Archive for March, 2013

Food Planning For 23 Days

Friday, March 29th, 2013
The Sun by Haida artist Robert Davidon.

Artwork by Haida artist Robert Davidon.

23 days on the water. If all goes well, my third trip out to Haida Gwaii I will be in a wilderness unlike any other I have paddled into. After the first day, I will not see a road till day 22. A town and the ferry terminal will appear on day 23.

Food, that’s what I think about. What’s to eat?

Paddle where one can stop along the way in a store or restaurant is a totally different trip than if one needs to plan everything one eats for 3+ weeks. Below is some of what I’ve learned after 20+ years of doing overnight trips and 15+ of self supported trips two weeks or longer.

Not all paddling trips have a pub nearby.

Not all campsites have an Irish pub nearby.

Preservation is necessary. Cheese and sausage gets eaten the first week, tortillas pack smaller and last longer than other bread products and if you are lucky, hard cheese like parmesan can last three plus weeks. Dried fruit lasts and lasts, that is, if you don’t eat it right away. Several dinners come from grocery store shelves. Tuna helper is good protein & well known (I add dried veggies), Alessi’s Pasta Fazool soup is dried and has real food in it, dried spaghetti sauce plus dried ground beef rehydrates with the cooking pasta and a can of chicken, a spice packet, dried veggies & instant rice is a Chinese like meal. Variety in protein (beef, chicken & fish),  texture (rice, pasta, soup, etc) and flavor (Italian, Chinese, Mexican, etc)  is important to keep taste buds interested over weeks, even when very hungry. Variety also helps with getting better rounded nutrition.

Fast food? Think it is going to rain soon or you are so tired, all you want to/can do is crash out, think Mary Jane’s Bare Burrito. Boil some water, mix & throw it on a tortilla, you are satiated in under 20 minutes with no mess to clean up. Even quicker is some

Cooking dinner under a tarp in Haida Gwaii.

Cooking dinner under a tarp in Haida Gwaii.

beef jerky, dried fruit, tortilla and possibly a sports bar – this dinner has been eaten standing under a tree in a downpour before.

Have a need to eat something greasy & salty? Bring along some hashbrowns, oil and a fry pan. Add some eggs (from freeze dried or powered, freeze dried taste better and have little clean up), and you have a breakfast meal that for an off day or a half day will make you dream of the next time you get to eat it.

Then there is fresh food. Out of every craving I have walked off of a trip with, fresh is the only one I have not figured a way to fix. Baby carrots, small onions and garlic are carried as they all last well and can be thrown in bow/stern end to stow. Tortillas, baby carrots and peanut butter are a mid trip lunch staple. A bit of onion and garlic livens up any evening meal. Have to admit I am still figuring this part out.

What three weeks worth of food looks like.

What three weeks worth of food looks like packed.

Fuel concerns are another factor. Multiple meals boil water and then the meal is ready (bare burritos, stir fry using instant rice) and others cook for under 10 minutes (tuna helper, spaghetti, soup). Early trips had longer cooking foods and needed more fuel. Now I carry 80 ounces of fuel instead of 116 ounces for a 21 day trip.

Sports nutrition such as what Clif does grew from something I once questioned to something that earned its place in a packed boat. Clif bars I eat once a year, paddling season, for their dense calories. Clif shots and bloks provide a quick calorie boost. An ample supply is stuffed into my PFD pockets. When combined with a hydration bladder, you get  easy access to water & calories in rough seas or extended paddling between landings. A sports drink such as Cytomax provides hydration as well as sustained energy, I stop every hour for a drink of it. All of these products help me at the end of a long day (30-40 miles) to drag the boat above the high tide line, setup camp and cook dinner without crashing.

Deserts can save your sanity/pick up spirits and provide a reward. Simple foods with a low fuel requirement are needed. Chocolate is a standard, a snickers for every week is a

Stopping for coffee and ice cream in the San Juan Islands.

Stopping for coffee and ice cream in the San Juan Islands.

tradition and dried apricots turn into an object of lust. But a change is needed every once in a while to lift one out of taste fatigue or save you from killing someone (tough on a solo trip). Popping popcorn provides a salty crunchy snack that cannot be duplicated. Warm cookies (instant pancakes with chocolate chips added) makes one forget about apricots or murderous desires.

Chex mix provides a pre-dinner snack while waiting for the water to boil, both salty and crunchy, it can temporarily defang hunger pangs.

I’ve learned certain foods, even after two+ weeks of paddling taste awful. Instant cheesecake is one, potato soup by Bear Valley is another. There is the need to be satiated and Amy’s Mac & cheese just doesn’t pack enough calories. Then there is dietary needs, beef jerky is on every trip as a protein boost as is cheese and powdered milk for the nutrition (like calcium) that milk brings.

