Good Grub

Y’all gotta understand, I been packing mules into the mountains for many years. Put it this way, we don’t loose any weight on pack trips. Back when I was toolin’ around in a fiberglass solo, well, I caught fish, or I just didn’t eat too good. Paddling here in the Rockies doesn’t involve much portaging, so I can still carry my dutch oven, two-burner coleman stove and all the can goods a #4 Duluth will hold. But up there in big ol’ lake country, what does the well-fed canoeist bring? I’ve thought about emptying some stuff into plastic containers, a soft cooler in my pack (for the requisite elk steaks on the first night), and maybe even a small #8 dutch oven (I gotta have my biscuits). Any suggestions or recipes? I’ve seen those hippie backpackers livin’ off Ramen noodles and maybe some trout for a week, and it ain’t something I care to endure.

Good eats
There are a lot of good outdoor cookbooks that are suitable to canoe camping. I really enjoy outdoor cooking, so when I’m canoe camping I bring some extras. I carry an Outback Oven for biscuits and other baked goods. It weighs a fraction of even an aluminum dutch oven and works fine for 4 people.

We have a tendancy to make one-pot meals with a bread or desert for dinner. I make mine using dehydrated meat (chicken or hamburger usually, dried at home), various dehydrated veggies and seasonings (most, not all, home dried), and a starch from the store. We usually use a rice mix (Lipton, Uncle Ben’s, etc), but the noodle ones can be pretty good too. Most of my canoe camping is in the BWCA and you can’t take cans, so I use a lot of dehydrated (not freeze-dried) foods that I repackage in ziplock bags. I also take a stove (my current one is a MSR Dragonfly) because I don’t like the time it takes to find wood and make a good cooking fire.

Sometimes I do something special like pizza in the Outback Oven (really good) or strawberry shortcake (shortbread in the OO, dehydrated strawberries, DreamWhip for the topping).

You certainly don’t have to starve on one of my trips, but the good doesn’t weight much either. We eat well using either home-dehydrated or grocery store items. The only pre-packaged backpacker style food I use is freeze-dried peas. They are a luxury and taste just like fresh peas! Take a good look at your local grocery store and you’ll see lots of easy to cook “regular” food.

Rule of Thimb
I use 2.5# of food per day per person as a rule of thumb for a canoe trip. So if two of you go for a week, and your food pack weighs 35#s (2.5 X 2 X 7), then you should be OK.

We do open-n-eat for lunch (ie no cooking). This can be jerky, salami sticks, GORP, granola bars, P&J on tortilas, crackers, cheese, etc.

For breakfast we may go simple like oatmeal or more complicated like pancakes or bacon & eggs.

Dinner’s a bit more complicated. Your elk steaks for night one is OK but that should probably be your only fresh meat of the trip. Freeze the steaks solid in a zip lock bag or vacuume sealed. If you use an outfitter, ask them to keep your steaks in their freezer until you are ready to leave. Wrap the frozen steaks in newspaper and insert that into a plastic bag. They’ll still be good when you’re ready to make them that night. No need for a cooler. Use the newpaper as fire starter.

The rest of the food can be Hamburger Helper or other boxed meals. Use dehydrated hamburger with them. As far as biscuits, you can use a plain ol’ fry pan with cover. Oil the pan. Heat. Put biscuits in. Cover. When the bottom is done, flip them like pancakes. Cover again. Remove when done and you have double bottom buscuits.

Ramen noodles=hippie?
Not me use ramen noodles to suppliment other food. My buddies would laugh if ya called us hippies. About as far opposite as ya can get. Depends on the trip, in boats we take more on land hiking we use MRE’s usually or dried vacumn sealed foods.

Nothin’ wrong with hippies
Hell, they got the purdiest wimmin on the trail! An’ all that naked bathin’ has entertained me on many occassion. I reckin’ hippie ain’t the proper word no more for college-age yutes in shorts with big ol’ backpacks. But I’m a creature of habit, an’ too old to change, I reckin’. But hippie backpackers are fine with me. Preferable to some of the poor stock I’ve run into in the backcounty who leave their trash layin’ around for others to pack out. An’ as long as they keep their wimmin wearin’ those tight stretchy shorts, I’ll follow 'em anywhere.

