Thursday, April 27, 2006


In my Backcountry Bibliography there’s a long list of 1st Aid books in the "FIRST AID, BODY CARE & SANITATION" section. Some of these books are extremely thorough; others are small and concise, and could be carried while hiking. To help you pick and choose from that long list and decide what book(s) to buy, here are my choices for the “best of the bunch.”

An excellent one in the “small enough to carry” category is "Backcountry First Aid" by Buck Tilton. (4th ed., 2002) It's only 2.5 ounces and should always be in your pack in a small ziploc--in fact I'm going to take my own advice and go do that right now--better late than never!

Another good small one, with a bit more information, and weighing a bit more at 4.25 ounces, is “Mountaineering Medicine" by Fred T. Darvill, Jr. (14th ed., 1998)

And then there are the tomes that are extremely thorough--too heavy to be packed, but great for study and memoriziation at home. Three stand out among the dozen-and-a-half I own:

(1) "Wilderness Medicine" by William W. Forgey. 5th ed. 1999.

(2) "Wilderness First Aid" by Howard D. Backer, et al., National Safety Council. (Revised ed., 2001)

(3) "NOLS Wilderness Medicine" by Tod Schimelpfenig. (4th rev. ed., 2006)

Last but not least,
there’s one I just discovered, do not own, but will probably purchase. It looks like another very good book for study. "Wilderness First Responder" by Buck Tilton. (2nd ed., 2004) Tilton's books are usually among the best.

Be careful out there, folks! And be prepared.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A gonzo A.T. memoir

McKinney, Rick. "Dead Men Hike No Trails." Bangor, Maine:, 2005.

Someone I know asked about this book. I told them I’d put some information in my blog. So I'm doing just that. Here’s what’s on the back cover of the book:

Dead Men delivers an endorphin charged blow to a Prozac dependent world.”

“’Following a friend’s suicide in 2003, I faced my own suicidal depression and a choice. Dwell in grief or run gonzo crazy and free in the opposite direction, blazing bright and deep in the jungles of America, hiking and writing until my feet and fingers bled with a pure honest screeching love for life.’”

“McKinney escaped to the Appalachian Mountains and launched a 2000 mile odyssey on foot. Writing on route, he paints a heart-wrenching portrait of physically painful days, moonshine evenings and surprise erotic encounters. It is a tale of wilderness survival, new friends, laughter and love on the trek from Georgia to Maine.

McKinney is Sylvia Plath in remission, his writing candid, sexy, and by turns poetic, journalistic, dead serious and witty. No one has ever scoured the dark skull of suicidal depression with such empathy and open-hearted enthusiasm for life, while climbing over 500 mountains in six months.”

Rick suffers from chronic depression. He writes, “one in four Americans suffer from some form of mental illness” and, “In the United States a person somebody loved dies by their own hand every 17 minutes.” He was a professional writer until suicidal depression cost him his career, house, and fiancee. To him, the Appalachian Trail seemed like a glimmer of hope in a dark world.

On the publisher’s website we read, “Dead Men is about long distance hiking. It is about the camaraderie of dozens of fellow hikers encountered en route. It is about following a goal to completion. It is about living in the moment. But most of all, it is ever and always about love. It is about the author’s love of life, of family and friends living and dead, of women, of nature, of the power of imagination, of the human animal, of the concept of Heaven, of God, and of the author’s love of beer. Depression is a sub-plot. At first all-consuming, it is soon an afterthought, a shadow which the author stomps his feet bloody and his ankles black and blue to outpace. But walking off a genetic inheritance of chemical imbalances proves daunting if not impossible for McKinney. The place of infinite possibility, the place where the author invents his own salvation one day--nay one step at a time for an inconceivable five million paces to Maine.”

This book is unique among A.T. memoirs. Truly amazing and difficult to put down once begun. Rick has a journal at under his trailname of Jester Jigglebox (which went through a lot of changes and ended up, in full, as His Madness Lord Duke Jester Jigglebox Gadget Malcovich, Esq.) and also has a website of his own. On either of these sites you can get an idea of his writing style. But the book contains much more than what you'll find on either site. Buy or interlibrary loan this book and enjoy!

Monday, April 03, 2006

And now for something completely different...

The Long Trail books are now listed in the Backcountry Bibliography and we can move on to something else. Weeks ago I mentioned some new memoirs of Appalachian Trail hikes and some “published-on-demand” books. Now that I’ve read most of them, I thought you might like a little synopsis on each one. I’ll do them one at a time for the next several weeks.

Ladies first. Let’s talk about Natasha Carver’s ”Walking Down a Dream: Mexico to Canada on Foot,” published by Xlibris in 2002. I like the way Xlibris makes books; they usually have better covers than some other POD publishers’ books, and the pages are well-glued-in.

Natasha, 26 years old, from England, set out to hike the PCT with Kirsten Bradley, from Canada, to raise money for Oxfam. Natasha made it all the way. Kirsten had to drop out due to injury after two months on the trail. They raised about $20,000 for Oxfam. Natasha’s writing style is quite good and I found the book enjoyable. She had her problems, but she stuck it out and made it all the way. At the end she wrote, “Sometimes I think I crawled, other times that I walked, but occasionally at least, I know I flew.”

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I've just discovered and I find that I'm a "blog mute." Must recover. Must blog... Must blog... Must blog...