Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 5: What are you going to do about... Food?

In the morning on day 5 I paddled to the dam, and it took some time to portage around it because a two-foot stone wall extending at least a mile before the dam on the right. So I could not just use my wheels. Slowly, since my things were not packed well for this, I had to take everything out, over the wall and to the road. Then I pretty much dragged the canoe up, put it on its wheels, repacked everything, and took it to the river below the dam. Some men in pickup trucks who passed by on the road seemed to find my wheeled canoe both impressive and humorous.

I had been warned that the water level below the dam was often too low to paddle, but it was very high for me, never shallow enough that I could feel the bottom of the main current with my paddle. The next river in my rough plan that could set me back is the Qu'Appelle, which one guidebook suggests is only consistently runnable in early spring.

In any case, I did not go too far before stopping to break my long fast. My guidelines during physical activity are:

Eat before you're hungry

Drink before you're thirsty

Pee before you can*

And I was clearly in violation of at least one of these. My breakfast was oatmeal - to me then, the best I'd ever had. I simply cooked it as normal, with a bit of extra water, added some milk powder and a huge dollop of honey.

Okay, if Sesame Street taught me anything, it is that oatmeal is boring, so I won't go into any details here, but I will take some time now to answer the question of what and how I eat. This is only a general pattern - every day is obviously different due to the course of the day and what is available to me.

Any cooking is done with a small alcohol stove. This does not put out much heat and essentially requires a small ring of rocks around it to more efficiently direct the heat to the pot. Its primary advantage is that the operation is foolproof - just pour in the fuel and light it. It cannot break and if you lose it, you can easily construct a new one with available tools and materials. This is important to me because my biking trip to Banff in the fall was cut short largely by a stove that I could not get to work. A disadvantage is that the cheap, denatured alcohol is harder to find than white gas, but I suppose if you are willing to pay there is strong enough liquor at any corner store to cook your food.

Breakfast is generally oatmeal, which I "shanghai" -- I put in the oats and water, and cover it with a lid to conserve heat. Lunch, if any, is usually snack food like crackers, peanuts, and granola bars. I also bought some of those packages of apple sauce or chocolate pudding which make for a good desert during lunch or dinner. The main course for dinner is usually some kind of canned soup. For this, Chef Boyardee is clearly superior to other possibilities, like Campbell's soup or Safeway baked beans. I sometimes have a container of cold canned meat on the side as well - think tuna or flaked ham.

And that's about it! My diet may change as I adapt to this new environment. I have some rough, perhaps contradictory categories of food to inform what I should eat, when:

Carbs: medium term energy, for both muscles and brain

Protein: long term muscle building and repair

Sugar: good for one short term boost in energy per day

Water: absolutely essential at all times for both brain and body

Fat: irrelevant (neither good nor bad) to an active individual

Day 5 ended: 50*40.115N, 112*28.831W

* - This is clearly not to be taken literally, but just to emphasize to myself that there are certain activities not to be put off.


Michelle said...

Actually your brain uses sugar, glucose specifically, and then when it runs out, switches to breaking down carbs. I learned something in Biochemistry. Yay for me.

PsySal said...

I'm glad you're able to use my porridge-cooking advice and Shanghai your oatmeal! Hooray for Shanghai-style cooking/poster-putting-up/competitive-hotdog-eating!