How to plan a menu for backcountry camping

Are you considering going on a backpacking trip or a canoe trip, but aren’t quite sure what you would eat?  There are lots of things to keep in mind when you’re designing your menu, but really, it’s not that hard! You can buy everything ready to eat from the grocery store, or do like I do and prepare, cook, and dehydrate everything myself. If you’re looking for sample menus, look here.

Fresh banana, dehydrated strawberries, kiwi and mangoes, and fresh cooked chocolate chip pancakes.

Things to consider:

  • How many people will be on the trip?
    • Some meal ideas, like individual pizzas, might work for 2 or 3 people, but not for 5 or 6 because of the length of time it takes to cook each pizza (unless you’re bringing multiple stoves or are cooking on a grill over a campfire).  Pasta, on the other hand, scales up nicely.
  • Will you be bringing food just for yourself, or sharing meal prep and cooking?
    • Be prepared to compromise on the food you eat.
  • How many days is the trip?
    • For a 2-day, 1-night trip, you could bring frozen meat for your dinner (e.g. steaks or chicken breasts), but if your trip is longer than this, you’ll have to bring other sources of protein (such as beans), or bring freeze dried or dehydrated meat or eggs. Food safety is really important. Don’t let your frozen food get warmer than fridge temperature (at or below 4 degrees Celsius or 40 degrees Fahrenheit) before you cook it.
    • Consider how long that fresh pear will last in your bag before it’s a mushy mess! Some fruits and vegetables last longer than others, such as apples, carrots, and peppers.
  • What time of year are you camping?
    • If you’re camping in the snow, you don’t have to worry about food spoiling, but remember that everything will freeze – frozen peanut butter doesn’t spread very well!
    • Will you want a hot beverage to warm you up?

      Warming up with a bag of rehydrating fruit.
  • How many main meals a day will you have?
    • Will you have main meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner, with snacks in between? A main meal at breakfast and dinner, eating frequent snacks in between? A quick snack at breakfast and bigger meals later? I have main meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a morning snack, afternoon snack, and evening snack.
  • Will your main meals be hot meals, or will some be “cold”?
    • I always have a hot breakfast and dinner, but a no-cook lunch, which means I can eat it wherever I happen to be when I’m out exploring.
    • If you want to get going quickly in the morning, you might want to consider having a no-cook breakfast.
  • Do you want to prepare food to eat while you’re out exploring?
    • Cooking is one thing, but do you want to have to assemble meals, chop vegetables etc., or would you prefer a ready made meal?
  • Do you want to be able to eat without stopping?
    • Will you be happy to sit down and take a break from hiking or paddling, or do you want to eat something without stopping, such as trail mix or an energy bar?

      Sometimes I pre-make this at home, wrap it up, and on the trail all I need to do is eat!
  • How much variety in your menu do you want?
    • Are you happy eating the same thing for breakfast every day, or do you like to change things up? Are you sick of oatmeal by the third morning, or is it comfort food for you? For a multi-day trip I may bring the same snack for a couple of days, but otherwise, every meal is unique.
  • Are there special dietary needs or restrictions?
    • For example, is someone on a low salt diet? Celiac? Allergic to nuts? Can’t get through a camping trip without s’mores?
    • Some meals and snacks are easy to customize for individual tastes – for example, individual pizzas can be loaded with veggies – or not! Trail mix can be heavy on the nuts – or goldfish!
  • How can you incorporate healthy foods like fruits and vegetables into your menu?
    • Dehydrated fruits and vegetables can be snacked on as is, or rehydrated to go along with meals. For example, I love eating dehydrated bananas first thing in the morning, and having rehydrated strawberries and other fruits in my hot cereal.
    • Look for prepackaged meals that include vegetables, or buy them on the side.

      Fresh cooked pasta with rehydrated green and red peppers and tomato sauce.
  • Consider favourite snacks as a pick-me-up when the going gets tough.
    • You’re likely expending a lot of calories on your backcountry trip! A bit of junk food may be just what you need to push through a tough afternoon – or day!
  • Are you backpacking or canoeing? How much food weight do you want to carry?
    • If you’re trying to lighten your food load, consider adding freeze dried or dehydrated foods to your menu.
  • How many calories do you need each day?
    • It’s a good idea to know how much food is enough to keep you happy and energized (it may take some trial and error)! I have learned that I burn far more calories hiking than canoeing, so I need to plan accordingly.
  • What cooking equipment will you bring with you?
    • Will you be cooking on a campfire with a grill, or using a portable stove?
    • Will you have a single pot, or are you bringing a frying pan or a 2nd pot?
  • Do you plan to simply boil water to rehydrate things (such as prepackaged dehydrated meals), or will you be baking fresh bannock?
    • If you’re just boiling water, you’ll use less fuel, but there’s something to be said for freshly baked bread on the trail!
  • How much food prep and cleanup do you want to do at your campsite?
    • After a long day of hiking or paddling, will you want to assemble a complicated meal? Do you want to deal with cleaning up messy pots or pans filled with bacon grease?

      Shelf-stable pepperettes and cheese sticks.
  • What is your budget?
    • Can you afford to buy prepackaged dehydrated meals, or will you stick to basics like oatmeal, beans, pasta and rice dishes?
  • Are you able to dehydrate your own meals?
    • Not only can you control what goes into the food you eat, but you can lighten your load too!
  • Are there things you can’t bring into the backcountry?
    • For example, at Ontario Parks, you’re not allowed to bring cans or glass bottles.
  • Is there a fire ban?
    • If fires are prohibited due to a high forest fire risk, your menu will have to change radically!
  • What will you eat if your trip runs longer than expected?
    • Plan to bring an extra meal or two, just in case!

dsc05808Examples of the food you can easily find in a grocery store or bulk food store:

  • oatmeal
  • dehydrated eggs
  • dried fruit (e.g. raisins, cranberries)
  • dehydrated fruit (e.g. apples, mangoes)
  • nuts
  • shelf stable (unrefrigerated) pepperettes
  • hard cheese (lasts for days on the trail – wrap in cheesecloth or parchment)
  • tortillas
  • crackers
  • peanut butter and other nut or seed butters
  • granola bars
  • energy bars
  • pasta
  • rice side dishes (e.g. rice and beans, or rice and veggies)
  • instant mashed potatoes
Energy square (with a view)!

