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Early-Winter Great Lakes Backpacking/SAR Rendezvous

December 3-6, 2011
Pigeon River Country State Forest
Northern Lower Peninsula
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Last revised on Sunday, August 21, 2016 4:38 PM

Notices & advisories regarding
Michael Neiger's
wilderness adventures

Forewarned is forearmed

A participant's failure to physically and mentally prepare for this adventure; acquire the necessary skills and equipment for this adventure; or recognize, take responsibility for, and avoid the unknown and unpredictable hazards and perils that will present themselves on this adventure will likely result in the participant's serious injury, paralysis, or slow, painful death.

Accidents and injuries

Wilderness adventures—especially remote, foul-weather travel; bushwhacking cross-country; cliff and steep slope travel; climbing; canyoneering; cave exploration; river fording; swimming; canoeing; portaging; skiing; snowshoeing; winter camping; ice travel; ice crossing; deep cold; high winds; etc.—involve unknown and unpredictable hazards and perils.

• Hypothermia • Burns
• Hyperthermia • Fractures
• Dehydration • Lacerations
• Frostbite • Joint injuries
• Eye injuries • Near drownings
• Flu • Falls through ice
• Colds • Car accidents
• Giardia • Et cetera

Accidents, injuries, and problematic incidents are not something that only happen on other people's wilderness adventures or to other wilderness trippers. They have happened in the past on Michael Neiger's adventures, and they may happen on this adventure as well. Click here to learn more about past accidents, injuries, and incidents.

Medical and dental exams

As with any strenuous activity, it is strongly recommended participants visit their physician to make sure he or she approves of their participation in this adventure. A dental exam is also highly recommended.

Safety glasses

It is highly recommended eye protection—safety glasses—be worn on this adventure, especially while bushwhacking, as several participants have suffered near-incapacitating eye injuries in the past.

Cotton clothing

Avoid wearing or carrying cotton clothing on this adventure as when—and not if—it gets wet, it will be extremely difficult and time-consuming to dry.

On past adventures, wet cotton clothing and its tendency to conduct heat away from the body much faster than other fabrics has led to numerous cases of hypothermia, which is the number one killer of wilderness trippers.

Clothing fashioned from nylon, supplex, polypro, fleece, microfibers, wool, etc., are much safer and easier to manage during prolonged bouts of foul weather.

Survival kit

An on-your-person (in-pocket), survival kit—folding knife, waterproof matches, firestarters, compass, mini-light, and whistle—secured with loss-prevention lanyards should be carried during this adventure.

Allergies to bee stings

If you are allergic to bee stings, consult your physician before participating in this adventure; inquire about carrying an injectable epinephrine unit—such as an EpiPen or Ana-Kit—in your first-aid kit.

First-aid kit

The only first-aid equipment available on this adventure is that which is carried by each participant. Consult your personal physician to determine what items, including medications, you should carry.

Emergency medical care

There will not be any doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, or other trained emergency medical personnel on this adventure.

No one will have first-aid or other emergency medical training. At best, other participants may only be able to render the most basic and rudimentary of aid.

Search & rescue

No one on this adventure will have training in rope handling, rappelling, climbing, caving, ice travel, high-angle slope travel, swift-water travel, etc. N

No one will have training in rescue from these situations either.


No insurance coverage of any sort is provided for participants on this adventure. It is highly recommended that participants consider purchasing their own insurance policies:

  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Prescription insurance
  • Evacuation insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Life insurance

Emergency communications

No emergency communications gear such as cell phones, satellite phones, or satellite beacons (ELTs, PLBs, & EPIRBs) will be carried during this adventure.

The only way to summon search and rescue personal or emergency medical personnel during this adventure will be for another uninjured participant to walk, snowshoe, paddle, peddle, etc. to a point where help can be summoned.

The wait for assistance may be very long—sometimes measured in days—and could possibly be very painful, maybe even fatal.

Since the evacuation process will be both very difficult and costly to arrange, participants should consider carrying their own communications gear as well as purchasing evacuation insurance, as noted above.

The adventure:

During this free, public adventure, we'll spend four days exploring the the Pigeon River Country State Forest east of M-33 and north of Clear Lake State Park.

For the latest info about this trip, visit the trip discussion thread on Backpacker Magazine's Midwest Forum.

Our leisurely-paced, unscripted route will include off-trail, cross-country travel as well as hiking along two-tracks, fire breaks, gas lines, and single-track trails.

The trip will run from 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning to midday on Tuesday.

Friday night's optional bivouac location and Saturday morning's assembly area will be announced at a later date.

Pigeon River Country State Forest Headquarters: 1-989-983-4101

Journals from Michael's prior Pigeon River Country trips:

2010 :: 2007 :: 2006a1 :: 2006a2 :: 2006b1 :: 2005a :: 2005b :: 2004a :: 2004b :: 2003a :: 2003b :: 2002a :: 2002b :: 2001

Photo albums from Michael's prior Pigeon River Country:

2011 :: 2010b1 :: 2010b2 :: 2010a1 :: 2010a2 :: 2010a3 :: 2010a4 :: 2010a5 :: 2010a6 :: 2008 :: 2007a1 :: 2007a2 :: 2007a3 :: 2007b1 :: 2007b2 :: 2007b3 :: 2006a1 :: 2005a2 :: 2006a3 :: 2006b1 :: 2005a :: 2005b :: 2004 :: 2003a :: 2003b :: 2002a :: 2002b


Participant requirements:

Participants should be adults (18 or over) who are experienced, fully-equipped, cold/foul-weather winter backpackers who wilderness adventures without campfires, tobacco, or alcohol.

Participants must be swimmers and in good physical condition as this adventure is not suitable for the unfit or overweight.

Bivouacs will be in pristine, non-campground settings.

If we happen to bivouac well away from water, participants should have the necessary containers to haul enough water for an afternoon of hiking, dinner, breakfast, and a morning of hiking (unless there is enough snow for melting into water).

Most winters, snowshoes are not needed in early December. Water-fording footwear may be needed, depending on conditions and participant preferences.

Camping permits: State of Michigan law requires a free DNR Camp Registration Card be posted when bivouacking on state land.


Rations required

  • Breakfasts: 4 days
  • Snacks: 4 days
  • Lunches: 4 days
  • Dinners: 3 days
  • Backup: 1 day


Land navigation info

USGS 1:24,000-scale quadrangles: To be determined (ordering info)

Click here to learn more about land navigation gear.




Preregistration required

If you would like to participate in this free backcountry adventure, or have any questions regarding it, please provide your full name, trail name, city, state, e-mail address, and phone number to the organizer:

Michael Neiger
Marquette, Michigan

Registration: participants will receive a registration form by e-mail prior to the trip.

Liability waiver: participants are required to sign a liability waiver prior to the trip.







































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In God's wilderness lies the hope of the world,
the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.

 — John Muir, 1838-1914, Alaska Wilderness, 1890

If you've been able to read this Web page...
thank a Teacher;
If you've been able to read this Web page in English...
thank a Veteran.
—Author unknown

2016-08-21 0">Copyright notice •
Content Copyright 1984 to 2016-08-21
By Michael A. Neiger

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No part of this Web page or this Web site protected by copyright law may be reproduced, transmitted, or used in any form--including graphic, electronic, Web, mechanical or other form--or by any means--including photocopying, recording, taping, Internet distribution, information storage retrieval system, or by other means--for any purpose, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages, without the prior, express, written permission of the author.

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