Best Rookie Trails at Mount Rainier 3: Grove of the Patriarchs

This easy, 1.3 mile walk winds along the aquamarine waters of the Ohanapecosh River, ending in a splendid loop of soaring conifers that unhinge any jaw. Think Emerald City. Times ten.

Begin at the parking area northwest of the Stevens Canyon Entrance Station. Trail signs lead hikers through an old growth forest of conifer skyscrapers. Some reach 300 feet tall and are 1,000 years old. White quad-petaled bunchberry dogwoods, yellow glacier lilies, and red huckleberries hug the forest floor. Countless cascades sparkle and splash. Purple-blue lupine mirror clear skies.

You cross the Ohanapecosh over a suspension bridge just prior to entering the grove, which is on an island. Go one at a time. If you have an aversion to crossing a rickety, swaying suspension bridge, dash across lickety-split. On second thought, belay that. Running will just make the bridge bounce more. So take deep breaths, hold tight and take your time. I’ve crossed that sucker like a zillion times. So far, so good.

The Grove of the Patriarchs is one of the easiest and most crowded trails in the entire park. Arrive early to avoid trail traffic jams, particularly on busy summer weekends. You can complete the loop in under an hour, but a hike through this “green cathedral” is worth much more. You can combine this hike with the Silver Falls hike along the Eastside Trail mentioned earlier. Follow the signs and cross Stevens Canyon Road until you hit the Grove’s parking lot.

Note: The Grove of the Patriarchs parking lot is small. It fills up early on bright, sunny weekends in summer. Plan accordingly. Or just do what we do: hit this trail on a week day, or during off-season. That leaves out late June through Labor Day.

Bathrooms, a drinking fountain and a picnic table or two are located at the parking lot, a short drive from the Steven’s Canyon entrance. Sometimes that’s good to know.

Getting there: From Packwood, drive east on HWY 12, cross the Ohanapecosh River and turn left onto SR 123. Follow the road past the Ohanapecosh Visitors Center and turn left onto Stevens Canyon Rd. Parking is available in the first area on the right, intersecting the Eastside Trail.


Best Rookie Trails at Mount Rainier 2: Naches Peak

posted in: Mount Rainier | 0

On the lip of Chinook Pass, the Naches Peak Loop trail is one of the most popular hikes at Mount Rainier National Park, and for good reason. This relatively easy 3.5 loop trail has it all: pristine mountain tarns, kaleidoscopic wildflower carpets in season, beautiful sub-alpine meadows, a towering peak, and oh, yeah, jaw-dropping views of that snowy colossus in the distance.

To begin, park in the lot at Tipsoo Lake, about half a mile west of Chinook Pass on SR 410. Enjoy a picnic lunch at a table near the lot or head out on the trail to your left to Chinook Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail. (Dogs are allowed on the PCT. They are prohibited on trails inside the park.)

The trail starts with a gentle climb along a hillside above the lake. Keep going. You’ll cross Chinook Pass by pedestrian bridge. You won’t know which way to look during this initial portion of the hike, which includes a steady but reasonably mild climb. To the east, the magnificent American River Valley opens to the horizon. In season, wildflowers hug the hillside on your right, splashing Renoir pastels everywhere.

You can take a breather or swig from your water bottle at about a mile or so in when the trail rounds a lovely little tarn. Continue on. You have an option of hoofing it down to Dewey Lake – a worthwhile endeavor if you don’t mind the uphill haul on the return. Or you can continue on the Peak trail.

The Mountain will canter into view in the west as you round the next bend. There are several flat rocky outcroppings near another tarn at this point, roughly three miles in. They make for a nice lunch or rest stop with killer views of the Mountain.

Have your camera ready.

You can tackle this trail hiking either clockwise or counter-clockwise. We’ve done both. Repeatedly. For the best views of the Mountain, hike clockwise. The Mountain is at your back if you hike counter-clockwise.

