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Wilderness camp life - where smart decisions can be vital

When you are alone nine miles from the pavement in semi-wilderness, you have to make smart decisions. It was early May, and I was driving along the remote logging road to open up my lakefront home.

I was halfway to my destination, only to find high water has washed away the road. The river was now back down to a normal flow, and it looked like I had a shot at maneuvering my 4-wheel drive SUV down the embankment - across the brook - and up the other side. 

But that seemed like a bad idea. I pictured myself getting stuck with no help in sight. I pulled off the road, stuffed some food and booze into my backpack - crossed the brook with little effort - and walked the remaining five miles to the camp.

Upon arrival, a can of Budweiser went into the remaining snowbank - removed the boards from the windows - and settled down to some bourbon and beer - and finally a bite to eat.

I stayed the night and headed back to my vehicle the next morning. Everything had changed! Snowmelt had raised the water in the river to flood stage, and I was definitely going to get very wet and very cold crossing it.

The water wasn't simply very high - it was swift enough to wash me downstream, so I cut a stout sapling as a downstream brace, threw my backpack to the other side - and fought the current all the way to the other side. The water I was immersed in up to my chest, had been in the form of snow only a few hours earlier.

I changed into dry clothes, started the engine and headed for civilization and breakfast at a restaurant about an hour away. The heat felt great. It occurred to me that, had I made it across the brook in my SUV the previous day, there would have been ZERO chance of crossing the present torrent. I would have been marooned in near-wilderness with no way to communicate with the outside world. My decision had been the right one!


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