convoluted route, so I had sought
the assistance of Google Maps routing, and so the memories flooded in.
I drove tractor-trailers
cross-country for several years to meet certain financial objectives. It was in the early days of commercial GPS,
and the first routing programs were of course for automobiles. Regardless, trucking companies immediately latched hold
of the technology, and so for many years drivers of eighteen-wheelers found
themselves unwittingly following routes designed for compact cars. If this led to a problem, both the solution
and the consequences of any resulting wrecks fell on the drivers’
shoulders. The driver is always
responsible for everything. The further
one got to the North and East, where many remnants of the Revolutionary and
Colonial periods of our history still remain, the more common the problems
became. Where roads were designed for
horses and carts, or at most a team of horses and wagon, the driver of a 65 or
70-foot long vehicle would occasionally find himself facing a dog-leg in the
middle of a railroad underpass where the kink in the roadway was too tight for
anything much larger than the normal family car. Or, a railroad grade would be so high above
the roadway that a truck couldn’t cross it without getting hung-up on the
tracks. Or, the time my route brought me
to an underpass that was literally so low a horse would have to duck its head
to pass under.
So, on the way to Nockamixon, this
is what Google brought me to. While
routing programs have improved greatly, problems can still pop up in front of
the driver. We had Ibi on the canoe
rack, so even our pickup and canoe couldn’t get through here. The objective of the height restriction is
obvious---the 5-ton weight restriction posted to the left of the bridge. One
way to positively limit weight is to limit the size of vehicle that can pass
through. We found our way around the
obstruction okay, but we couldn’t help but think about the fix we would have
found ourselves in if we had been towing the RV with us.
We made the trip east for a family
reunion. This is not be a paddle-trip
adventure, but I hope there are things of interest to our readers. Ibi, our Superior Expedition decked-canoe was
on the Ram for the entire 2,802 miles, but with family commitments and the need
to have the truck available for kid shuttles, the only time the canoe got wet
was the day and a half that we had showers.
"If you don't mind, you're blocking the doorway." This is a couple
keeping house from our last litter.
We got underway and stopped to
provision the RV in Enid, OK. Since
Jean’s latest batch of four squirrels were making the trip with us, we paused
for their feeding, which was still taking place every four hours. While headed up the Will Rogers Turnpike
(U.S. Rt. 44), I saw a huge cluster of red and blue flashing lights ahead. That awesome display of lights had to be a
wreck, so I slowed and pulled into the left lane. As I got closer, the lights slowly resolved
into a pick-up towed trailer with a porta-potty mounted on top. It was a comfort station for convicts working
on highway clean-up, although we never saw a road crew either before or after
encountering the potty-mobile. That was
the first time I had seen that. A deputy
sheriff drove the pick-up. I can’t
imagine this trained professional showing up for work every day to be assigned
Beautiful morning glories growing on a red honeysuckle vine. The
hummingbirds love them during the summer, and the combined foliage
makes a great haven for small birds now that the days are getting colder
We stopped for the night at
Marshfield, MO, at RV Express. It is
convenient for its closeness to the highway, and also a number of points of
interest nearby. While it is a very
clean and friendly park, it is very small.
It is large enough for us, but small by the standards of the average RV
park, and this was to provide an hour of entertainment. A giant motorhome came in right behind
us. As if it wasn’t large enough on its own,
it was towing a large panel trailer.
This must have been the driver’s first experience with handling the rig
in such a tight spot, and since it was bearing Florida registration, one had to
wonder how they managed to get from Florida to Missouri. Anyone but the driver would have figured that
the larger the vehicle, the wider the turning radius that would be needed. The rig had to be worth a major fortune, and
again proves that money doesn’t solve all problems. The park is a single oval loop with one way
in and one way out. He needed to make a
180-degree turn, but instead of taking the outside radius to make the largest
turn possible, he took the inside radius.
He made it less than half-way around the turn before he realized he was
stuck, and was then jammed with a high curb both in front and behind him. He had no idea how to maneuver the rig, and little
inclination to follow the directions of the park manager, who was trying to
help. He and his motor-coach had a
strangle hold on the entire RV park for nearly an hour.