Look for a post soon on how to organize and pack the food for your backcountry trip, so that you aren’t rifling though a big bag or barrel of food each time you go to eat something, don’t take up any more room in your pack than you need to, and reduce the weight as much as possible.

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Trip report (and trip report video): 1st ever solo backpacking trip, at Point Grondine Park

I used to think that I would never want to camp on my own. After all, I’m afraid of what I can’t see in the woods at night, and in particular, of spotting glowing eyes looking back at me! But then I decided to try it – at least once! To be honest I was hoping not to spot any (very hungry just out of hibernation) bears while on my own, but I would have been okay seeing moose or anything else. Hearing packs of wolves this time was not high on my list.

I had heard about Point Grondine Park when it first opened, and thought it would be perfect for a 2-night backpacking trip. It’s on the Point Grondine Reserve in the Killarney area, and is a First Nations owned and operated park, with “over 18,000 acres of scenic natural wilderness landscape, old growth pine forest, stunning river vistas and six interior lakes to explore”.

From the trailhead there is a 5 km hiking trail loop called Merv’s Landing, from which you can access the 21 km Wemtagoosh Falls overnight hiking loop. There are 7 backpacking campsites available (all on the Wemtagoosh Falls loop), 2 of which are “premium” sites. I assumed this meant they would have better views, so I booked H2 for night 1, and H7 for night 2. There was not yet a map available of the trail, so I printed my own topographic maps from an Ontario government site. Later, a map was available from Point Grondine, but you could only pay for it while booking a site. Since I’d already booked mine, I was given a free copy (nice customer service!).

About a week before my trip, I received an email from the park notifying me that recent storms had knocked down many trees onto the trail, and that the interior maintenance crew was doing their best to clear the downed trees. A few days before the trip I got another email from the park, asking me what time I thought I would arrive. It seemed a little odd, but I learned it was because – if possible – a “Trail Guardian” would meet me at the trailhead. Then the day before my trip I received a phone call telling me that site H7 wasn’t ready as a premium site, but I could still stay there. I was also offered a free night’s accommodation for a future trip, since I wasn’t getting what I was promised. I had learned since booking that premium actually meant a wooden tent platform, built up fire pit, and a picnic table. I asked what I was supposed to do if no one was at the trailhead when I arrived, and found out that I should fill out a form and email it back to the park just in case (it provided such information as my emergency contact, tent colour, pack colour, etc.).

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 2.01.12 PM

For the first time, I decided to make a trip report video. Check it out, and let me know what you think of it.

Day 1 (Trailhead to H2)

Finally the day of my trip arrived, and I set out for Point Grondine. I arrived just after 12 PM, but there was no one to greet me, just 4 people and 2 dogs leaving after a day hike – oh, and about 1,000 mosquitoes!! They swarmed me as soon as I got out of my vehicle.

At the trailhead.

The instructions I was sent said that the shortest route to the canoe crossing and the start of the Wemtagoosh Falls loop was to go left/west. Standing with Highway 637 behind me, facing the two possible trail start locations, this didn’t make sense because left was east. In any case, I decided to go left, since on the map it looked shorter. I was surprised that the trail started out as a gravel path. Eventually, I reached a lake and saw a trail marker, so I followed the trail until I realized it seemed to be taking a very long time to reach the canoe crossing. And then I started hearing cars. And then I returned to my vehicle! Oops. I hadn’t started on the correct trail after all (I had started on the canoe portage, right down the middle of the loop). It took a while, but I finally found the actual “left” start to the loop. I’m not sure how I missed it the first time, other than the gravel path being very welcoming!


I set out again and within the first km I met a couple coming the other way, totally enveloped by bugs. The woman said to me, “It doesn’t get any better!” As I got quite close to the water crossing, there was a sign saying “Water Spyder Ahead”. Last year, there was a raft that you used, with a pulley system, to cross the 20 m body of water. The Water Spyder is no more, with the park website noting that canoes would be available for use. The instructions stated to tie the canoe off. So, I took my backpack off, grabbed a Souris River canoe (my first time paddling a Souris River), a lifejacket, and a paddle, and after putting the lifejacket on and my bag and hiking poles in the boat (and swatting the mosquitoes away constantly), I pushed off from shore and headed for the dock on the other side. However, it was windy. Very windy. And I struggled to solo paddle the canoe across the water. The boat was turning in ways I didn’t want it to turn! I was blown against the rocks once, but then managed to power my way to the dock. It was at this point that I realized there was no way I could leave the boat here, because 1) there was no rope to tie the boat off, and 2) the alternative was carrying the boat up a steep rock face, which was probably impossible and definitely dangerous. So I sat there for a minute or two, then paddled downstream and over to the shore, pulling the boat up on the land and flipping it over, with the lifejacket and paddle tucked underneath. I think it was here that I finally put my bug jacket on.

After my windy paddle.

I hate hiking with the mesh on my face (it’s harder to see), but I really had no choice. I continued hiking, going up, and down, and up again. The terrain was definitely challenging in spots, and I was thankful to have hiking poles.

The trail was marked with a combination of small white signs on trees, ribbon in trees, inukshuks, and painted arrows on rocks. However, I found that there was not enough signage. Many times the trail changed direction and there was no sign warning of the change. It was frustrating at times.

One of the inukshuks on the trail marking the way.

I reached campsite H1, which was marked with a campsite sign, but when I reached what I thought might be H2, there was only ribbon in trees. I decided to follow it, and sure enough, spotted the raised wooden platform of my first premium site (I had hiked nearly 10k). Hilarity ensued as I tried to set my tent up in the wild wind! (If you haven’t watched the video yet, do it.) I eventually gave up on the platform and set it up on the hill. I could have placed rocks in the corners of the tent, but I was worried that the tent poles were going to snap while I was trying to set it up!

I found a tree to hang a bear bag, tied my rope around a rock and threw it over a branch. I also set up a tarp in case I had to cook breakfast in the rain the next morning.

After having my afternoon snack, I gathered wood for a fire, and then built my new KIHD stick stove. I had made some fire starters a few days before the trip, and decided to use a wax coated cotton ball this time. I broke tiny pieces of wood off the pile I had gathered, and put it into the stick stove (which I had placed inside the fire pit). It lit on the 2nd match, and within less than 10 minutes I had boiled 1 litre of water. I made hot chocolate, and added the rest of the water to my butternut squash soup to rehydrate it. I ate that along with homemade sesame pepper crackers for dinner. Yum. I got the fire going again and boiled 1 litre of water for a hot water bottle in my sleeping bag.

