Food Stuffs

Blisters and Bliss has a section on Food. Consider this an addendum to that.

My friend Wayne and I love pasta dishes for the dinner. We chop lots of garlic and make a terrific cheese sauce. The freeze dried pre-prepared dinners are great too. Soup is a must. Appetizers can be smoked salmon, smoked sausage, crackers and cheese, smoked oysters. Have a chocolate bar for dessert. For breakfast we usually have individual packs of oatmeal or cream of wheat that need only boiling water. Don't forget the brown sugar and raisins. Lunch is usually on the trail so simple is better. Crackers, tube of peanut butter, tube of jam, squeeze "phoney" cheese, power bars, trail mix with dried fruit. The key to eating on a backpack trip is "lots of small dishes" to keep you busy and keep you eating. Enjoy!


We had met an interesting couple along route and invited them to share a little of our simple backpacker's dinner. The sauteed garlic cloves in our smoking, pasta sauce had been delicately blended with peanut butter, re-constituted milk and a generous portion of crushed chilies. Survival was undoubtedly foremost in the minds of our guests, but still they offered several generous compliments. As we cooled our palates over coffee and chocolate, these delightful folks revealed that they were professors in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Alberta. We haven't heard from them since but assume they are still trying to decipher the ingredients of that memorable sauce.

At Tsusiat we met a group of retirees, about 10 strong, who had dried and packed all their own gourmet meals. We were very impressed with the neatly packaged soups and bean dishes. We were 'blown away' when they explained that many of the ingredients had been harvested from their own gardens.

Bannock is a pleasant thing to cook on a cool evening when the fire isn't too busy. Here's a recipe I've found successful. You can also buy premixed packages. This whole thing is 99% better if you have a tube of jam to pass around.

Take along premixed in a plastic bag:
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Add at the time of cooking:
1/2 cup of margarine/butter
1/2 cup of water
Mix in the margarine until the mix resembles coarse cornmeal. Gradually add the water while tossing the mixture with a fork, until mixture clings together to form a thick dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. (inside of a bowl) Knead until very smooth.

Cook flattened in a pan about 10 minutes on each side. OR roll into a long "snake" and wind around a stick.

The Fastest Hike

Cullite takes the prize at 200+ rungs. For many people the ladders are the greatest challenge.

"What's the fastest anyone's ever done this trail?" Every year someone asks this question and we usually recall a Victoria running club that claims to have scrambled the whole thing in three days. Three days gets us about half way, but then, we're mere mortals with aching muscles and hot spots on our feet. Two days? Impossible! Maybe not. This story comes from two young men who ran it on a weekend in 1998.

"You should probably plan on more than three days." The park's official was behind her counter at the trailhead advising the two young men. "Most people take 5 or 6 days."

"We feel confident we can do it," Peter said. "We both completed a triathlon a week ago." "We're in pretty good shape," Paul added. Neither man let on that they really intended to make the hike in 2 days. They had agreed that 3 days was the minimum they could safely suggest without raising eyebrows.
"Well, just so you know," the official said. "Very few people can finish 75 km in three days. Make sure you're prepared for at least that long."
In spite of having to wait for a 9am crossing of the Gordon, by early evening, as the sun was disappearing over the trees, they had reached Monique's place at Carmanah.
"You fellas stay here tonight!" she said.
"No we'll go on to Cribs."
"You can't go on to Cribs tonight, it almost dark. Where'd yuh start today?" After hearing they had started that morning in Port Renfrew, the amazed Monique offered no further arguments. Their single night on the trail was spent at the Cribs.
The second day both men endured foot pain. Paul was wearing an old pair of infantry boots he'd borrowed from his father. Peter had a brand new pair of Nike trail runners. Ever stumble over a root when one of your toenails is "hanging by a thread? Paul called it pain "greater than childbirth".
The following day both men were back at work. Paul was using two walking canes and climbing stairs backwards. Peter's grotesquely swollen feet were sock less in an old pair of unlaced sneakers.
"So all things considered, how was the trip?" I asked.

Aged is Best

How old is too old for this hike? You may find you have a few good years left.

The word came down the trail, moccasin-telegraph style, that a 77 year old woman was finishing her last two days on the infamous and challenging, 50 mile long, West Coast Trail of Vancouver Island. We were collapsed behind a log in the late afternoon sun with our customary aperitif and smoked salmon appetizer, when the other members of this elderly lady's group, began to arrive. It was the sixth hiking day for this tour group and several were limping from blisters or muscle cramps.
"Mrs. Jones is coming with another woman. She's just a few minutes behind." the leader assured us.
I said, "Quite a lady! I can only hope I'll be able to tie my own boots at her age"
Everyone was talking about the "old lady". The sun moved behind the tall trees flanking Camper Bay, casting dark shadows across the beach.
"They better get here soon. It's gonna be dark pretty quick!" someone said.
"No kidding," I added, "I was exhausted four hours ago."
Finally, the young group leader took off up the ladders. About thirty minutes passed. The sun was gone and the air had turned chilly. The forest would be dark and difficult for anyone except the most nimble-footed.
All eyes were turned toward the point, watching. Three silhouettes emerged. One hiker was bent over, obviously tortured by each step. Two packs were piled high on the shoulders of the tallest, who marched out in front.
"There she is!" I said. "Look at the way she's walking. That poor woman!"
The third person was moving close beside the casualty, helping her. We all strained to pick out faces in the darkness. The young guide lumbered past under the packs, looking very fed up. Light from our fire touched the other two faces. A gentle and aged face greeted us with a smile. So this was Mrs. Jones! She was supporting the arm of a stooped and crippled figure about 50 years her junior! Mrs. Jones, it turns out was a gardener, and she was hiking comfortably in her old and sturdy gardening boots. She finished the hike in style!