Gearing up for winter canoeing

An illustrated guide (which most people won’t find useful)

I started canoeing year-round nearly 20 years ago. A bunch of us were sitting around the kitchen table at a friend’s apartment when somebody said, “Curt and some of the guys down at Little Kings Lounge have started canoeing in the winter. Isn’t that crazy?”

I immediately excused myself, drove downtown to Little Kings Lounge and told Curt to deal me in.

Winter canoe camping is a high-risk pursuit that requires specialized equipment. And a spare ass to replace the one you’ll freeze off if you forget something.

Let’s start with the basic clothing.

Your basic daywear, for when you're on the water. Although it's not shown here, a life jacket is your most important piece of equipment.

Your basic daywear, for when you’re on the water. Although it’s not shown here, a life jacket is your most important piece of equipment.

 

Once at camp, you'll want to get out of your clammy  wetsuit and into something dry. The key is wool under-layers and insulating layers and wind-stopping nylon outer clothing. The down jacket, military sweater and pants are from Glen's Surplus and Goodwill.

Once at camp, you’ll want to get out of your clammy wetsuit and into something dry. The key is merino wool under-layers, wool and down insulating layers and wind-stopping nylon outer clothing. The down jacket, military sweater and pants are from Glen’s Surplus and Goodwill.

 

For the sake of comparison — complete summer canoeing wardrobe. On remote stretches of the river, the shorts are optional.

For the sake of comparison — complete summer canoeing wardrobe. On remote stretches of the river, the shorts are optional.

 

Nothing like modeling extreme winter clothing on a hot August day.

Nothing like modeling extreme winter clothing on a hot August day.

 

dip

The only one thing to do after that!

 

Accessorizing for winter canoeing.

 

Yes, you do need sun screen in the winter. And sunglasses for glare, and goggles to protect your eyes while paddling through snow. You won't need mosquito repellant, though.

Yes, you do need sun screen in the winter. And sunglasses for glare, and goggles to protect your eyes while paddling through snowstorms. You won’t need mosquito repellant, though.

 

It helps to have a bomb-proof tent for winter camping.

 

A good winter tent has two doors. That way, if snow drifts over one end, you can get out the other.

A good winter tent has two doors. That way, if snow drifts over one end, you can get out the other. This is 22-year-old a Moss Olympic tent. It’s no longer made, but the company still honors the lifetime guarantee.

 

With the proper bedding, you can stay warmer than you do at home. Until you have to get up to pee.

I use a triple bag system. The Thermarest mattress goes inside the green outer bag. Then I get inside the fleece liner and winter bag and toss a couple heat packs in the footbox.

I use a triple bag system. The orange Thermarest mattress goes inside the green outer bag. Then I get inside the fleece liner and winter bag and toss a couple heat packs in the footbox.

 

The all-important chemical heat packs. Beware of cheap imitations or outdated ones. My brand of choice is Grabber Mycoal.

The all-important chemical heat packs. Beware of cheap imitations or outdated ones. My brand of choice is Grabber Mycoal.

 

The most important thing you can bring on a winter canoe trip is attitude. Unless you have the right mindset, you’re not going to enjoy yourself.

 

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To air is human …

… to forget is not divine

Kristi Capel drops the ‘j-bomb’ in front of co-anchor Wayne Dawson.

Kristi Capel drops the ‘j-bomb’ in front of co-anchor Wayne Dawson.

People have been asking me for my take on news anchor Kristi Capel blurting out the word “jigaboo” on the air the other day.

I suspect they’re asking me because I’m a retired journalist. Or perhaps because I’m no stranger to the black community. For years I served as a volunteer driver for a busing program that had been started by the Black Panthers and primarily served Cleveland’s African-American community. I also lived in a predominantly black neighborhood in Cleveland Heights.

Obviously, Capel wasn’t aware of what the word meant. She said it and repeated it right in front of her co-anchor, Wayne Dawson, who is black. (On the video, Dawson seemed taken aback but managed to maintain his composure.)

In the aftermath, Capel apologized profusely.

She was not suspended. But, from my journalism experience, I’d imagine she got a good dressing-down from her superiors. Her ears are probably still smoking.

I’m convinced that Capel didn’t know the meaning of the word. Others who have commented, particularly younger people, said they didn’t know what the word jigaboo meant or that it was a racial slur. Capel used it naively to describe Lady Gaga’s dancing at the 87th Academy Awards ceremony on TV.

