When heading out on a day hike, food isn’t necessarily a requirement, although it is wise to carry at least something. On a long hike (15+ kms) food takes on a more important role. When venturing for more than 30+ kms a day, it’s mandatory.
A term often heard in long distance hiking is "calorie-dense." This is pertaining to not only how many calories are packed into your next meal, but how many calories it contains per ounce of weight. On average, your body requires one and half to two pounds of food per day to maintain strength and endurance. So, when you are hiking for five or more days, food weight can add up quickly.
Peanut butter, chocolate that contains at least 75 percent cocoa, olive oil, and butter, (yes butter) should be at the top of anyone’s list when packing for a trip. Some hikers will add a stick of butter to a one kilogram container of peanut butter just so they don’t have issues with it melting inside their pack. Olive oil can be used for cooking, added to food, or simply drinking it straight from the bottle. Some hard-core hikers will go to extremes when fueling their bodies for the long haul.
When in the back country, all food preparation and cooking should be done at least 30 metres or 100 feet, downwind from your tent. Downwind means that if a bear was to follow the scent of your food, it will find your food area before it finds you. NEVER keep food in your tent, you don’t want to be waken up by a 400 pound bear ripping its way through your tent.
Wildlife in the Ottawa area includes black bears, cougars (mountain lions), and wolves. These can all be life threatening in the right (or wrong) circumstance. Carrying some sort of protection and knowing how to use it could save your life. Finding yourself on the receiving end of a bear’s curiosity will humble anyone. Humans in the wild are not at the top of the food chain, and you will realize this quickly with your first encounter.
My first was encounter was Oct. 30th. I was nearing the end of a one-day, 50 km hike, when in the pitch black of the Gatineau Park trials, a bear charged toward me, crashing through the underbrush. I resisted the urge to run, (never run away from a bear, it will provoke an attack) keeping my pace, moving toward my destination and the safety of my car. Thankfully, the bear stopped. I didn’t come face-to-face, but it reminded me that I am not alone in the woods.
So when you do venture out into the woods, use common sense, and be safe.
I'm a 44-year-old guy currently planning my first long-distance hike. It will start on the first of May, 2016, and will cover 2518 kilometres, from Echo Lake in California to Manning Provincial Park at the British Columbia border. This will be my biggest, grandest, most epic accomplishment in my life so far.