Last weekend I wrote about a little misadventure in Wisconsin when I could not find a campground with an open site. It got me to thinking about outdoor adventure travel debacles and the ones I have experienced over the years. Not finding a camp spot two hours from home would probably not even make the top 50.
No one likes for things to go wrong while adventure traveling, and they can really suck during the moment, but they make for the best memories, stories and blog posts. Fortunately, through all of the following debacles, none can really be called a disaster as neither I nor no one I have been with has ever been seriously hurt on a trip. Let’s hope that trend continues.
Here are my top five outdoor misadventures:
5. Storms along the Wisconsin River
Two times we were hit with major thunderstorms on the Wisconsin River. The first time the wind picked up my tent and sent it like tumbleweed into the river. Fortunately, a friend ran out and retrieved it before the sleeping bag got too wet.
The other time we camped along a sand bar and a cloud came in that was so dark we could not see the far side of the river. It rained in torrents and the tarp we were huddling under collapsed when the wind bent the bar in half. Fortunately, no tornado ensued and it eventually cleared up.
4. Dog fights and storms on the Namekogan River
While on a trip on the Namekogan River, this foolish family decided to bring their killer pit bull terrier on a family trip with our canoe club. We also had our dog, Barney on the trip. Their dog eyed our dog like hungry person starves for a hamburger all weekend. I took Barney for a walk and brought him back down to camp when their dog made his move.
He lunged at our dog and broke his leash and grabbed Barney by the shoulder and started thrashing. He was obviously a former trained to kill dog. Fortunately, his owner was able to step in and pull him off and after a visit to the vet, Barney was as good as new. We also survived another harrowing storm on this trip with 70 m.p.h winds.
3. Canoe ambulance in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
While portaging in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a member of our group grazed a bush that had a discarded fishing lure on it. It impaled his thigh and went through his skin. Not wanting to risk a backcountry surgical removal by amateurs, we got him in the middle of the canoe and my Dad and I paddled him 6 hours out of the wilderness back to civilization. On one place where you had to drag the canoe over rocks there was a group backed up going through. We told them our situation and they helped us drag the canoe over the rocks. Too bad we did not have a siren.
Once back at the outfitter, he was taken into the hospital, had the hook removed, and returned to the lake. He rented a ride on a motor boat which took him out to Saganaga Lake where he rejoined our group in time for the campfire.
2. Bitter cold hiking in Wisconsin
My Dad and I used to go winter backpacking in Kettle Moraine State Park in Wisconsin. On one trip, the temperatures plunged below zero. Winter camping is pretty bad ass, but when it gets below 0 degrees it is time to call it a trip.
Fortunately, Kettle Moraine is not really a true wilderness, as hikers are never more than a mile from a road. We walked out to a road and started to hitchhike. I was only about 12 years old at the time, so we hoped someone would take pity on the cold kid. It worked; a super nice couple took us back to our car and to warmth.
1. Misplaced food back in Quetico Provincial Park
Me and six friends from high school went on a fishing, canoeing, and camping in the wilderness of Quetico Provincial Park. When doing inventory at the first portage, we discovered we only had one food pack. We left the other one in the car.
When you are in the wilderness canoeing and portaging you tend to get hungry. Fortunately, we were headed for some great fishing waters, but the first night’s camp was not in the best fishing spot. As soon as camp was up, we paddled out to catch dinner.
I was fishing solo. I stuck with the group for an hour and no one was catching anything. I paddled around the bend and caught a nice smallmouth bass. I swung back over this same shoreline and hit a nice northern pike. I proceeded along the shoreline and ended up catching four nice fish.
I paddled back to my group and they were sitting around the camp with forlorn faces. I asked how they did and they only had one northern pike. A nice fish, but it was not enough for six hungry dudes. They asked how I did, and I pulled up my stringer, and I had a hard time pulling up my four fish. My friend’s faces lit up as fish was on the menu. Once we got to our destination, everyone else’s luck improved, and we survived having our regular menu cut in half.
Part II will be published this week featuring five debacles while traveling overseas.
Have you had a misadventure camping? Please feel free to share in the comment section.
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Definitely agree on misadventures making for great stories, down the road that is. Don’t usually feel that way at the time. 🙂 Glad to hear Barney was ok.
Aaron recently posted..In-N-Out Burger: Yay or Nay to Animal Style?
Barney is now chasing deer and moose in heaven, but fortunately, this encounter was not what put him there. He lived many solid years after this experience and grew to a ripe old age.
As I always believe and think: misadventures are what stay in our minds and get retold for years to come. Glad your winter misadventure as a kid didn’t put you off the outdoors, though.
Michael recently posted..Fancy Two Days In A Vineyard?
