Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Advice: Masterclass: Counting Lemons (Survivorman/Les Stroud)


Lemon System

When your out in the wilderness, esp. by yourself, you have to pay special attention to your mind & body and the surroundings. Little things can add up to big problems. One system I heard on an episode of Survivorman. 
"You count the lemon, one lemon, two lemons, three lemons. now you have to stop & fix the situation." A lemon is: an injury, the weather, a hole in your canoe, pushing yourself too hard. He mentions a small injury like a blister or aches from an old knee injury might only count as a 1/2 lemon but it should be considered.


The "Lemon system" is well-known around Ottawa. The earliest reference I have is a little booklet by James Raffan, Wilderness Crisis Management, published by Canoe Ontario in 1987. I'm still using this (with permission of course) for tripping courses.
One commenter said that Les' 1/2 lemon was erroneous - one lemon could be life threatening. My response: well of course, it's just a rule of thumb.
On my Gold Creek hike, I used this system in my decision to turn back when I did.
    1) my leg was in pain from the previous day
    2) the trail was overgrown
    3) the creek crossing was mildly risky (wet shoes, unseen hazard, deeper on way back)
Three Lemons = turn back.