Author Archives: brett

Back from Wonderland

We're back! We had a stunning trip on the trail. Thanks to Tim lugging his huge SLR around the trail – we ought to have some excellent photos to show also once he processes (digitally, in lightroom) them. A big storm is heading for Rainier this weekend – with 1-2 ft of snow down to 6,000 ft. Trail-finding in snow around Klapatche didn't sound much fun – so we compressed the last few days and got out 2 days ahead of schedule. The trail was spectacular, every day brought something unique and different. Including a few side trips – we figure we cleared over 100 miles and about 24,000 ft of elevation. I definitely want to go back and section hike some of the areas that we're socked in due to the storm yesterday – but they we're still pretty none the less. Oh – and I think my teeth are stained from all the blueberries I ate. 🙂

I'm looking forward to going over the notes and writing up a trip report in the coming weeks…

Banana-Mango Chocolate Almond Wraps

With our Wonderland Trail start just five days away, it's time to start thinking about food. Breakfasts and dinner are always easy – but I always struggle for that perfect lunch. Salami, aged cheese and crackers is my staple – but I want something different some days.

So here we go with some more kitchen experiments

First lets meet the band

The rock star of this recipe is the good old dried banana.

This rather revolting slug-looking creature can be found in the bulk food section of Whole Foods. Despite its rotten appearance, they are exceptionally tasty little chaps.

Backing vocals are provided by the delicious Nutella hazelnut spread, easily found in most US grocery stores. QFC carries this in the Seattle area.

On base we have the mighty fine Almond Butter, also found at Whole Foods – in very convenient little 6g squeeze packs.

And finally, on percussion we have Harmony House Foods freeze dried Mango Slices.

So lets put it all together we take our dried banana and chop it into little chunks like so:

We then spread out the Nutella and Almond Butter onto a Tortilla.

Sprinkle the Bananas and mango on top.

Roll and devour.

Not bad. These suckers are going to make their debut somewhere on Day 3 – halfway between Sunrise and Indian Bar.

Happy Birthday Chester

Our little guy turns one year old today. We celebrated on Sunday while Theresa's family were in town.

Over the last year, he's done a handful of hikes with us, (mostly asleep on Theresa's chest) and we hope to get in many more in the coming year including a short (Wet diapers aren't exactly ultralight!) overnight.


Freezer-bag Thai Green Curry

The quest for the perfect trail food begins and this is my first experiment with homemade freezer-bag style food. Inspired by Sarahs blog, I ordered the stuff I needed from Harmony House Foods.

All good Thai curries, start with an excellent paste. I'm too lazy to fry my own paste on the trail – so my plan was to pre-cook and then dehydrate the paste. I fried some paste in coconut cream in a similar way to my Massaman Curry post here (except using Green Curry Paste). Follow the Massaman Curry recipe up until the point I mention beating people back with a spoon.

Once I made the paste, I spread it out onto parchment paper and popped it in the convection oven for a few hours on very low (I don't have a dehydrator)

A few hours later, and it dried out nicely. Next I broken it up and ground it into a powder in a coffee grinder.

A few days later and I'm ready to make the concoction I'm a complete newbie at this, and so have no idea on the right ratios of stuff but I'm pretty fearless, so I just winged it 🙂

Here's the recipe I used:

– 1 cu Uncle Bens Instant Rice

– 3 Tbsp of Green Curry Paste Powder

– 1 2oz bag of Chaokoh Coconut Milk Powder

– 4 Tbsp Dried Diced Potatoes

– 3 Tbsp Dried chicken bits  (Soy product)

– 1 1/2 Dried Tbsp Onions

– 1 Tbsp Dried Peppers

– 1 tsp Lime Powder (Sour)

– 1 Tbsp Palm Sugar

– 1/2 tsp Sea Salt (My fish sauce substitute)

I simply threw all the dry stuff into a bowl, mixed it up and added to a zip lock. Final dry weight was 10.7 oz. Heavier than freeze dried fare – but a hearty meal for two.

