The unsettled weather continued during our trip down to Goddard Hot Springs, so we decided to portage into Redoubt Lake and from there hike the historic trail to the Hot Springs. We quickly found out how much richer the marine environment is, and we had to work hard to get enough food and use our saved supplies.
We are leaving for our summer of subsistence sea kayaking in SE Alaska, until September (is the plan). Will start paddling in Haines, and paddle in the direction that seems to have the best catching and harvesting. Our fishing gear, shrimp pots, crab snares, etc. are ready to provide the catch as we collect edible berries, plants and mushrooms. A well stocked spice kit will help us prepare some delicious meals (we hope). A few pictures from last summers trip below. I will try to update this page if we stop in a small town.
Want to hear more about how it is going? We are planning to post several updates with Adventure Kayaker.
What a great dinner! We had a few requests for the recipe of our: “Fresh caught shrimp, baked rockfish and beach pea salad.”
First catch and clean a rockfish, then bake it over your camp stove in a big frypan. Season with salt, black pepper and stuff the belly with beach loveage.
Next, find a good shrimping spot, catch a handful of shrimp, boil for a few minutes in salt water and serve.
Third, take a walk and collect the following for the salad: Shelled beach peas, sour dock (otherwise known as mountain sorrel), wild violet leaves, twisted stalk leaves, or whatever greens you happen to have (chopped fine). Add the following from your extensive kayaking spice kit, a tiny bit of red onion, sesame oil, crystallized ginger and lime juice to taste.
Fourth, collect a handful of hedgehog mushrooms during your walk, sauté them in oil and season with salt, pepper and rosemary.
Note: Beach peas can be plentiful and easy to pick, although shelling them requires a zen approach to time. They can contain small amounts of toxins that accumulate, but are considered safe to eat occasionally.
What makes this so special?
With a variety of light-weight, compact, delicious, camping foods available, why would a person choose to paddle around eating weeds?
At times I ask myself the same. Wilderness time is so precious in our busy lives. Wouldn’t I rather go for a hike than sit under a tarp cleaning mounds of beach greens?
These kinds of trips aren’t lightweight. We don’t have to pack all that food, but the space is more than occupied by fishing gear, shrimp pots, collecting bag etc. It isn’t less expensive, compared to the cost of kayaks, and paddling jackets, food is cheap and the things we do bring, spices, and oil, and condiments, add up quickly.
While I relish the sweet illusion that by gathering your own food, this kind of life could go on indefinitely, we are still linked to the money economy more than I would like to admit. Summer will end all to soon. The colors will change. The bounty will disappear.
I do feel healthier out here. Is it outdoor exercise, or a diet, low in carbohydrates and sugars, closer to what our ancestors ate, that makes me feel more alive?
Mostly I enjoy that looking for food makes me notice things in greater detail. Is that a mushroom with true gills or little flat topped diverging ridges? Gulls are sitting on the water in a perfect line, maybe marking an upwelling current and good fishing.
Catching a gorgeous silver salmon or finding a blueberry patch dripping with grape size berries, I am in awe the earths abundance. Being surrounded by baby animals, catching a glimpse of a sea otter pup peaking out from it’s mothers arms, or a duo of humpback whales passing in unison, I feel a sense of optimism for the earth. Their is an abundance here. We are intimately linked to the world around us is in a most basic way. And as Fredrik says, “There is something deep inside of us that longs to gather food.”
Text by Nancy Pfeiffer – more stories and recipes to come.
We had a very successful 25-day sea kayaking trip on Prince William Sound paddling from Cordova to Chenega, living off the land and harvesting our food along the way.
Will post more about the trip soon, meanwhile check out this article about our trip last year, which was published in Adventure Kayaker Magazine. http://www.rapidmedia.com/ak/adventurekayakmag_fall15