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Les Stroud - the lemon system.
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Author:  jedi jeffi [ February 1st, 2016, 12:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Found this very interesting.
Just a short clip
I do something similar so I can enjoy being out there.
This just might help some of the new people come up with a system when to call it a day.


You tube link

This was the original link, but it seem you need a subscription to watch.
But the readers digest version above on you tube gives you the idea. ... on-system/

Author:  Floats n Boats [ February 1st, 2016, 1:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Thanks Jedi. I have read all his books and he does mention how egos can get the best of you. Oddly this is the first time I have heard of his lemon system. I just don't bother pushing myself. I am out in the woods to feel true freedom. No deadlines, no angry clients, no pressure, just me....well and my wife. But so many of my friends want to see how far there bodies can be pushed. Am I getting too old?

Author:  littleredcanoe [ February 1st, 2016, 2:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

When he said it was half a lemon , I counted a whole one. But the point is big bad things are a result of multiple small bad things. Three is where I think you should stop and make the lemon pie.

Bad stuff from what I have seen happens when you try to stick to an unrealistic schedule.

A couple of accidents on Lake Superior were what I saw. PLBs were used in both incidents but could not save everyone.

Author:  Peter K. [ February 1st, 2016, 4:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

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.

Author:  Sam82 [ February 1st, 2016, 7:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

I think it's kind of dumb personally...this whole lemon business. Because even just one of these "lemons" could be enough to cause a disaster.

For instance, I know that when I get cold when paddling, I have to stop and fix the problem immediately...sometimes that's adding more layers, sometimes it's stopping for the day and camping. If someone where to count being cold as a the time you get to three lemons you are likely in a life threatening situation. I'd rather trip in manner that NEVER puts me in a life threatening situation...EVER.

So for that reason, I dislike the "lemon" concept. Some lemons are just bigger then others...

Author:  Odyssey [ February 1st, 2016, 8:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Thanks Jeff, I'd never heard of tripping lemons. And yes, when Les mentioned his inflamed achilles on his left foot and swelling blister on his right heel I counted 2 lemons. Like Sam, I wouldn't wait for a third lemon. It's easier and sensible to deal with immediate problems immediately, rather than after they've had time to complicate your situation, however minor they might seem. (Limping to alleviate that right heel burning blister? Oops! There goes that left knee ACL!) I agree that there are far too many wannabe macho-machete wielding Rambos looking to "challenge themselves". Perhaps we could just let nature take it's course. But not all folks who get into trouble out there do so because of inflated egos. Some just miss the small signs of trouble before it's too late. A shift in wind, drop in temperature, a little too long since the last sip of water...Counting lemons might help people establish a routine of risk assessment and self awareness if they're unused to questioning themselves and situations. I've had too may itty bitty aches, pains and problems develop into worse to underestimate anything anymore. Or maybe I'm just getting old too. I'd like to get old accident free.
A sign should be posted at every put-in and trail head : Leave your ego at home.

Author:  jedi jeffi [ February 1st, 2016, 8:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Sam you and the rest of us who have been doing this for awhile generally pay very close attention to what is going on around us and to us on trips.
I thought this was a good post to get some of those new or trying different types of outdoor experiences to at least have some of idea on when to what they might do to stay out of trouble.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ February 1st, 2016, 9:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Where is the Thanks button?

Ok the AMEN button.

Are there lemon groves in Canada? now paddling furiously

Author:  cheryl [ February 3rd, 2016, 12:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Not sure about the year, but it was surely in the '80's or very early '90's that James Raffin publsihed this which is where many of us first considered the lemons. He discusses it in this paper. This is def. what Les is describing.

Author:  jedi jeffi [ February 3rd, 2016, 9:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Very cool!
Thanks for that Cheryl! :clap:

For the new people to tripping,
Whether it is day, weekend or longer this thread is not meant to scare you,
but to help you make informed decisions on your trips.
As skills and experience improve your lemon lists will change and how you react.

On our 2014 early spring trip into QEII we knew that in 2 days there was going to be a severe day + long storm coming in. Se took that into account and made our best guesses where the winds would be coming from and choose a site that would best protect us and we ended up being quite comfy.

Being prepared with this kind of decision making is just another tool to use to make sure your trips are enjoyable.

Author:  Allan Jacobs [ February 4th, 2016, 8:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Is the primary error trying to prove oneself to oneself?
Been there, done that. :-(

Author:  Mike McCrea [ February 7th, 2016, 2:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Allan Jacobs wrote:
Is the primary error trying to prove oneself to oneself?
Been there, done that. :-(

I’m kind of cross posting this from a discussion on another board, but I don’t think it is necessarily an effort to prove oneself. Or even that there is a single primary error.

It isn’t just a single factor; over-confidence, or short sightedness or poor preparation. In final analysis “accidents” are most often an accumulated combination of too many things piling up wrong at once. A traffic accident might be a combination of unsafe speed, poor road conditions, bad tires and driver inexperience. Remove any one of those factors and the accident may never have happened.

