There are many many routines that I have per day that help me do everything from ensuring I don’t forget gear to helping me maintain a disciplined camp site including food storage that is as bombproof as possible. Packing the boat for instance has changed in only a few ways since the very beginning of the trip which makes it quicker to load and easier for me to know if something is different and figure out why. This blog will describe a few of the routines so you can get a picture of what kayak camping is about in order to explore the amazing wilderness of Alaska and BC.
“You ain’t never gonna fit all that stuff in there.” – friend in Port McNeill marina
How can you possibly bring items like a laptop, an electric shaver, a SLR camera, and hundreds of zip locked bags of food on a kayaking trip over 5 months? There are so many issues to deal with, especially having emergency gear reachable from the cockpit, managing the corrosive effects of salt water, the potential flooding of the cockpit or some hatches, the magnetic deviation that metallic objects such as tent poles can have on my navigational compass. Once a 30 mile paddle with George and Jeandrew became a 40 mile paddle in one day because of a compass that was deviated due to tent poles in the hatch beneath it so that lesson is still with me. All of these little factors come into play when sorting dry bags, packing the boat, and so on. Here is how I pack each hatch:
Rear Hatch: Tent, Rain Fly, Ground cloth, poles, stakes, tennis shoes, sleeping bag, 1st bear can, dry suit, and rope for hanging.
Day Hatch: Cooking Mess Kit, SLR Camera, Books, Pelican Case with Sat and Cell Phones, Flare gun, headlamp, bear spray, first aid bag, and repair kit.
Cockpit: 10L Dromedary bag for water, rope for bowline and tying up on shore, and a Gatorade bottle for peeing (tied down with elastic to the seat).
Front Hatch: 20L bag with Surplus food, Coat, clothes, netbook, electronics (MP3 player, spare batteries, etc), 2nd bear can, water filter, spare fuel, toiletry bag, rain pants, Nalgene water bottle, dirty clothes bag, Noah’s Tarp, and fuel bottle. No strongly magnetic objects in this hatch to limit magnetic deviation of compass. To be safe, metal objects should be farther than 3-4 times there longest dimension from the compass. Test to be sure by bringing objects close to the compass and then removing.
Deck: Rear side with 2 dry bags with lunch and snacks in one and sleeping pad/duct tape/mosquito head net in the other, and my Crocs attached with carabineer. Front side has spare paddle, and deck bag with chart case, bilge pump, float, maps, camera with pelican case, suntan lotion, and air horn.
Life Jacket (PFD): 1.5L water bag and tube, VH-F radio, strobe light, SPOT device, ACR PLB for back-up, emergency blanket, Laser Flare, Cliff Bar, swabby in zip lock to clean camera lens and glasses, knife, whistle, signaling mirror, and two Orion flares. My baseball cap is attached to the PFD so I dont lose it in the wind.
This one is easy but essential to prevent guardia or other protozoa. Boiling water would be far too fuel expensive for this long of a trip, so I much prefer filling up in towns, filtering from streams, or getting water straight from the glaciers. I have two 10L dromedary bags, a Nalgene, and the 1.5L bag, so a total of 22.5 liters which can last me two weeks if need be. But I normally just fill the one 10L bag and that lasts me 2-3 days. BC and SE Alaska have water streams abundant and most charts indicate the major flows. And near the glaciers, water filtration isn’t even necessary because I was at the source. Any other time, I used my ceramic MSR filter, as seen in the picture.
So this is the food storage system to prevent bears/raccoon et al. from getting to food and toiletries. (A) Bear canisters to the bottom right, and (B) hanging bags between trees. Normally I only have to hang sfuff when I have surplus at the beginning of each leg to the trip and after that everything fits in the bear cans. Recently I was lazy and left the bags in the kayak hatch and before I fell asleep, I heard a thump on the kayak, followed by silence. The next morning I saw that the fuel bottles which were in the cockpit had fallen all over the place and there were some scratches near the hatch…probably a black bear in the area. I saw scat nearby. I’ll stick to hanging the bags.
This 2 to 1 rope tension system is very handy to hoist food bags high above the reach of bears without shredding your hands on rope. It essentially reduces the weight lifted by the person in half. Grizzlies especially can stand to 9 feet and reach very high. Black bear have been known to climb trees, so the idea here is to suspend the food between two trees and have the bags around 20 feet high.
There are many many many more routines that I’ll eventually write up, but now it’s time for me to get packed up for Leg 4 because Kim is arriving soon and it’s time to paddle!