I decided to go to bed early, rather than build a bigger fire, because the bugs were still bothering me (though not as much at this windy site!). Yes, I was in the tent at 6:30 PM! When I eventually tried to go to sleep, I couldn’t! There were people zooming around the lake in a motor boat, playing loud music. It was very annoying. I think it was probably 11 PM before I fell asleep. The loons were quite loud in the night, but otherwise, silence.

Day 2 (H2 to Trailhead)

When I woke up at about 6 AM, I could hear rain gently falling on my tent. I got an updated weather forecast on my InReach, which told me that the chance of rain was 80% on Day 2 and 60% to 70% on Day 3. I decided that I would hike to my next campsite, and decide there based on the rain and the bugs whether I would stay another night or hike all the way out to my vehicle.

I packed up everything inside my tent, packed up the tent itself, and moved everything under the tarp where it would stay dry. I took my bear bag down, had a big cup of gatorade, and then boiled water for tea and for my oatmeal. Once my KIHD stove had cooled and my dishes were done, I packed everything else into my bag, took the tarp down, and headed out!

Given that I was considering packing it in and going home on Day 2, I could have just gone out the way I came. However, since I drove all that way to see Point Grondine, I wanted to hike the entire Wemtagoosh Falls loop! I set out for H7, in the rain but dry under my rain gear. Quite early in my hike I slipped stepping up onto a wet boulder, falling and having my pack land on my left shoulder. It was a bit sore but manageable. After that I was even more careful with my footing – rocks were wet, logs were wet, and I didn’t want to risk falling again. Whenever I stopped (or even slowed down!) I was swarmed by bugs, so I hardly stopped at all. After 4 hours of hiking I did stop to get my snack out of my pocket, but ate it as I walked (not easy to do while carrying 2 hiking poles). I never saw campsites H3 or H4, but did spot signs for H5 and H6. There were lots of ups and downs, some very steep, and some requiring some very careful manoeuvring. At one point I had to squeeze myself between 2 rock walls and pull myself up.

It was challenging to squeeze between these rock faces while climbing a steep hill.

The prettiest spot on the trail is definitely Wemtagoosh Falls. It would be a pretty spot to stop and have lunch, if one could stop without being attacked by mosquitoes and black flies. They were so bad I had them in my eyes, ears (!), nose, and mouth – I lost count how many I swallowed.

Wemtagoosh Falls.

At some point I spotted a grouse on the trail, and later, a tiny toad. I saw moose scat a few times, and some carnivore scat, but not much else.

Before I reached H7 I had pretty much already decided that I was going to keep hiking and go home on Day 2. Hiking in the pouring rain, and being swarmed when I stopped was not exactly fun. I knew that I would eventually reach a fork in the trail, where turning right would take me back to the canoe, and turning left would take me back to H1 and H2, where I started that morning.

It was taking a very long time to get to the canoe, and the longer it took, the more frequently I looked at the InReach app on my iPhone, scrolling on the map and trying to figure out where the turn would be. Unfortunately, I started to have a problem scrolling. I figured it was because my screen was wet, so I stopped, dug the toilet paper out of my bag, ate bugs, and wiped the screen off. It had me in the Bahamas. Oh to be in the Bahamas. I was concerned, not knowing exactly where I was and why I hadn’t reached the canoe. I continued to hike. To my horror, I came upon a campsite which I decided had to be H1 (they were not numbered). I had missed the turnoff to the canoe. I had expected to see a sign saying “Water Spyder Ahead”, or some other indication that to return to the mainland you had to turn right. But I saw nothing. I stopped, got out my map and compass, and based on the 2 islands that I could see and the direction I was facing (north), I confirmed that I had to be at H1. Seeing that I had a cell signal, I called my husband to tell him that I wasn’t sure where the canoe was, and that I had to backtrack. I had been keeping him posted using the messaging function on my InReach, but calling was faster! It was good that someone knew I was off track. Since I had come from the canoe to H1 yesterday, I knew that if I took the trail back I should find the canoe. However, I was worried that I would miss the canoe (again!) and continue on to H7. I told myself to just stick to the left. If there was any split in the trail, I had to go left. It took a while, but eventually, I spotted the canoe. I cannot tell you how relieved I was!!! I knew from that point I would find my way out. Aside from the mosquito swarming, crossing the water was much easier this time, as it wasn’t very windy, and I knew exactly where to land the canoe.

Still smiling, despite the rain and bugs.

On the other side, I decided that when I got to the trail junction I would go left (west), so that I could walk the small section that I missed on Day 1! That way, I would walk the entire length of the 2 trails – and then some!

Because of the bugs I never did stop to eat my lunch, but as I was nearing the end of my hike, I was getting very hungry! The last bit seemed to take forever, but eventually, I arrived back at the trailhead. PHEW! According to my InReach, I hiked about 16.5 km.

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 2.19.05 PM

I’m glad I went out alone, but I won’t be giving up my camping partners any time soon!!

Here is the menu for my trip.

Here is the review of my KIHD Stove Ultimate.

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Perfecting dehydrated chicken

Have you ever bitten into a piece of overly chewy rehydrated dehydrated chicken and thought, “There has to be a better way!”? Or have you been thinking about dehydrating chicken but weren’t sure how to do it? This post is for you!

A few years ago on a camping trip I ate a very disappointing chicken couscous meal with really tough rehydrated diced chicken. It was a meal that I had prepared.  After that failure I gave up dehydrating chicken – until recently. I had read online that canned chicken dehydrated and rehydrated well, so when my daughter asked for chicken noodle soup for our fall mother-daughter canoe trip, I decided to try it. I added it to the noodle/veggie mix, and the texture was perfect. I thought I’d do an experiment to see which kind of chicken and size/shape resulted in the best texture. In other words, I set out to perfect the dehydration of chicken!

I experimented with baked chicken breast, canned chicken, and thinly sliced chicken sandwich meat from the deli counter. With the chicken breast, I put some in the food processor, some I shredded with my grater, some I diced into small pieces, some I cut into larger pieces, and some I cut into thin strips. With the canned chicken, I sliced some thinly and the rest I broke into tiny bits. With the sandwich meat, I sliced one piece into thin strips and left two slices as is.

BEFORE DEHYDRATING — TOP ROW left to right: chicken breast grated, chicken breast food processor, sliced sandwich meat, sandwich meat, chicken breast big chunks BOTTOM ROW left to right: canned sliced, canned tiny bits, chicken breast diced, chicken breast sliced thinly.