Packing the Winds (long and OT)

– Last Updated: Mar-07-04 6:01 PM EST –

Were you with those guys in 1985? My girlfirend and I were taking a shortcut from Pyramid Lake down to Skull Lake. We were bushwacking across a high bench before dropping down to the trail when we ran into a group of horse packers camping in an outfitters tent up there.

They were a crusty looking bunch, all canvas, denim, leather and big hats. They had a regular woodburning stove and a remuda of horses looked like something out of Silverado. They were wearing white dusters so I took them for the good guys.

The oldest one came up with a cup of coffee and asked what me and the "little lady" was doing up here off the trail. I told him we were headed down after tickling some Goldens up at Pyramid. His eyes lit up at that.

You see the Goldens were on spawn up there and the little creeks and rivulets were teeming with those big mammas. All you had to do was stick your arm in and grab one. Opening my pack, I showed him the one we had selected for dinner and the camp got all busy.

He said it was illegal to pull them out like that but they all had better get up there quick just to see the commotion.

Before we left he told me they were a group of outfitters and ranchers who made an annual trip into the Winds to fish, scout deer trails and just enjoy nature. Like I thought, the "good guys".

I didn't see a package of ramen noodles anywhere, but I DID wonder why they were ogling my woman so hard, now BeaverJack, you have made it too clear.

That was you?
Hell, I ‘member thet! Small world, ain’t it. That was a fine lookin’ womun you had with you. Not a bad fish either. Sorry, but me an’ the boys see lots of fish up in the hills. A good lookin’ womun is more of a novelty, so we tend to oogle a lil’. Remember what they say 'bout Wyoming - The men are men, and so are the wimmin.

I thot it was

– Last Updated: Mar-08-04 3:53 PM EST –

the men are men and the sheep are afraid!

BTW, I ate the fish and kept the woman. She ain't no hippy anymore but she's still mine!

Finis is a folk hero
to the outfitters in Pinedale, but the ranchers consider anything “eco” to be liberal horse hooey. I saw a teacher in a patchwork floor length dress one day, tolk her I liked her “granny gown”. She got real offended. I tried to explain that the hippies back in the 60s called that kind of dress a granny, but she thought I was being rude. Granny gowns were great. So were Earth shoes. Nothin’ like a hippie chick in a granny gown totin’ a guitar to put me in mind of the ol’ days. Yeppers, they’re alright by me.

Beaverjack said:

“Nothin’ like a hippie chick in a granny gown totin’ a guitar to put me in mind of the ol’ days.”

don’t forget the smell of patchouli oil…ummmm I still get excited.

drying chicken
You’ve peaked my interest in dehydrated chicken. would you be knid enough to eplain your process. I dry venison and beef regularly to make pemmican with, but never dryed chicken. Thanks.


Dennis Knapp

southern Idaho

beaver jack

sounds quite the fun going kayaking and camping with you. Wish you were here in Minnesota and we could go to the Boundary Waters.

So how is your neck o the woods lately?

Lotta ice here. Nothing like my home town Island.

We got 2 feet still

– Last Updated: Mar-13-04 8:46 AM EST –

The snake is broke up, but we still got lots of snow. Been warm this week though, so it won't be too long. I'm gonna do the boundary waters this summer, but my doctor says I ain't allowed no young nubile female camping partners. Not for my sake, mind you. He's afeared that I'm way too much man to risk a womun's health that far away from an emergency room. Just the sight of me skinny dipping in a mountin lake has been knowed cause a helicopter evacuation for unsuspecting female voyuers. Nope Selma dear, I gotta resist these temptations for the sake of outdoor wimmins everywhere. Its a curse that the good lord has burdened me with. I'm much rather have been born rich than so damned virile. Besides, the little womun would cut my balls off an' feed 'em to the gators. Thanks for the offer.

drying beef
For that matter, how do you dry hamburger?

2.5 pounds a day? Wow, this is luxery. When I backpack for a week, my whole pack weighs 40lb. Instant pancakes or the like for breakfast; tuna, chicken or ham pouch for lunch; one dish pasta or rice meal for dinner. I’ve not done any long kayak trips yet but plan on doing the same.