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Books that made a profound impact

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Scoutergriz,
Good thoughts. Recently I was camped in Yosemite in the fall, under some old growth ponderosa pines, ppines. I was in the wall tent listening to the wood stove crackle and pop. The moonlight was throwing shadows of pine tree branches and cones on the roof of the canvas and I was reading John Muir. It never made more sense.

I had a consulting project in Yosemite in 1974, 46 years earlier. We got a tour of where Muir had lived, where he had worked from the Park Superintendent. I had access to the Park library and many of the volumes were signed by Muir. I have seen several Chataqua performances of Muir, including one in the Park. He still walks with me in the Big Mountains.
 
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There has been a progression of books that have led me to canoe camping/tripping, starting with a children's book whose title I can't remember. It was about the animal kingdom. I do remember seeing it still on my parents' rec room bookshelf after my Dad died. I was rummaging round the basement helping Mum thin out the memories. Never thought of keeping that title for my own children and children's' children.
The next book was another title I can't quite remember, something about pond life. I found it amongst young readers hard covers in the storage room "library" of our grade 8 school. I might've been the only awkward kid to ask the janitor for the key to that dusty sunlit room. That book was my introduction to natural history and nature writing, both of which interest me to this day.
A few short years later I discovered Ernest Thompson Seton's Animals I have Known, Grey Owl's (Archie Belaney) Tales Of An Empty Cabin and onward eventually to Bill Mason. Admittedly I saw his NFB films first, Paddle To The Sea and Rise And Fall Of The Great Lakes, Cry Of The Wild, Song Of The Paddle and Waterwalker. There's something to be said of teachers who on a slow day set up the film projector and screen to run a spool or three of interesting docs to shut up and quieten down a room of unruly kids. Thank you teachers. I went on to buy and devour Bill Mason's books.
I have 2 of Mason's books here beside me in my reading chair. A book I am currently reading is a title of ET Seton The Arctic Prairies, about a 6 month canoe trip by the author and a naturalist to the remote region of the Canadian Northwest in 1907. Also in the same vein of natural history and nature writing I have open the wonderful prose of Robert Macfarlane (He is best known for his books on landscape, nature, place, people and language.) However old I get this stuff never gets old. Just like a canoe trip, for me it's less about the destination and more about the journey.
 
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"Dangerous River" by R.M. Patterson. Just before I read that about 30 years ago, a friend and I were talking about doing a Yukon Territory-Alaska trip--Peele/Olgivie, McKenzie, Rat, Porcupine, Yukon to the Haul Road. Spending two weeks wading up the Rat wasn't really appealing to me at the time (I still don't like cold water). Then I read Dangerous River, about Patterson's time on the Nahanni in the 1920s, and that changed my perspective of what can be done. We never did the trip (damned partner got a job!), but I'm still in awe of Patterson's lifestyle and commitment. I've read a lot of the books mentioned here, but this one really took.

"Crusoe of Lonesome Lake", by Ralph Edwards, is a similar book about men of times past--WWI era in remote BC. More awe and respect on my part.

One a related side note, while paddling the Noatak River in Alaska this summer, we stopped at a Inuit fellow's cabin (where he cooked us some salmon for lunch! Really nice guy.) He was one of the few Alaska Natives of the area that eschewed living in town (as much as Noatak Village can be called a town), and lived most of the year by himself on the Noatak. He told us of some of the hikes he had done around his cabin, e.g. walking way up one valley and down another. Having spent enough time ourselves dealing with the tussocks so ubiquitous to the area (think walking on and between furry basketballs), we asked him how he dealt with the cursed SOBs. His reply: "I live here." That short statement I think perfectly sums up humanity--we are the times (and place) we live in. Will people in the future be amazed and in awe of us in our current times? (Yeah, back in the day, we had to actually type on our computer keyboards. Life was hard, but that was the way it was back then.)
 
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Just started "The Twenty-Ninth Day" by Alex Messenger. Very well written 600 mile canoe trip across the NWT on the Dubawnt River. A chance meeting with a Barren Grounds Griz changes their plans. True story.
 
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Just started "The Twenty-Ninth Day" by Alex Messenger. Very well written 600 mile canoe trip across the NWT on the Dubawnt River. A chance meeting with a Barren Grounds Griz changes their plans. True story.
I had heard about that book, but didn't realize it took place on the Dubawnt. Seeing as I'm trying to get up there this summer, maybe I shouldn't read it.....

Edit: Just ordered it. Sleeping at night is overrated anyway.
 
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Campbell Of The Yukon

After my first trip on the Upper Yukon River, I found an old copy detailing Robert Campbell's canoe journey from the McKenzie to the Yukon via the Liard River to found Fort Selkirk for the Hudson Bay Company. It makes most of us look like a bunch of wussies.
 
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