So much focus is on dinner and that is my plan – have the evening to rest, recover and plan for the next day. Breakfast is simple on paddling days, granola, powdered milk and dried bananas – I can get on the water in under an hour from waking up when needed. Plus a cold breakfast saves on fuel. Lunch is tortillas with cheese & sausage the first week, peanut

Gift from a crab fisherman in Ireland.

Gift from a crab fisherman in Ireland.

butter & jelly the second and flavored tuna/salmon packs the third week. That last week, the protein/energy provided by the fish is amazing to feel course through ones self. Breakfast and lunch are geared to be simple & quick, there is paddling to be done.

Food is highly individualistic. Like philosophy, some of this will seem silly to some people and to females or a different aged male, there can be different results/needs. Culture influences preferences as well. One European paddler friend prefers to eat his big meal of the day at lunchtime. Lunch is a couple hours long and he prefers to paddle into the evening where dinner is something simple & quick just before sunset.

But food is fuel. Screw it up and it will be near impossible to have a good trip – have you ever met anyone on a diet who is happy? Get it right and a miserable trip won’t be as miserable. Either way, food can help you crank out the miles one day and wake up to do it again the next. You’ll even look forward to the question, what’s to eat?


Haida Gwaii Part III

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
Totem pole from the late 1800s at Chaatl a former village on the west coast.

Totem pole from the late 1800s at Chaatl a former village on the west coast.

Haida Gwaii or the Queen Charlotte Islands in northern British Columbia has always been a muse. Previous trips in 2005 and 2009, totaling 46 days left me wanting more. So in july of 2013 I will return for 23 days on the water, my third trip there. Self supported and solo, I will let the weather determine the actual route. Any route, will include rain, storms as well as old growth, Bald Eagles and remote wilderness. Magic and misery are closely entwined here. First time on the west coast it rained for 6+ days with only a few breaks. Also hard to forget was the waterfall that was thousands of feet high, an exposed beach where the high water mark from waves was nearly a mile from the waters edge and the mountains rising up out of the ocean.

A totem pole being carved along with completed canoes at teh Haida Heritage Center.

A totem pole being carved along with completed canoes at teh Haida Heritage Center.

The people of the Haida First Nation have a thriving culture I have seen in few places. In particular is their artistry. These are the people of the totem pole, whose artists were and still are highly valued. It is a culture that looks to the water. Villages were on the waters edge, travel done by canoe and the majority of food came from the ocean. The Haida language is taught in all the schools, even to non Haida children. Efforts by the Canadian/British Columbian governments to deny their rightful authority to the land and self government has been ignored. Their Haida Heritage Center, a place for artists, workshops and a museum, has no admission charge. They view their culture as something to share with the world.

The view from Logan Pass in Glacier National Park.

The view from Logan Pass in Glacier National Park.

On the way home, is a planned three day backpacking trip in Glacier National Park. My application is in the lottery and I am hoping for those days to be spent along the continental divide. My last trip to Haida Gwaii I drove through Banff and Glacier and was intrigued with the ability to drive high and then set out with elevation changes 1-3000′ instead of a 4-6000′ climb. The continental divide, where water flows into different watersheds,  has always been a fascination for me. In Glacier at one place, waters flow towards the Pacific Ocean, Mississippi/Atlantic Ocean and Hudson Bay. Truly a flatlanders muse.

Travel in Haida Gwaii is not to be taken lightly. On the remote west coast, hazards are abundant. This is where waves formed in Hawaii, Japan and the Aleutians meet land.  Boomers, waves that break only when the largest waves come through are found everywhere here. Normally, one consults a chart and plans their route based on what the bottom topography dictates. The west coast near shore bottom is uncharted, observation is my only option here. The east coast is more traveled and sheltered. Currents will be an issue in a couple of areas and require careful planning.

ACR's PLB that will be along with me on the trip.

ACR’s PLB that will be along with me on the trip.

My last trip there was stopped in its tracks by two stationary low pressure systems that each sat for 5 days throwing out 25 knot winds. With a float plan that had a friend expecting a call on a specified date and time, responsibility dictated I couldn’t continue once things cleared. This time I will have more flexibility thanks to the feature ACR’s personal locator beacon has to send out a couple of different non emergency signals.

In the end though, this trip is an immersion into the wilderness of northern British Columbia plus a bonus trip to the mountains of Glacier. A trip to the Muses offers one a richer life. For me it most likely means part three will be followed by a part four…

PS More photos below!


Prince Rupert is a 5 day drive from Marquette.

Prince Rupert is a 5 day drive from Marquette.

An overnight ferry will cross the Hecate Strait.

An overnight ferry will take me across the Hecate Strait.

Carl Mather paddling along the wesat coast, where mountains meet the sea.

Carl Mather paddling along the west coast, where mountains meet the sea.

Cape St James, the southern tip of the islands.

Cape St James, the southern tip of the islands.

Near Cape St James. Photo by Barry Poole.

Near Cape St James. Photo by Barry Poole.


