Cooking in the wilderness…where do we go from here…?

Like hikers and walkers the world over, all of us rely on lightweight cooking utensils that are easy to carry and easy to wash.

And unfortunately, these characteristics are only available, at present, with aluminium (or if you’re in the USA…aluminum!) cook ware.

All my pots, pans etc are made out of this stuff, aside of one or two stainless spoons I carry, out of habit more than anything else.

But what I noticed a few days ago when I was drying my pots gave me one hell of a fright….take a look at those photos below….it’s a paper tissue that I used to wipe dry my cooking pot.


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And no, that isn’t dirt or anything else on that tissue….the pot was sparkling clean, with just a little water left on it’s surface……that is aluminium residue coming off with every wipe! So every time we cook in our pots, a little of that aluminium gets mixed into our food….

And you should know that aluminium residues coming off during cooking have been implicated in several problems, including Alzheimer’s disease.

So what do we do? In short, that’s a damn tough one to answer!

Throw away all our aluminium pots and pans, and what do we cook in then?

Unless we buy stainless steel stuff, but of course, that’s gonna make a change to how much we can carry, as I think I’m right in saying…correct me if I’m wrong somebody….that steel is heavier than aluminium, weight for weight.

Did someone mention Teflon? That’s been implicated with cancer recently…!

Anybody have any ideas?


So long life isn’t linked to eating tiger bones then….?

My earlier post today highlighted how endangered tigers are still being killed illegally for their bones, which are supposed to have miraculous healing powers and are said to ensure long life.

Well, the latest news is that researchers have found a little village on a tropical island off China, that boasts an incredible 200 citizens out of a total of 560 000, who are over the age of 100 years old, three of whom are over 110.

The residents live in almost primitive conditions, there is no pumped water and has to be fetched from nearby wells, housing is in homes made of simple concrete, with sparse furniture…but they do have electricity at least.

Work has always been the only exercise the residents get, but it is hard work, all agricultural, planting and harvesting crops, and their diets have always been based on mainly vegetarian plant-based foods.

Aside of simple foods, they do not eat anything else that is extraordinary…no tiger bones, no bear bile extracts, no elephant tusk, no rhino tusk….no snake bile…

One thing, say the researchers is certain though….of all the long-lived populations in the world, none are in wealthy areas.

As my grand-pappy always said…”living in the woods is good for ya..”!


Is this the price of progession?

Recently I saw a TV program that showed how sheep farming has reached a new high.

There, the sheep are going through a new genetic screening procedure which ensures that the best females and males are able to virtually replicate themselves through their off-spring.

Whereas during a normal year, a sheep will give around 1 or 2 lambs, with this screening procedure, the farmers are getting 80 to 100 lambs in one season, from a range of selected females.

But what really upset me was the way in which they are treating the animals….the sheep are first drugged so that they cannot move, but are fully awake, and spread-eagled on their backs on a mobile trolley that has belts which tie down all four legs.

After this, the vet moves in, making incisions to the sheep’s abdomen (don’t forget, the animal is fully awake during this…), feels around inside for the uterus where the eggs are stored, inserts a tube that will flush out those eggs into a collecting tray. That done, the cut is sewn up, by which time, a matter of minutes, the sheep is already beginning to struggle as the drug loses effect.

And when the reporter questions the vet and farmers about whether they realise that some people may object to what is happening on these farms, everyone seems to ignore any of the suggestions.

The vet replies “..this is progress….you either accept this or be faced with less food…what would you prefer…?” The farmer replies in a similar vein saying that there will always be some people voicing their objections to anything….if farmers listened to those objectors, nothing would ever leave a farm…no animals would be killed, no animals would be injected with antibiotics to kill diseases….no nothing…farmers have a living to make…they have families just like everyone else, so they have a right to able able to feed those families, he says.

Cut a long story short….I was very distressed at seeing those animals treated as if they were just non-living entities…their bodies were mutilated whilst still conscious, without any thought to the pain they were obviously suffering from, but couldn’t do anything about as they were drugged.

It’s almost as if we think animals are not able to talk about their pain, so they must be fine.

What we should realise is that animals cannot indeed talk….they do not have a voice with which to tell us about their condition…but we have to be their voices…we are at the top of the very pinnacle of life…and for us to ignore the plight of lesser living beings, is a crying shame….a crying shame.

I’m not a vegetarian…I don’t believe that eating meat is wrong or is a food that is there to be made use of when required, but seeing the way in which that meat could be obtained, is enough to make me think again when I have my next roast lamb dinner.


Our bees are dying out!

It’s not often we thank insects for making our lives livable on this planet.

usually, we are the first to squish an insect soon as we see it.

But few people know that if it weren’t for bees, almost every sign of life we see around us, would not be there, period.

Because it is  bees who pollinate flowers, which in turn give us fruits and vegetables. Without bees, none of the wondrous flora we see would exist.

So it is an urgent message that we hear from scientists nowadays, when they say that the world’s bees are dying out, the biggest reason being habitat loss.

In Europe alone, they estimate that over the past 100 years, the bee population has dwindled by 75%….that is serious.

How can we help bees in our area? Easy…just set aside a small area of your garden where you can plant pollen-rich flowers, such as lavender, nasturtiums, poppies cornflowers and primroses etc.