 At an elevation of more than 5,400 feet, the Naches Peak Loop is one of the first to close when the snow flies. It’s also one of the last to melt out in the spring. We’ve been to Tipsoo Lake when snow is still hip-deep – in late June. Best season to tackle this don’t miss trail is in the fall. Our favorite time frame is mid or late September, after school starts. Summer crowds thin. The rush of visitors has slowed to a trickle. If the weather holds into early or late October, the fall finery is world class.

Don’t forget to stroll around Tipsoo Lake after you circumnavigate Naches Peak. The lake is pristine. Blue as Delft china, Tipsoo Lake is perched in a bowl below SR 410. In season it’s ringed with mountain paintbrush, lupine and beargrass. The summer blooms are incredible and sometimes linger into early fall.

In any season, the Naches Peak trail is definitely worth the wait.


A “rookie” trail:

  • Offers a choice introduction to the park’s beauty and stunning scenery.
  • Doesn’t require specialized gear like crampons or triathlete status, although being in decent physical shape is a definite plus when tackling any trail at Mount Rainier National Park.
  • Is family-friendly, easily accessible and features exceptional landscapes like jaw-dropping vistas, thundering waterfalls, outrageous wildflower meadows, or crystal-clear lakes.
  • Is at least one mile but is five miles or less round trip.

Camp Cooking Made Easy

posted in: Camping | 0

You’re chugging back to your campsite after a full day on the trails. Rustlin’ up dinner for a marauding familial horde is about as attractive as a rhino in leotards.

“There’s got to be an easier way” I opined to Hike Dude awhile back. “Planning the next manned mission to Mars is easier than feeding a ravenous marauding horde disguised as four teenage boys.”

There is. It’s called “advance planning.” No, really. That’s it.

How We Do It

A few weeks before our planned camping/hiking trip, we sit down and write out a menu. Grocery shop. And instead of cooking at the campsite, we do all our cooking at home, in advance.

After cooking each meal, we vacuum-seal each individual meal item in a separate pouch, one serving per person. Example: Breakfast: Scrambled eggs go in one pouch; bacon another, hash browns in another.

Organize pouches by meal. Keep dinner items with dinner items etc., with a large rubber band or other method, so you’re not digging through your cooler trying to find what goes with what when you’re back at your campsite, hungry as a bear.

Once your menu items are sealed, organized and labeled by meal, toss the sealed pouch in the freezer. Take it out and pack it in the cooler just before you hit the road for your next outdoor adventure. (The exception is produce, for obvious reasons.)

Quick and Easy

Because the vacuum-sealed pouches lie flat, they’re easily stackable in a cooler. And take up less room.

I pack meals chronologically. This means if the next meal is dinner, it’s on the top. Followed by tomorrow’s breakfast underneath, then lunch, then dinner, and so on. The last meal of our last day is on the bottom. (Fresh produce is packed separately and eaten first, to avoid spoilage.)

When it’s meal time, all you have to do is heat water in a Dutch oven or large pot – enough so that each pouch is submerged – to a rolling boil. Grab the next meal pouch(es) and toss them in. Heat for roughly 20 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to retrieve. Open the pouch. Place contents on a paper plate or eat directly from the pouch (be sure to pack a sharp knife or a pair of scissors to open the pouch).  We pre-cook frozen vegetables and seal them in separate pouches, one serving per person.

Clean up is snap. Just toss the paper plate and plastic utensils or empty pouch in the nearest bear-proof receptacle. You’re done. No pots or pans or utensils to wash.

A Win-Win

Plan on setting aside a full day for food prep, cooking and sealing. It’s a lot of work. But it’s worth it, saving you time and effort when you hit the campground. Plus, less time on food prep means more times on the trails. We call that a “win-win.”

Here are some sample menus and ideas to get you started. Since we’re usually fueling up for a day on the trails, breakfast is typically our biggest meal:


DAY 1:

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and red bell peppers, bacon, hash browns, orange slices, juice or milk.

Lunch: On the trail, meaning whatever can fit in a back pack. See The Cheapskate Guide to Terrific Trail Snacks.

