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Books We Love

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These are books that our members personally own and recommend. These have inspired and guided us on many of our adventures, and each one will make a fine addition to any adventurer’s bookshelf.


Wilderness First Aid: Emergency Care in Remote Locations by by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
This is the textbook for our Wilderness First Aid course and it’s very comprehensive. Highly recommended reading for anyone venturing into the backcountry, though it’s a bit big and heavy to carry with you in a pack (see below).
Wilderness & Travel Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide by Eric Weiss
While not as comprehensive as Wilderness First Aid above, this book is considerably less expensive and also much more compact, so it’s a great reference to carry in your pack. It covers most wilderness medical situations you’d be likely to encounter, and it’s a solid choice for a field reference.
Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills by The Mountaineers
This is the definitive guide to mountains and climbing, and highly recommended for anyone doing ropework or travel in hilly terrain. Even for those not doing “extreme” mountaineering and ropework, it’s got lots of info on terrain crossing, camping, gear, food etc.
Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter & GPS by Bob & Mike Burns
This book is a good supplement to our Land Navigation and Orienteering class and a great reference for anyone navigating in the backcountry. Most of it focuses on understanding topographic maps and navigating with a compass, and it also includes information on using GPS, getting yourself un-lost, survival, routefinding and trip planning.
From Here to There: The Art and Science of Finding and Losing Our Way by Michael Bond
Thoroughly enjoyable! Michael Bond’s writing style makes it easy to understand and appreciate the many factors that comprise our ability (or inability) to navigate. Bond offers many useful vignettes to illuminate how our brains are “wired” for navigation and how our experiences, beginning in early childhood, enable us, or disable us, for successful wayfinding. Five stars.
The Lost Art of Finding Our Way by John Edward Huth
Provides some historical and non-electronic navigation techniques and the science behind them. The printed version is preferable over Kindle because of the charts/graphs/maps. The author of this has an online course that is good too:


Cooking with Fire by Paula Marcoux
This book was the inspiration for our Cooking With Fire event, and it’s full of techniques and recipes for backcountry cooking. The techniques vary in practicality for overlanding and backcountry use, but most are applicable to excursions and expeditions.
The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer
This is the guide book for our Wild Edibles class, with 32 of the best and most common edible wild plants in North America. In addition to reliable identification info, it talks about where to look and how to harvest and use each plant.
Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer
Another great reference for wild edibles, highly recommended. It covers a different set of 41 edible plants so it’s complimentary to The Forager’s Harvest and worthwhile to own both.
Mushrooming with Confidence: A Guide to Collecting Edible and Tasty Mushrooms by Alexander Schwab
This is a good and inexpensive book focusing on identifying edible species. It has lots of color photos, although the pages have a matte finish that makes the photos a bit less crisp than they would be with glossy printing. The large size makes it easy to see fine details, but it would be easier to carry into the field if it were a bit smaller. We especially like the Positive ID Checklist for each species to help avoid misidentification.


A Field Guide to the Natural Communities of Michigan by Joshua Cohen et al
This is a fascinating book about native vegetation communities with lots of color photos and great descriptions. Many of the photos make us think, “Ah, I’ve been there!”. It’s an interesting way to look at how the geology and hydrology of an area shape the plant communities therein, and also includes info about where particular communities can be found and suggested places to visit. It’s a bit heavy for a field guide at 360+ pages but well worth having. We like that it includes a list of characteristic plant species commonly found in each community, but wish it had a cross-reference so we could look up a species by name and find which communities it thrives in.
North Woods Naturalist Series

This series of field guides covers northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan plus southern Ontario, which is the region in which most of our adventures take place. Naturally the information is applicable to surrounding areas as well, but they try to cover this region in depth. Each guide starts with an informational section covering the biology of the genera in the book, and it doesn’t assume any prior knowledge but includes all the most important biological terms, growth habits, tips for location etc. They are all the same dimensions (about 4.5 x 8.25 inches) and they’re compact enough to carry in a daypack. With hundreds of high-quality color photos, these are a great value for not much money.

Ferns & Allies of the North Woods by Joe Walewski
Covers 86 species of ferns and “allies”, i.e. related plants such as clubmosses, spikemosses, quillworts, horsetails and moonworts. Supposedly these include all species in the North Woods region. If you don’t know your quillworts from your moonworts, or a cinnamon fern from a royal fern, this book is for you! The photos are really good at showing small distinctive features that distinguish similar species.
Lichens of the North Woods by Joe Walewski
Covers 111 species of northern lichens, organized by habitat (trees, rocks, ground) and growth form (foliose, crustose, fruticose). It’s an efficient format to narrow down an identification, although the North Woods region has many more species than covered by this guide so it will nail the most common ones, but may only get you in the ballpark (genus) for rarer lichens. The photos are superb.
Orchids of the North Woods by Kim & Cindy Risen
Covers all 53 species of orchids found in the North Woods. Great photos and info about orchid biology, where to find and how to photograph them. Many of the species are spectacular, and although many others are not very showy they are still interesting to find. The book also includes the approximate range of bloom times and hints on finding them.


Here are some books where we’ve found inspiration for places to visit on our adventures.

Canoeing Michigan Rivers: A Comprehensive Guide to 45 Rivers by Jerry Dennis & Craig Date
Excellent maps and descriptions of the most paddle-worthy sections of Michigan rivers. The notes on each section are especially helpful, pointing out hazards and recommended skill levels, plus recommended locations for putting in, taking out, and camping. In the appendix there’s a handy table of all rapids rated by difficulty. Despite the title it’s equally applicable to kayaking.
Paddling Michigan by Keven and Laurie Hillstrom
Covers not just rivers but also noteworthy flatwater locations, including coastal paddling such as Grand Island and Pictured Rocks. The river descriptions and maps are not as detailed as Canoeing Michigan Rivers above, but overall this book has wider coverage.
Waterfalls of Ontario by Mark Harris and George Fisher
This book features photos and maps of over 125 waterfalls in Ontario. It helped us plan our Hidden Waterfalls of Northern Ontario expedition, although for that expedition we were focused on little-known waterfalls that were mostly NOT in this book. We did visit a few from the book though, mainly those that were rated as “difficult” to reach. Mostly the book focuses on more accessible waterfalls, so they’re less of a challenge but very practical to visit without as much bushwhacking as we did on that expedition.