November 2011  ‘Safety in the Mountains’ & Backcountry Meals

Uncle Jacko talks backcountry meal ideas, the medicinal benefits of swearing, and much more in this edition of his Cookery Corner.

Lunches

I got a few responses from my plea for lunch ideas. David Barnes writes that he has started making ham, cheese and mustard tortilla wraps that are cooked and sealed in the sandwich press. He says they are good for three to four days, maybe longer. Add a stack of homemade chocolate chippie biscuits made by his wife, Anne-Marie, and his lunch is sorted.

Shaun Barnett says that capsicums last very well on a trip and, unless shaped like one of the peppers Edward Weston famously photographed, often fit snugly into your mug for safe stowage. Jaffa Thins are his favourite lunch snack, but require a little care to keep them intact. Hummus makes a nice alternative for a spread, while dried tomatoes are a good lunch food as they compliment cheese or pickle. Shaun always takes cheese, but usually buys Mild, Edam, or Colby, which by the end of the trip have changed into Tasty. But the ultimate tramping super-food, he claims, is dried bananas. Not the horrible baked chip variety, but whole dried bananas which are available in the Pack ‘n Save bulk bins, or – even better ­– home dehydrated ones. Pita bread works well as a bread alternative, he says, but only for the first couple of days. As for bread, Shaun chooses unsliced Vogels (or North’s unsliced rye loaf if they still bake it – but only available in the South Island) which lasts well, especially if stored in the fit-together ends cut off two-litre plastic milk bottles.

Kennedy Warne supplied me with a recipe for ‘reinforced concrete’ as written by South African-born Dunedin artist Zuna Wright, with tweaks by Pamela, wife of Kennedy’s tramping cobber, Mark Walrond. Kennedy says he can vouch for the recipe as being the best of that genre he has tasted.

Hypothermia

I learnt a bit about hypothermia from local wilderness medicine experts Doctors Claudia Schneider and Stan Mulvany at a local seminar given by Southern Institute of Technology, in response to local demand. As most of your will have missed the seminar, I can instead direct you to a Canadian doctor who demonstrates first hand all manner of useful things relating to cold, including how to get out of water having fallen through the ice: search for ‘Gordon Giesbrecht’ or ‘Professor Popsicle’ on YouTube. It seems that it is actually quite hard to get hypothermia, though easy enough to get cold to the degree that rational thinking doesn’t necessarily prevail.

Foul Mouthed Climbers

Often, medical breakthroughs just confirm what you already suspected. A study reported by the Telegraph advises that swearing can actually relieve pain. According to the story, scientists from Keele University found that letting forth a volley of foul language can have a powerful painkilling effect, especially for people who do not normally use expletives. Pain is reduced as a result of the adrenalin released while swearing, triggering the ‘’fight or flight’’ response. The study proves that swearing elicits both a mental and physical response. ‘’Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon,’ said researcher Richard Stephens. Those who have been near me when I struggle up a hairy climb know that under those circumstances my language is a constant stream of filth, governed only by the frequent and urgent need to gulp breath. There is room for more research.

WAMS

I mentioned in a previous UJCC the existence of the Walking Access Mapping System (WAMS) at www.wams.org.nz, where you can view current, high quality maps, aerial photographs and land boundaries in New Zealand. For those of you who haven’t been there yet, think of it as trustworthy, accurate Google Maps on steroids tailored to the needs of trampers. Because of the thoughtful way WAMS was designed, it offers unimaginable opportunities for further development, especially by DOC, tramping clubs and outdoor groups. I understand some tramping clubs are already incorporating WAMS into their websites, but I have yet to find any sign of this. I would be keen to showcase any uses in future UJCC, please. As I am a member of the WAMS advisory group, I also welcome any thoughts that trampers and others may have as to how WAMS could be improved, modified or used in interesting ways.

Choice

I attended and enjoyed the FMC ‘Forever Wild?’ conference in June. A common sub-theme emerging from the conference is that what happens in conservation doesn’t happen by chance, but through deliberate action – or inaction. For instance, the present poor funding and the future reduction in funding for Vote Conservation isn’t because there isn’t any money left in Government coffers, but because Government decided that conservation isn’t as important – and therefore not so deserving of budget appropriations – as other such things as hip joints, Rugby World Cup 2011, and bailing out failed get-rich-quick finance companies. Spending less money on conservation is not an economic decision, but a political decision. As Harold Lasswell succinctly put it: ‘Politics is who gets what, when, and how’.

1080

While not really wanting to raise the subject of 1080 again, I was duly impressed with the courage and conviction of Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, in her speech to the FMC conference. Not only did she wholeheartedly advocate for 1080, but suggested to a whole bunch of trampers that in fact we would be better off to spend all of DOC’s budget set aside for huts and tracks for the next ten years on aerial 1080 applications. Although she had been very uncertain of what sort of reception her speech would get, she earned more applause than any other speaker that day. Her argument for reversibility was unassailable: you can defer maintenance for huts and tracks, but once the last kiwi and kaka have been eaten by the ‘terrible trio’ of rats, possums and stoats, it’s too late to do anything: we don’t have the luxury of time. Her highly readable report, Evaluating the Use of 1080, available from the PCE website (www.pce.govt.nz) is compulsory reading.

Safety in the Mountains

I am leading a group to revise FMC’s classic booklet, Safety in the Mountains now into its 10th edition. As FMC stocks will run out around Easter next year, we need to get cracking. If anyone has good ideas they would like to share with me, I would like to hear from you. We plan to modernise the cartoons (is this a good idea?) and go to full colour (at no extra cost). My own view is that the booklet content is basically sound and just needs a bit of revision. But is that true? Please email your views to me.

Legal Fun in the Hills

Though no doubt enacted by the time you read this UJCC, currently some of us are having a scatological chuckle over the ‘Freedom Camping’ bill before Parliament. I am sure lawyers will be queuing to defend those trampers who get caught ‘caught short’ on our public conservation lands: how much control of one’s bowels needs to be lost before the prescribed defence of, ‘…[an] event beyond the control of the defendant…’, qualifies, I wonder? The other defences of, ‘…[to] save or protect life or health…[or]…prevent injury…’ are too eye watering to contemplate. Spending a penny could mean writing a cheque for $10,000, so depending on what you ate for dinner may determine whether you get a good run for your money or not!

Erratum

Euan Nicol points out that the Motutapu ‘is somewhere in the remote northern and thus less civilised parts of our great country, whereas the Macetown-Wanaka track is the Motatapu’. Yes, in my last column I meant to have referenced Motatapu.

Hakili matagi,

Robin McNeill
‘Altagore’, 85 Sunrise Drive, Seaward
Bush, Invercargill 9812.
r.mcneill@ieee.org

This column was originally published in the November 2011 FMC Bulletin. We will be regularly re-publishing a number of stories from Uncle Jacko’s Cookery Column here on Wilderlife. 

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