Dinner: Ham and Cheese Skillet, frozen peas, spinach salad with craisins and mandarin oranges

Dessert: S’mores over a campfire

DAY 2:

Breakfast: Biscuits & Gravy, blueberry muffins, apple slices, juice or milk

Lunch: On the trail

Dinner: Grandma Peggy’s Campfire Stew

Dessert: S’mores (replace graham crackers with peanut butter cookies)

DAY 3:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with yogurt, frozen berry mix, orange marmalade scones, juice or milk. (Tip: Costco)

Lunch: On the trail

Dinner: Grilled steaks, frozen mixed vegetables, quartered red potatoes.

Dessert: S’mores (use chocolate chip cookies. Replace chocolate bars with Reese’s peanut butter cups.)

Did I mention s’mores?

What would you add?

Note: Tortillas and most oatmeals don’t do well in the freezer. They tend to disintegrate. Mashed potatoes are also iffy. (Don’t ask how I know that.) Steel-cut oats may do better if pre-cooked in a crock pot.

Best Rookie Trails at Mount Rainier 1: Sheep Lake

posted in: Hiking 101, Mount Rainier | 0

A great choice for rookie hikers or families with young children, the trail to Sheep Lake has it all: sweeping vistas, towering trees, scores of wildflowers, and a splendid emerald-green lake lolling under an infinite blue sky, at just over four miles round trip!

The 2.1 miles to Sheep Lake include some climbing. But the grade is gentle and not steep by Rainier standards. The first mile or so out of the parking lot parallels Highway 410. This stretch is mostly exposed and rocky in places. Not much shade. Be sure to bring plenty of water. Use sunscreen and wear a hat. Sturdy footwear is a must. No sandals or flip-flops. Bring a camera. The views of the valley to the east are stunning.

After about a mile, the trail winds into the woods and then opens into a beautiful little bowl. You’re greeted by one of the most stunning lakes in the region. Ringed by jagged mountains, emerald-green Sheep Lake offers smooth-as-glass reflections of the quiet, conifered landscape and open skies. In season, the wildflowers are outrageous.

We made it to the lake in about 40 minutes. The mountain paintbrush, elephant head, cinquefoil, purple asters and clouds of lupine ringing the lake are spectacular in season! We applied plenty of Deet and although the bugs were definitely out in June, they did not bother us. There were so many butterflies near the lake, we lost track!

You don’t get those magnificent views of Mount Rainier from this trail. But drive a stone’s throw up the road to Tipsoo Lake and you can spot the Mountain if she’s out.

This is a nice hike to a beautiful, serene alpine lake and quite popular. It’s a great place for a picnic lunch. Start early if you want to avoid afternoon crowds.

The trail is just outside Mount Rainier National Park boundaries. It’s part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Dogs and horses are allowed on the PCT, which is not the case on trails inside the park.

Tip: There’s a $5 parking fee at the lot at the trail head. There are bathrooms at the parking lot.

Getting there: From Enumclaw, drive east on SR 410 for about 50 miles to Chinook Pass. Continue about 0.2 miles to Pacific Crest Trail parking lot, which is the second large parking lot on the left side of the road. The trailhead is on the east end of the parking lot behind the vault toilets.

From Naches, drive west on Hwy 12 to the junction with SR 410. Turn onto SR 410, and drive about 45 miles to the Pacific Crest Trail parking lot, on the right side of the road about 0.2 miles from the top of the pass. If you get to the Tipsoo Lake parking lot, you have gone too far.

From Packwood, drive east on Hwy 12 to the junction with State Highway 123. Go north on State Highway 123 about 16 miles to the junction with SR 410. Turn right onto SR 410. Continue about 0.2 miles to Pacific Crest Trail trailhead parking lot, which is the second large parking lot on the left side of the road. The trailhead is on the east end of the parking lot.


