I’m still on a high from my backpacking trip on the Lost Coast Trail this past week. You can read about that adventure here. One of the things that I didn’t include in my original post is what I ate, but it is definitely not something to be overlooked. Finding delicious ways to stay fueled on the trail can be tricky, but with a simple dehydrator, you can make some awesome recipes, like the one below.
You might recall my first attempt at using a dehydrator to make Dehydrated Trail Sloppy Joes. Those turned out amazing and I couldn’t wait to create some new recipes. This last week on the Lost Coast, my meals consisted of Spicy Breakfast Burrito Bowls, Dehydrated Watermelon Chips, Penne with Turkey Meat Sauce, and Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes. All of them turned out better than I could have expected, and I’m excited to share the recipes with you.
This first recipe—Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes—is flavor-packed, rehydrates easily, and provides lots of great carbs and vitamins to keep you fueled on long hikes. The recipe serves four, but I only ended up dehydrating half of it and eating the other half for dinner the night I made it. Whether you eat it fresh off the stove top, or rehydrated on the trail, I guarantee this recipe will be one of your favorites.
Dehydrated Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt, plus more for sweet potatoes
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp (or more) cayenne pepper
- 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 6 oz lager beer, like PBR
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Directions to make the chili:
- Add ground beef to a large pot over medium-high heat. Crumble meat and brown until no longer pink. Once the beef is cooked through, drain the fat and transfer meat to a small bowl.
- In the same pot, add the diced onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.
- Add the beef back to the pot and all the seasonings. Stir to combine.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beer to the beef mixture. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer.
- While the chili is simmering, scrub the sweet potatoes and small dice with the skin still on.
- Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Toss to cover all the potatoes.
- Transfer the potatoes to a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until golden brown. I usually stir the potatoes half way through to make sure the bottoms aren’t burning.
- Once the potatoes are done and the chili has been simmering for 45 minutes, add the potatoes to the chili mixture and stir to combine. Check and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Directions to dehydrate:
- Line four dehydrator trays with plastic inserts or parchment paper.
- Allow the chili to cool completely before transferring it to trays, one serving per tray.
- Set the dehydrator to 155ºF for five hours. After five hours, flip and peel off the plastic trays or parchment, so the chili is directly on top of the dehydrator trays.
- Continue to dehydrate for another 6-7 hours until crumbly and brittle.
- Transfer each portion to a vacuum seal bag, big enough to add water to on the trail, and seal with an oxygen absorbent packet.
- Store in the fridge until you’re ready for your trip to keep ultimate freshness.
Directions to rehydrate:
- Cut off the top of the vacuum seal bag and add just enough water to cover the chili mixture.
- Stir and set inside a mylar bag or coozie and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Eat right out of the bag and enjoy!
The Lost Coast Trail stretches a rugged section of the Northern California coastline where the redwoods meet the sea. It begins at the mouth of the Mattole River and travels south to Usal Beach. There are two sections of the trail. The north section is 25 miles and follows the beach from the Mattole trailhead to Black Sands Beach. The south section begins at Hidden Valley and travels 29 miles south atop the ocean cliffs and redwood forests. This past week, I had the opportunity to backpack the northern section with one of my closest girlfriends. What follows is a video of our trip and a written summary with some tips and learnings from our journey.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
- Permits: Required for overnight stay in the King Range Wilderness. There are 60 permits per day available in peak season and 30 available per day in the off-season. I recommend you get them well in advance here.
- Getting to the Trailhead: To make logistics of getting to the trailhead much easier, book a shuttle service. We used Lost Coast Adventure Tours and the driver, Mike, was great, providing us with tips and recommendations during the two-hour drive to the trailhead.
- Bear Canisters: Required and you can get them at any outdoors store or on Amazon. You can also rent them from most shuttle services.
- Doing Your Business: To preserve the area and prevent piles of poop, well, piling up everywhere, the BLM requests that you do you business on the beach and let the tide take it out. It can sound intimidating, but there really aren’t that many people around and you’ll be able to find some privacy. Just dig a hole 6-8 inches deep below the high tide line, do your stuff and then bury it with sand.
- Staying in the Area: If you’re planning on staying in Shelter Cove the night before or after, there are several different inns you can do a quick Google search of, or stay at the Shelter Cove RV Campground, where we did. For a place to eat and get a cold drink, head to the Gyppo Ale Mill.
BE AWARE AND ENJOY YOUR TRIP
- Tides: There are several sections of the trail that are completely impassable at high tide. Make sure to get a tide chart or print out one from NOAA here. You’ll want to plan your hike around these sections and the tide. Whatever you do, don’t think you can beat the tide. People have been swept out to sea before and that would be a major trip wrecker.
- Poison Oak: It is everywhere! Know what it looks like and be very cautious. Long pants also help.
- Ticks: These little buggers are prevalent on the trail and we ran into a hiker that had a couple. We were lucky to avoid any, but I would recommend bug spray and light colored clothing so you can easily see them before they bite you.
