Memorial Day is to honor the freedom our fallen friends so bravely fought for. Freedom to eat. Freedom to travel. Freedom to live as we please. And how I celebrated—the freedom to live in the wilderness, cook in the dirt and shower in a waterfall without permission.
Backpacking. Some revel in its draw to “get away from it all”… “escape reality”. For me, it’s the opposite. It’s “what it’s all about”. “Getting close to it all”. Wilderness is where reality is restored.
There’s truth in worn river beds and sunken alpine lakes. There’s modesty in mountains. There’s honesty in moonlight. And there’s rawness in remote cooking.
Free from confining kitchen walls, outdoor cooking defeats modern man’s cooking culture. No graters and gizmoes, no butter, no bacon. It’s attractively primitive.
Dismiss the dutch oven and forgo the fridge. Backpack cooking is bare. It requires less tools and more strategy. Most importantly, it should involve high nutrition standards.
Open air vastness and dirty pots impart on food flavor in ways unmatched with technologic kitchens. Never overlook the opportunity to eat with the earth and drink with the stars, and don’t waste your time with power bars.
Enter a backpack eating adventure that celebrated the freedom to be dirty and domestic:
Earth Escapade 1: Huckleberry Thinn Goes to Indian Peaks Wilderness
The key to a hunger-free backpacking trip is to plan EVERY snack. Every meal. Every ounce of water. The next step is to invest in one of these: MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove. The best $40 we’ve spent.
Disclaimer: my belly and nutrition ego are too big for a backpacking trip over 4 days. The meal plan described below is unrealistic for a week-long wilderness trip that would require dehydrating food. While it can be done, I haven’t done it yet. I’ll let you know when shit gets gnarly.
After sleeping in a snow-barricaded dugout alongside the river, we woke to a dull sunrise and stirred just enough blood circulation to start coffee. With a 4 mile hike to Lost Lake ahead, we bulked up on fiber, fruit and protein in a no-cook breakfast (the stove was occupied by coffee).
Backpackers Banana Bread
spread peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla > layer on chopped banana > dress with a handful of Thinn’s GORP Gone Wild and drizzle with honey and chia seeds > bulk up
Tip: Tortillas pack better than bread and promise a solid, no-rot source of calories and fiber. They are wholesome and versatile and offer a divine texture when cooked on a hot stone in a fire.
Fueled with calories and coffee, we bushwacked our way through unmarked trails, cavernous tree roots and scaled unscalable boulders in an effort to preserve our front row view of the longest, recreating waterfall we’ve ever seen.
We met the final stretch masked with remnants of melty February snow, which thankfully relieved when we rose to eye level with the cat tails of Lost Lake.
Almighty Great Divide!
Sheltered by a barricade of Indian Peaks, we trekked the shoreline of this pint-size lake that made up for its size with its rugged ruffles of pines and a crater demeanor that promised a fresh catch.
With my feet in the alpine sand and fly fishing pole in hand, I needed a no-cook lunch to kickoff a busy afternoon of doing absolutely nothing.
Spread avocado chunks on a whole wheat tortilla > generously cover with favorite hot sauce > roll > eat > repeat
Named for it’s obvious effect on the body (butt .. not heart), a clogger lends a bathroom break after rounds of cowboy coffee. Cloggers fed my high school self… beans and rice on the beach were scarce and I usually had a backpack of Dad’s avocados.
Hours past and cloggers clogged. I earned blisters from hours of undulating an unlucky fishing rod. The only thing lost about this lake was trout. So we tried Old Chub chum.
Here fishy fishy.
No fish. So we plan B’ed dinner.
Zucchini Tempeh Pasta
Boil a pot of filtered water in a cook stove or fire place > Add a cup’s worth of whole wheat penne noodles > took until tender, then remove noodles and save for later > crumble a brick of tempeh into the emptied cook stove and heat through > add defrosted Thinn’s Chipotle Red Sauce > chop squash into match sticks and add to sauce > mix together
Tip: Plan ahead and reserve a batch of Thinn’s Chipotle Red Sauce. Pour spare sauce in a small sandwich bag and lay flat in freezer so it freezes in a packable shape. Right before departure, add the brick of frozen sauce to your pack and it will defrost in time for dinner without perishing.
Tempeh offers a perfect packable source of protein that won’t perish like meat. Freeze tempeh alongside red sauce.
Go here –> Lost Lake from Hessie Trailhead