I used my Excalibur 9-tray to dehydrate the chicken, using the meat setting of 155 degrees Fahrenheit. I took the various trays out at different times, as the chicken dried.

Here is a list of the weight of the chicken before (B) and after (A) dehydration, the percentage of weight lost and the length of time I had each kind in the dehydrator:

  • chicken breast grated: 39g (B), 12g (A), 69%, 5 hours
  • chicken breast food processor: ?g (B), 30g (A), unknown %, 5 hours
  • chicken breast sliced thinly: 35g (B), 10g (A), 71%, 6 hours
  • chicken breast diced: 66g (B), 20g (A), 70%, 8 hours (could probably have used longer, but I had to go out)
  • chicken breast larger chunks: 64g (B), 24g (A),  62.5%, 8 hours (could probably have used longer, but I had to go out)
  • canned chicken small bits: 36g (B), 9g (A), 75%, 5 hours
  • canned chicken sliced thinly: 78g (B), 16g (A), 79.5%, 5 hours
  • sandwich meat: 44g (B), 11g (A), 75%, 4 hours
  • sandwich meat sliced thinly into strips: 19g (B), 5g (A), 74%, 4 hours
AFTER DEHYDRATING —  TOP ROW left to right: chicken breast grated, chicken breast food processor, sliced sandwich meat, sandwich meat, chicken breast big chunks BOTTOM ROW left to right: canned sliced, canned tiny bits, chicken breast diced, chicken breast sliced thinly.

After everything was dried, I packaged it into ziploc bags and left it overnight.


All the dehydrated chicken.

The next day was taste test day! I boiled water, and poured enough over each dish to more than cover the chicken. In fact, there was probably twice as much water as necessary in each dish. I covered each dish with plastic wrap, and left them for 15 minutes.

Water added to each dish. TOP ROW left to right: chicken breast grated, chicken breast small diced, canned small bits, chicken breast big chunks BOTTOM row left to right: chicken breast food processor, chicken breast sliced thinly, canned sliced thinly, sandwich meat.
Rehydrating chicken under plastic wrap.

Next it was time to taste each kind of chicken. Here are my thoughts on each one:

  • chicken breast grated: good texture, not chewy
  • chicken breast food processor: good texture, very slightly chewy
  • chicken breast sliced thinly: bigger/thicker pieces chewy, smaller/thinner pieces good texture
  • chicken breast diced: very chewy, edible
  • chicken breast larger chunks: inedible
  • canned chicken small bits: great texture
  • canned chicken sliced thinly: great texture, softest
  • sandwich meat: a little rubbery, but could actually make a sandwich – I think!
  • sandwich meat sliced thinly into strips: a little rubbery

While I had removed a small amount from each dish, I left the chicken rehydrating for another 15 minutes, so that after a total of 30 minutes I could taste test it again. I didn’t notice a difference in the chicken compared to the first testing. I could have left the chicken even longer, but I don’t think the diced chicken or big chunks would have gotten any better – and eventually, leaving meat out long enough may result in nasty stuff growing on it.

So the winners are canned chicken (broken into little bits or sliced), or chicken breast grated or in the food processor. The texture of the canned chicken was definitely the best – it was soft, and not at all chewy. The grated chicken and chicken in the food processor were very similar. I likely could have crumbled the chicken from the food processor part way through drying and it would not have been chewy at all – just a guess.

Starting from the sandwich meat (tip of the pencil and going clockwise): sandwich meat, chicken breast grated, chicken breast food processor, chicken breast diced, chicken breast sliced thinly, canned small bits, canned thinly sliced, chicken breast big chunks.

In future I will not hesitate to dehydrate chicken! Have you dehydrated chicken successfully? Do you have a favourite backcountry meal with dehydrated chicken?

For more backcountry food preparation tips, look here.

Trip report: Backcountry bicycle adventures (bikepacking) with kids at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Have you ever considered a backcountry camping adventure by bicycle? That’s exactly what my husband, kids and I did – and loved it.

At the trailhead for the Kabeyun Trail

In July 2012, during our first visit to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park (1,400 km from home), my husband and I decided to go on a backcountry adventure by bicycle with our kids, who were days away from turning 10 and 8. We consulted the park maps to figure out which of the many trails permitted bicycles on them, and made our plan. We also had to pay for interior campsite permits before heading out.

Since we had been car camping at the park, we had to pack up our sleeping things and take down our tent. We packed all of our backcountry equipment, food, clothes etc. into 2 big backpacks for my husband and I, 1 smaller one for my son, and 1 school backpack for my daughter.

We left our car camping site and drove to the trailhead for the Kabeyun Trail.  We biked 6 km on our mountain bikes along the trail, which wasn’t exactly flat and even – there were numerous hills and obstacles to cycle around. There were frustrating moments, and there were tears! At times, progress was slow, and we were walking rather than biking. 

When we reached an interior campsite, we left our big backpacks there (where we would spend the night) and biked another 1.5 km to the Talus Trail, where we locked our bikes in the woods. And then our adventure by foot began! We hiked 4 km to the top of the Sleeping Giant’s feet – 228 metres above Lake Superior. What a view!

We then hiked 4 km back to our bikes and biked 1.5 km back to the interior campsite, where we slept at a beach site at Tea Harbour. With rope and logs, the kids pulled each other around. While inside our tent, we were lucky enough to see a deer walk between the lake and our tent! 

The next morning, we saw a little skunk at a nearby backcountry site. After packing all our things, we biked 6 km back out to our vehicle with our big packs to end our 25 km backcountry adventure! By doing part of this backcountry adventure by bicycle , we were able to see more of the park in less time.

The next year (2013), when our kids had just turned 9 and 11, we did another July biking/hiking adventure at Sleeping Giant.

Getting everything ready

Again, we had to pack up our sleeping stuff and tent, make sure we had all the necessary backcountry gear, food, clothes etc., pay for our interior permit, and then we headed to the trailhead for the Sawyer Bay Trail. Unfortunately, Alasdair popped the tube on his super old mountain bike earlier in the trip, and changing the tube on this bike is not exactly a do-it-yourself project! So, while the 3 of us biked 6k along the Sawyer Bay trail with our big backpacks on, Alasdair hiked it.

Going over a fallen tree

At some point during the ride, our daughter suffered her first injury of the trip (I think) – she had a bike spill that I didn’t see but heard. She landed on her face and banged her legs up pretty well too. She did not want to continue but soldiered on.