A “rookie” trail:

  • Offers a choice introduction to the park’s beauty and stunning scenery.
  • Doesn’t require specialized gear like crampons or triathlete status, although being in decent physical shape is a definite plus when tackling any trail at Mount Rainier National Park.
  • Is family-friendly, easily accessible and features exceptional landscapes like jaw-dropping vistas, thundering waterfalls, outrageous wildflower meadows, or crystal-clear lakes.
  • Is at least one mile but is five miles or less round trip.

How To Hike Without Hiking

posted in: Hiking 101, Just for Fun | 2

No time to hike? Does the sport seem too strenuous or physically demanding? Maybe you’d like to start hiking but aren’t sure where to begin. Or you’re waiting for a break in the weather (please, God).

Not to fret. Here are 8+ Easy Ways to Enjoy Hiking or Hiking Prep Without Actually Hiking:

  1. Check out the Beginner’s Guide to Hiking. Tips and advice on backpacking, hiking, and the great outdoors in this video. About two and a half minutes.
  2. Peruse Top 10 Best Hikes in California and/or 10 Best Days Hikes in California, North to South. Trails in Torrey Pines, San Diego and Anza-Borrego State Park to Santa Barbara, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Lassen, Joshua Tree, Inyo National Forest, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite.
  3. Lace up with Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Brisk, engaging, and unexpectedly hilarious!
  4. Dive into Floyd Schmoe’s A Year in Paradise.  An eloquent personal narrative brimming with information and reflections about Mount Rainier and the surrounding region. The author was the first naturalist for Mount Rainier National Park and a two-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.
  5. Read just about any hiking resource by Seabury Blair, Jr. His day hike guides are excellent and include detailed trail notes for hikes in Washington, the Olympic Peninsula, and Oregon. Tip: Creaky Knees Guide Washington: 100 Best Easy Hikes in the State.
  6. Check out the Mount Rainier National Park channel on You Tube. Ninety+ short videos on everything from park history to Sunrise wildflowers and Ohanapecosh archaeology. Also trips to specific sites in the park during all four seasons.
  7. Here are 8 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW While You’re Waiting for Trails to Melt Out.
  8. You might also want to take a gander at 12 Top Trails at Mount Rainier. Or: Kindle edition. By Yours Truly.


You can also join us on the trails via video. Like on the Naches Peak Loop Trail at Mount Rainier (below). We’ll do the work. You can just sit back and watch. A little over a minute. (J.S. Bach’s Air Suite at no extra charge.)

Happee Trails!

Where Are You?

posted in: Hiking 101 | 0

Are you a seasoned hiking vet with zillions of trail miles under your Redwings? Maybe you’d like to take up the sport but don’t think you have the time or ability. Or maybe you’re an “armchair hiker” who prefers hitting the trails vicariously?


Wherever you are on the hiking continuum, here are nine quick reasons to consider hiking or walking:


9 Reasons to Hike


  1. Hiking is a great cardio workout
  2. It reduces stress.
  3. It’s inexpensive and easy to start.
  4. Hiking doesn’t require a lot of specialized gear or technical training.
  5. Hiking can be easily adjusted for any fitness level, ability, and age.
  6. Hiking can be tailored to fit your personal schedule. A variety of trails exist, ranging from a few minutes to several hours to an entire summer (like the Pacific Crest Trail).
  7. Since it’s an outdoor activity, hiking boosts your Vitamin D (remember to use sun screen!)
  8. Hiking is more varied than many other types of exercise, particularly those undertaken in a gym. So it can be easier to stay motivated.
  9. Hiking is a great outdoor activity for the entire family.


But wait. There’s more. Hiking can also offer:


  • Wildflowers ring Sheep Lake near the Chinook Pass.

    Thundering waterfalls.

  • Meadows marinated in wildflowers.
  • The sun a yellow eye scorched in a skillet of blue.
  •  Disconnecting from technology.
  •  Peace and quiet.
  •  Life’s busyness receding like ocean breakers on an outgoing tide.


Physical Benefits of Hiking

According to the American Hiking Society, physical benefits of hiking include lowering your risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. As a weight-bearing exercise, hiking and walking can also help reverse the negative effects of osteoporosis and arthritis.


