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

 

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.