However, Capel should have known better. She works in a profession in which words are tools. A journalist worthy of the title should be familiar with them and know how and when to use them. Or when not use them.

Sensitivity to cultural and racial issues should be taught in journalism school. It’s hard to imagine that it isn’t. But what do I know? When I studied journalism in college, we thought the IBM Selectric typewriter was cutting edge.

If journalism professors are looking for course material, I’d suggest they expose their students to the song “Colored Spade” from the Broadway musical “Hair.” The lyrics, sung by black performers, are basically a catalog of racial slurs set to music. It’s a perfect example of how humor can be used to drive home a point. As a white person hearing the song, it struck me how horrible it was that black people had been subjected to this litany of verbal abuse for decades.

The term Capel used is somewhat archaic. In fact, if there is a silver lining to the cloud hanging over all of this, it’s that the word has fallen out of use.

Regardless, journalists should have enough background in the history of our culture to know these things. After all, the older folks in their audience were around when the word was commonly used as a racial slur.

In researching the media response to Capel’s blunder, I noticed that some news outlets refrained from using the word. I disagree with that policy. We need to get these things out in the open and discuss them frankly and in context. Otherwise, history — and another news anchor — will be doomed to repeat it.

 

 

Getting there is ALL the fun

The hike’s the thing

Larry Smith standing on Thresher Rock

Larry Smith at Thesher Rock.

Note: Thanks to the vision, generosity and hard work of a lot of people, a new hiking trail will open this year. With the state of things in Ohio, this couldn’t have come at a better time. Here’s an article I wrote about it late last year. Hope you enjoy it. More importantly, I hope you’ll make the effort to become a part of this in whatever way you can — and enjoy it to the fullest. While you can. 

The region is known for its destination spots — Mohican and Malabar state parks, Mohican Memorial State Forest and Pleasant Hill Lake Park. The area’s newest addition, dubbed the Mohican Complex, will be more of a journey than a destination.

A 4.5-mile trail linking the Richland B&O Trail in Butler to Mohican Country parks and forestland will provide a venue for dedicated nature lovers to explore hundreds of acres of woods, prairie, streams and geological wonders.

It also will serve as a link through time, preserving the region’s natural heritage for future generations. That’s particularly important at a time when public lands such as Mohican Memorial State Forest, the state parks and Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District land — which includes Pleasant Hill Lake Park — could be subject to wholesale logging, mining and drilling for oil and natural gas.

Some 570 acres in southeast Richland County will be preserved through conservation easements that have been in the works since 1991. That includes spectacular geological formations, mature forests, vast prairie tracts showcasing native flora and one of the area’s best-known natural wonders, Hemlock Falls. All of this will be connected via a hiking corridor slated to open in 2015.

On a few segments of the trail, hikers will use short stretches of lightly traveled back road. However, most of the trail will meander through forests and meadows. The Mohican Complex corridor begins near the end of the 19-mile Richland B&O Trail in Butler, meanders northeast through Worthington Township in Richland County and ultimately connects to MWCD trails north of Pleasant Hill Road, where it crosses Clear Fork of the Mohican River.

The MWCD trails lead to connector trails linking Malabar Farm State Park to Pleasant Hill Lake Park, Mohican State Park and Mohican Memorial State Forest. In all, those parks and forest account for about 9,000 acres of public land.

Landowners, groups work together

So, with all that public parkland, why are the people behind the Mohican Complex determined to preserve acreage?

Recent logging at Mohican State Park and Mohican Memorial State Forest raises questions about the state's will to protect these areas.

Recent logging at Mohican State Park and Mohican Memorial State Forest raises questions about the state’s will to protect these areas. (Photo by Annette McCormick)

Much of their impetus comes from escalating efforts by MWCD and state government to capitalize on natural resources, opening public lands and parks to increased logging, mining and — more recently — extraction of natural gas and oil through large-scale horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

To protect some of the region’s prized natural areas from commercial activity, the North Central Ohio Land Conservancy worked with landowners, organizations and volunteers to obtain and protect land permanently.

Those involved in the efforts or granting easements include Mohican School in the Out of Doors, Richland County Park District, Larry and Elaine Smith, First Congregational Church of Mansfield and Ohio Dreams.