- Terrain: You’ll go from deep sandy beaches to overgrown bluff trails to stream crossings to navigating sections of boulders and ankle buster rocks. Be prepared for some of the most diverse terrain you have ever hiked.
- Weather: The Lost Coast is notorious for bad weather. Brian and I attempted this trail a few years ago in October and got rained out. I was lucky this time with abundant sunshine (and a sunburn to prove it), but the wind was something else.
- Wildlife: The bear canisters should give you a good idea that there are bears in the area. You should also be mindful of mountain lions, coyotes, skunks, and elephant seals. Make sure to give them the respect and space they deserve.
WHAT TO BRING
Aside from the usual backpacking items like a tent, sleeping bag, water filter, stove, pots, food, clothes, first aid kit, knife, etc., there are a few items I’d make sure are in your bag:
- Trekking poles will help you keep your balance in the rocky sections and stream crossings.
- Gore Tex hiking boots will keep your feet dry in the wet sand and creek crossings.
- Low profile boot gaiters to prevent your boots from filling up with sand.
- Tent sand stakes and tie-downs for super windy nights.
- Sunscreen because there isn’t any shade on the trail or at campsites.
- Bug repellent to hopefully keep away any ticks. I didn’t see any mosquitoes during our time on the coast.
- Poop shovel to dig a hole and bury your business on the beach.
- Bear canister so you don’t lose your food to a hungry visitor.
- Rain jacket and rain cover for your backpack because it is the coast and you never know when weather will turn.
- Map and tide chart to make sure you are avoiding impassable sections at high tide.
Most backpackers complete the 25 mile trek over 3-4 days. We had planned on 3 nights/4 days, but made really good time on the last day and decided to hike out. Below is our trip itinerary and where we camped the two nights we were out there.
Getting There: Drive from Lake Tahoe to Shelter Cove, CA
From Lake Tahoe, it is about a 7-hour drive to Shelter Cove. We left mid-morning and arrived around 6:00, with enough time to set-up our tent at the campground and relax by the fire with a few brews.
Day 1: Mattole Trailhead to Randall Creek (8.8 miles)
Our shuttle was scheduled for a 7:00 am departure from the Black Sands Beach parking lot (upper lot). There is room for approximately 30 cars here; if there isn’t any space when you arrive, you can park on a side street and walk to the parking lot. We had to be there at 6:45 to load up and begin the 2-hour drive to the trailhead. If you get the slightest bit of motion sickness, I would recommend sitting in the front because it is nothing but windy roads the entire way.
Once at the trailhead, we made a quick breakfast and then started hiking down the coast around 10:00 am.
The first part of the trail is mostly on the beach and we took our time looking for seashells and other interesting treasures washed up on shore. This section of the trail was also incredibly windy. There were several times where we were stopped dead in our tracks because the sand and pebbles pelting our legs was so painful—another great case for wearing pants.
At 12:30 we made it to the Punta Gorda lighthouse. There was a colony of elephant seals blocking our trail to the lighthouse. As cute as they are, we didn’t want to get too close. After very slowly and cautiously walking by, we made our way up the lighthouse and explored inside. This lighthouse was in operation until 1951, when modern marine navigation equipment made it obsolete. There is some amazing history you can read about it here.
After a snack, we continued on down the coast. The next section of the trail was a combination of beach and bluffs to Sea Lion Gulch. Here we had to get back on the beach and cross over a field of microwave-sized rocks. This is also where you enter an impassable (intertidal) zone at high tide. Our timing was perfect and we didn’t have any issues. Just past Sea Lion Gulch, you will reach Hat Rock, which is notorious for giving hikers issues, even at low tide. There is an overland pass here, just look for the cairns to find your way up to the trail.
We continued on past Cooskie Creek, which in hindsight I would have preferred to camp at to Randall Creek, where we arrived at 5:15. We were both pretty spent, and ready to take our packs off. There were two couples already here, which made camping tight, but we found a spot by the ocean and made it work.
Day 2: Randall Creek to Big Flat Creek (7.8 miles)
We woke up the next morning around 7:30, made some breakfast, and broke camp. We were just on the skirts of the intertidal zone and wanted to make sure that we got out before the tide came back up again.
From Randall Creek, we were on the beach for a bit and then found a trail on the bluffs through Spanish Flat to Spanish Creek. This looked like a great place to camp, but we spoke to a few hikers that said it had been really windy the night before and there wasn’t much shelter. There was also a family of skunks in the area that I’d rather not make friends with.
We continued on the bluff trail to Oat Creek—which looked like another great place to camp—to Kinsey Creek, and then were directed back down to the pebbly beach until we reached Big Creek, which would be another amazing place to camp. There was a great shelter built here out of driftwood that I would have loved to stay at.
From Big Creek to Big Flat Creek, the trail consists of rocky beaches and poison oak lined trails. There was a section of the trail that was so overgrown with poison oak, the only option we had was to run, and we were both wearing shorts. Three days later, I am glad I can confidently say, I did not get poison oak. Thank goodness!