I pretty much stayed in my sleeping bag every chance I had on this trip when we weren’t hiking. I got a lot of sleep.
I’ve always assumed adventure comes with a few bumps and bruises. I would have been unhinged by the dog fight though! Yikes!
Erika recently posted..Combating stereotypes: Why I’m no ‘proper’ lady
The dog fight experience was quite traumatic. On top of it, I felt guilty for bringing Barney too close to the other dog. Now I realize it was not my fault as that dog had no reason being on that trip. Bringing that dog on a family trip was pure negligence.
You are one brave and adventurous man! I have so much respect for you!!!
Andi recently posted..Thailand: Day Thailand: Day 3 (Part 2)
Thanks Andi! That means a lot to me.
I liked that last story the best. Traveling Ted saves the day by catching 4 fish. Surprised that didn’t make the news somewhere! 🙂
Good stories. Like Michael said, when things go wrong those are the best stories.
Jeremy Branham recently posted..A photo journey through Hungary: Budapest, Eger, and Recsk
It got me named outdoorsman of the day by my friends, and I am sure I got a free pass for the next stupid thing or two I did, which is always nice because this group could be a tough crowd.
Poor Barney!!! Cold winter camping can be no fun at all! We used to go when I was younger and do “winter survival” but one year when we went it was -40 degrees! We also went home early 🙂 I love this idea for a blog post series, as soon as I started reading it it made me think of all of my own misadventures!
Payje recently posted..S’mourmet Cooking
One time we went up to Minnesota skiing and the weather was between -20 and -40 below 0. We did not do much skiing. Sat around the cabin with the fire roaring until it moderated.
Sounds like you are experienced dealing with mishaps! Very cool you canoed your friend to safety after he was impaled. You are a true outdoorsman!
It worked out well that we got him to safety, and then we returned to camp. He then joined us for the campfire after he got cleaned up.
lola doesn’t have too many misadventures on my travel resume. at least not yet. Ted you are a stud!
lola recently posted..Ames Boston: a hotel that aims to please
I am sure you will have a few in Cambodia and in Europe with Leah. I hope nothing bad, but something fun to write about later.
Wow, I have had some travel adventures, but not like yours 🙂 they make for great stories but not so funny when they happened. My worse was getting stranded in Casablanca airport.. and airline staff wouldn’t talk to me as I was a woman!
@mrsoaroundworld recently posted..An English summer tradition: the BBQ
That is a pretty crazy one Mrs. O and quite annoying. Adventure does lead to some crazy situations. It is part of the fun though.
Way to save the day in the end! Bad time for your friend but I got a laugh out of the thought of a canoe ambulance…
D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The 17 Mile Drive of Monterey Peninsula
It was not too bad Deej,
It was more precautionary than anything. I think he experienced slight pain when the hook went in, but after that it was no big deal. We did not want to risk infection being out in the wilderness.
so glad barney (and you) survived the misadventures! at least you both came away with good stories?
p.s. the issue was totally your fancy little bot protector, ps
the lazy travelers recently posted..no travel required
Barney and I survived all of the mishaps. Hope you are not too lazy to figure out the technology and can continue to comment 🙂
Not that I don’t feel bad for you, Ted, but poor Barney!! Ouch…
Thankfully I can’t remember any serious camping disasters of my own – except maybe rain and wet shoes. Poor me, I know…
By the way, f I ever need survival tips, I’ll know who to ask. 😀
Pola recently posted..Photo of the Week: Looking down from the Eiffel Tower
Yes, the Barney episode was horrible. Very glad we got him away from the killer with only some wounds to his shoulder. We enjoyed his companionship for many years later. He was a great dog.
Two words stood out to me among the rest: winter camping. In Wisconsin, no less! You’re crazier than I thought.
Leah Travels recently posted..A Sunny Day at Cloudy Bay Winery
I have not done much winter hiking lately ever since I got into skiing. It is a little bit more of a sane activity.
Wow, that pit bull could have attacked anyone. Not cool. Mercifully, I didn’t have any stories like this in my trek in Romania!
Raul (ilivetotravel in Twitter) recently posted..Photo of the Week – Santiago’s Fresh Seafood at the Mercado Central
Actually, the pit bull was very friendly to humans, but you never know. I am glad your trip to Romania went smoothly.
These instances are a good reminder that stuff happens wherever we travel…sometimes. Good piece..
Charles Higgins recently posted..Las Vegas Restaurant Week August 27 – September 2, 2012
You are brave and your adventures impressive!
Rocky Travel Blog recently posted..Hanson Bay Beach on Kangaroo Island
Thanks. Most of these misadventures where when I was younger, when I did not know any better.