A Matter of Perspective

An old foundation along the Delaware Ridge Trail.

An old foundation along the Delaware Ridge Trail.

A wet start.

A wet start.

The Hike, much like life is a matter of perspective.  Take our last backpacking trip: a 3 day 2 night hike over 27.3 miles in the Western Catskills, on a series of trails known collectively  as the Delaware Ridge Trail.  The trail is described in Adirondack Mountain Club’s Catskill Trails Essential Guide, 3rd Edition as the following  “… provides a rugged and thoroughly interesting network of trails.”  The key word you must read here, and the one to be wary of is “interesting”.  We found the author clearly mistook the word “interesting” for hard, difficult, and prepare to suffer!

Drying out at first camp, the morning of day two

Drying out at first camp, the morning of day two

Which brings us back to the matter of perspective.  Yes, the hike was difficult and boy did we suffer, however, interspersed with the challenges are things of great beauty and experiences that belong only to that moment.  So which will you choose to remember?  The suffering and hardship, or the beauty and experience? What we choose to remember of life defines our perspective.

Cheryl on a hot and exposed ascent.

Cheryl on a hot and exposed ascent.

The conundrum of course is that you can not have one without the other, hardship and beauty seem at times to have been born holding hands.  Without the pouring rain the first day, causing her to have to look down and pay close attention to footing, Cheryl may have missed literally stumbling across the fresh ramps she was looking for to complete a Miso Noodle Bowl recipe she was working on.  Without slogging straight up mountains where some parasite or blight has taken the trees and left a trail that is a hot scar of weeds, rock and brambles exposed to the sun, would we  appreciate as much the gentle grades through pine forest where walking on the fallen needles is like walking on a carpet of the deepest pile? Without emptying our last drink of water and having to hike on for another hour before finding more, does the cold clear mountain stream seem as mystic or vital?

Picture Post Card lunch spot.

Picture Post Card lunch spot.

So which will we choose to remember?  Having to make a cold and wet camp the first night, or the way the rising sun burned away the mist the next morning?  Hot exposed climbs that seemed to be prime venomous snake territory, or that Cheryl saw her first bear in the wild (or at least his plump bumbling backside running away from us)?  The fact that we got a later start than we wanted and didn’t make it to the scheduled lean-to, or the fact that we found a completely secluded back country camp site and didn’t see another person for 24 hours? Should we choose to remember the feeling of blisters growing underfoot, or the lunch taken in an idyllic meadow of the kind only seen in magazines?

Sunrise from the tent the morning of day three.

Sunrise from the tent the morning of day three.

Back at home. Clean again, bellies full and laying in soft fresh sheets, the ache of the exertion of the past days slowly leaves our muscles – leaving us with only the pleasant memories of time well spent.  So as it turns out, the Hike is much like life; without the pain of suffering and sadness we do not acutely and fully experience all of the joy and gladness the Trail has to offer.  As the author of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Catskill Trails Essential Guide, 3rd Edition has said, it is all a very “interesting network of Trails”.

Miso Noodle Bowl

  • 2 pks instant miso broth
  • 1 bundle of udon noodle
  • 2 tsp freeze dried garlic
  • 5 tbsp freeze dried mushroom
  • 2 tsp freeze dried ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freeze dried jalapeño
  • 1/4 tsp corriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 bouillon cube – any flavor – but beef is super yummy with mushroom
  • 2 packs of soy sauce
  • 4 heaping tbsp of dehydrated cabbage
  • 24 oz of water
  • 2 ramps sliced thin, stalk and greens (optional!!)
Miso Bowl Fixins

Miso Bowl Fixins

On your walk keep your eyes open for ramps and when you find them harvest by loosening the bulbous base with your trekking pole tip and then pull up by the stalk. Wash really well – with your filtered water – and toss in your pack where they won’t get too terribly smooshed.miso

In camp add the miso, bouillon  and cabbage to the water and bring to a simmer. Once simmering add the freeze dried items and seasonings, stir in well until all the freeze-dried items are saturated. Break the noodles in half and place in water, simmering for another minute. Turn off the stove and let rest for 5 minutes. Add two packs of soy, serve and enjoy!