Or maybe grow them in a hanging basket if you don’t have the space in a garden.

I always have 3 or 4 large pots on my balcony set aside for planting wildflowers in. And apart from the beautiful colours of the flowers, they attract bees all the time in the summer.

Help them to help us, you could say!



Where will those animals go if…


Once during a really adventurous hike to the True North, I was talking to an Inuit elder, and the subject went onto penguins of all things.

He was telling me about what we know as Emperor penguins. During the breeding season he said, after the eggs are laid, the mother leaves her egg with the father penguin, while she walks 50 or 60 miles in the arctic conditions, until she reaches open water, where she can dive in and start feeding.

That walk takes them 4 or 5 days, sometimes longer…many times the mothers do not make it to the sea, but perish on the way. But because they have used all their energy to produce their eggs, they have to leave and eat, otherwise die. During this time, the fathers incubate the eggs, standing in temperatures as low as they get in those conditions, -50C sometimes, sometimes lower.


And the fathers have to do this for at least 3 months, usually 4, until the mothers have had their feeds and are ready to return home in time to feed their already hatched chicks.

If the mothers don’t return by the time 3 or 4 months are up, the father will abandon his chick, walk the 70 miles to the water and feed, or otherwise die of starvation with his chick. Remember by this time, they have been without food for more than 4 months!

But in what can only be called a miracle of Nature, apparently, within the penguins throat, there are several creases, and within these creases a milky substance is secreted, which the father penguin regurgitates up and feeds it to the chick, sustaining it’s life for a while longer.

And as if by another miracle, the mothers somehow sense the urgency with which they have to be back to feed their chicks, and walk with speed to be with them. Unknown to them, some of their chicks will have died through lack of food and severe cold.

When the mothers return, their chicks are overjoyed, even though they have never set eyes upon them before. Now, the fathers walk away to the open water, again 70 or more miles away, to feed…again, some will not make it, dying through lack of food and cold. And yet again, when the fathers return, many of the chicks will have died, their mothers are inconsolable and their loss unimaginable….they squawk mournfully for days on end. Who, says the Inuit, who says that animals don’t have feelings?

My point about this whole story is theis…..if mankind keeps destroying the planet and it’s resources as he has been doing so far, what will become of these animals, whose lives  already hinge on so uncertain, and so fragile an existence?


What are my hiking plans for the New Year?

Good question!

Today is the 28th December and we don’t have long to go before we see in the New Year, and all that it will bring.

So if you haven’t yet decided what your hiking plans are, myself included, well, we’d better get on with it and decide real quick.

Living in BC, I’m blessed with a wonderful choice of hiking; I can either choose to hike locally or strike out miles away from civilisation, as there so much land here. and most of it is uninhabited.

For the coming season, I think I’d like to go much further north, way up into the Yukon if I can, as my heart hankers for some lonesome walking, amongst snow and ice, rather than the forest and woodland I have been accustomed to.

Though it seems a nice thought, once you are in the true north, you have to be ultra careful, as help will be many, many miles away, if available at all.

And that will mean kitting myself out with as much fail-safe equipment as I can afford to carry.

As we all know, my kit will consist of those essentials that can mean the difference between survival or death, should the unforeseen happen. That means food, first aid, clothing/bedding, fire-starting equipment, cooking apparatus and anything else that I can think of.

I will be camping out in the open, so a good, solid, easily assembled/disassembled tent will be an absolute must.

Talking about camping in cold regions just reminded me about arrangements for a person’s, shall we say, daily ablutions? Normally, experienced hikers and walkers usually rely on a rough hole in the ground, which can be quickly filled in with soil etc when the job is finished. But in cold areas, where the ground is either frozen due to permafrost or is just too hard, digging holes in the ground can become laborious.

So what is the best way to take care of this very necessary task? Well, it all depends upon how long you are planning to stay in that particular site. Myself, if I know I’m going to be camped in one area for more than a week, I usually dig myself a proper “loo”, as it’s no fun sitting over a hole in the ground in the open air, with a cold, biting wind blowing all around your “undercarriage”, not to mention down your neck, too!

And believe it or not, there are certain rules you need to follow if your toilet in the open is to be properly managed. Again, depending upon the temperature, you will notice that after every visit, the waste products will freeze almost straight away. So what happens over time is that all your waste will tend to build itself into a very large icicle, albeit a rather very smelly one!

If you don’t manage it on a daily basis, that icicle will soon reach your nether regions and the only way to control it will be to chop it down to a smaller size with an axe or something. Of course, being what it is, that will inevitably leave small chunks of it on your clothing or hands, meaning as soon as you get back to your tent or shelter, all those chunks will melt, releasing an obvious, and very noxious smell, and one which you will never get out of your clothes until you get back home…to be avoided at all costs!

How do you construct the shelter around your loo? I’ve used whatever is close at hand. If in the woods, you can use a quick shelter made of twigs and branches, or if you are in very cold terrain, a shelter made of snow blocks is again very easy to construct.

What you should be doing daily, is to take a look down the hole and see how high the icicle has become….soon as it gets over 6 inches high, knock it down with a large stick or branch. That way, you can spend your time in your toilet in peace, knowing that once the time has come to move on, the hole can be filled in with snow or soil.