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Gotta start with this beautiful photo taken by Venice.

Gotta start with this beautiful photo taken by Venice.

It’s a mere 2 weeks until our big back-country hike!  I should be figuring out what nutrient-dense, lighter-than-air, delicious, cheap food to feed 8 people for breakfast for 5 days.  Instead, I’ve devoted my time to figuring out how to jazz up the blog.

You’ll notice the snazzy count-down clock.  Please notice because it is surprisingly complicated to do that the first time around.  Miracle of miracles, I also managed to stick a map on the blog.  It would have been nice to have been able to get that figured out while we were travelling the world last year, but better late than never.  If you click on the new page at the top (Quebec Back-Country Hike), you’ll see my Googlemap handiwork.  Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to check that map if you are interested in our hike because most people don’t know where the Saguenay Fjord is.

Gondola, Mount Vodno

Austrian Engineering (Mount Vodno, Macedonia)

Canadian Engineering (Fort MacMurray airport)  BTW - the airport is only a year old

Canadian Engineering (Fort MacMurray Airport, Alberta)

What have we been doing to prepare for our first ever multi-day back-country hike?

TRAINING

The teens boys and I have done some minimal training: walks of about 10 km with weighted packs.  Paris hasn’t trained at all but she’s in good shape and a trooper.  Plus she loves hiking.  I have purposely avoided training for the two youngest girls.  I’m selling the hike to them as a fun family trip and I don’t want them to start dreading it before we make it out of the city.  I am working hard to pack all their gear in other people’s packs so they can walk without carrying anything.

SHOPPING

We’ve tried to keep this to a minimum but we did get a fancy water filter, two small camping stoves and fuel, some cheap rain ponchos.  Plus, we’ve been buying food: pepperettes, Lara bars, Cliff bars, Sesame Snaps.

Our fancy new water filter

Our fancy new water filter

FOOD PREP

Dehydrating, dehydrating, dehydrating!  I’ve been using the pilot light in my gas oven to dry tons of: banana, mango, apple, cooked ground beef, carrot, parsley, cooked black bean purée.  One of the other moms has been vacuum-packing this goodness as it becomes available.

Dried carrots

Dried carrots

Dried beef

Dried beef

ACCOMMODATION

Each “refuge” along the trail contains six double rooms to sleep twelve people.  Because of our group size (8 people), we made sure to reserve early with SEPAQ.  The trail head is a 7 1/2 hour drive from our home so we also needed to sort out accommodation before and after the hike.

On July 6, we will stay overnight at a couchsurf in Chicoutimi.  I felt bad making the request as I don’t believe late arrival/early departure to be in the spirit of couchsurfing but our host understood.  He is a librarian and long distance cycling fanatic.  I’ve dubbed him, Bookbiker, and we’re looking forward to meeting him.

On the way back, we’ll be couch surfing in the gorgeous La Malbaie area for a couple of days, in a wooden home hand-built by its inhabitant.

MARKETING

SWMBO has been working to grow blog readership, partner with compatible businesses/organizations, and publish food/travel articles in the mainstream media.  I’ve used the hike as a catalyst to make it all happen.  It’s been slow going since I don’t have much time to devote to this but results have been encouraging.

A sincere thanks to the Vice President of Moon Cheese for supplying our hike with crunchy, delicious freeze-dried cheese!

A sincere thanks to the Vice President of Moon Cheese for supplying our hike with many bags of crunchy, delicious freeze-dried cheese!

MEETING

SWMBO has been meeting about once a week with the moms of the other two teen boys who will be hiking with us.  Three heads are better than one so we’ve been bouncing ideas off each other and these two women have been instrumental in shopping, dehydrating food, researching, etc.

READING

We’ve taken a variety of backpacking books out of the library.  The ones by Karen Berger have been particularly useful.  SWMBO ordered a map of the park from SEPAQ (because the map on the website is NOT user-friendly.  Sorry SEPAQ but it really isn’t).    The map cost $8 and came in the mail lickety-split.  I opened it, looked at it once and promptly lost it.  Sigh.

WORKSHOP

On June 25, SWMBO will attend a two hour workshop entitled, Pack Camping: Challenge Yourself With Hike-In Camping.  Best-case scenario – I learn a lot.  Worst-case scenario – I realize how screwed we are.