This is a great weight saving meal that cooks quickly and doesn’t use a lot of fuel – a win all around – but especially wonderful when its a bit damp and chilly out.

Serves 2

miso seasoning

 

Be My Valentine

The trail head at the Kelly Cross Country Ski Trail.

The trail head at the Kelly Cross Country Ski Trail.

The plan seemed simple.  A Valentine’s Day-kick the winter blues-overnight in the Catskills.  Head two miles up the Kelly Hollow Cross Country Ski Trail to a lean-to shelter, make some killer romantic food and spend the night in zip together sleeping bags in the back country.  If the going was too rough, or it got too cold for out taste, it was only two miles…an easy hike out and back to the car.  The plan seemed so simple.

Things started going wrong the day before the trip.  Graham was going to pick up some last minute essentials (and a Valentine’s gift of an REI Habanara winter sleeping bag for Cheryl) before leaving work.  Distracted right before he left, he accidentally left the sleeping bag behind.  Now instead of methodically packing, that night found them running back to REI to grab the forgotten sleeping bag and eating a less than romantic dinner at the bar of Applebees.  No worries, we’ll just wake up early, pack our packs, and roll out for the ‘Skills.  After all we’re seasoned professionals, we’ve packed for trips a thousand times before.

Cheryl all packed and ready for trail.

Cheryl all packed and ready for trail.

We woke up early…ish.  Hoping, to be packed and on the road by 11:00am.  Instead, at 11:00 Graham is sounding stressed and irritable, “It’s a two and a half hour drive, and we’re not even finished packing yet.”

Cheryl knows whats going on here, “I’m finished packing except for the food so I’m going to go out and get some egg sandwiches, you’re starting to get cranky” (After all Graham  must have his morning zen).

Finally, two hours behind schedule, we loaded Graham’s  Subaru Impreza (aka the Adventure Mobile) with cross country skis, snow shoes and all the other gear we thought we would need for a winter  overnight.  At last, somewhere about 1:00pm we were on the road, and it was snowing.

The un-broken trail ahead.

The un-broken trail ahead.

After negotiating the interstates North and some sketchy-at-best local roads we reached the trail head.  Two days ago, a storm had brought well over a foot of snow and we had driven through on going snow to reach the beginning of our two mile trip.  It was 5:00pm, the snow was deep, and we assessed our situation.  We decided it was so deep we would ditch the skis for snow shoes and push forward, after all it was only two miles to our destination and we still had at least an hour of daylight.

Cheryl was the first into her snow shoes and to test the trail,  “It’s deep, but there are plenty of trail blazes.”

“Are you sure your comfortable?”, Graham asked. “It’s going to be full on dark soon.”

“I’m good.”, she replied.

Two Hungry Hikers on the trail just before dark.

Two Hungry Hikers on the trail just before dark.

Out on the trail it was clear it was going to be tough going.  There were no previous tracks the snow.  Even in snow shoes, we were post holing shin deep.  We pushed on, taking turns breaking trail, as dark closed in.  At first we were grasped by the sense of adventure, and our usual promise of a good meal at trail’s end.  In the dark we continued, following trail blazes that reflected the glow of our head lamps.  Our pace eventually slowed, set back by deep snow, cold appendages, and (ironically), lack of caloric intake. At every switch of leader, we checked with each other; “How are you feeling?” ,“Are you cold?”, “Are you comfortable with the situation?”

The broken trail back.

The broken trail back.

Three hours out, we had not yet found the lean to and had reached a point  where no clear way was discernible ahead.  Not a trail blaze was to be seen and in the dark there where no landscape contours that would give us a bearing on a map. It was hard to tell exactly where we were or how far we had come to get there. The wind was freshening and puffing our words into the cold, we discussed our options;  1.) Continue on, hopefully finding trail blazes again that would lead us to the shelter in the dark. 2.) Find a level spot, off the ridge line with some wind protection, set up our tent and bivy for the night. 3.) Head back along the already broken trail to the car.