A protected cove on the east side under the rising moon.

A protected cove on the east side under the rising moon. Photo by Carl Mather.

Ninstints, a UNESCO world heritage site as the best remaining example of a Native village site.

Ninstints, a UNESCO world heritage site as the best remaining example of a Native village site. Photo by Carl Mather.

The hot springs of Hot Springs Island are starting to flow again after a recent earthquake. Photo by Barry Poole.

The hot springs of Hot Springs Island are starting to flow again after a recent earthquake. Photo by Barry Poole.

The totem poles of the Haida Heritage Site.

The totem poles of the Haida Heritage Site.

From Glacier National Park, a peak along the continental divide peaking out of the clouds.

From Glacier National Park, a peak along the continental divide peaking out of the clouds.


Haida Gwaii (517)

Looking west after passing through Glacier National Park.


2013 Workshops

Monday, March 4th, 2013

We are lucky at SKS, we get to have a lot of fun doing what we do. Whether its the paddling programs at Bay Cliff Health Camp or the YMCA of Marquette County, we get to reach out to kids and adults of all ages and get them paddling.  There is also our personal trips that sometimes takes us around the world.

How the paddling season gets its start!

But there is another element of the SKS dream and that is instructor workshops. Over the years this has built from running one IDW & ICE a year to 2013 where including our own workshops, we have 7 different partners for running 16 different workshops over 40 days.

It is humbling the trust people put in our experience and skills to run workshops that train their staff and customers. We work hard to do our best and to put together high quality,  professional workshops. We are also selective in our partners, working with those that share our goals and standards of quality. Often with these people you can find this is more than a job or a business, it is a lifestyle.

Dates and contact info on the workshops we are involved with is listed here. Below is a brief description of the location and/or the people.


Big Bay
This is where everything started and it feels so much like home. Of course using the available room and board at Bay Cliff is like being at home. The staff there all enjoy having paddlers come and stay. Nancy and I are often amazed how after years, they will remember someone. After spectacular conditions and participants last year, we are looking forward to again be on home waters for these programs. Our IDW filled quickly with just a spot or two currently open.

Team Leadership Center– Door County

Team Leadership Center IDW - by Dave Schultz,

Situated on the Door Peninsula, we are able to find excellent conditions when we need them. Last year we did Level 1-3 and this year we are upping that to L1-4. No promises but this is a place you can find conditions in just about any winds thanks to Tim Pflieger who knows all the nooks and crannies and has decades of being an outdoor professional.

Clear Water Outdoor – Lake Geneva
Working with the CWO folks is fun. Dave & Sarah know everyone turning a short walk downtown into a series of introductions. But you quickly realize their shop is a hub, a hub for having fun, a hub where good people are and a hub for doing good in the community. Oh and the clean waters of Lake Geneva that is a rare find in southern Wisconsin, they are working to keep it that way. But lets talk IDW/ICE – this is a great place for Level 1-2 workshops. A lake with a fun shoreline to paddle along, that can generate appropriate conditions and nearby calm water ponds when needed. A state park literally at the beach offers a quiet and beautiful place for presentations.

Naturally Superior Adventures– Wawa

Thats Dave and his big smile as he carries his boat away after a surf session.

Offered again in 2013 as it was at the Gales last year, it is exciting to be returning. These workshops are a Level 1-4 IDW/ICE offered back to back in the late summer. A location that feels like home, much like Big Bay. This is a place that offers so much opportunity in teaching locations – protected flatwater, currents, crossings, surf, rock gardens – it truly is a great place to instruct. Then there are the people, David Wells, Ray Boucher – paddlers with a lot of heart and soul.

Northern Michigan College – Traverse City
It is exciting to be in a new place and in an area where there are not many instructor workshops offered. The folks here are looking to build the foundations of a community program for the future, this is their first step.

Whitecap Kayaking – Ironwood
Another new place, Whitecap offers both whitewater and sea kayaking opportunities. This workshop appears to be filled already.

YMCA – Marquette
Offered for over 3 years now, this Level 1-2 workshop takes advantage of the great flatwater paddling opportunities around Marquette and is part of the Y staff training. Expect beautiful locations that offer a quiet and focused environment, clean water and a lot of fun & games.

Bay Cliff’sAdaptive Paddling Workshop – Big Bay

The APW group gathering together on the water by Dean Juntenan

Hosted by Bay Cliff and lead by Nancy, this is how to learn about adaptive paddling. So many good things come out of this workshop. Instructors and recreational paddlers get jazzed by what they learn and the students with a disability, gets even more jazzed by learning to paddler.

Level 5 Advanced ICE – Marquette
Offered every few years, this is a workshop to test out for high level skills. Expect to travel to conditions such as currents in the Menominee River and surf where ever it is on Lake Superior or Michigan. Best thing about this, it is about paddling, instructing and having a lot of fun. Offered in October, when the gales of november come early!