Week 04 65 lbs (30 kg) of Butter...
Date Posted: 3.23.2009
Location: 44º54'N 92º47'W
Expedition Basecamp, Minnesota, USA
Weather Conditions: Sunshine, 58°F (14°C)
504 bars, 232 envelopes of soup mix, 35 pounds (16 kg) of dried fruit, 524 tea bags, 25 pounds (12 kg) of sugar, 156 cups of pasta, and 1,088 ounces of gorp (trail mix). Those are just some of the items that were packed during this week’s food pack-out event. Gorp is short for “good old raisins and peanuts,” but we admit our version is a bit fancier. Plus, it’s probably the most fun to pack – getting out the huge bowl to mix bags and bags of almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips, dried
cranberries, sunflower seeds and a pinch of raisins!
Packing the right amount of food is obviously a very crucial part of planning for an Arctic dogsled expedition. We really do not want to be carrying too much food when the mighty Polar Huskies haul the sleds up and over the mountains. At the same time, we cannot be in a situation where we are running out of food, given the danger that would put us in. If we are not carrying the right amount of supplies, when we are out of powdered milk we are simply out of powdered milk! One cannot just make a quick dash to the nearest store, because there is no store within a hundred miles or more to go pick up some more milk! Or toilet paper! Yes, really - if you run out of toilet paper while on the trail... You are out of toilet paper! Imagine that☺!
[right: Everything is packed in ziploc bags and carefully labeled]
On that note, it's not just any toilet paper. Basecamp Manager Tiffany Simonsen, who headed up this year's food pack notes with a smile, "Of all the items on the list, the kind of toilet paper is what the team seems to be most particular about: double-layered and soft!”
Each team member on the expedition should eat 5,000-6,000 calories a day. That's a lot of food! Actually, it is about two to three times the amount recommended for adult human beings. Sleeping in the tent at minus 40° degrees—then skiing next to the sled for eight hours a day, pushing and lifting, and working in frigid temperatures—makes our bodies require a lot of energy in the form of calories.
The way our bodies function in the cold, like staying warm, is by burning calories. When living outside in the Arctic environment, the best kinds of calories are those we can get from fat. The traditional diet of the Native Inuit people of Nunavut is very heavy in animal fats such as blubber from seals or other fatty parts of animals. Since we do not hunt while traveling, we do not eat much seal blubber while on the expedition, beyond what the local people might generously share with us. But, we will surely eat a great deal of cheese—and butter. Each team member will eat at minimum a stick of butter a day. Mostly this is eaten as "a-big-chunk-of-butter-in-pretty-much-everything-you-eat," like oatmeal, soup, and with the pasta. "But, at times, some team members can actually be so hungry that they sit and eat it like it is ice cream," says Aaron.
So, yes we packed 65 pounds (about 30 kg) of butter! That equals 320 sticks of the butter you might use at home; each stick equals four ounces or eight tablespoons, making for a total of 2,080 tablespoons. Get the picture?! Every item going on the expedition has to be carefully measured into the correct daily amounts. In total, we each get about 1.5–2 pounds (.68–.91 kg) of food a day. Most of that weight is indeed cheese and butter—not least because these are two items we can share with the Polar Huskies should we start running low on food supplies (perhaps because we are delayed by sitting in the tent through a long snowstorm or because we are having to navigate around thin ice and open water, thus not making the mileage in the direction as planned).
All the food is then re-packed into Ziploc bags to make sure we carry the exact amount of food necessary. It is also repackaged so that we can get rid of as much unnecessary packaging as possible. We try to limit the amount of bulky trash we accumulate while on the expedition since the team must carry all its trash in the sled, not leaving anything behind as we travel on the land.
After two days of packing we owe a huge "thank you" to the pack-out crew of Jeff Abuzzahab, Tiffany Simonsen, and Teacher Explorer Chris Ripken and his daughter Aubrey for a job well done! As we set out over the ice with perfectly loaded sleds and just the right amount of pancake mix, we will thankfully be thinking about you all.
This week’s chat expert is one who can really appreciate this fact as he once traveled with loaded sleds pulled by the mighty Polar Huskies, 5000 ft up and over the Brooks Mountain Range during the GoNorth! Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 2006 adventure learning expedition! Make sure to join our own GoNorth! Cool Scientist Henry Huntington in this week’s chat – the last on the topic of Arctic Exploration – on Thursday, March 26 at 2 PM.
One youngster that rarely needs any sort of barking commands is Luna. On the contrary, being one of the noisiest squirmiest Polar Huskies in the Kennel, Luna is simply just crazed. Already training to be point dog, ever-happy Luna is no doubt one of the dogs that loves to be fed the most! Luna is not necessarily the “biggest eater,” but she is definitely one of the happiest when food time comes around. She just loves people so much that when we feed her, she is really happy! Slender and very athletic, this will be little Luna’s first expedition, but she already knows how to make every ounce of her body weight count. Pulling takes a lot of energy, so Luna is, indeed, always ready to eat—and she loves butter!