Tag Archives: backcountry

Algonquin Portage: Dehydrated Beef Brisket


Misty Lake - Algonquin

Misty Lake – Algonquin

Day 4 was our big, long travel day. We had to basically travel back west, all the distance we had covered in the past three days. We headed back through Little Misty Lake, along the Petawawa River, through Daisy Lake with our final destination being Casey Lake. Not only was it our longest travel day but it was also the most challenging – starting off with a 935m portage and ending with an evil 1235m portage with a few small ones in between totaling 2755m. The day started off windy, but with a clear blue sky.

Petawawa River - Algonquin

Petawawa River – Algonquin

By the time we hit the exit from Misty Lake however, dark clouds loomed in the distance. The rain hit by the time we had reached our first portage, and there was no end to the grey clouds. We put on all our rain gear, tarped our canoe and powered on. The Petawawa river was winding like a labyrinth and we took many wrong turns and had to back track a few times. The highlight being when we had to portage up through a beaver dam! The rain eased up a bit in the afternoon and we relished the break, drying off in the brief rays of sunshine. But when we hit Daisy Lake the rain returned in full force. The wind picked up and blew cold rain in our faces. Daisy Lake seemed to go on forever, and we knew the worst was still to come.

By the last portage my boyfriend and I were soaked to the bone, tired and hungry. We were both delirious by this point, cursing at our packs and laughing in pain. We were supposed to split up the portage, but once I got going, I knew I had to finish it off. Switching over halfway would be more miserable in the rain and the bugs would eat us alive. I yelled all kinds of nonsense to myself to keep me going as I portaged along the hardest trail I had ever done. With the weight of the canoe crushing down on my shoulders, I portaged over roots and fallen trees, uphill through mud and even along a single plank across a stream! “Take that Tough Mudder” I yelled! “Whisky, whisky, whisky!” I chanted. My boyfriend at least found my motivational cursing entertaining. The portage felt like it would never end. When at last I saw the lake, I threw down the canoe and fell into my boyfriend’s arms. He felt so light in comparison! I’ll always remember what he said to me then “you’re my hero” he told me. That portage was one of the hardest things I had ever done, and when we finally reached our campsite, I was exhausted but felt such a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Dehydrated Beef Brisket & Sweet Potatoes - Algonquin

Dehydrated Beef Brisket & Sweet Potatoes – Algonquin

The rain finally ceased just long enough for us to set up camp. We quickly started up a fire, striped off our clothes and went for a swim in the warm lake water. My poor, aching body was finally rewarded. That night for dinner we had beef brisket, sweet potatoes and bannock bread and it tasted glorious. Beef brisket is perfect for dehydrating because it’s nice and fatty, so it rehydrates beautifully. I slow cooked the brisket with some carrots and onions then shredded the meat before dehydrating. I pureed the sweet potatoes so that I could dehydrate them in a nice thin layer. I also brought a bannock mixture along with some little packets of butter. After a long, day portaging in the rain, food had never tasted so good. While I spent most of the afternoon cursing Algonquin, I thanked the Algonquin gods by the end of the evening.  Once again it gave me an amazing adventure, challenged me in new ways, but as always rewarded me with its peace and beauty.

Algonquin Portage: Chia Seed Pancakes


Chia Seed Pancakes - Algonquin

Chia Seed Pancakes – Algonquin

We started off Day 3 with a hearty pancake breakfast. Usually when I portage I have instant oatmeal and a Boost protein shake but I wanted to try something different. The problem was there was no way to transport an egg. My boyfriend actually suggested to use chia seeds – not only are they rich in antioxidants and fiber but when soaked they expand to create a good binding agent. I used my Classic Pancake recipe and replaced the egg with one tablespoon of chia seeds. You can grind up the chia seeds ahead of time with a mortar and pestle but I kind of liked the mild crunchiness of the seeds in the pancakes. I also found a mini bottle of syrup at the Asian grocery store and so there you have it – outback pancakes complete with real maple syrup!

Chia Seed Pancakes - Algonquin

Chia Seed Pancakes – Algonquin

We had another reasonably light day traveling through Wenona and Muslim lake with only 1400m in portages, however one of them was our first long portage of the trip clocking in at 1030m. By this point we had found our rhythm for transporting all our gear. I preferred to carry the canoe and my pack, and my boyfriend carried his pack with the oars, fishing tackle, camera and bail kit. I actually preferred the canoe, I found that once I had my rhythm even though it was hard work, this position was actually much more comfortable than juggling all the other gear.