Mental Benefits of Hiking and Walking

These include increased cognitive benefits and working memory performance, reducing depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, boosting creativity, and strengthening social ties.  Hiking benefits also include increased happiness levels and an improved sense of well-being and peace.


Speaking of mental benefits, you don’t want to hit the trails without packing your brains. Like when:

  • A really, really stupid hiker left her head at home and completely missed the cut off to the Forest Lake Trail at Mount Rainier, continuing on the wrong trail for miles. It only took half a day to correct my mistake.
  • An epic face-plant ensued after a hiker misjudged a downed Douglas fir on the Wynoochee Lakeshore Trail on the Olympic Peninsula. Thankfully, my fall was cushioned by an obliging slab of granite or I might’ve been seriously injured.
  • A World Class Brainless Wonder met Mama Bear and her two cubs hiking Mazama Ridge at Mount Rainier. And decided to whip out her tablet and take pictures. Good thing Hiker Dude jerked her down-trail at warp speed. It took all afternoon for my head to stop spinning.

There’s also nothing like a Yeti-sized burst of adrenaline to cure those creaky knees or hollerin’ hamstrings. Like when you round a bend on Mazama Ridge and come face-to-fur with Mama Bear and two… Oh, never mind.

So when it comes to hiking, don’t overthink it. You don’t need to burn a hole in your wallet buying fancy trail doo-dads or high-end gear. Be in top tri-athlete shape. Or ready to summit Mount Everest. (Whenever I feel like summiting Mount Everest, I lay down until the feeling goes away.)

Just grab some sturdy shoes and a hat. Fill a water bottle. Bring your common sense. Find a trail and Go Nike: Just. Do. It.

You got this.


Happee trails!

8 Ways to Avoid Camp Clueless

No one likes looking like a clueless tenderfoot. But there are at least three sure-fire ways to peg yourself as a Mount Rainier Rookie, right off the bat. They include clothing, cosmetics, and camp robbers.


Attire is often a Rainier Rookie/Camp Clueless dead giveaway. Rookies dress like the weather in one part of the park is standard throughout. Not! It may 75 degrees at Ohanapecosh, where blue puffs of benign breezes muss hemlock hair. But Ohana’s elevation is 1,870 feet–significantly lower than most of the park. In fact, Ohana is where “clueless rookies” are lured into donning shorts, sandals and tank tops for a day trip through the park. A thirty minute drive up the serpentine coils of Stevens Canyon Road to Reflection Lakes, and those duds aren’t quite as chic as they were 3,000 feet ago.

Lose the Cosmetics

While we’re on the topic – sort of – you can often tell a female Rainier Rookie by the amount of time she spends primping in front of a mirror.  Trying to blow dry sleeping-bag hair. Crumpling into a crying jag when the mascara runs out.

Ladies, do yourself a favor.  When you hit the trails or the campground, leave the make-up at home. Because when it comes to make-up, mountains and hitting the trail, no body cares. Cosmetic-lessness isn’t a leading cause of death far as I know.  So relax.

Don’t Fall for Camp Robbers

Another sure-fire way to peg a Rainier Rookie is watching them with “camp robbers.”  Plump, dark-beaked and gray-feathered, these brazen bandits will make off with your entire campsite if you let them, hence their ubiquitous nickname.

Rainier Rookies toss bread crumbs or lunch leftovers to “the pretty gray birds” without a second thought (We see this all the time at Narada Falls, Reflection Lakes, or Paradise.) The next thing you know, every gray jay on the planet swoops out of the trees, dive bombing the hapless picnickers like a squadron of B-24s.  It’s a scene right out of Hitchcock.  The same goes for chipmunks, squirrels, deer, foxes, and… you name it!

Did I say three ways to peg yourself as a Rainier Rookie? Belay that. Here’s a fourth: Tearing into the campground hours after sundown and trying to pitch a tent for the first time in the dead of night. If nothing else screams “rookie,” that’ll do it.

