Saturday, July 2, 2016

Easy Peasy Backpacking

A few weeks ago Brent and I participated in the Edmonton Outdoor Club's "Backpacking 101".

There were five of us volunteers participating and we had various stations set up including Jo demonstrating long-term point-to-point backpacking and winter backpacking, Brent demonstrating cycle touring, and Rob and Lynn demonstrating backpack cooking, safety, and so on.

My station, of course, was the "Easy Peasy Backpacking" station and I had two topics to share:
  1. Easy backpack food
  2. Easy backpack trips, including hub-and-spoke trips
Easy Backpack Food

A number of my friends are essentially backpack chefs.  On each trip they show up with all their little containers full of  fresh ingredients.  They prepare their fresh, aromatic meals, while sharing tips, secrets and recipes with other backpack chefs.

If Brent were into being a backpack chef, I'd be all over eating those fresh, aromatic backpack meals, but he isn't, and I definitely am not.  So, I've learned a few things over the years about taking the easy way out with regards to backpack food.  Here are some of my favorites:
  • Breakfast:
    • Quaker instant oatmeal
    • Starbuck's Instant Coffee packs
  • Lunch:
    • Tinned tuna salad (from the tinned fish section of the supermarket)
    • Left-Over Pizza.  Good for day one and maybe day two (if it's not too warm out)
  • Dinner:
    • Boil-in-bag meals from the Indian grocer.  Pair a Paneer meal with:
    • Homemade boil-in-bag rice: Prepare rice at home, store it in a Ziplock boil-friendly bag
    • Backpack meals from the store are acceptable in a pinch
  • Snacks:
    • Cheese.  It travels extremely well, even on multi-day trips.  Pre-wrapped pieces such as individual cheddars or BabyBels are great.  Take a few pieces for every day, even for trips of a week or longer
    • Indian snack mixes: Punjabi Mix, Navrattan Mix, Chevda... find these in the snack aisle of your local Indian grocer.  They're a great, tasty substitute for traditional trail mix
    • Raw almonds (from the baking aisle)
    • Run Rype dried fruit bars
    • Clif Bars
    • Sesame Snaps
    • Special K breakfast bars
    • Mini-Wheats in a tupperwear
    • Potato Chips
What are your favorite easy backpack foods?  Please share in the comments so I can learn some things!

Easy (Yet Wonderful) Backpack Trips - Hub and Spoke

I know people who talk about their backpack adventures, including 14-day back-country trips through Willmore Wilderness, backpacking in Iceland, and any number of things that I would assign any number of adjectives but "fun" and "enjoyable" would not be on the list.

But backpacking doesn't have to be back-breaking or soul-crushing.  If you just want to get out for a nice time with your friends, or family, consider a hub-and-spoke trip.

Hub-and-spoke means that you walk in to your camp site and set up camp.  For any number of days, you do day trips from your base camp.  On your last day, you pack up camp and walk back out.  No packing up and moving every single day.  You can even enjoy a day off if you want!

Some of my favorite hub-and-spoke backpack trips in the Canadian Rockies:
  • Tombstone: Hike in via Elbow Lake.  Day trips: Rae Lake, Sheep Lakes, Piper Pass.
  • The Forks: Hike in to The Forks campground.  Day trips: Turbine Canyon & Haig Glacier, Three Isle Lake & Kananaskis Pass.
  • Skoki: Hike in to Hidden Lake or Baker Lake.  Day trips: Deception Pass, Cotton Grass Pass.
  • Berg Lake: Helicopter in to Berg Lake.  Day trips: Snowbird Pass, Hargreaves Lake, Robson Pass.  Hike out.

I am a self-professed sissy.  In order to enjoy backpacking I have to make it as easy for myself as possible.  And I do.  Make it as easy for myself, AND enjoy it.  Even if you're a backpacking sissy, you can enjoy it too.