In Greenland there is a village called Ittoqqortoormiit that remains very cold throughout the year. It lies 70º North near the mouth of the Kangertittivaq Fjord and was founded in 1925. The only way to access this village for a few months each year is by helicopter or boat. The area in which it lies was first mapped in 1822 by the Arctic Explorer William Scoresby, and is a region which does not readily lend itself to being a place where one can settle unless you happen to be a Polar Bear or perhaps an Arctic Explorer. Gary Rolfe is just such a man and he is working hard to keep the tradition of dog mushing alive with his team of pure bred Greenland dogs.
The physical demands that this beautiful but challenging land place on one’s life are great when one is running a team of dogs and weight is upper mind with Gary when he sets out on any sled expedition with his dogs across this frozen land. In his own words:
“Despite trendy hype, we all have a good idea of what food is good for us and what isn’t. But it’s all too easy to settle for bad food – especially if you are out on a limb. It’s a subject close to my heart, since I eat a lot. In winter I scoff the calorific value of a Marathon runner every day – the equivalent of around 5,200 calories”
With such dietary needs and the dramatic and dangerous backdrop of the Arctic landscape Gary requires nutrition that is concentrated and complete. He also needs it to be compact and light so that he optimizes every sled load his team of dogs and him set out with as they cross the ice.
Since working with dogs in Canada Gary requires nutrition in its natural form with as many of the nutrients having been preserved in order to meet the strenuous Arctic life. So this has meant him home drying natural foods such as meat jerky and dried fruit and vegetables. Manufactured expedition food simply can’t compete with the nutritional values provided by wholesome fresh ingredients when preserved using gentle heat. So for Gary to manufacture his own expedition stores he relies on the American made Excalibur Dehydrators.
Then in 2006 whilst Gary was living in Canada with one of the few remaining teams of pure bred Canadian Eskimo Dogs a tragedy occurred. There are very few who will be failed to be moved by his Guardian Article which tells of how he lost his beloved team of dogs when he and they fell through Arctic ice.
More astonishing than this man’s emotional resilience which was needed to help him start over again with a new team of dogs in Greenland is the physical prowess of him to survive this ordeal alone. After dragging himself and the only remaining dog from the Arctic’s icy waters he then stripped naked on the pack ice in order to get dry. Then as hypothermia began to set in he managed to pull on his down suit over his solid frozen fingers. It was the survival beacon with him that brought help to him in the form of Polar Bear hunters and he made it to tell his tale. It helped a little but it was him being in peak athletic condition because of the combination of optimal nutritional foods and his daily exertions that also helped.
Once he recovered from the 4th degree frostbite and lost of a number of digits Gary spent the next couple of years honing a new team of young dogs to do expedition work in Greenland, whilst remaining true to his dream, that of keeping the tradition going where these brave working dogs are concerned. But moving to Greenland meant he had to start using a European power supply so in order for him to prepare his dried supplies Gary required a new Dehydrator from Excalibur. He contacted the UK Importer of Excalibur’s and they were happy to join his list of sponsors as well as get one shipped out to him in Greenland.
The dehydrators from Excalibur are widely regarded by food drying enthusiasts as the best available. Not just because of their drying properties but also how much they can hold. If you eat lots of meat jerky when leading a team of dogs this capacity is a big advantage and this is why it is good for not only expedition leaders but also outdoor enthusiasts and health food fans.
Electric food dryers or dehydrators have been pretty common in the USA for quite some time and it is common for them to dry any leftover harvest or seasonal fruits using this preservation method. However, in Europe the popularity of the Dehydrators is growing especially with health enthusiasts, hunters, raw fooders, outdoor enthusiasts, small snack manufacturers and market gardeners.
When it comes to making expedition supplies using an Excalibur Dehydrator, Gary Rolfe is an expert and he has now written several informative articles relating to the subject which can be found in several outdoor magazines. If you would like to learn more about the ways to preserve nutrition using a dehydrator for outdoor pursuits then consider getting a copy of Linda Frederick Yaffe’s excellent book called “Backpack Gourmet”. But the food dehydrator guide which has almost everything in it you cannot go far wrong with obtaining a copy of the publication produced by the manufacturer of the Excalibur Dehydrator called “Preserve It Naturally” that is suitable for all including those complete new to this method of preserving food.
Warm air drying using a food dehydrator such as the Excalibur is different from the way food is dried in a normal oven. It is the low temperatures which preserve as much of the nutrition in the food when eaten in its dried or rehydrated state. The problem with commercially dried whole foods is they cost a lot and finding a good quality supply of such dried foods is difficult because many will include additives or excessive heat will have been applied to dry them out.
It is a relatively straightforward activity when it comes to drying food at home for use when on expedition, as trail snacks when out rambling or just to preserver crops of summer fruits. Plus it is also economical. As well as drying simple ingredients you can with a dehydrator make others such as dried leather fruits, banana chips, mango strips, cereal and energy bars, raw nut and seed crackers, meat jerky, trail mixes and even soups, stews, casseroles and complete meals that you can then rehydrate. Along with the complete unadulterated compliment of vitamins, minerals and enzymes in food gently dehydrated you will get optimum nutrition that can help you remain active and healthy.
Gary Rolfe’s Excalibur Dehydrator is supplied to him by UK Juicers Ltd who also import other health related appliances and products to the UK. The owner Nick Ledger decided that he wanted to do more than just supply the Excalibur to Gary and he went to Greenland to get a taste of what it was like to do a dog sled trip with the man. Nick was left with a lasting impression not because of the beautiful country but was an arduous existence that Gary and his team of dogs lead. The sheer remoteness and inhospitable nature of the place was brought to Nick’s attention when the trip needed to be extended for several days because the helicopter to take him back couldn’t land because of the weather. Fortunately they had plenty of dehydrated snacks to enjoy!