It has been raining heavily since I left Tofino and the temperatures have dropped a bit. Living in a tent in this cold, wet environment can be been tough at times, especially since there are few opportunities to dry things out. While I don’t have a wood stove and indoor space to hang gear each night, I do have my own body heat. I will often sleep with a set of damp socks tucked into my long underwear. My body heat will slowly push the moistue away and out through the sleeping bag during the night. By morning, the socks are totally dry, warm, and pleasant to put on! This technique is surprisingly effective for drying clothes, damp socks, small items, etc.
Of course, in order for this trick to work I have to be warm. That requires adequate fuel for my body in the form of calorie-dense foods. When choosing food for the expedition I had to make sure that it, 1) has plenty of energy in it to keep me warm and moving forward, and 2) packs into a small space, as volume is a limiting factor when paddling solo. Those two requirements mean that the menu includes a lot of fat. When you eat fat it burns more slowly, providing energy over a longer period of time, so a high-fat diet can help you paddle more miles without getting hungry and also sleep warm through the entire night. My fat of choice on this trip is butter. Butter is great for this situation because it contains more energy per pound and per unit volume than most any other food and is readily available in stores everywhere. Since I am living at refrigerator temperatures (or lower!) I do not have to worry about it spoiling.
The menu on this expedition is very simple and does not change much. I eat the same things almost every day. I know this would drive some people crazy, but it works for me. Here are the meals that I have been eating so far on a typical traveling day:
Breakfast: Oats, nuts, raisins, butter, tea
Lunch: Bag of trail mix with chunks of cheese and sausage
Snacks: energy bars and thermos of miso soup
Dinner: Red lentils with brown minute-rice, bratwurst (or other protein), butter
As you can see, there are a lot of fatty foods throughout the day. Also, the dinner has a lot of protein from the rice, lentils, and meat. That is to help my body and muscles recover after a full day paddling a heavy boat.
You might have noticed that lunch is basically just a bag of stuff. This is a technique I learned while leading winter expeditions in northern Minnesota and is called a “squirrel bag.” Basically, you put a lot of high-calorie goodies into a small ziploc and you can dip into it whenever you like, making it easy to eat while on the water. I typically eat a bit of something every 60 - 90 minutes while paddling; so far I have not gotten hungry even during the longest days on the water.
On days when I am not paddling I switch a couple things up. Instead of the “squirrel bag” lunch I will eat peanut butter, cheese, and maybe even some sausages on tortillas. For dinner I may substitute mac and cheese for lentil meal (I believe the Canadian translation is “Kraft Dinner”).
So far the food plan seems to be working out well. I have not been cold or hungry any day, even the coldest, windiest, and rainiest. I also have been able to pack close to 20 days worth of food in my boat when I am full up. That gives me the ability to wait out winter storms like the one that is howling outside my tent right now. This has been a valuable safety margin that I am very happy to have.
The weather looks good and I plan on getting underway again tomorrow. I have been incredibly lucky to have gotten stuck here at the hot springs, and I am sure it will be a highlight of the trip. I will try and post again in a few days, though cell signal and wifi will become much more scarce for the next two weeks or so. Keep an eye on the map to see where I get to!