To cook , I simply added 2 /12 cu of water. I think 2 1/4 might have been better – it was a little wet.

The taste? Outstanding, really outstanding – even if I do say so myself. Theresa tried it and wanted to eat it for dinner. The chicken bits were actually pretty decent and (IMHO) a good alternative for not carrying the weight of canned chicken. It was very spicy – as I used a lot of paste, so you might want to cut back on that if you try this at home kids.

Next time, I think I'd add fish sauce and sugar to the paste before drying it – to see how they survive, vs using salt.

And here are some photos documenting it, and the ingredients:

Olympic Granola Bars

I ordered a sample pack of Olympic Granola Bars and they arrived last week.

What's so special about these bars?

They weigh in at around 3oz each but pack a whopping 390 calories (Compare to a typical Powerbar at 2.4oz / 240cal) and oozing in a whopping 18grams of fat, and 9g of protein. (Compare with 3.5g fat, 6g protein for a Powerbar).

But aside from the energy qualities – they are made of natural, healthy ingredients.

The sample pack comes with the following eight flavours:

  • Almost Chocolate
  • Roasted Almond
  • Chocolate Peanut
  • Mocha Mint
  • Espresso Almond Chocolate
  • Turtle Mocha
  • Green Tea Zest
  • Lemon Chamomile

And I've been slowly munching my way thought them to see what I think. I've tried the Roasted Almond, the Chocolate Peanut and the Espresso Almond Chocolate so far. They are all very very tasty, albeit a little too sweet for my tastes.

They would be great on the trail – but the heavy density of nuts conflicts with my usual gorp/trail mix for on the go snacks. On a longer trip I think I'd get maxed out on nuts easily – but I certainly would take a few days of these bars – perhaps to compliment a cheese/salami day.

1977 Air Mattress

Q: How far have we come in backpacking technology in the last 30 yrs?

A: Not as far as you might think

This ad comes from an old 1977 copy of Backpacker Magazine:


Individually inflated components! Awesome if you get a puncture – it will just affect one segment vs. the entire pad. Surprisingly, at 20oz, this air mattress isn't all that far off a modern Themarest Prolite  air mattress today.

When you think of how far the computing industry has evolved in a similar time period, isn't it time the backpacking industry took some bigger leaps?

Where's my 2oz sleeping pad made of puncture-free space-age materials?

Where's my just add water and it inflates from the size of a pea to a super-comfy feather bed  air mattress?

What about the gravity-defying or rocket-booster backpack?

Olson Farms Beef Jerky

Theresa, Chester and I hit the University District Farmers Market in Seattle today.

The produce there is always spectacular and we enjoy our Saturday morning shopping trips there.

Today we bought some Olsen Farms Beef Jerky, and boy was it spectacular. Salty, garlicy and naturally raised beef. Makes me wonder if Oh Boy Oberto Jerky can ever hit my lips again 😉

This is now on my menu for our upcoming Wonderland hike next month. It tastes so good off the trail, I can only imagine how orgasmic it will be after a hard day in the mountains.

RedTrails – Interesting Hiking Resource

If you haven't already, check out For Seattleites, the amount of trail data in the Seattle area is staggering.

Heaven help the old school Print Guidebook publishers with resources like this springing up.

While it currently appears to be a Geography Thesis experiment, the potential for a site like RedTrails is huge : combined with better trail descriptions, improved organization of data and user-rated trails it might just be a force to be reckoned with some day

Nigel’s TGO Update

It's been fun to watch Nigels Live TGO Status page over the last few days.

You can see his intended route in RED and his actual route in BLUE.

The actual route is being reported hourly by his SPOT tracker device.

Given the harsh conditions for the first few days – it appears they skipped some hill climbing on day 2 and stayed low. I suspect this was their bad weather alternative route.

It's about 6pm UK time as I write and they appear to be well on their way to Fort Agustus. The weather forecast for today was clear and sunny (near freezing temps though!) so hopefully that raised their spirits a little from the brutal start.