The Eggistential Eddy

How long will eggs keep in the backcountry?

This story is featured in the May 2012 issue of Canoe & Kayak Magazine.

One of Mother’s boyfriends used to bring eggs, “hen fruit” he called them, along on family canoe trips. He drank them raw, like Rocky. Despite young Eddy’s fervent prayers, old Frank never died from the disgusting practice. Turns out, according to the CDC, odds of getting salmonella from a raw egg are just 1 in 10,000. Spoilage is another matter, says Krista Eberle of United Egg Producers. Store-bought eggs can last 4-5 weeks in your refrigerator, but once out of the fridge, she says, they may spoil quickly. “Eggs are porous so that oxygen passes to the baby chickens in utero,” she says, “so when removed from the fridge, water from say, ice in a cooler, can pass through the egg shell, importing bacteria with it.” The problem is that most store-bought eggs have been washed, which removes a gelatinous protective coating called the cuticle. Unwashed eggs can last a lot longer—up to seven months if stored in consistent cool temperatures, according to a 1977 study by the Whole Earth Catalogue. Evidently, you can bring hippy eggs into the backcountry and they’ll last a while, especially if you fry ‘em good and don’t let them get too warm in your pack. Or you can slather store-bought eggs with mineral oil or Vaseline to block the pores, as the Boy Scouts do, and they should last a while longer. Of course, if when you crack them open they smell like Eddy’s buckskin briefs after a mile-long portage, toss ‘em.

I hear of people paddling across Canada, but not the USA? How feasible is it?
Paddling across the lower 48 has been done a few times at least. A little gang called the Lewis and Clark Expedition, for example, started their trip in Pittsburg and made it to the Oregon coast by river, save for a 160-mile portage over the Bitteroots. That trek across the Rockies is probably what keeps the route from getting popular. That plus the fact that the American routes just aren’t as pristine as the Canadian options. When Alexander Martin crossed the United States by canoe in 2009 and 2010, he pulled his canoe on a bike trailer across the continental divide through Yellowstone National Park. He spent a lot of nights camped in farmer’s fields, especially during his 400-mile cycling leg across North Dakota to the Boundary Waters. He could have stuck to the Lewis and Clark Route of the Missouri to the Mississippi, but decided he wanted more wilderness travel, which is why he also cut through a chunk of Ontario, rather than staying in the good ol’ USA. “It’s all about style,” says Martin, whose style dictated he stay the hell out of Pittsburgh. Verlen Kruger’s style was to go as long and as hard as possible. His three-year, 28,000-mile Ultimate Canoe Challenge crisscrossed the continent in a giant X, including canoeing up the Grand Canyon and along the entire Eastern Seaboard—a feat which spanned the Rocky II and Rocky III eras, and inspired Eddy to get Kruger’s face tattooed onto his left shoulder.

Is there truth to the “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight” saying?

There’s truth to the fact that young Eddy once stashed a live raccoon in Frank’s pickup because the egg-sucking old man told him to “put your money where your mouth is.” But that’s a different idiom. As for the weather thing, according to meteorologist Louis Lyell, variations of the saying are found in many European maritime cultures. “In the northern hemisphere, most weather travels from west to east,” he says. “So when you see red clouds across the entire sky at sunset, it means the sun’s rays are shining from a clear western horizon—the bad weather has passed.” Conversely, if there are red clouds across the sky at dawn, it’s possible that a storm is approaching from the west. And if you see upholstery stuffing spread across your dashboard, it means the raccoon is pissed and you should leave Eddy alone.

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