We decided to back track and make our way  to the car.  Graham set a quick tempo back, head down, putting each foot into the foot print already placed in the snow.  He was focused only on the halo of his headlamp, and how the “sluff-whump” sound of his snow shoes combined with the rhythm of his breathing.  When Cheryl lead, she did the same, dragging her trekking poles carelessly behind her.  Thanks to the “ let’s get the H-E-Double-Toothpicks outta here!” pace what had taken three hours out, miraculously took only 45 minutes to get back.  With Graham’s head lamp on it’s last leg, and Cheryl’s left leg cramping we had made it back to the trail head and the car.  Now what?

Appetizers in the Impreza.

Appetizers in the Adventure Mobile.

We started the Impreza for a quick blast of heat, changed into some dry layers and starting arranging gear so we could sleep inside.  Soon, settled and warm in the the back, Cheryl sliced our appetizer of Chorico Sausage and Manchego Cheese paired with a Spanish Riojo.  Meanwhile, between bites and sips, Graham was putting the finishing touches on a Chicken Mole that not only satisfied our hunger, but touched on the romantic with it’s combination of aphrodisiac ingredients. We loaded the Mole with rice into ingeniously folded  tortillas and put them in our faces.  The use of tortillas meant that there were no bowls to wash, and the pots were easily scrubbed out with snow.  All cleaned up, we settled into our sleeping bags in the back of the “Adventure Wagon” and slept as well as if we were in our own bed.

The Impreza in the morning at the trail head.

The Impreza in the morning at the trail head.

Around 8:00 the next morning we poked our heads from the warmth of our sleeping bags into the 13 degree morning.   With a smile at each other we reviewed the lessons learned.  Don’t under estimate how long it will take you to pack, how hard it will be to travel in the snow, or the ability to navigate in the dark.  We learned in an emergency situation the Subie will work as a temporary shelter.  The most important lesson, though not just for the trail, is to remember to communicate often and honestly.  Without that  communication, any trip has the potential to be a disaster.  Instead we woke up cozy and warm and able to laugh about our not so epic adventure.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

The next morning.

The next morning.

 

Romantic Mole– Serves Two (of course) DSC_0016

  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 1/2 Cup of quick cook rice
  • 1/4 Cup Freeze Dried Tomatoes
  • 1 Tblsp. Freeze Dried Onion
  • 1 Tblsp. Freeze Dried Sweet Peppers
  • 1 Teasp. Freeze Dried Chilis (we used jalapanos)
  • 1 Teasp. Dried Cilantro
  • 1/2 Teasp. Granulated Garlic
  • 1/2 Teasp. Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Teasp. Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Teasp. Sesame Seeds
  • 1/4 Teasp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teasp. Chili Powder
  • 1 Tblsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (use a high quality cocoa, it’s worth it!)
  • 1 Chipolte Pepper in Adobo-Diced Fine
  • 1 Tblsp. Tomato Paste
  • 1 squeeze package of Peanut Butter with Chocolate (we used Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams, you could use Justin’s Nut Butter too)
  • 1 pkg (.49 oz.) Concentrated Chicken Broth (we use Swanson Flavor Boost-no msg, you could also use a bullion cube)
  • 4 oz Canned Chicken (pre cooked chicken used to come in a pouch, but we haven’t seen it in a while, you could substitute freeze dried)

imageBefore you head out: Put the rice in a zip lock bag.  In another zip lock you can combine the rest of the dry ingredients.  In a small sealable container you can put the diced chipolte and tomato paste.  The other ingredients all pack just fine.

At camp: This is a two stover.  In one stove start your rice with 1 cup of water.  In the other stove (one that has a good simmer) bring the other cup of water to a boil and add all you other ingredients.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until your freeze dried veggies are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  If it looks like the sauce is getting too thick just add some water.  When everything is done, serve the Mole over rice.  For easy clean up spoon everything into tortillas and wrap it up.

