Packing up for a canoe trip requires some experiments

I’m eagerly packing for a family canoe trip that involves kids.
I’ve even stuffed in a pack a “kitchen sink.”
This newly-purchased sink is nylon, and bundles up to a size not much bigger than your hand. Using it will keep detergents and food particles out of the lakes.
Another experiment this year is a lightweight aluminum pot and pan set to replace our cast iron one. It weighs a total of three pounds, nests together, and shares the same handle.
I’m excited about the space this cooking set will free up in my pack—and how it will lighten our portage load.
I’m also looking forward to improved food since we’ll have more time at the campsites. In the past, my brothers (who can be a bit competitive) pretended to enjoy paddling up to 14 hours a day and setting up camp in the dark.
This year, we’ll cover fewer miles but practise more camp craft recently learned at a wilderness survival course.
We’ll try starting a fire using the bow method, which involves just wood, tinder, and rope made of plant fiber. We’ll also fish, pick berries, and collect wild edible samples.
In season right now are big-leafed aster greens, oyster mushrooms, and rock tripe ready to boil.
As well, there are hazelnuts and water lily seeds for frying, and buds of fireweed and goldenrod which make tangy additions to salads.
Using fresh food from the lakes and forest certainly will promote a healthier habit compared to last year when the youngest ate way too much candy.
His uncle (my brother) let the kids take care of several bags of Gum Gums and Skittles so he could cover miles while the rest of us raced to keep up.
That night, the candy came back–in a different form–all over his tent. The payback seemed ironic to me as I leisured in my clean tent with a magazine and my feet up.
Another brother packed expired bags of vacuum-packed camp stew. Although the kids wouldn’t eat it, they certainly practised their use of figurative language to describe the meal.
So I retrieved our “back-up” Kraft Dinner–a delectable food choice even without the margarine.
The kids wished we had packed more Kraft Dinner, but no one was starving.
The reason I know this is because every year I pack the same bag of spicy Japanese horseradish beans. No one complains about being hungry when the only thing left, as you paddle the last leg, are these truly magical beans.
In comparison to the beans and the “space stew,” my cooking received an unusual number of compliments. So this year I’m packing even better food.
We’ll wrap and roast bannock dough at the end of sticks, fry Canadian bacon with potato pancakes, bake blueberry coffee cake, and chop fresh veggies for tofu chili (I’ll call it hamburger until they are done eating).
The tofu tastes like hamburger in the chili sauce, but isn’t as perishable–a good thing since we don’t have room for ice.
The final new item to my pack is related to a more delicate topic. I call it the “business bag.” It holds a tin can (with holes punched in the bottom and an open top), toilet paper, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, matches, and a small garden trowel.
You can imagine what we’ll do with the digger, and the toilet paper will be burned in the can using the hand sanitizer as fuel, if necessary.
I figure at the start of each trip, we end up a bit wiser than we started.
This year, with a lighter load, healthy food, and a pristine forest floor, we are en route to the best trip yet!

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