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Algonquin 2015 Backcountry Menu

Day 5 – Casey Lake to Rain Lake

Our last day of our canoe trip was less than half a day as we traveled from Casey Lake back to Rain Lake with one 1330m portage.  The weather was windy but the skies were blue and Rain Lake sparkled around us as we paddled down the narrow straight back to our launch point.  5 days ago we started off on this backcountry canoeing adventure and during that time we covered over 40km, 12 lakes, 1 river and 7845m in portages.  I felt such an amazing sense of accomplishment but I was also so grateful to be surround by all this freedom and beauty, and so lucky to be able to do this with an amazing partner.  As we tied up the canoe and packed up our car, I gave thanks to spirits of Algonquin and said goodbye, until next year.

I was really happy with how all my dehydrated food turned out.  I planned some old favourites but also tried some new ideas.  I’ve covered the basics of dehydrating in this post but essentially you can dehydate anything as long as the food can be blended/flattened into thin/small enough pieces and laid out on your dehydrator tray (using syran wrap for liquids).  I did discover however, that rehydrated eggs do not work out.  I tried dehydrating some scrambled eggs and they didn’t rehydrate well at all because egg structure doesn’t retain water well, so when the eggs are rehydrated you end up with a tasteless, watery mess filled with hard yellow pieces.  I brought freeze dried scrambled eggs as well just in case – and honestly it wasn’t much better as it tasted like chalky sponge, so, best to leave those eggs at home!

Here was our menu for our five day adventure:

Day 1:
Lunch – Chicken pad thai (brought the noodles separately)
Dinner: Beef mole chili with instant cornbread

Day 2:
Breakfast: chia seed pancakes w/maple syrup & vega protein shake
Lunch: minestrone soup
Dinner: pulled jerk chicken with wild rice and dumplings

Day 3:
Breakfast: instant oatmeal & vega protein shake
Lunch: quinoa enchilada casserole
Dinner: beef brisket with carrots, mashed sweet potatoes and bannock bread

Day 4:
Breakfast: scrambled eggs and ham
Lunch: beef stew
Dinner: pulled BBQ pork and grits

Day 5:
Breakfast: instant oatmeal & vega protein shake
Lunch: instant ramen noodles with beef jerky and seaweed

Drinks:
instant coffee, hot chocolate, vega protein shake packs, Vodka, Kool Aid/Tang, Nestea mini bottles, Gatorade/mini bottles, instant apple cider, apple spiced rum, limonade/margarita mix, whiskey, rum, small shots of Baileys, instant caesar mix

Snacks:
energy goo, Pringles, dried mangos, trail mix, Cliff bars, beef jerky, dried apples, fruit to go, dried chickpeas, dried plantains, hot rods, M&Ms with mixed nuts, marshmellows, rice crackers, dark chocolate almonds

Algonquin Portage: Dehydrated Beef Brisket

DAY 4: MISTY LAKE TO CASEY LAKE

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.