Misty Lake – Algonquin


Misty Lake – Algonquin

As we entered Misty Lake a light rain started to fall but we were prepared and quickly through a tarp over our packs in the canoe. Our site was just across the lake so we were able to get there before there rain became too heavy. Later that evening the skies cleared and we went for a beautiful canoe ride at dusk and attempted some fishing. As the sun began to set, we spotted a family of loons and quietly canoed up close to them to take some photos. The loons were surprisingly calm and allowed us to paddle right beside them. As they dove away, we would follow, and then to our delight they would pop up right beside us. I actually felt intimidated as I never realized what a large bird the loon was, and with their piercing red eyes, it was no wonder that they felt not fear around us. As we headed back to our site, it was at this moment that I realized my eye felt a little funny. I told my boyfriend and when he looked at my eye it was all swollen and puffy! Turns out a mosquito had bitten my eyelid, and I now looked like Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. My eye was a bit uncomfortable but for the most part I just let my boyfriend make fun of me and I laughed it off – it’s always a new adventure out in the wilderness!


Misty Lake – Algonquin


Algonquin Portage: Dehydrated Pad Thai


I love portaging.  As much as I love the comforts of car camping, I also love the challenge of canoe tripping.  The beauty and peace that surrounds you out on a lake is worth all the hard work. Every time I visit Algonquin I feel so thankful to live in Canada. As much as my heart loves the city, I crave the connection with nature and being out in the wilderness feels like home to me as well.

This was the first time my boyfriend and I were going portaging together.  My ex-boyfriend preferred car camping, so this was also the first time I was embarking on a canoe trip with my better half. Portaging can make or break a relationship – it tests your ability to work as a team, to listen to each other, to be patient, and you have to take care of each other, all while testing your own limitations. But I wasn’t nervous at all, we had traveled and camped together before and I knew we would make a solid team. After two weeks of dehydrating all our meals and buying a brand spanking new two-man tent, we were set to go! I was super excited to leave civilization behind and set out on our adventure.

Day 1 was a light travel day. We set out nice and early from Huntsville, picked up supplies and our permit in Kearney and headed out from Access Point #4 – Rain Lake. The weather was warm and sunny, but pretty windy and as soon as we paddled out of the narrow straight the wind picked up and carried us across the vast, sparkling lake. After about an hour of paddling we arrived at camp – a site hidden away at the edge of the far island.

Dehydrating pad thai

Dehydrating pad thai

For lunch I experimented with a new dehydrated meal: pad thai. I used a standard pad thai recipe and made everything except for the rice noodles that are compact and light to carry. I replaced the egg and shrimp with chicken and tofu, as egg and shrimp do NOT rehydrate well.  Once I tried re-dehydrating scrambled eggs and they disintegrated into something inedible while rehydrated shrimp was very rubbery. So instead I slow cooked two chicken breasts and a block of tofu. Make sure you diced the tofu as small as possible and finely shred the slow cooked chicken. The chicken and tofu should be as small and as thin as small as possible so that they dehydrate evenly. My post on dehydrating has detailed instructions for the rest of the process.

Dehydrating pad thai

Dehydrating pad thai

To rehydrate simply fill your ziplock bag with water until the food is covered and soak for 30 minutes. Soak your rice noodles separately and then mix everything together over medium heat. I had a couple of small packs of peanuts from McDonalds that I sprinkled on top – and voila! Outback Pad Thai! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out even though the shrimp was a bit rubbery. The sweet and spicy pad thai flavour really came through and all the carbs and protein were particularly comforting after our busy morning.

Dehydrated Pad Thai - Algonquin

Dehydrated Pad Thai – Algonquin


Rain Lake – Algonquin



Moccasin Lake to Bandit Lake – Algonquin

The next day we headed north towards Bandit Lake. We had 1835 meters of portages as we headed through Sawyer, Jubilee and Moccasin Lake but the distance was actually quite short and after four hours of travel we arrived at camp. 


Bandit Lake – Algonquin

We had another fun island site, and we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming around the island and lounging in our portable hammocks. That evening we sat by the campfire drinking 40 Creek whisky and watching the full moon rise over the calm, dark lake.


Bandit Lake – Algonquin

What food have you successfully dehydrated?  Let me know what you think of my pad thai!  Have you ever backcountry camped to Bottle Lake?