Wilderness Guide, by Mark Harvey, Simon and Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; paper, illustrated, $15.
starting-from-scratch revision of The National Outdoor Leadership
School's Wilderness Guide will tell you what to wear, how to
navigate, and how to get across streams and scree fields in the
backcountry. It will give you tips on whether to evacuate an
injured person by helicopter, how to treat blisters, and how not to
look for a lost member of your group: "... your instinct may be to
go tearing off in the direction you last saw the person, shouting
their name. If everyone in your group has the same instinct, the
list of lost persons may soon include the entire group."
This is all useful, and well written. But the
book's major strength is its many discussions of the psychology and
etiquette of being in the forests, deserts or high country. Aspen,
Colo., freelancer Mark Harvey shares many anecdotes to drive home
his points. The material on leading and being led is especially
well done: "Expeditions with moderate talent but good expedition
behavior can achieve greater things than bilious expeditions with
all the talent in the world."
avoids romanticizing "getting away from civilization," and he
doesn't pretend that spiritual uplift is automatic. "Nearly every
aspect of camping is communal," he says. "At its best, this shared
living brings people together in a spirit of camaraderie seldom
found in their normal lives. At its worst, the demands of outdoor
living can bring people to blows."
How do you
avoid having people come to blows? Deal upfront with the question
of leadership. Harvey, a former intern at High Country News, quotes
NOLS Leadership Project director Molly Doran: "In my experience,
having a leader is less stressful than having everyone guess about
what the other people are thinking. A group can go around in
circles if everyone is saying, "I don't care" or "whatever" when
it's time to make decisions."
especially helpful about cooking and hygiene. His basic tip? Wash