Such wonderful colors.
These beautiful flowers definitely contribute more to the world than the people we met in our next experience. On day three, we were east of
Columbus, OH, when we stopped at a truck stop for gas, lunch, and, of course,
to feed squirrels. We were sitting in
the parking lot when a car came in carrying four scruffy characters. The show started as soon as they poured out
of the car. They quickly made it clear
that they were from effin' Philadelphia, but then that was an adjective they
attached to everything. They went on
non-stop about how they had driven all the way from effin' Philadelphia. They had stopped for effin' gas when they
discovered that they had an effin' flat.
They were livid when they discovered that ‘the effin' truck stop ain’t
got no effin' air.’ The car and trunk
were stuffed with a wide range of items from chunks of wood to loose clothing, all
of which they threw out in the parking lot.
A couple men walked by and spoke to them. They had strong accents, likely Slavic, and
yet spoke better English than our effin' Philadelphians, who were undoubtedly
the pride of those who have dedicated their lives to maintaining the
educational and cultural standards of Philadelphia. They returned to the convenience store for a
bag of ice for their cooler. Naturally,
after dumping the ice, they threw the large plastic bag in the parking lot to
blow around. As they limped off, I went
out to retrieve their trash and dispose of it.
I guess this is just how they were raised in Philadelphia. All the while, Jean’s birds were sitting on
the dinette table looking out the window with rapt attention to all the yelling
and screaming. Jean was waiting to see
if the vulgar language had added anything to their vocabularies, but apparently
even the birds have higher standards.
Downstream Toward Home: A Book of
Rivers, by Oliver A. Houck (pub. by Louisiana State University Press, Baton
Rouge, LA, 2014, 214pp plus bibliography)
The author shares a lifetime of
experiences along roughly 30 rivers and streams that are scattered all over the
country, and spanning the years between 1954 and 2013. The book is a series of short
stories that show that rivers just don’t flow and eddy along banks and rocks,
but through people’s lives as well. They
include things like describing the types of people and vehicles most likely to
help with a shuttle. He tells about
driving down a lonely country trail to check out a potential take-out. The road ended in a turn-around littered with
trash. As he got out of his car and
began to explore, he was still concealed behind some bushes when he observes a
man dressed in a business suit and polished black leather shoes throwing dirt
into a hole. His suit jacket is neatly
folded and laid over a branch. He
shovels and shovels to fill a rectangular hole just the dimensions needed to
bury a human body. The author quietly
turns and follows his tracks back to his car.
The book covers a lot of trips for whitewater
drops, but also many where he investigates environmental problems caused by
poor governmental planning, or human stupidity or short-sightedness where
people kill wildlife just to be killing wildlife, like trapping large birds in
leg traps and then shooting them and throwing their bodies out to just float
about in large numbers, or crayfish wars.
There are also numerous trips into wild isolated places where humans
This photo is just a prop, but for safety reasons, a blade should
be left sunk in the chop block.
The hatchet or small axe is a
perfectly appropriate camping tool, but often gets inaccurately blamed for
being unsafe. The only thing unsafe
about a hatchet is the user. We’ll cover
a few other safety points here, but the one we’ll concentrate on now is the
flying chunk of wood aiming for your face and eyes. Physics demands that for every action, there
is an equal and opposite reaction. When
we chop down with the hatchet, anything unrestrained will fly up, frequently
sending a piece of wood flying into the face to cause injury by breaking
eyeglasses, puncturing an eye, or causing a cut or puncture wound of the
face. This is simple to prevent. If handled properly, it is something that should never happen.
This picture demonstrates a
principle, not an actual requirement in the way of essential elements. How we prevent free-flying wood is the
requirement, not how we accomplish it.
We start with a safe chopping surface that avoids chopping into the
ground. Anything in the ground will
damage the hatchet or axe blade, whether gravel, rock, or even the sand and
dirt itself. This chopping block is a section of tree
trunk I acquired from a neighbor after she had a dead tree cut down. When chopping, we need to secure both ends,
the ends on either side of where we are cutting. If I am holding one end of the piece of wood,
something is needed to secure the other end, or it will fly into the air. At home, where I have them available, I’ve
just stuck the free end through a cinderblock.