We locked our bikes together and headed on foot to our campsite for the night on Talus Lake (1.5k). It turned out to be a very steep, hard climb, and we arrived at the campsite to find a very disappointing “site” – there was nowhere obvious to put the tent, it was very buggy, and there were big leeches visible in the water! Rather than set up camp on Talus Lake, we decided instead to hike the 1.5k + 300m back out to Sawyer Bay and sleep on Lake Superior. It was a great move. We were the only ones there (other than a few boats moored in the bay). We decided to scrap our initial plan of hiking further to the head of the Sleeping Giant (the trail was marked “extreme”) and to do it the next morning instead.

Trail to the head of the giant marked “EXTREME” (only attempt if in good physical condition – according to the trail maps)

We “swam” in Lake Superior (it was so cold that we essentially dunked under and got the heck out of there!), set up our tent, had dinner, and built an awesome fire from wood gathered along the trail not too far from the campsite. We enjoyed delicious homemade chocolate pudding with yummy toppings. 

The next morning after breakfast, we vacated our campsite, hid our backpacks in the woods, and hiked the pretty steep trail to the head of the sleeping giant – the round trip was approximately 5k. Once again, we had beautiful views from the top of the Sleeping Giant!

Thunder Bay in the distance

When we got back to our campsite , we “swam” again, before hiking the 300m back to our bikes, and biking 6k back out to the trailhead. 

It was another fantastic adventure!!

I highly recommend bikepacking with kids. A few tips:

  • don’t overload the kids’ backpacks – their balance will be affected, and too much weight on their backs is not good for them (plus they will complain incessantly!);
  • bring as little stuff as you possibly can, while making sure you have enough food, water purifying capability, and clothing to stay warm and dry;
  • don’t forget a bike pump and spare tubes;
  • choose your trails carefully – recognize that some don’t allow bicycles, and others may be too challenging for bikepacking with kids; and
  • allow time for multiple breaks, keeping food and water handy at all times!

Happy travelling!

My 10 favourite things to do while car camping at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

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Hiking Algonquin Provincial Park’s Highland Trail: Faya Lake to Harness Lake to Provoking Lake East, 38.6 km in October 2015

This fall’s backpacking trip along the Highland Trail at Algonquin Provincial Park was to serve as an experiment of sorts in preparation for hiking the entire 80 km length of the La Cloche Silhouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park next spring. My friend Cheryl and I set out to do things a little differently in order to shed pack weight and yet still have a warm, safe, enjoyable trip. Did it work? You’ll have to read on to see…

Shortcut to the full slideshow: (Click on the 1st picture and then the little i near the top right if you want to read the picture descriptions.)

Day 1: Algonquin Provincial Park Highway 60 Highland Trail Access Point to Faya Lake (6.51 km)

After some last minute packing and rearranging of stuff, we headed out the door with both packs weighing 38.6 pounds, including a total of 11.5 pounds of food, or 1.9 pounds of food per person per day (starting with Thursday afternoon snack and ending with Sunday afternoon snack). Ultralight backpackers we are not, but we are trying very hard to leave behind anything we don’t truly need, and to be very careful with the quantity and kind of food we bring (while still enjoying a variety of tasty, healthy foods!).

After driving several hours to the park, we picked up our interior permit at the Mew Lake campground, and drove less than 5 minutes back to the Highland Trail access point on Highway 60. We were on the trail by around 1 PM.

Changing fall colours – maple leaves

In previous backpacking trips our packs weighed closer to 45 pounds each, so this time we left a few things at home:

  • pillow (used clothing)
  • knife and fork (used spoon + had swiss army knife if need be)
  • plate (used bowl)
  • water filter (used water purification drops only)
  • 2 nalgene bottles (used plastic ziploc)
  • 2nd GPS (brought only 1)
  • 2nd map (brought only 1)
  • waterproof map folder (used ziploc)

See our full packing list at the end of this blog post!

With forecasted highs of 11-12 degrees Celsius, a small probability of rain and nighttime lows of -1 to +5, we were in for some great hiking weather!

We met a few people on the trail, but nothing compared to the hoards of people parking along Highway 60 to see the changing fall colours and to do the various day hikes.

Unfortunately Cheryl and I both had colds for this trip, so we were sniffling, coughing, sneezing, and blowing our noses as we went along! No wonder the wildlife sightings were minimal! I also found that the cold reduced my cardio and made the hiking more difficult than usual. And then there was the small issue of Cheryl’s as-yet-to-be-diagnosed sore butt muscle!

We stopped at some point for an energy square (see the full menu here:, and then found ourselves at our first campsite, the only one on Faya Lake! It was quite a ways off the trail too, so it was very private. We scouted out the campsite for potential bear bag trees, and after finding what we felt was the best one, I tried to throw a rock over the tree branch to then hoist our food bag up. It took just 3 tries.

Perfect rope tying technique

Cheryl started setting up the tent, and finally we put up a small tarp in case of rain. Then it was time to gather firewood, because we knew we’d need a fire to stay warm in the evening! We reheated some red peppers and carrots, and added them to some peanuts, raisins, and peanut dressing, which we ate with naan bread. Delicious!

Enjoying the peace of Faya Lake [Photo by Cheryl]
We were somewhat surprised to see the sun set behind the trees at 6 PM! Later we enjoyed our campfire with dehydrated bananas and mini Skor bars, and were in our tent by 8:15 PM! It was a bit cool in the night, but not too cold to sleep (though I had to wear long johns, a fleece sweater, and a winter hat).

Day 2: Faya Lake to Harness Lake (12.29 km)

When we woke up on Friday morning, we got changed, packed up our sleeping gear and took the tent down before letting the bear bag down from the tree and starting breakfast. I woke up with a headache, but thankfully breakfast took care of it. Along with a glass of very cold gatorade (which would have been nicer on a warmer day!), we had a cup of tea and some strawberry peach muesli (which helped to warm us up). We dehydrate, prepare and make as much of our food as we can, with most of our recipes coming from A Fork in the Trail by Laurie Ann March. Such a great book!

After packing everything up we hit the trail, heading for a campsite on Harness Lake – we didn’t know which one we would get, because you book the lake but not specific sites.

Thankfully this wasn’t the thunderbox at our campsite on Harness Lake (this was on Head Lake)!