Chainsawing accidents;, inattentive tired, rushing, bad position, missing safety gear. Paddling accidents; unforeseen weather, no immersion gear, sudden complication far from shore. Climbing or mountaineering accidents, bike accidents, whatever. It is often the combination of too many lemons.

Modern airliners are incredibly reliable, with multiple back up and safety systems. Most airline accidents turn out to be an accumulation of onetwothree things all going wrong at once.

I never thought of them as a “lemons” analogy, but with experience I have come to recognize when I am holding too many. Of course that recognition comes from the experience of having juggled too many lemons and having paid the price, or nearly so.

Author:  jedi jeffi [ September 3rd, 2018, 8:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Do to the number of incidents this year I figured it was time to "bump" this thread.
Lots of new to paddling and the outdoors out there.
Feel free to share becuase this is a good educational tool!

Author:  yarnellboat [ September 3rd, 2018, 9:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Yeah, very good stuff for canoe tripping, and anything else outdoors!

I came across similar messaging in river rescue course, and then saw a "Lemon Theory" article in Canoeroots, and it resonated again, so I wrote something up specific to the ww day trips we did in our local canoe club. Here's the "Eat, Drink and Be Wary" article I put in the club's newsletter. My take-away was to sweat the small stuff of staying watered, fed and warm. We've all been there: feeling rushed, shaking with cold or hungry, losing dexterity and patience, and we need to recognize those warnings as the potential for something more.

The analogy in the article I read was a slot machine - you don't want to pull a line up of 3 lemons!

Eat, Drink and Be Wary

After taking a river rescue course, I was surprised which new bit of knowledge stuck with me the most - and it’s not how to make a sling for helicopter rescues out of webbing, though that’s cool too! It’s the importance of eating, drinking and staying comfortable.

Perhaps it’s the simplicity and manageability of the message that struck me. Or perhaps it’s the way our instructor derived the information – from his experience as an expert witness in coroners’ inquests, breaking down a day’s events that eventually led to a fatal incident. Apparently virtually everybody who gets in harm’s way while participating in outdoor recreation has some degree of dehydration, hypoglycemia (low blood-sugar) and/or hypothermia.

In other words, before people get into trouble, they get thirsty, hungry and cold.

An article in Canoeroots magazine called it the “Lemon Theory”, referencing a slot machine where 3 lemons line up as a jackpot. The example it used was in-camp safety - a serious burn resulting from a dehydrated person using an unfamiliar stove in the dark - but the same message applies: take care of the little things as-you-go, or they might add up and become a big thing.

For example, somebody doesn’t just happen to fall out of a canoe at 3 p.m. and get caught in a logjam...
At 8 a.m. they forget their toque and spare clothes at home; at the put-in an experienced paddler wonders about their skills, but doesn’t speak up; at 10 a.m. they wish they’d had more for breakfast and wish they had a snack accessible; at noon they get caught in some wind & rain, taking only a quick lunch break, not getting rested, fed or warmed; at 1 p.m. they capsize and have a swim, each cold, grumpy tandem partner blaming the other – bad situation gets worse, the lemons are lining up; at 2:30 the boats are spread far apart on the river; and, at 3, being cold, hungry and dehydrated - and now disorganized and in a rush to get off the river - they don’t gather and scout at a sharp corner, and they flip above a logjam – jackpot!

The headlines would report that a logjam was the cause of this incident, but maybe they just needed some soup at lunch, a loaner toque and a better mood for group discussions? Little corrective measures at any one of these milestones throughout the day could’ve helped avoid a major bad experience.

We all know that accidents can happen anyway. But if good decisions and corrective actions are made throughout the day, being hydrated, energized and insulated can be what gives you the strength and the wits to walk away from it! As a kayaker described it at safety clinic at Western: “a safe trip is one where people start as a group (physically and mentally), paddle as a group, and finish as a group.”

It’s of course important that we wear PFDs, helmets and proper clothing on the river, and that we carry whistles, knives, throwropes, caribiners and pulleys - quick-release this and locking that - and that we practice our signals, knots and so on, but the most important “rescue gear” we carry might be that thermos or granola bar that will help keep our minds and our groups together, saving us from ourselves.

The canoe club deserves credit for managing these issues well by training new members and by always doing pre-trip chats that include mention of food, water and clothing, as well as equipment checks and an assessment of hazards. But it never hurts to get a reminder from an outside expert, and it’s hard to argue with the source of this information. So, let’s learn from the mistakes of others on this and stay aware of keeping ourselves and our friends fed, watered and warm!


Author:  jedi jeffi [ September 4th, 2018, 7:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Les Stroud - the lemon system.

Great article & read yarnellboat!
:clap: :clap: :clap:
And thanks for the share!
Very timely
I encourage our community to share this on their various social media sites.
A little education can go a long way in saving someones "assets" :roll:

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