Wildlife and Haute Cuisine: Winter Camping part 2

If you missed the other parts of Carolyn’s great Algonquin adventure, catch them with these links: part 1, part 3part 4 and part 5.
 

 
Fresh salmon sauted with red peppers, savoury rice, caramelised baby carrots and salad. It’s amazing what you can rustle up on two burners in the freezing cold. The task fell to me to invent a salad dressing, since we’d forgotten to bring any. Some oil, red wine, lemon juice, mustard, fresh herbs and seasoning saw to that and we were not embarrassed by a lack of dressed salad.

The seasoned campers stuck to wine for their evening’s imbibing. The idiots drank beer. After a final late night drive to the comfort station for last wees and teeth cleanings we settled down into our sleeping bags and divvied out the ear plugs. Hey, we all snore ok? Then of course, the stupidity of beer made itself apparent. I am all warm in my nightshirt in my sleeping bag. It’s the middle of the night, minus 18 degrees and pitch dark outside and I need a wee. I could get properly dressed and walk to the loo or I could get half dressed and find a tree to hang on to while availing myself of a nearby snowbank. This was a clear winner, so I donned coat and boots and popped outside. Decency demanded a bit of a foray into the snowbanks behind the yurt, and practicality demanded a suitably sturdy tree, so what with one thing and another there was some falling over, some getting covered in snow and an inexplicable coat-hood full of twigs that ended up back in the sleeping bag. It would not be true to say that I slept well.

The fabulous Valerie did sleep well however and by nineish in the morning she had produced coffee, bacon, eggs and toast. She also had a plan for the day that involved two short hikes and a scenic drive.

The hikes were on the only two trails clear enough to walk in the winter, others were available but only accessible with snow shoes or cross-country skis, neither of which we had. So, we trampled about learning about logging and wildlife on the easy-peasy trails for kids, the ones that have a display of this and that here and there along the route to con you that you’re not really walking very far.

Further from the roads and camp grounds are proper back-country trails, for people who walk for days with their camps on their backs, and signed portages for those strange souls who tour the region by canoe, carrying both camp and canoe from lake to lake.

We cruised the road looking for moose. I really want a photo of a moose but it’s a bit early in the year. Apparently they appear by the roadsides in spring to lick the salt water from the gutters and replace the salt they’ve lost over the winter. We may have to go back at the right time for moose-spotting, but happily enough saw lots of deer this time, along with odd weaselly things with nice faces called pine martins (which sound like a bird to me) lots of red squirrels, blue and grey jays, massive ravens, wild turkeys and and some sort of grouse. That’s quite a lot of wildlife for a London kid. No bears either, apparently bear country is a bit further from civilisation than we were, although you could buy bear bells in the park shop. Which reminded me of the bells and pepper joke. Which nobody had heard. Which surprised me.

Supper of Chicken Algonquin (leeks, garlic, mushies, tomatoes and coriander) another amazing sunset and an evening on red wine and I was
determined to sleep well before the dog-sledding day. But middle-aged ladies don’t have bladders that behave well so there were more snowbank and twig related shenanigans before the night was over. Practise helped though, and a sleeping bag without snow in it made for a better night in general…

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