At a campsite, I can stick the free end of the wood I am cutting under
the fire ring, under a rock, or a log, or anything my imagination can conjure,
just so I restrain the free end once cut.
Now, some other points:
solidly on both feet, not balancing, straddling, or reaching across something.
should always be directly down, vertical, into a cutting block, not in a
swinging motion or arc. Swinging is how
hands, legs, and feet get injured.
3.Always make sure
the hatchet head is firmly attached (handle solidly set in the head, wedged,
even epoxied in place), but never chop around bystanders. Even the handle can slip from your hands.
4.Be sure the
blade is sharp, and kept sharp. The
duller a blade is, the more dangerous it is, since more force is needed, and
the more likely it is to skip or glance off the wood.
kindling, don’t try chopping it. The
smaller the pieces being split, the more important this is. Use the hatchet as a wedge by setting the
blade lightly into the wood, and then tapping the wood against the chopping
block or driving the hatchet head with another piece of wood or something that
won’t damage the hatchet head or handle.
NEVER split a piece of wood being held in your hand or braced with your
full attention. When you become tired,
or muscles are fatigued, it is time for a break. Wood cutting calls for finesse, not
force. Avoid knots, and look for
straight wood grain or cracks in the grain that betray the wood’s weak spot.
7.Always keep the
blade in a sheath or sunk in the chopping block. If you need to carry the tool a short distance,
be sure the blade is turned away from the body in the event that you trip.
hatchet or axe to someone else is not a good idea unless you are 100% confident
of their skill and maturity. It may be
their leg they chop, but it will still be your trip that will be ruined. If they are someone likely to imagine
themselves an Indian brave and the hatchet a tomahawk, keep the tool secured so
you don’t suddenly see it flying through the air. This reminds me of an advertisement I saw for
“tactical tomahawks and throwing axes for beginners.” There’s a scary image.
It’s not my place to tell you what
you should or should not buy, so I’ll just lay out the facts and let you make
your own decisions. We had purchased an
RV and were planning a trip to Pennsylvania with it. The trailer hardly got used, spending most of
its life stored in a shed. In
preparation for the trip, I crawled under the trailer to inspect the tires, and
found myself lying there on the ground confused. Half the tread was gone. I couldn’t understand how the tires had worn
so badly. Trailer tires almost never
wear out. When they are replaced, it is
because of age, not tread wear, but looking at the tread I thought, “Wow, I’m
going to have keep an eye on these and replace them in another year or
So, we took off to Carlisle, PA,
1,400 miles away. When we arrived, I
checked the tires again and was surprised twice. The first surprise was for how we managed to
make the trip without blowing a tire, and again because the tires were now
totally bald. One showed a trace of
tread, another a pale image of tread, and the remaining two were as smooth as
racing slicks. They needed to be replaced
at once, but I needed to solve the mystery about what could have happened to
them. There was no sense putting new
tires on if there was a problem, like axle alignment, that would destroy the
new tires as well. I called the RV
dealer we had purchased the trailer from to pick his brain. He hemmed and hawed a bit, and then said,
“Look. I need to be honest with
you. It is a bit embarrassing, but here
it is. The trailer manufacturer is not
in the business of selling tires, but of building RV’s and getting them out the
door. They buy the cheapest Chinese
tires they can find to put on as standard equipment. We’ve had people leave here (Iowa) and not
even make the West Coast before they are calling back to complain about their
tires being bald. Put good tires on the
trailer, and you shouldn’t have any problem.”
I went to a tire dealer just a
couple miles from where we were staying.
My daughter and son-in-law had done business with Highlands’ Tires in
Carlisle, so I felt he’d steer us right.
I asked for Goodyear tires, but they didn’t have the tire I needed. I told him I didn’t want any Chinese tires,
and he said, “That’s tough. Almost all
tires are made in China now. The Chinese
do made some really bad tires, but they can also make some good ones. I do have some Triangle tires in the size you
need, and they do give good service.” So
I bought four new Triangle ST205/75R14 tires.