“It’s ironic that a church, a school, a county park district and the Smiths are combining with a land trust to protect their land better than the state of Ohio protects public lands by granting conservation easements and legally binding themselves and their successors to protect the land forever,” said Mansfield attorney Eric Miller, a land conservancy trustee. “As more trails and protected lands are connected to Mohican by us and other organizations, perhaps the state will wake up to the importance of the Mohican Complex and take measures to protect it for the future by recording conservation easements on its land.”

Steve McKee, a naturalist who provides guidance for the North Central Ohio Land Conservancy, explained why it’s important to preserve forests.

“Timbering, including sustainable logging, causes a decrease in the amount of old-growth shaded forest and in the plant and animal species that require this fairly uncommon habitat,” McKee said. “Logging opens up more early-successional (developing forest) and edge habitat, which ultimately results in a net decrease in biodiversity for the area.”

Invasive species can take over

In logged and otherwise disturbed areas, invasive species quickly take over, crowding out native species. He went on to explain why undisturbed, mature forests are particularly important in preserving high-quality stream habitat.

“Timbering, especially in the vicinity or riparian areas, causes an increase in soil and water temperatures,” McKee said. “Most of the waterways in Ohio are already far warmer than in pre-settlement times. It is the cool, clear waters that contain the less common and rare species of fish, invertebrates and aquatic plants.”

Initially, Miller, the Smiths and others involved did not set out to create a cluster of nature preserves, much less connect them via a corridor to public parkland. That started to fall into place in 1998, when George Hammon contacted North Central Ohio Land Conservancy about donating about 200 acres.

The land, most of it mature forest, lies east of Clear Fork of the Mohican River off Benedict Road.

“When George Hammon said he was thinking of giving us land around Benedict Road, that’s when it hit me,” Miller said. “If I could get land along Benedict Road, I could string together a whole trail.”

The Conservancy worked with the Richland County Park District and other parties to secure easements and further protect land along the corridor. That includes two parcels that Larry and Elaine Smith purchased with the intent of preserving native plant species and creating prairie habitat to attract native birds, insects and other fauna.

One of the properties, about 27.6 acres, is at Tugend and Bunkerhill roads. The other, 78 acres, fronts to Cole Road and is connected to other properties that have conservation easements, including Hemlock Falls.

Effort by Smiths started in 2001

For the Smiths, their venture started in 2001 when they purchased the Tugend Road property, which had been mostly cropland. Since then, they have dedicated themselves to creating and maintaining prairie habitat with a variety of habitat-appropriate trees planted in the margins.

Among them is the offspring of the celebrated gigantic Jeromesville sycamore. They also created small ponds for aquatic habitat.

For the Smiths, it has been a labor of love — a lot of labor. Since their first land acquisition in 2001, they and a few volunteers have been busy planting native flora, making trails, erecting bird boxes and trying their best to keep invasive species at bay.

“This has pretty much been the equivalent of a full-time job,” said Larry Smith, a Mansfield native and a former park naturalist.

“I grew up loving nature,” he said. “When I was 5 years old, I remember playing in the driveway with pieces of gravel and wanting to be a geologist.”

When he was young, his family would go for Sunday drives in the Mohican area.

“I was in Boy Scouts and our troop camped in Mohican a lot,” Smith said.

Prairie habitat is not native to these sites, but Smith sees the value of preserving it.

“Once heavily-forested Worthington Township has probably not known any true native prairie landscape itself for thousands of years since just after retreat of the last glacier, if ever,” he said. “But a diverse, native prairie habitat is part of Ohio’s natural heritage.”

Portions of the properties the Smiths developed are forested and the Cole Road site includes a rock outcropping towering 300 feet above the Clear Fork Valley. It’s known as the Threshing Floor or Threshing Rock because it’s been said that, in pioneer times, people used the flat surface of the bluff overlooking the river to thresh grain.

High point offers panoramic view

The Cole Road site also features a panoramic view — during the winter months — rivaling that from Mount Jeez, part of Malabar Farm State Park. The high point on that property is about 40 feet higher than Mount Jeez.

The Smith’s prairie tracts feature footpaths designed to fit the contours of the landscape. Plans call for side trails on these and other Mohican Complex properties in addition to the 4.5-mile corridor trail.

Not all trails will be open to the public on a continuing basis. Some are situated in environmentally sensitive areas and special arrangements must be made to see them.