We had trail mix for a snack and an apple peanut salad wrap for lunch, which we enjoyed along the shore of Head Lake. I was a bit lightheaded at lunch time, but felt better after we had eaten. I’m blaming it on my cold.

On Day 2 I saw a garter snake and a grouse (which took off before Cheryl saw them), then sent her to the front so that she could be the one to scare any bears off as we hiked (even though I was carrying the bear spray!). We had pretty much had enough hiking for the day when we reached what we thought would be our campsite for the night (after meeting a couple of men on the trail and them thinking it was unoccupied), only to find that it was taken! It meant that we had to backtrack and walk for another 5-10 minutes or so. Once we arrived at our campsite and set up the tent and bear bag we enjoyed a super yummy peanut butter chocolate ball.

Because of the cool temperatures, the chocolate was solid and hadn’t melted at all. So smooth!

Once again we set up a tarp, gathered wood for a fire and broke it all into small pieces, sorting it by size.

Wood ready to burn

We baked bannock and rehydrated quinoa spinach soup for dinner, saving some of the bannock for the next day’s lunch. Somehow we punctured our “water bag”, which I had carefully measured at home and marked so that we knew how much water to put in the ziploc to be 1 L or 2 L. We fixed it with duct tape, but when it sprang another leak, we started a new bag and marked our 2 L line with duct tape.


I’m not sure how we had the energy earlier to gather wood after such a long hike, but we were both glad to be able to enjoy another campfire (not to mention our Baileys and mini Reeces peanut butter cups). Friday night we were in bed by 9:15. I didn’t find it as cold in the night.

Quinoa spinach soup
Enjoying a fire to keep warm

Day 3: Harness Lake to Provoking Lake East (12.1 km)

Saturday morning we again packed up the tent and everything in it before having maple blueberry granola for breakfast with our gatorade and tea. I was mixing purification drops to add to our bag of water when one of the 2 bottles needed to make the mix ran out! “Uh oh!” I thought. Thankfully, we had a back-up plan – boiling water for 1 minute before using it. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring extra fuel for this purpose. Thankfully, we had other back-up plans – ask other hikers for drops, or make campfires and boil our water that way (and blacken/ruin the pot that is intended for use with a portable stove)! In the end, we managed to boil the water we needed without running out of fuel. Crisis averted.

Leaving our site on Harness Lake

We started hiking toward Provoking Lake East, through woods that could only be described as very very creaky! Many times we wondered “what was that?” only to decide it was one tree rubbing against another. We also quickly noted which way the tree would fall were it to crash to the ground!

Our morning snack was a very tasty honey mustard trail mix. We later stopped along the trail to have our lunch of bannock, hummus, dried peppers and dried fruit. At some point shortly after lunch, the zipper on my pants split wide open! We had visions of having to pull out the needle and thread to sew a new “bottom”, but I managed to get the teeth aligned again. Phew.

We saw a total of 5 grouse on Day 3 (all one at a time).

Sniffling through the forest I go! [Photo by Cheryl]
Once again, by the time we reached Provoking Lake East, we were ready to be done hiking. We had heard that a campsite on the peninsula was a really nice one, but we also knew it was the furthest away, and would likely be taken. So we decided to check each campsite we came to and decide which one to take. The first one was unoccupied, and it was an okay site, but not great. We decided to check the next site, which wasn’t far away. The site was much nicer, but the toilet was almost on the trail!! We debated going back to the previous site, but decided that it was unlikely many people would pass our site later in the day (having already found their own campsites), so we’d likely be safe sitting on the thunderbox in full view of the trail! (We were right.)

It took me 12(!) tries to get the rock over our preferred bear bag branch, but I wasn’t about to give up! We got the tent up, tarp up, and had a small snack. We found a huge amount of wood for our campfire within a very short distance of our campsite. After our dinner of bagel/egg/bacon/cheese wraps, we started our campfire by 6:30 PM (we were rather beat). We had our Baileys, banana and mini turtles and somehow managed to stay up until 8:15.

Day 4: Provoking Lake East to Highway 60 Access Point (7.7 km)

On our last morning, we had a treat – a Skor hot chocolate to accompany our gatorade and tortilla/egg/salsa wraps. Once everything was packed up, we headed out for the last time, this time toward the car. We took a 250m side trail to a lookout on the way back, which gave nice views of Starling Lake and Lake of Two Rivers.

Taking a photo of Starling Lake [Photo by Cheryl]
It started to rain as we hiked, but it was more of a mist and I never did get my raincoat out. We stopped for a snack where the trail crossed Mad Creek (Mud Creek?), and chatted briefly with 4 men in 2 canoes. I asked if they had a camera, so that I could take their picture. They said they didn’t. I told them that I could take a picture with my camera and email it to them. They declined. I asked how they could do a canoe trip without a camera, and one guy pointed to his head and said, “It’s all up here.” (Cheryl said, “They’re guys!”)

As for wildlife on Day 4, the most exciting thing we saw was a Blue Jay.

In the last 100-200 m of the trail, we encountered a group of 15-20 young teenagers, all carrying identical canoe-type packs that were way too big for them. One girl was so bent over we have no idea how she would be able to hike the 6+ km to the first campsite (assuming they were staying there). The adult at the front (tour guide?) and the 2 at the back had curiously small packs… it was rather odd. One girl looked like she could climb into her pack. Two kids were carrying huge jugs of water. What kind of outfitter…?

Bye bye Highland Trail!

Despite our colds and the few challenges we faced, we had a great weekend! With a bit more work on the menu side to up the calorie content and decrease the weight of our food, we’re ready for Killarney! (We packed the perfect amount of food, with the exception of us eating Sunday’s lunch when we reached the car, and Sunday’s afternoon snack on the drive home. We never felt that we ate too much, and we didn’t go to bed hungry.)