One stove option:  Put both cups of water into your pot, bring to a boil and add ALL of your ingredients.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until your rice and veggies are tender.  If things start looking too goopy, adjust by adding water as needed.

Breakfast Zen

tenThere are many schools of thought about breakfast on the trail. Everyone has different things they are looking for – speed onto the trail, ease of clean up, light packing weight, how much water you have to work with etc. Some folks mix Carnation instant breakfast with oatmeal for added nutritional density. Some just slam a Gu packet and then power out. Others break out the freeze dried pouches of eggs or granola. A few just pack and go, stopping for breakfast once they are miles down the trail.  Cheryl is happy with a couple packs of instant oatmeal mixed with a Justins’ Chocolate Hazelnut butter and a coffee of questionable quality before quickly stretching her sore legs, popping some Advil and hitting the trail.  Graham however, is not a man who looks causally upon the start of his day. There must be good coffee, good noshes and a bit of puttering  to be had before he’s ready to put his pack back on. At this point of the day he is far less concerned with our speed in getting back on the trail than making sure his hungry belly is fed. Cheryl has decided that its much better for Grahams health if she indulges him in a little morning putter and warm breakfast than if he must be taken by the throat and throttled an hour down the trail due to ill temper.

"Where is my coffee eggs and bacon!"

“Where is my coffee eggs and bacon?!”

In our search to find Grahams trailside morning Zen the path has taken us down a few wrong turns. We have tried scrambled eggs with chorizo… and found that while they were delicious there is far too much clean up and it will leave you with a stinky egg pan to carry. We’ve tried a freeze dried version of biscuits and gravy… WAYYYY too much clean up and so terrible tasting that we wound up not eating it. Instead we wound up packing most of it back into our packs and carrying it another 2 days before getting off the trail. So Gross!! We did Cheryl’s version of oatmeal and go… once. But this time was going to be different. This time the essentials had been gathered.

This morning on the Escarpment we finally woke up to sunshine – after two nights of rain it was clear that this morning would be perfect to test out our next puttering Zen breakfast attempt. Wheat toast, hard boiled eggs, Starbucks and some fruit in the pack. What ensued may have been our most successful meal of the trip.  On this trail we had enjoyed two nights and a full day of rain. We found our tent and rain gear to be awesome at keeping us dry – even our sleeping bags were still dry. We learned that we could break down and pack our tent body while  remaining underneath the rain fly to stay dry. We had enjoyed the company (and whisky) of four crazy dudes the previous evening that had thrown a mini rave in their lean-to by using their headlamps on flash mode and cranking their iPod as the rain poured down. And now best of all – we had found there was hope for Grahams morning Zen! Love this escarpment Trail!

the haps: Starbucks Via - pricey but worth it. Pepperidge Farm Wheat Thins - they’re already flat, you don’t have to worry about your bread getting squished! Two eggs - and the carrier is clutch. An orange - heavy but if you’re just out for a couple days - worth the weight for the intensity of fruit flavor hitting your taste buds. And a little something to snack on while you wait for your egg to cook - Nature Valley granola bar.

gather your Chi: Starbucks Via – pricey but worth it. Pepperidge Farm Wheat Thins – they’re already flat, you don’t have to worry about your bread getting squished! Two eggs – and the carrier is clutch. An orange – heavy but if you’re just out for a couple days – worth the weight for the intensity of fruit flavor hitting your taste buds. And a little something to snack on while you wait for your egg to cook – Nature Valley granola bar.

the path to tastefulness: put your eggs in the water cold and bring to a boil.

the path to tastefulness: put your eggs in the water cold and bring to a boil.

When water has has boiled  you can make your coffee.  Just pour a little of that hot water into your cup with the Via.  Meanwhile a allow the egg to rest covered, in the remaining hot water for 10 minutes. For those sqeamish about making coffee with your egg water, you could boil water seperatly for coffee.

when water has has boiled you can make your coffee. Just pour a little of that hot water into your cup with the Via. Meanwhile a allow the egg to rest covered in the remaining hot water for 10 minutes. For those sqeamish about making coffee with your egg water, you could boil water seperatly for coffee.