The Mohican Complex corridor isn’t intended for picnicking and casual use. It’s geared toward people with a deeper appreciation for conservation and preservation.

“The properties are open to informed people, such as naturalists and hunters,” said Miller of North Central Ohio Land Conservancy. “They won’t be open to the general public, like Lyons Falls (a popular landmark in Mohican Memorial State Forest). We don’t want to get to that point.”

Some of the land will be closed during hunting season. Limited hunting privileges will be granted to individual hunters under rules set by people designated to manage each property. This will help keep animal populations at manageable levels to limit damage to the flora.

Hikers will be allowed access to view Hemlock Falls.

Some lands will have limited access

“Protecting the rare plants around the falls will involve limited access to view, rather than hands-on,” Miller said.

In the early going, ample signage will be posted to discourage hikers from straying off the paths and damaging sensitive flora or wandering onto adjacent private property. Over time, once hikers become familiar with the trails, some of the signage will be removed for aesthetic reasons.

Meanwhile, volunteers will be busy establishing trails in anticipation of opening the corridor to hiking in 2015. Miller expects it to be a process of “trail and error” — trying to find routes to allow hikers to explore the best the land has to offer while protecting sensitive ecosystems.

“They will be three feet wide at the most,“ he said. “In some places, we’ll use existing gas company rights-of-way. In many places, we’ll use existing foot trails that are there from the property owners’ usage.”

But it’s about more than logistics. Ultimately, Miller, the Smiths, land donors and volunteers hope the Mohican Complex will connect people — and generations — with the land.

“Looking across even a small prairie evokes in one’s imagination a tiny glimmer of what the westward-bound pioneers once saw and felt as they set off into that new and different wilderness of the unknown, hopeful that a better future was out there, over the horizon,” Smith said. “Prairies, like each of the other native habitats, preserve a home for a unique segment of our priceless natural heritage, and offer powerful medicine for the urban-weary human soul.”

Addicted & Conflicted

The red flag commands me — roll over, play dead ...

The red flag commands me — roll over — play dead.

How pathetic.

That’s what I think every morning as I watch the dog salivate all over the floor — waiting for me to fill her food bowl.

I’m no better.

For hours on end, I sit in front of the computer salivating — waiting for the little red icon to pop up on my Facebook and Google+ menu bars. The all-important red icon tells me there’s food in my bowl. It’s positive reinforcement, stimulating the pleasure centers in my brain. Someone liked my photo, someone responded to my post, someone responded to my response to their post in response to my post …

This blog has become another form of addiction. Time and time again, I find myself checking my stats page, looking to see how many people have viewed my posts, watching the bar graph inch up throughout the day. Or not.

It’s one big addiction.

I don’t need op ed pieces, white papers or magazine articles to tell me this. I’m thoroughly conditioned, sitting in front of my computer, waiting for someone to toss a morsel into my food bowl.

Late last month, a friend swore off Facebook. She later dropped out of Google+, which she aptly described as a methadone clinic for Facebook addicts. Apparently, it’s not a very good one. I checked out two social media addiction communities on Google+. One had just six members; the other had only five. Those numbers include me.

In announcing her departure from Facebook, my friend confessed that her social media addiction had diminished the quality of her life in general and her family life in particular. She boldly admitted that, in lieu of spending quality time with her son, she found herself putting him off while she cruised Facebook.

That really hit home. I’ve found myself doing the same thing when playing with my granddaughter, Kiley. As mentioned in previous posts, I thoroughly enjoy Kiley’s visits, exploring the natural wonders of rural Ohio and the fertile fields of her vivid imagination. However, my friend’s confession made me realize that I had been shortchanging my granddaughter every time I paused while we were playing so I could scroll through Facebook messages on my smartphone. Don’t think Kiley didn’t notice.

My friend’s renunciation of Facebook also forced me to acknowledge that I’ve been neglecting my true calling in life — canoeing. Valuable time that should have been spent preparing for my next canoe trip was wasted on social media. I realized I had become just as pathetic as my former paddling partners who stopped canoeing when drinking became a priority in their lives.

I wasn’t as brave as my friend. In lieu of going cold turkey, I vowed to limit my use of social media to one session in the morning and one before bed.

Then I became conflicted.

The weaning process ended abruptly when I saw a Facebook post from my cousin. In her words: “Keep my mom in your prayers … she’s just not bouncing back this time.”