Here are 8 Ways to Avoid Rainier Rookie-dom:

  • Read the National Park Service brochure distributed by the friendly NPS rangers at each entrance gate.
  • Invest in a good map.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Check the daily weather report. (Visitor centers at Ohanapecosh, Paradise and Sunrise typically have them posted on white boards.)
  • Bring a jacket – even if it’s 75 degrees at Ohanapecosh. You can always peel it off later if the day heats up for more than twenty minutes.
  • Be sure to bring sunscreen and a hat, but leave the make-up at home.
  • Don’t Feed The Animals – no matter how cute or cajoling.
  • Practice pitching your tent before you arrive at the campground. And make sure to bring a battery-powered light source.


What would you add?


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Black Diamonds and Saving Private Highin’


There I was. Chugging down-trail from a postcard-perfect afternoon at Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground at Mount Rainier. We switchbacked through old growth forests and high country meadows marinaded in wildflowers and fall finery. Lunched at the back country patrol cabin. Squished another mile or so to Mirror Lake (below), which is as stunning as it sounds on a clear September afternoon.

Then it was time to hike back to the trailhead at Kautz Creek. All downhill. About 3,000 feet. And my knees went on strike.

Yea, verily. There’s nothing like a postcard perfect, multi-mile hike up the Ridge From Hell to make you appreciate your knees. Especially on the downhill.  I was chugging along with the alacrity of a gimpy snail. My brain kept saying, “C’mon! Get a move on! We’re burning daylight!” My knees responded, “Are you nuts?!”

Hours later, I hobbled into the parking lot opposite Kautz Creek, whining like a World Class Wuss: “I can’t do this anymore. My knees are shot. No more climbing.”

This was Day 2 of a week-long hiking trip at Mount Rainier National Park.

Note to self: It’s not the climbing that kicks you. It’s the descent. Other note to self: If you can’t climb/handle uphill trails at Mount Rainier, your hiking options inside the park are almost nil.

“Well, we’ll have to do something about that,” replied Hiker Dude, slipping me a post-trail pick-me-up. Ghirardelli’s raspberry white chocolate will cure just about anything. In fact, I felt better immediately. My knees, not so much.

The next morning, quick like a bunny, Hiker Dude and I high-tailed it over to Whittaker Mountaineering Store in Ashford in search of some high quality trekking poles. (This place has everything outdoor-ish. Just sayin’.)

We coughed up about $200 for two pairs of Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles.  Lightweight, adjustable and built to last, Black Diamond trekking poles are reputedly “the best on the market.”

Built with high quality craftsmanship and “extremely high standards,” Black Diamonds have an excellent patent-pending anti-shock system. Using these poles, the stress reduction on my knees was huge on descents out of Panorama Point, Mazama Ridge, Pinnacle Saddle, and to Louise Lake. These trekking poles saved our ‘private highin.’ In fact, I would not have been able to continue hiking without them.


My knees are now kicking my brain for not investing sooner in a pair of high quality, sturdy trekking poles. But better late than never. I highly recommend you do likewise.

By the way, when it comes to trekking poles, you get what you pay for. Don’t settle for cheapies. Cough it up. Your knees will thank you. Mine sure do!


Happy trails!

What You Need to Know Before Tackling the Trail to Silver Falls

posted in: Mount Rainier, Trail Tips | 0

The Silver Falls Loop is one of the most popular trails at Mount Rainier National Park. About three miles round trip, the trail meanders through a spectacular old growth forest on the east side of the Mountain to one of the park’s most impressive gushers. There’s some up and down, but the inclines are neither steep nor sustained, making this is a great choice for the whole family.

Extra bonus: The Silver Falls trailhead is at Ohanapecosh, which is much lower in elevation than sister hiking sites at Paradise, Sunrise, or Longmire. Thus, this pleasant loop trail is among the first to melt out in the spring. 