It was an expensive hit on vacation, but I had no choice.
A year later, we were making the
same trip a second time with roughly 4,500 miles on the tires when a tire
blew. The outer steel belt delaminated
violently, not only blowing the tire, but tearing the tandem wheel skirt off
the side of the trailer causing more damage.
While again trying to solve the mystery as to why a tire should blow so
prematurely, I wrote to Triangle Tires on their website. I laid out all the conditions the tire had been
used under, the diligent monitoring of tire pressure, the fact that the trailer
is stored inside and therefore the tires were not exposed to UV degradation, and
sought their input on the cause and a solution.
They never responded. I wrote a
second time, and they never responded. I
had also given them my phone number and mailing address, as well as email
address, so it wasn’t a problem of not being able to contact me. They chose to just blow me off.
In the previous post, I had the
account of the second Triangle tire delaminating and then going flat on the paddling
trip to Medicine Park, OK. I limped back
home and went straight to the Goodyear dealer.
When they took the remaining Triangle tires off, they found a third had
already delaminated across half with width of the tread, and it was ready to
fail as well. That was three tires that
had delaminated by the time one tire was only a year old, and two more tires
were only three years old. When they
asked if I wanted to keep the remaining Triangle as a spare, I told them I
wanted to be rid of them all, and put on four new Goodyear Marathons. I’ve had a long association with Goodyear
tires, and a happy one, so I’m confident we have now finally solved the
No one needs to be introduced to
the idea of river angels. They are
indeed a band of angels that line major shorelines and rivers to help paddlers
with a wonderful home-cooked meal, a camping spot, a trip to the grocery,
laundry, and even first-aid or medical assistance, all to help them continue on
their way. We had a chance recently to
encounter a couple of highway angels.
We were headed for Medicine Park,
OK, and Lake Lawtonka with our RV.
Driving south on Hwy. 54, south of Weatherford, OK, I suddenly heard a
noise and felt a rumbling vibration. I
hit the brakes quickly to reduce speed, and Jean asked what was wrong. “Blow out,” I said. Like most rural roads in Oklahoma, there were
no shoulders, and there were steep banks falling from either side of the
pavement. I was screwed, and had traffic
behind me. I turned the hazard lights on
and crept along looking for a place large enough to escape with the trailer.
Finally I saw a farm drive ahead,
and turned in. I pulled off to the side
of the driveway so I wouldn’t block anyone needing to get in or out, and walked
toward the house to assure the owner that I’d be there only long enough to deal
with my problem. As I got near the
house, I saw a man working on his fence line.
He was Ken Rose. He not only had
no problem with us being there in his drive, but asked if I had a good
jack. We have one, but not one I’d call
‘good.’ We had used it previously, and
it fell a bit short of what I had hoped for.
Ken suggested I pull on up to the garage and use his 3-ton floor
jack. It made the job of changing the RV
tire not only safer, but a breeze. Ken’s
wife, Susan, meanwhile had come out to invite Jean inside, or asked if we
needed anything, like a drink or restroom.
I checked the spare tire air
pressure as I put it on, and it was a bit low, so I asked Ken if there was a
place where I could stop to get air as we continued south. He said, “Sure, just follow me,” and led me
around to his compressor. Like most
farmers way out in the country, he was set up to deal with almost any problem
with tractors or trucks, and he turned it all right over to help us out. They were angels indeed, because we would
have been in a poor fix without their help.
It’s a shame they are so far away from us, because they are the type of
folks that would be wonderful to become friends with. Thanks to their help, we continued on to
Medicine Park to enjoy several nice days.
