Ground 0: There’s no lack of emphasis that can be placed on the necessity of planning ahead. Luckily for me, I had grandparents who were avid canoeists and I’ve learned tips and tricks from wise veterans. Still, preparation takes a solid week or two if kids are involved – which ours were. Food is obviously a big deal. Planning each meal is a chore but there’s also another level to it. What if spam & pancakes won’t work out one morning because it’s raining too hard? Backups like poptarts & granola bars have to be incorporated. And what if it’s windy and the kids won’t eat the mash potatoes because they’re full of ashes – bacon bits & pepper can hide that. Then there’s the weather. Sunblock and hats for the heat and hand-warmer packets for the bottoms of the sleeping bags if it’s cold. Extras also have to be considered. I’m talking about shoes here. I don’t want to paddle all day and have to walk around camp in the same wet shoes. Slippers with hard bottoms are heavenly in the evening. On a side note ladies, the beauty of being in charge of packing is the ability to hide shoes in every pack. So, besides our food pack and personal packs, I also stow a backpack for quick needs such as ponchos, 100% deet, candy, first-aid and bear spray. And after I'd toiled to put every single item in plastic, my husband came home from work, loaded the gear, brushed his hands together like he’s done all the work, and we were off on our 5.5 hour trip north to Ely!