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Backcountry Blunders

I can safely say I have not experienced many blunders on a backcountry trip! At least I think I can? Just what is a blunder anyways; a goofy mistake, stumble or a carelessness inducing hilarity? Okay, well maybe my paddling companions and I have experienced a few….

There was the time my father attempted to put out a campfire with the clear fluid contained in a plastic water bottle we found lying around our campsite. That clear fluid turned out to be lighter fluid and not the good old fire quenching H2O. The resulting fireball nearly scorched the leafy canopy above us and it was nothing short of miraculous that we emerged with hair and eyebrows intact.

Pro Tip: Lighter fluid WILL NOT put out fires!

Once, just before a weekend fishing trip to McCrae Lake, my buddy decided he’d get a haircut. Well it was more than just a haircut; he ended up shaving his head! Not used to how his newly acquired baldness would manage the solar rays, he spent countless hours fishing the open waters of the lake without a hat or sunscreen. Additionally, it was cloudy, so little concern was given for those pesky UV rays. The fishing was great, but he ended the trip feeling sick, with chills, nausea and a bright red burn on his head. Ouch! I have not seen him with a shaved head since (Sorry Mike!).

It's +30C, I'm no doctor but I think he has the chills

Ah, then there was the time I was off for a quick thanksgiving paddle. While fishing the tranquil waters of the Old Ausable River Channel, I was startled by my phone going off in my pocket, alerting me that I had incoming messages. Normally I pack such devices away as emergency contact measures on the off chance I have a signal. However, as this was a day trip, the thought to pack my phone away in a waterproof case escaped me. As I started to pull it out of my pocket, it vibrated once more. In a quick second, it slipped from my hand and sunk to the weedy abyss below. I guess I will never know what that message was….

The Old Ausable River Channel is apparently my personal secretary. Warning: The calls may not go through

Oh, there was a Temagami tale too. I can recall a very rugged portage containing a lovely bog midway through. Upon traversing the spongy peat mat, I took one doomed step and sank up to my knee causing my weight to shift and the canoe to come crashing down and flip over. The canoe pack I was carrying became stuck under the yoke and since I was strapped to the pack, I somehow managed to flip upside-down with the pack and canoe. I was now strapped to a pack that was stuck to the boat, and contorted in an awkward upside-down position. At least in the tumble my leg was free from the mucky grasp of the bog! Oh, but my boot was somewhere buried in the muck. I think the squirrels were laughing at me.

Pro Tip: As an effective portage technique, your feet go on the ground, not the in air.

Hmm then there was that time I lost my bike keys.... I’ll stop while I’m ahead….

If you spend enough time tripping, some odd, funny or just downright dumb things are bound to happen. You might as well have a good laugh about it after!

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