But not this year. We hiked this trail on April 16. It’s still wearing snow pajamas. However, the loop is accessible as long as you’re properly outfitted and don’t mind a three mile hike to an alternate trail head off Highway 123.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to tackle the Silver Falls Trail in the next few weeks before the spring thaw takes hold:

Highway 123 and the park gate are both closed at the gate.

You can still access the park. You just have to walk in. Park at the gate at the small clearing on the left shoulder. Come around the gate on foot. Head north to the Ohanapecosh Campground. It’s about a mile and a half from the park boundary.

You’ll have the road pretty much to yourself. It’s closed to vehicular traffic. Scheduled to open on May 19, depending on weather.

In season, you can begin the Silver Falls trail from three locations: Behind the Ohana Visitor Center, at the park amphitheater (across the bridge), or by hiking down trail from the Grove of the Patriarchs. Not so now unless you bring snowshoes. All of these accesses remain under snow.

Continue on the road about three miles or so until you come to a small sign on the left shoulder saying “Silver Falls 0.3.” If you hit the sign for Stevens Canyon Entrance, you’ve gone too far.

Take the trail at the sign. Head down, toward the river. Turn right (north) at the first junction. There’ll be a sign.

The trail is snow free here. It remains so until just before you approach the descent to the bridge crossing the Ohanapecosh River. 

Beware the mudslide just above the falls, before crossing the bridge. It’s passable, but be careful.

The overlook at the falls is snow-free. You’ll hit snow again if you head up trail to the Grove of the Patriarchs. We turned back after about half a mile.

If you opt to hike down to the Ohana campground, be advised that about two-thirds of the trail is under snow, past Laughingwater Creek. It’s easy to get lost if you’re not familiar with the territory. Also, the snow is soft.  If you’re wearing boots, it’s easy to punch through. Snowshoes preferred.

If you’re not into snowshoeing, you may want to wait a few more weeks to tackle this trail. It’s worth the wait!

Happy trails!

Help for the Hungry Hiker

posted in: Camping, Recipes | 0


You’ve spent all day out in the Great Outdoors, racking up some serious trail miles. Chugging into camp around dinnertime, you’re hungry as a bear coming out of hibernation. The last thing you want to do is cook. The nearest Golden Arches is about a year away. So, what’s a tired, hungry hiker to do to fuel up for tomorrow’s trail adventure?

Short answer: Plan ahead. With a little advance planning and some simple prep work, you can have a hearty meal on the table without even breaking into the Correllware. Check out Grandma Peggy’s Campfire Stew.

This is a make-ahead recipe that freezes and stores well. All you have to do is follow the recipe below. Let it cool. Then vacuum seal in individual serving sized pouches. Toss in the freezer. Stash in your cooler en route to your next hiking adventure and campsite. When you’re ready for dinner, simply heat a pot of boiling water, toss in the sealed pouch and allow to heat. It should be ready in 15 – 20 minutes, depending on how hot your water is and how hot you like your dinner. Serve in bowls with cornbread or muffins and you’ve got a hearty, no-fuss meal. (Some people consider this a thick soup. So you might want to bring some spoons.)

Here’s the recipe:

Grandma Peggy’s Campfire Stew (Soup)

¼ lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 medium onion, chopped

1 can (1 lb.) tomatoes

2 cans (1 lb. each) red kidney beans, drained

1 can (12 oz.) kernel corn, drained

1 can (3 oz.) broiled sliced mushroom, with broth

1 can (10-1/2 oz.) mushroom gravy

2 Tbsp. Chili powder (or to taste)

½ lb. Sharp cheddar cheese, grated

12 frankfurters


Fry bacon, drain on absorbent paper.  Reserve.  Cook onion in 2 Tbsp. of drippings until golden brown.  Add next six ingredients.  Bring to boiling.  Lower heat.  Add cheese, stir until cheese melts.  Cut frankfurters in one-inch slices.  Add with bacon bits.  Bring to serving temperature.  Serve immediately or put into vacuum jar or pouches for freezing.



Photo credit – Public Domain