Book Review of The Wilderness Paddler’s Handbook by Alan Kesselheim

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There is no need to hike naked to a visitor center after your boat is capsized and pinned to a rock midriver. Your friends don’t have to almost die from hypothermia crossing a lake because you chose to save the gear first. These things happened to Alan Kesselheim and you can learn from his mistakes by reading The Wilderness Paddler’s Handbook. It’s practical advice from a seasoned canoeist.

Kesselheim covers everything a first-time canoeist needs to know to get out into the wilds in a boat, while still entertaining and educating the experts. Personal stories are interwoven with advice on everything from choosing an expedition destination, to building a boat rack, to avoiding (and handling) backcountry emergencies. And of course, he discusses how and when to side slip, ferry and eddy turn.

The beauty of this book is that it is personal. Kesselheim is a renowned writer as well as a paddler, and his skills in both shine here. He shares stories of his family’s and friends’ trips on local rivers like the Gallatin and farther away in places such as Manitoba.

Choose one of the routes from the book, follow the planning guidelines, and by next summer you’ll be on the water, reading currents, smiling big, and appreciating all the learning Kesselheim did for you.

Ragged Mountain Press, 2001
Camden, Maine
284 pages

This review was originally published in Outside Bozeman.

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