In case you’re interested, here is our packing list for a 3-night, 4-day fall backpacking trip for 2 adult females (includes clothes we were wearing):


  • 1 pair zip-off pants
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 long johns (long sleeve top plus bottom)
  • 1 fleece sweater
  • 2 pairs underwear
  • 3 pairs socks
  • 2 bras
  • 1 rain coat and rain pants
  • 1 wide brimmed hat
  • 1 winter hat
  • 1 pair gloves
  • 1 pair sunglasses
  • 1 pair hiking boots
  • 1 pair sandals

Kitchen (shared)

  • 1 pot 2 L
  • 1 pot gripper
  • 1 MSR Dragonfly stove with wind protector
  • 1 325 ml fuel bottle (full)
  • 1 scorch burner (modified version of the one from the Outback oven, which always slips off the stove)
  • 1 pot cosy
  • matches
  • 2 bowls
  • 2 spoons
  • 2 mugs
  • 1 pancake flipper
  • 1 swiss army knife
  • 1 single blade knife
  • parchment paper (2 square feet?)
  • hot pot square (thing you sit a pot on so as not to burn your table) (not used)
  • coffee filters for straining water (not used)



  • 1 backpack with water bladder
  • 4 rolls toilet paper (shared)
  • 1 2-man tent – Sierra Designs Zilla 2 (shared)
  • 1 fall/spring sleeping bag (mine the MEC rated to -7 and Cheryl’s to -20 something)
  • 1 thermarest
  • 1 headlamp
  • 2 AAA headlamp batteries (shared)
  • 1 tarp + 3 small ropes (shared)
  • 1 bear bag + non-stretchy rope (shared)
  • 1 GPS (shared)
  • 2 AA GPS batteries (shared)
  • 1 map + compass (shared)
  • 1 emergency locator beacon (shared)
  • 1 first aid kit (shared)
  • 1 emergency kit (small amount of duct tape, backpack waist belt buckles, needle and thread, shoelaces) (shared)
  • 1 fire starting kit (matches, cotton balls, long burning pouch) (shared)
  • water purification drops (shared)
  • 1 camera
  • 1 tripod (shared)
  • 1 bear spray (shared)
  • 1 sunscreen (shared)
  • 1 cell phone
  • drivers licence, health card
  • 1 pen and small notebook (shared)
  • 1 quick dry towel
  • personal hygiene items (toothbrush, contacts, medicine etc.)

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Hiking Killarney: Epic Boot Fail, Stream Crossings and Animal Encounters

Another late ice out, another canoe trip converted into a hiking trip! What was supposed to be a 4-day Massassauga Provincial Park adventure turned into a 4-day backpacking trip along the La Cloche Silhouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park! I’ll remember this trip for the epic boot fail, stream crossings, and animal encounters!

Shortcut to the full slide show:

Day 1: George Lake Campground, Killarney Provincial Park, La Cloche Silouette Trailhead to Cave Lake (H6) — 8.4 km

Seen on the side of the road just before turning into the George Lake campground

For the first time, we headed out without a reservation – this caused mild concern, but I assured Cheryl it would all work out! By the time we cancelled our canoe trip, Killarney was no longer taking reservations for backcountry sites (flood watch?), so we had to hope that not too many others planned on hiking when and where we were intending to. After an early morning start, we were at the George Lake Campground office by noon and paid for our backcountry permit – we had hoped to camp on H6 the 1st night, H16 the 2nd, and H6 the 3rd. As it turned out, H6 was booked for the 3rd night, so we chose H5. If you haven’t been to Killarney, you wouldn’t know that the hiking campsites are quite spread out – if one is booked, you might have to hike much further to the next campsite. But H5 and H6 are near one another, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Cheryl and I were due for some good weather camping for a change, and the weekend delivered! The forecast was for +9 to +15 degrees Celsius, and pure sun!

We were at the trailhead just before 1 PM on Thursday, April 30, heading in the recommended clockwise direction (last year, we did a 4-day trip in the counterclockwise direction from “the Crack” parking lot – much more challenging terrain). When we opened the trunk of the car, we discovered that my cambelbak had completely emptied – it seemed to be absorbed by cardboard lining Cheryl’s trunk, but the wet cardboard didn’t seem to be as big an area as you might expect…

A very excited woman seemed thrilled to take our pictures at the trailhead. Cheryl had decided to leave her sandals in the car to save weight, so I did the same – I could just wear my boots at the campsite! And then…

… well, we headed out, enjoying our hike through the spring forest. Cheryl had brought a walking stick with her, and found me one early in our hike. The ice was out on all the lakes, but there were a few small patches of ice in the forest. We encountered many stream crossings, some easier than others. We heard the distinctive thumping of ruffed grouse many times, but didn’t actually see many of the birds. We stopped for a carrot date bar snack, and within about 200 m of our campsite, I experienced an epic boot fail.

The rubber sole of my right boot separated except for the toe area!

I managed to flop my way to our campsite on Cave Lake (H6), and understood why I had wet feet! I took my boots and socks off and put them in the sun to (hopefully) dry before morning. We were disappointed to find that someone had left a big garbage bag hanging from a tree, as well as a deflated raft, a hat and a small bag! We put up the tent, the bear bag, pumped water from the lake, and heated up our pre-cooked butter chicken and naan bread, which we ate with carrots. Yum! I had forgotten to pack the “scorch protector”, which lifts the pot up off the stove a bit, so we had to be careful not to burn our food. We also discovered that my camelbak had mostly emptied onto Cheryl’s sleeping bag, which was pretty wet! Thankfully, there was enough sun to dry it before bedtime. After dinner we cut one of the lightweight tarp ropes into 3 and melted the ends so the rope wouldn’t fray. We were counting on these pieces to hold my boot together!

We enjoyed the sunset with our Baileys, dehydrated banana, chocolate treats, and one bat fly-by. There was also something making loud noises and splashes in the water, but we weren’t sure if it was a fish or a beaver! We were accompanied by a few very large mosquitoes, but they weren’t really biting. I had a great night’s sleep!

Day 2: Cave Lake (H6) to Three Narrows Lake (H16) — 11.4 km

The morning started with a big cup of gatorade and whole wheat cheesy mushroom pancakes with tea. We packed up camp (sleeping bags were damp at the feet), put on dry socks and boots (!), and headed back out on the trail. Not long after we started, we reached a stream that seemed impossible to cross without either getting wet feet or taking our boots off and crossing in bare feet. We chose the latter. We picked the slowest moving water with the least slippery rocks, and managed to cross without falling in! After drying our feet and reassembling my boot, we were off! It wasn’t long before I stepped in mud (the trail was very wet in places!) and my foot was soaked all over again. Sigh. We heard – and then watched – as a limb fell from a tree just off the path. We met 2 women who had camped at Topaz Lake the night before (H7), and based on their description of the lake, we decided to take a detour and eat our morning snack there. We left the trail midway up “the Pig” (the steepest portage in the park) to go to Topaz Lake. We enjoyed our trail mix and dried fruit while admiring the blue-green water. Later we stopped at a man-made dam to have our lunch – homemade sesame seed crackers with hummus, dehydrated peppers, and a few leftover carrots. It was delicious! We continued on our way, and were shocked to discover that the blue trail markers appeared to be sending us across this:

You try balancing a 40-pound pack on your back as you walk across this jiggly log!