This was my Godmother. I heeded my cousin’s message and drove up to Cleveland as soon as I could to visit her. I was at my Godmother’s bedside, making a final connection, when she started to cross the final bridge on her life’s journey.

Had it not been for my cousin’s Facebook message, that would not have happened. Neither my Godmother nor I would have known that closure.

Facebook continued to play a role in communication among family members. For the next couple of weeks, we were glued to Facebook, sharing memories of my Godmother and comforting one another.

I should try again to wean myself from social media. But, now that I realize Facebook has some redeeming value, it might be even harder.

I’ll keep you posted. Or not.

 

 

 

Where’s Dinner?

Note: I dredged up this story in response to a video a friend recently posted on my Facebook page. The video depicts a water-powered rotisserie. I wrote this 17 years ago. At the time, I was writing humor columns, many of them in the tradition of Patrick F. McManus and Red Green. A lot of my stories were based on weird stuff that happened on canoe trips. Over the years I’ve gotten away from that genre, mainly because the things that happened on our canoe trips were more bizarre than anything I could make up. The same could be said for my news-writing career.

Water-powered rotisserie

Probably an improvement over Ed’s battery powered model

Ed always comes up with new gadgets to bring on canoe trips.

Last August he trotted out his latest invention, instant fire. He made it out of an old wire milk crate filled with a few small hardwood logs, kindling, fire starter sticks and a battery-powered igniter.

Ed invented instant fire to make lunch breaks less time-consuming. In theory, all we had to do was pull off the river, set the wire crate upside down on the ground, light it and grill our food on the bottom of the crate.

We’ll never know whether it would have worked because the ignition mechanism was inadvertently triggered by an errant cast. It must have been a hair trigger, because I was using a number eight hook baited with a wax worm.

The worm was the first casualty of Ed’s instant inferno. His duffel bag was the second.

We managed to douse the fire before Ed lost any more gear. The hard part was righting his canoe and getting the water out. It would have been easier if we weren’t preoccupied fending him off with canoe paddles.

By the time we got Ed calmed down and his boat squared away, we were totally exhausted. We barely had enough energy to eat. At that point, Ed’s instant fire sure would have come in handy.

We settled for cellophane packages of cheese ’n’ cracker crumbs Joe fished out of the bottom of his duffel bag. It wasn’t much, but it tided us over until our afternoon floating buffet.

This was a standard feature of our canoe camping trips. One boat would be designated the buffet barge, generally the canoe belonging to the steadiest paddler. We’d place a tray on top of the cooler and heap on our own version of hors d’oeuvres. (Which is French for “table scraps.”) We’d then take turns pulling alongside and helping ourselves.

We worked up quite an appetite jockeying our fully laden, 17-foot canoes alongside the buffet barge. By suppertime, we were really hungry. That’s when Ed unveiled the latest version of his automatic rotisserie.

He began experimenting with it three years ago. Ed’s contraption involved a borrowed rotisserie motor, a spit to hold the meat and two pointy metal rods, which were hammered into the ground astride the fire.

This seemed like a promising idea, but the first time Ed tried it the motor melted.

The following year, Ed added a heat shield. Which would have worked, except the new motor was too weak to keep four Cornish game hens spinning long enough to cook them all the way through.

If it hadn’t been dark, we might have noticed this before it was too late. At first, we attributed our intestinal anarchy to Joe drying his socks on the grill. We later determined through the process of elimination that the game hens were to blame.

The latest incarnation of Ed’s automatic rotisserie included a bigger motor (which probably was strong enough to turn a commercial pizza oven). It was powered by a Harley-Davidson battery. Under a full load it sounded like a blender churning peanut butter.

Ed assembled his automatic rotisserie and seasoned the game hens. Not wanting to spend the next day “chumming the water,” we decided to nap for a few hours while the birds cooked.

Three hours later we began to stir, mainly because Ed was jumping up and down like a lunatic and screaming, “Where’s dinner?”

While we were sleeping, the rotisserie had toppled over and wandered off.

We followed the meandering path where the rig had rolled from the fire to the edge of a clearing, but we lost the trail in the woods.

It could have ended up in the river. Or, for all we know, Ed’s automatic rotisserie could still be trundling through the woods, laboring under a load of mangled game hens.

If you’re sitting around the campfire one night and hear what sounds like a blender full of peanut butter creeping up on you, don’t be alarmed.