It is heavenly to find we in fact have angels around us. We’ve since purchased five new Goodyear tires
and a two-ton floor jack. More on the
Caribou: Five Months on Foot With a Caribou Herd, by Karsten Heuer. (pub. by Walker & Co, New York, 2007,
decided to close all its stores and internet shopping site for Black
Friday. They felt that being outside was
too important, and the best way to be thankful for what we have is to go
outside and experience nature. So
instead of shopping, they are promoting the day as a nature day. Now that is a non-capitalistic statement
this is the second time this has happened, but I actually don’t mind. While preparing this post, I looked up the
book shown above only to find it is listed as a children’s book. I may be on Medicare, but it seems I still
enjoy an occasional children’s book. It
was a coffee-table style book with a lot of wonderful photography. I now see there are more mature editions in
paperback, presumably with more words and fewer pictures, but either way you
go, it is a great story about a wonderful experience shared by the authors.
and Leanne Allison decided to live the lives that many of us only dream
of. Wanting to learn more about caribou,
and wanting others to share their fear that oil exploitation may destroy the
caribou calving grounds and perhaps even the lives of the caribou herds, they
decided to follow the caribou into the Arctic and along their annual migration
to produce both a book and film on the migration life cycle of the Porcupine
caribou herd. Their trip was made with
60-80 pound packs as they walked 1,000 miles over five months, following the roughly 127,000 caribou. The book I
read is only 48 pages, but is filled with beautiful color photography. Please also watch the 72 minute film on the
trip at: https://www.nfb.ca/film/being_caribou/
Another film done by Heuer and Allison , that you will greatly enjoy, is about a cross-Canada
trip in search of Farley Mowat. Mowat was a prolific Canadian writer and environmentalist who died last year. He had produced two movies and wrote five books, which were translated into 52 different languages, which have sold over 17-million copies. This video can
be found at: http://beingcaribou.com/findingfarley/index.html
Trail Has a Story: Heritage Travel In Canada, by Bob Henderson. Pub by Natural Heritage Books, Toronto, 2005,
242 pp plus notes and index.
author and I share one thing in common.
It is the sense that it is not enough just to paddle a river or lake and
marvel at the scenery and wildlife, but to seek greater enrichment by finding
the feeling of the place, the history of those that have paddled there before,
the stories of their lives and experiences that give the best flavor of the
locale. The author recounts the stories
he has discovered, and the places he has specifically sought out because of
stories he has heard.
tells of special, spiritual places like Indian Stone, Warrior Rock, and
Sweetgrass Butte that have had personal connections not just with whites, but
for First Nations Blackfoot, Ojibwe, and Nez Perce people for thousands of
years. Their personal connections to
these places are reflected in the petroglyphs.
He tells of swimming in the clear water off old fur-trading posts and
finding pieces of old clay pipes left by the Voyageurs. He gives you direct insight into the lives of
fur-traders, like the baptisms celebrated by those making their first cross-country
You get insight
into the lives and desperation of the gold-rushers. For example, prospectors were required to
carry a ton of supplies into the Yukon to they wouldn’t be looking to others to
rescue them. One man carried his load
across the nearly 4,000-foot high Chilkoot Stampeder Gold Rush Trail. When he reached the river, he built a boat to
carry his gear into the prospecting area.
His boat was wrecked in a rapids and all his supplies were lost. It took months to hike back over the same
trail to the Pacific Coast, reprovision with another ton of equipment and food,
and carry it back to the Yukon River and build another boat. Pushing off into the river with
determination, he started down the river and wrecked the second boat in the
same rapids, again losing everything. He
pulled himself up on the river bank and committed suicide on the very spot that
had twice defeated him. Few of these men
prospered. Eighty-thousand of them
crossed the mountains in two years. Some
failed and returned home. Others moved
to try new areas. Some moved on to
Alaska, and some became so entwined with the land they never returned
home. One, who entered the gold rush as
a young man, remained until his death at the age of 88. They would travel 300 miles on a sled to get
groceries, or nearly the same distance a couple times a year to get mail. So much took place there that Mark Twain
wrote, “How wearing to have to read one hundred pages of history every three or
accounts of trips on skis, pack horse, and dogsled, of winter camping, a series
on interesting women that have blazed trails across Canada and Labrador, and
explores the fascinating world of the hermit or recluse. It is an interesting book, and reflects the
author’s excitement in exploring the wilderness.