 

once you have sipped your scalding coffee and burned your tongue you can toast your bread - very carefully!! - over the open flame from your stove. Let it rest right on the pot supports quickly on one side…

once you have sipped your scalding coffee and burned your tongue you can toast your bread – very carefully!! – over the open flame from your stove. Let it rest right on the pot supports quickly on one side…

…and then the other.  We “butter” our toast with a little extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

…and then the other. We “butter” our toast with a little extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

when your egg is finished and cool enough to touch the outside shell without cursing fold open your pocket knife and gently press your cooked egg to cut it, shell and all, in half over the blade. If that makes you nervous protect your fingers by holding the egg in a cloth.

when your egg is finished and cool enough to touch the outside shell without cursing fold open your pocket knife and gently press your cooked egg to cut it, shell and all, in half over the blade. If that makes you nervous protect your fingers by holding the egg in a cloth.

 

using your spoon (or spork) scoop out the yummy inside from the shell your egg

using your spoon (or spork) scoop out the yummy inside from the shell of your egg

and smash on your lusciously toasted wheat thin. Season as you like - salt & pepper, ketchup? hot sauce? slice of cheese? precooked bacon you warm over the flame?

and smash on your lusciously toasted wheat thin. Season as you like – salt & pepper, ketchup? hot sauce? slice of cheese? precooked bacon you warm over the flame?

 

the result: enjoy as a sandwich! Genius!! Enjoy your moment of breakfast Zen.

Dinner With A View

IMAG0017We head out for our first backpacking trip of the year; mid morning in late spring. Throughout the winter we had thought of  that shameful day on the Long Trail constantly and were anxious to redeem themselves. We spent the long cold days when we couldn’t get to the slopes or out on snowshoes planning and trying recipes. We would test cooking on our new Snow Peak stove (bought on sale from REI – can not beat the bargains when you are a member!)  Graham was so excited for the new culinary adventure he bought the Microlite Dualist from MSR. A Cook pot, wash basin, 2 cups with lids and insulating liners, 2 bowls, 2 sporks and to top it off it fit your fuel canister and stove neatly inside.

Because of his career in the outdoor sports world and constant proximity to adventurers Graham not only has close access to fun gear to play with, he also has a bit of the inside scoop on where to adventure. This hike was just one of many spots that he has sourced, mapped and planned for us, never leaving home without a good sense of what to expect. Because of his thoroughness in planning we knew we would have a day of sun and possibly two of intermittent rain. Smartly we packed our rain gear and pack covers and made plans for a warm lunch on day two. We packed extra water containers knowing that our first night would be a dry camp (camping without the benefit of a close water source), wincing at the thought of having to haul the extra (but neccessary) weight.  But rain or no, scarce water or no… we were excited to be off.

We had driven up after work the previous night and slept in Cheryl’s Toyota Matrix camped at the trail head. (Yeah, thats right. Matrix. ‘Ol Trixie was an admirable adventure mobile after her own fashion.) That morning after parking Graham’s pickup at the other end of our hike we grabbed a hearty breakfast at a local spot and hit the Escarpment Trail head by the North South Lake Campground.  As we put our packs on we had to laugh. The heft was palpable. Cheryl’s hand-me-down Gregory was bursting at it’s seams and Graham’s 58 liter Osprey was full to the gills. These were certain to be 3 days with our backs bent and much grunting with each step. (Well in truth maybe only Cheryl grunts, while Graham just toils on for hours quietly suffering.)  The lure of dinner had us caught in its tasty grasp and the promise of our next meal put us on the trail and so we began to head uphill to get to the rim.

The Escarpment is a lovely little trail in the Northeastern Catskills of upstate New York that runs the rim of the Windham Blackhead Range. It skirts the North -South Lake with almost ridiculous payoff views of the Hudson River and seemingly endless mountains, when its not raining. Three hours from home and fun to walk because of its diversity in terrain and views, it is a hike we’ve returned to many times. Close proximity to civilization means that on some parts of the trail you will run into crowds but the flip side is that at the end of each day you typically find yourself alone in a park that allows you to camp wherever you choose, 100 feet from the trail, and have a fire – so long as its in an existing fire ring.

