Big Walk 2011: The Tour Of The Jungfrau Region

This year’s Big Walk is the Tour of the Jungfrau Region (TJR) in Switzerland. As worked out by the excellent Kev Reynolds and published by Cicerone.

At 10 days of actual walking, it’s a smaller walk than we’ve done for a while (other commitments this year) but the scenery should make up for that somewhat.

This year we plan to actually leave with everyone else who might want to come with us… unexpected parental poppings-off notwithstanding.

Edit 31 May 2011: The “Kümmerly and Frey Jungfrau Region number 18” is printed on plastic (so no need for Aqua3) and is far more readable than the Swiss Topo – will certainly be taking that in preference!

I’ve picked up a copy of the Swiss Topo 5004 from The Map Shop (1:50,000 “Larger sheets available for certain areas”) but Kev recommends the “Kümmerly and Frey Jungfrau Region number 18” (which although Stanfords do it, Amazon have it for considerably cheaper). I have a feeling that although the Swiss Topo maps are very good, the Kümmerly and Frey may be easier to read. Once I decide I’ll be sending it off to Aqua3 to have it laminated, making it very resilient and waterproof.

We’re going hut-to-hut all the way so although I may well do an update on the kit, I’ve either covered it already or I have a mostly-written entry for the GR5 or GR20 that does! (There’s also my Alpine Summer Walking FAQ).


Easy Dried Eggs

We’ve been doing some experiments with drying scrambled eggs and we have a nice solution… but it’s really not what we were expecting.

Each batch was cooked up in a frying pan until firm but still fluffy. They were scrambled with not too much fat (we’re not scared of the fat, but drying fat isn’t so nice) but plenty of herbs, about a tablespoon for six eggs. The herbs are mainly for flavour but as a bonus, there seems to be a good chance that the herbs will reduce the oxidative damage that drying will inevitably do to the egg.

Then we laid them out on a baking tray on some baking paper and left that in the oven at 70C (160F) with the door held ajar with a wedge (be careful, some ovens turn off if the door is opened more than a fraction). We’ve started drying a lot of hill food like this and it works a treat. No faffing around getting the dehydrator out and putting it away again.

Once dried, we’d bag them and freeze them overnight to get as close as possible to how they’d be treated when we wanted to eat them on the hill.

First try:

Dried them for about nine hours. They were hard as nails. We decided on that length of time as we went, since they were getting progressively dryer with each hour. And paranoia said that eggs are potentially dangerous and so should be as dry as possible (in retrospect a lot of that perceived danger comes from the potential for raw eggs, even organic ones, to carry salmonella).

We then poured about 200ml of water into the bag (which was a bag meant for baking chicken, to attempt to avoid too much plasticiser leaching into the egg), and placed that in a saucepan of cold water. The water in the pan was brought to the boil and allowed to sit for about half an hour, as it would be on the hill.

Result: Awful! It was edible by virtue of the herby flavour but was like eating hard pencil erasers. We kept them in the water in the fridge and even a day later they were unchanged.

Second try:

Dried them for six hours (The Backpack Gourmet suggests five and a half for a recipe involving scrambled eggs).

We then repeated the water in the bag, in the pan, soaking trick.

Result: Still awful! Perhaps a little softer but not enough to make them good to eat.

Third try:

Started by drying them for six hours as before.

Our cunning plan was to try rehydrating them overnight in the bag in cold water and then reheating the next morning. In the UK the overnight temperature at altitude is generally pretty low in my experience even during the summer so I wasn’t too concerned about them going off.

Result: We shall probably never know! Because, as each time before, we tried some whilst they were dry. Then we tried some more. Then we realised we’d already cracked it! They were delicious little crunchy snacks. And you can wolf-down three eggs in a couple of minutes. It seems reasonable to assume that your stomach acid would cope with them, and it certainly had no discernible ill effects.

We’ll probably be using four eggs each. It will be interesting to see how full they keep us.

As a bonus, the faff-factor of breakfast is much reduced. And if you want to strike-camp and get moving as fast as you can, they can be eaten on the go.