Backcountry wanderers and campers walk a thin line in our dealings with the furred and feathered natives on whose doorsteps we camp. We want to be accepted by them, but we also want them to know their place and keep their distance, and it’s much harder to strike the right balance than it used to be. But it’s up to us to help the wild creatures stay wild.
by Tamia Nelson | June 1, 2015
Ah, wilderness! The annual flight from the cities and suburbs is about to get under way in earnest. Soon many popular waterways will boast their own traffic jams, as canoes and kayaks jostle tentatively with darting jet-skis and lumbering party barges. Lighting out for the territory just ain’t what it was in Huck Finn’s day. But some things don’t change. Beyond the boundaries of the tent-cities now springing up in established campsites—the line of demarcation is easily identified by the sudden and unexpected appearance of lower limbs on trees—the natives go about their business as best they can. That’s natives … Continue reading »
Have you ever revisited a favorite spot in the backcountry or along a quiet back road, only to find it transformed into a passable imitation of a poorly managed landfill? That’s been happening more and more often to Tamia these days. Now she’s wondering if it’s just a local phenomenon, or if the problem’s bigger.
by Tamia Nelson | May 22, 2012
Let’s talk trash. It’s a big subject, and if what I see on trails and canoe launches is any indication—to say nothing of what I find scattered along the roads I travel—it’s getting bigger by the day.
What’s the explanation? Well, one of the leading citizens in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon memorably described the early settlers in the neighboring hamlet of Millet as having come to the New World “to get drunk and throw away their garbage,” implying that their descendants were keen to continue this proud tradition. Maybe this is all the explanation that’s needed. Or maybe not.
In any case, I guess I live in Millet.
That isn’t the impression you’d get … Continue reading »
It’s summertime, and the wilderness is calling. Soon campsites in popular parks will be filled to overflowing, as paddlers and hikers make themselves at home where the wild things are. And with the crowds comes conflict. We want to keep our food to ourselves. But our involuntary hosts have other ideas, and the resulting differences of opinion can get messy. Is there an alternative? There is.
by Tamia Nelson | June 6, 2015
Backcountry wanderers and campers walk a thin line in our dealings with the furred and feathered natives on whose doorsteps we camp. We want to be accepted by them, but we also want them to know their place and keep their distance. This is pretty presumptuous of us, really. Since when do house guests get to lay down rules for their hosts? Be that as it may, however, it’s much harder to strike the right balance than it used to be. Truly wild things treat infrequent blow-ins with appropriate caution and circumspection. But tens of millions of us now invade the natives’ … Continue reading »
All webfooted wanderers stumble sooner or later, and that’s when the trouble begins. So here’s a guide to getting up and moving on after your snowshoes have let you down.
by Tamia Nelson | February 15, 2019
Originally published in different form on March 5, 2013
Snowshoeing has long been our favorite mode of winter travel, and we’re not alone in this. Snowshoes make it easy to break free from the groomed trails that attract droves of skiers (not to mention packs of snowmobilers), allowing the modest plodder to strike out cross-country more or less at will. After all, there really isn’t any terrain that snowshoes can’t handle, though snowshoers, like all winter wanderers, are well advised to exercise extreme care when crossing frozen lakes and streams, and the most prudent course is to avoid such crossings altogether.
Once safely off thin ice, there are few, if any, insurmountable barriers. Steep, forested slopes that are off-limits to skiers pose no problems for experienced big-footed travelers, and while snowmobiles wallow and sink helplessly in deep powder—most … Continue reading »