Camp along the Escarpment

Camp along the Escarpment

Late that afternoon, with every container we had full with water, we found ourselves on North Mountain. Our feet are tired, you bet our backs are sore, and you guessed it – we’re Hungry. Getting ourselves off the trail, we pushed through undergrowth to a clearing with great over look views and… found an existing fire ring, score! We set up our tent on nearby fluffy moss, gathered some firewood and hung our bear bag before making our way to a clearing about 100 feet away with yet another great view to cook our dinner. NO one wants rodent or bear company at midnight and one of the easiest ways to prevent that is to not cook or store food in your sleeping space. We don’t make camp  anywhere without hanging a bear bag to ensure that any food stuffs or personal hygiene accessories are suspended from potential bear reach and off of  tree limbs that rodents can access. Cook pots, food, toothpaste… its all in a SealLine dry bag suspended off a branch with para cord and every evening we snore peacefully without worry.

Cheryl in a North Mountain "Kitchen".

Cheryl in a North Mountain “Kitchen”.

We soon found that our dining room, while containing plentiful lovely views and many flat rocks for sitting and cooking, had one drawback. Gnats. Holy gnat fest! We must have timed it just right to hit the hour they swarm and we were swatting left and right. So now here we are – tired, sore, hungry and gnatted. Great. Pour me a glass of wine and pass the Advil… Fortunately for us, as dinner prep progressed, we found that if we turned our faces into the evenings freshening breeze the gnats would congrigate in the safety of the lee behind our heads, which really was as good as them being gone.

That night’s dinner proved to be the most tasty either of us had enjoyed on the trail to that point, and worth every grunting step. Baguette, hard parmesan cheese, savory dried sausage and pinot noir appetizers that were followed by… Salmon Penne with Peas. Hello protein, carbs & flavor! That vital third key ingredient that had been missing! Flavor!! We ate our fill and then some. And now what was this?! A bar of organic dark chocolate for dessert?! What delight! We toasted each other with smirks, cries of success and sloshing clinks of our wine “glasses”.  Oh sumptuous living! Oh luxury of flavor!! Oh my goodness… How are we going to clean this salmon up with out a ready supply of hot water?!!! Perhaps using two pots had been overkill, maybe fish on a dry camp night wasn’t such a smooth idea… We realized perhaps we still had more testing of methods to do.

Later that night after enjoying a fire the rain began to spatter on our tent, making that rhythmic pitter pat that no weary traveler can hold sway against. And we drifted off to sleep, despite sore shoulders and aching backs. We were cozy warm and dry with full bellies and no regrets.

Salmon PastaServes TwoIMAG0032

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 oz mini penne, or similar quick cook pasta
  • 4 oz foil pack precooked salmon
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • .25 oz julianned sundried tomato
  • .25 oz freeze dried green peas
  • .5 oz lemon juice in single serve packet
  • .5 oz white cooking wine
  • 1 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh lemon thyme, picked & chopped
  • salt & pepper packets

Bring water and 1/2 packet of salt to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente. When pasta is 3/4 done add freeze dried peas and sundried tomato.

Meanwhile heat 1/2 your oil and sautee shallot until translucent. Deglaze with white wine and reduce heat. Add lemon juice, remaining oil, thyme and salmon. heat through and then turn off. Strain pasta reserving an ounce of the water, add salmon mixture, salt and pepper to taste, mix well and serve with a shaved parmesan garnish.

note: we used two pans for speed of cooking, however to save weight of both cook kit and fuel, this can just as easily be prepared with one. Cook the pasta first, portion it into your bowls and then top with the cooked salmon and shallots. Another hard earned tip – save this one for when you have plentiful water. We spent the next 2 days smelling salmon every time we opened our food bags.

