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

 

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!