Instead, we avoided certain disaster by walking further along this:


We eventually reached our campsite on Three Narrows Lake (H16), only to discover what on quick glance appeared to Cheryl to be a body stuffed in the base of a tree trunk (it was a sleeping bag – why it was there, we’ll never know). We also found a very tilted toilet quite close to the trail! Otherwise, the site was nice but not as big as our previous one, there were no flat rocks at the water to sit on, and it wasn’t West facing, so no great sunset viewing! We set up camp and cooked our minestrone soup and cornbread, then enjoyed the fading light (and nearly full moon) with our Baileys, bananas and chocolate! I think it was Day 2 that also saw my left boot fail!

Day 3: Three Narrows Lake (H16) to Cave Lake (H5) 10.9 km

An egg/bacon/veggie wrap, cup of gatorade and a mug of tea is how we started the day. We packed up camp, and then headed back the way we had come, toward Cave Lake and site H5. We crossed the beaver dam again, and had a morning snack of beef jerky and dehydrated applesauce at campsite H8. We did the boot-less stream crossing again, where we encountered a group of 4 women and 1 man, and wondered how they could possibly carry everything they needed in the small packs they had! They even had a dog which would entail carrying dog food! This is where we ate our lunch (pepperettes, cheese sticks, leftover hummus and cornbread, and gatorade). At one point, we turned a corner and there was a young deer lying on the trail. It took a while before she got up, and then she took a couple of steps – toward us! She scratched her head, had a snack, and then finally took off!

I told the deer that she wasn’t exhibiting very good life sustaining behaviour!

Just a few metres further on, we finally saw a ruffed grouse while it made its thumping noise. It looks and sounds like this:

We reached our campsite on Cave Lake (H5), and were really impressed with it! It was big, West facing, with great rocks, a private toilet, and no garbage! We were hot from hiking, so I decided to “swim” (dunk – first before I was ready, the second time intentionally). It felt great! Cheryl had a “sponge bath” (didn’t dunk). It was warm enough that we just lay on the rocks on the sun for a while. After getting into dry clothes, we boiled some water for our Skor hot chocolate with marshmallows, and ate a harvest oat bar with it. We enjoyed the sun, the view, the rock backrests and the busy beaver, before finally deciding to make our pasta carbonara for dinner. It was the only “miss” of all our meals. I would have liked less pasta, more veggies and sauce. Cheryl would have preferred less pasta, more bacon, and more sauce. We won’t make that one again! We enjoyed the beautiful setting sun, and you guessed it – Baileys, bananas and chocolate – before climbing into the tent for the night! Before falling asleep we heard an owl, but weren’t sure what kind it was.


Day 4: Cave Lake (H5) to George Lake Campground — 8 km

On our last day, we had a bowl of oatmeal, dried fruit and nuts, gatorade and tea for breakfast before packing up and heading back to the car.


We stopped for a snack of homemade jerky and energy squares at campsite H3 on Acid Lake. It looked like a great site for kids, with deep water for swimming. We heard a barred owl as we were hiking, and experienced a few drops of rain – the only rain all weekend! It wasn’t until we reached the car that we had our lunch of granola and dried fruit.

It was a great weekend. We packed the perfect amount of food, had awesome weather, very few bugs, and managed to deal with my epic boot fail! In addition to the animals already mentioned, we saw: loons, ducks, geese, hawks, chipmunks, squirrels, a water snake, turtles, frogs, a crayfish, and heard woodpeckers, bullfrogs, and tons of spring peepers.

Next time, we’ll try to muster up the energy to forage for wood and make a fire! We’re dreaming of hiking the entire 80 km trail in one go!

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Homemade beef jerky – backpacking snack or expensive cat treat?

This spring’s late ice-out means that my planned early spring canoe trip to The Massassauga Provincial Park has turned into a backpacking trip (on an as-yet-to-be-determined trail, depending on flood conditions), and a need for one more snack per day (Cheryl and I learned while hiking the La Cloche Silouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park that backpacking – at least on that trail – necessitates a higher daily caloric intake than a canoe trip)!

So, I decided to make beef jerky! I’ve eaten it before, but never made it, so this was to be an experiment. Either it would turn out great and we’d take it backpacking, or the kitties would get a very special treat.

So, I started with flank steak. I froze this piece for about 5 hours to make it easier to slice.

I only used half of this for the beef jerky. If no one liked it, I didn’t want to have a huge amount of it and waste $15 worth of meat.

I trimmed fat where possible (fat doesn’t dry, and it makes the beef jerky spoil sooner), and then I sliced it as thinly as I could.

Fat trimmed away

I put the beef slices into a pyrex dish and covered them with President’s Choice Gourmet Original Barbecue Sauce (about 250 ml). I mixed it all up, then dumped the beef into a container, put a lid on it and stuck it in the fridge! I let it marinate for more than 24 hours, and then put the slices onto the dehydrator trays.

I used the meat setting of my Excalibur 2900 series 9-tray dehydrator, which is set at 155 degrees Fahrenheit or 68 degrees Celsius. I filled 4 trays, spacing the beef out so as to maximize air flow. I left the empty trays out of the machine. I had read that I should use non-stick spray on the trays, but wasn’t sure about that so didn’t bother.

Ready to go into the dehydrator

Ready for dehydrating.

After about 4 hours, I checked the meat and it may have been done, but I wasn’t sure, so I left it longer. It was nearly at the 6 hour mark when I preheated the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, then transferred the meat from the trays onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to peel the meat off the trays.

What it looked like after 6 hours of drying.

Why the oven step? I read on a website from the University of Wisconsin that to safely make beef jerky at home, one should heat it for 10 minutes in an oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit after 4-6 hours of dehydration.

All done!

So, after all that? Was it any good? Here’s what the first 3 taste testers said:

“It’s pretty good, but when you have too much of it, the yumminess wears off.” – Ailish

“I like the meat part of it, but I don’t like barbecue sauce.” – Keaghan

“I’ll probably like it if I try it because anything Kyra makes is usually amazing.” – Alasdair, as suggested by Ailish.

And me? I love it. It’s sweet, very sweet. But yum!

Cheryl, you can give your verdict shortly.