In fact, if you’re a seasoned camper and you’ve built up a resistance to certain pathogens, you might want to start rooting around in your cooler for barbecue sauce.

 

Political Correctness Corrected

Yes, Microsoft, there IS a Fort Gay, West Virginia — Just Ask Google

A West Virginia man was banned from an online gaming site because of his hometown.

I came across this item from a news archive while doing research for a Valentine’s Day story I wrote for the Ashland Times-Gazette. One of the people I wrote about happened to be from the town of Fort Gay, W. Va. Unlike most journalists, I like to let readers know where these places are. Especially when they are places most of us have never heard of. So I looked it up and found that Fort Gay — population 800 give or take a few — is on the Kentucky border. It’s right across the Big Sandy and Tug Fork rivers from the sprawling metropolis of Louisa.

About five years ago, Microsoft suspended a 26-year-old man from its Xbox Live gaming site. Moderators wrongly assumed he provided a fake town name and concluded that it was meant to be discriminatory toward gay people.

This was at a time when some people used the term “gay” to mean lame. Which sucks, because it somehow implied that gay people were inferior. Fortunately, that usage seems to have gone by the wayside.

The man tried to explain that Fort Gay is a real town, but a Microsoft customer service rep threatened to terminate his membership altogether without refunding his membership fee, which was paid two years in advance. All the rep had to do was Google “Fort Gay, W. Va.,” but the rep refused.

You would think that would be a no-brainer for someone working in the online game business. It doesn’t take much Internet savvy to Google something.

Long story short, the folks at Microsoft eventually realized their mistake and reinstated the guy’s membership.

I wonder what Microsoft would have done if the guy lived in Intercourse, Pa.

ftgaymap

I admit it is ironic that, in the town of Fort Gay, there is a stream called Lick Branch.

 

 

Bacon for Backpackers, Boondockers and Bugger-Outers

Looks like a regular package of bacon. But, when you pick it up, you’ll think they forgot to put the bacon in there.

Looks like a regular package of bacon. But, when you pick it up, you’ll think they forgot to put the bacon in there.

On average, you can survive about three minutes without oxygen, three to five days without water and eight weeks without food. But, for many of us, surviving without bacon is a whole nuther thing. Deprived of bacon, some people I know are convinced they would die within a matter of hours.

This can be problematic if you’re a backpacker, boondocker or bugger-outer and lack the means to refrigerate your bacon.

Before I go any further, I’d better explain these terms.

Backpackers — A familiar term for most of us. Basically masochistic people who hoist their worldly possessions onto their backs and trudge off into the wilderness to live for a few days – or longer if they can swing it.

Boondockers — Also known as vandwellers or by other terms. Folks who live out of their vehicles, camping in various locations, from Walmart parking lots to public lands. Or occasionally in relatives’ back yards, where they’re tethered to the house by an extension cord.

Bugger-outers — My term for survivalists, folks who are convinced that someday, somehow, civilization is going to come crumbling down and it will be necessary to bug out. The chief difference between them and the other two categories is that backpackers and boondockers have gotten a head start. Bugging out will require stockpiling staple items, mastering bushcraft skills and – the hardest part of all – surviving without YouTube videos on how to do all this stuff.

Fortunately, for those of us who fit one or more of those categories, there is an alternative to refrigerated bacon. It isn’t cheap, but it is tasty and travels extremely well. I’m talking about fully cooked bacon. It comes in packages like regular bacon, except there’s a whole lot less of it. I recently paid about $2.50 for a 2.52-ounce package of Hormel fully cooked bacon, which was recently featured on Bacon Today – Daily News of the World of Sweet Sweet Bacon.

That was Kroger’s sale price. The sign in the store read something like: “Sale! Regular price: Your firstborn. This week only: An arm and a leg.”

Pre-cooked bacon requires no refrigeration and is packed flat on parchment paper inside resealable plastic pouches. So it packs well. As for shelf-life, the package I bought in early February had an expiration date of August 15.

I experimented with pre-cooked bacon last summer on canoe trips. It passed with flying colors. Most of my campmates gave it a thumbs-up, although some displayed a different digit.

It’s meatier than regular bacon. All you have to do is warm it up, so it’s quicker and not as messy.

The downside? You don’t have all that bacon grease to throw on the campfire to make it flare up and singe your campmates’ eyebrows.