 

The Trail Head- How It All Began

The Trail Head- How It All Began

Cheryl, Graham, Cheryl's Brother Chris and their friend Ben on the Long Trail

l-r: Chris, Cheryl, Graham and their friend Ben on the Long Trail

Imagine this scene: You’re on the trail backpacking, mid summer and you have 20 miles or more left in your trip. With two days of solid mountain hiking behind you, you’re Hungry. Capitol H. Heck, capitol everything else – HUNGRY. The kind of hungry that makes freeze dried pouches of nonsense edible, and  a Cliff bar for dessert sound good. Hungry. The trail is gorgeous, the weather is great and your companions couldn’t be more fun. But this much exertion requires a good amount of food input and you just can’t stop thinking about it. You think of  pizza – thin slice, Brooklyn style – the kind you fold in half to eat. Of tall lovely glasses of lemonade with ice, making condensation drip down the sides of the glass and that sweet / tart liquid that would just make your taste buds sing. You think of thick cuts of juicy red meat topped with blue cheese or sautéed mushrooms or… Well, you understand. You think about Food, all the delicious, delicious food that you’ll have.  Just as soon as you leave the trail that is. You look down in your hand at the somewhat sawdust-like nutrition bar your clutching, sigh deeply, choke it down and keep walking.

Just such a scene was deep underway a couple years ago in early August, Green Mountains VT.  Day two of a three day trip and four of us were stopped for the night in a lovely little cabin on the Long Trail. Laughing and joking with the others, we were heating water for our pouches of freeze dried Thai while snacking on some hard sausage, cheese and bread Cheryl’s brother Chris had brought. Suddenly Chris breaks out a garlic clove, shallot, and (wait for it…) a 1 oz vial of olive oil?! Wait. What the deuce?! Is this guy seriously sautéing said garlic and shallots and adding it to rice?! Holy cannoli!!! That SMELLS GOOOOD!!!

Graham & Cheryl somewhere on the Long Taril

Graham & Cheryl, Long Trail VT

Graham and Cheryl look at each other in shock – one thought between them. “How could we have missed the boat on this gravy train?” Between us we have over 30 years in kitchens and not once did the thought of a trail side sauté occur. Aspiring trail gourmand Chris now adds bouillon and freeze dried tortellini to his pot, reduces the heat and covers it. Casually leaning back he snags a slice of parmesan and proceeds to pour himself another glass of wine. Our minds blown we sat still in shock. Our Peanut Thai had suddenly lost its appeal.

Fortunately for our tummies and taste buds,once we recovered from our chagrin, we approached that scene with a singular decision, “challenge accepted”. We have since traveled our own food journey that has included hiking and backpacking, pairing food and cocktails, snowshoe adventures (BTW – salad for lunch is a poor choice when the weather under 30 degrees), canoe camping mishaps, and cliff side rock climbing lunches. We have had triumphs and failures but continue to enjoy every adventure.

From these experiences we present to you – Two Hungry Hikers. A diary of sorts, covering the very thing you cant stop thinking about… Food.  And how to enjoy the adventure of preparing  it outside.

All the fixins for Chris's Carb Bomb Simmer

All the fixins for Chris’s Carb Bomb Simmer

Chris’s Carb Bomb Simmer

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 baby peppers (red & yellow)
  • 1 shallot (simply hiker sized)
  • 1/2 tube of basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup 10 minute rice (select your favorite)
  • 1/2 cup Barilla tortellini
  • 2 bouillon cubes (I use Knorr vegetable)
  • 2 cups water

Directions: In my frying pan I sautéed the shallot, garlic, and peppers in a little olive oil until I got them to sweat. Then add the basil pesto and set aside (you only have one burner…)

Bring the water to boil and add the rice, tortellini, and bouillon. Reduce heat a bit to save fuel and stir every couple minutes to keep the rice from sticking to the thin titanium.

When the rice and tortellini are almost done, dump in the pepper and basil mixture.  Cover and let cook until tortellini are done.

Carb bomb. BOOM!