Keeping Clean

In my grandmother’s kitchen sat the largest green bottle of Palmolive you can imagine. To this day the smell green apple or the sight of its weird green pantone transports me right back to Northern Ontario. We would visit for a couple of weeks in the summer while Dad was guiding and doing the dishes was delegated to the grandkids. In my mind, dealing with this giant slippery bottle was on par with wrestling my first lake-trout into a canoe. True heroics! 

With the effort required to get to this view-point in the Nahanni alpine, you might find yourself looking for a bath later in the day...

With the effort required to get to this view-point in the Nahanni alpine, you might find yourself looking for a bath later in the day...

Fast forward to 2017 and I still find myself dealing with soap each summer. Beyond dishes, being an outdoor professional has me looking forward to that bath at the end the day. No being dirty while camping for this guy! If it is possible to get a bath in while on trip I am all about it. It refreshes after a long day and you can't beat climbing into bed feeling clean. 

The northern rivers we travel on are high volume and rarely paddled which helps dilute any impact we do have, but we all must be conscious of the impact of our journeys. 

It is a different situation on more southerly rivers where there may very well be hundreds of people travelling through a wilderness on a given weekend. It is important to not only make good decisions ourselves but to share them and lead by example! 

What suds are best to bring? No name dish-detergent, biodegradable, organic, all-natural… A visit to MEC will leave you with a dozen options to consider while you wait in that pre-long weekend line. A quick look at the label’s fine print will likely fill you in on the suitability of a product for use in the wilderness and all will do about the same job of scrubbing your birthday suit.

Once you find yourself ready to clean up, here are four tips to remember:

1. Wash on shore at least 30 meters from the water. The distance will keep our shared waterways free of the chemicals from bug spray and sunscreen. 

2. Choose biodegradable of course, but consider fragrance free products too.  They can help reduce any odours attractive to wildlife. 

3. A little goes a long way! Often highly concentrated, these soaps can allow you to save space and weight but also decrease the volume of suds left behind. There is no need to bring along a 500 ml bottle. 

4. Cut a bar in half. No need to bring a full one along and a solid means no spills! 

Enjoy the long weekend everyone and share what you know.  Let's leave our wild areas better than we found them. 

Joel