Campfires and Loon Calls

When I was younger, I often dreamed of visiting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Imagine travelling by canoe and portaging lake to lake, far from roads and civilization of most every type. I recently enjoyed a book about the area, Jerry Apps’ Campfires and Loon Calls: Travels in the Boundary Waters (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Books, 2011) that described this area and his many years of visits:
“During his twenty-five years of canoeing in the wild, Jerry Apps has experienced it all—wicked thunderstorms, inquisitive bears, swamping a canoe, night skies filled with more stars imaginable, falling asleep to the lullaby of water lapping at the canoe’s edge. In his latest book, Campfires and Loon Calls, Apps generously shares his seasoned advice, from how to set up camp and protect food from hungry bears to minimalist cooking and appreciating a rainy day, all the while weaving in the incredible history of the Boundary Waters region.”
This is almost too simple a book and, being an academic, Apps writes in a somewhat dry style, so his subtle lessons could go undetected. Beyond being merely a travelogue of time spent canoeing the Boundary Waters, he looks at culture, our priorities, and how a wilderness area fits (or doesn’t) within those parameters. Pithy, sometimes amusing stories illustrate good tenets of canoe camping, and Apps often reminds us to slow down and enjoy where we are and what we are doing – great advice.
It’s unlikely that I’ll pack up my family and head up to the Boundary Waters anytime soon. It’s unlikely my wife would let me. But the next time we go canoeing, or camping, or the two together if we’re lucky, I’ll be the more prepared because of this tome.
About the Author: Jerry Apps writes novels and nonfiction about the outdoors, country life, and rural living. He received the 2008 First Place Nature Writing Award from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association and the 2007 Major Achievement Award from the Council for Wisconsin writers. He and his wife live in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit Jerry Apps at
(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Fulcrum Books. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

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