We entered Big Flat around noon and were absolutely blown away with how “big” it really was. There was even a small air strip here for a house. I could only imagine what it would be like to have that for a weekend getaway. My stars! There was only one other house on the entire trail. Talk about seclusion.
We arrived at Big Flat Creek a little after 1:00 and picked a camp spot in a small driftwood shelter made by campers before us. We were right on the beach, had easy access to the creek, and incredible views of the coast and flat. This was such a picturesque place to camp. The only negative was the wind. While the shelter provided a little wind break, it was still windy enough to require us to use tie-downs on the tent.
After playing on the beach for a few hours and relaxing at our camp spot, we called it a night and tried to fall asleep with the wind blowing on our tent. It must have been around 10:00 that the wind completely died, and I had one of the most peaceful sleeps I have had camping in years. We were under the full moon, on the soft sand, and had the ocean waves breaking close by.
Day 3: Big Flat Creek to Black Sands Beach (8.5 miles)
We woke up at 4:30 am, broke camp, and had a quick snack, not wanting to waste time with a full blown breakfast. We knew we had a 4-mile impassable section ahead of us and wanted to make it through during low tide. As horrible as waking up at 4:30 sounds, it was absolutely incredible. We started hiking around 5:20, just as it was becoming light enough to see without headlamps. The air was cool and crisp, the full moon was sitting above the horizon, and we could hear coyotes howling in the distance. It was pure magic.
This section consisted of a lot of rocks, pebbles, and deep wet sand. We passed a few creeks that would have been great campsites, as long as you can get back far enough in the gulch to avoid high tide. When I go back, I’d love to camp at Buck Creek or Gitchell Creek.
We made it to where we intended to stay another night, Horse Mountain Creek, at around 9:30 am. At this point, we realized we were less than 2 miles from the car and it was early enough in the day to make it to the car and back home to Tahoe by nightfall. With no shade and sunburned skin, we decided to make the trek out. It would have been great to spend another night, but my skin thanked me for our decision.
The Lost Coast Trail is darn tough. There is a reason that this stretch of land was never developed and remains in its pristine condition. It is also for this reason that I can’t wait to come back, next time with Brian by my side. It was challenging, but such an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. Have you backpacked the Lost Coast? What was your favorite part? Leave a comment below.
For the longest time I have dreamed of exploring the Oregon coast and Redwood National Park in Northern California. This past weekend, we made a quick trip, but were sure to get in every ounce of adventure we could in the short amount of time we had. We were also able to get in a precious visit with one of my longest and closest friends who just had a baby. Below are some of the highlights from our trip. I can’t wait to go back!
Friday, May 4, 2018
We left Lake Tahoe at 8:00 am and headed North on Hwy 395 toward Susanville. Our destination today was Eugene, OR. There are many different ways that you can get here, but we opted for the more scenic route that passes by Mt. Lassen, McArthur-Burney Falls, Mt. Shasta, and then takes you to I-5. The drive was beautiful and we made note of several campsites along the way that we’ll make sure to check out next time. One of those was McArthur-Burney Falls. It is a beautiful area, has an impressive waterfall, and Lake Britton to explore. There were also probably at least 120 campsites here, with the option to rent cabins if that is more your style.
We made it to Eugene about 5:00, had dinner with my friend, then Brian and I went out for a few drinks. One place I would definitely recommend is the Bier Stein. It is a beer lover’s paradise and they have everything you could image from sours to DIPAs to PBR. Make sure to check it out if you are ever in Eugene. There is also a Voodoo Doughnut that is open 24 hours just down the street. Dreams do come true!
Saturday, May 5, 2018
After a nice brunch at my friend’s house and more baby time (there is never enough baby time!), we left Eugene at about noon and headed for the Oregon coast. Once again, we opted for the more scenic route along SR 126 to Florence. From here, we traveled down the 101, stopping in Coos Bay for lunch at a local brewery, 7 Devils. They had great food (I got a barley bowl with roasted asparagus, cauliflower, and manchego cheese), and a local band of old timers playing everything from the banjo to the harmonica to a homemade bass.
Next on our itinerary was the Southern most city in Oregon on the coast, Brookings. This was a cute little town, has some amazing beaches, and is only a few minutes north of the Redwoods. We got to our room at the Westward Inn about 6:00 and then headed to a place right across the street from our hotel, Vista Pub. They had a decent draft selection and pretty good food (their garlic jack cheese curds were amazing!). They also had some really knowledgeable locals that we struck up a conversation with to get some insider tips on where to find the biggest redwoods around. That led us to our adventure the next day…
Sunday, May 6, 2018
We woke up around 8:00 and couldn’t leave the Oregon coast without first exploring the beach. We headed to Harris Beach SP and wandered around on the beach checking out the tide pools lined with sea anemones and starfish. This beautiful stretch of beach has some amazing rock formations and all sorts of things to explore. This would be another great place to camp that we can’t wait to come back to.
After the beach, we set South on the 101 toward a grove of redwoods in Jedediah Smith SP that all the locals told us was a must, even though they had reservations about giving up their prime location. If you’re ever in the area, Google Stout Grove. The drive to get here is absolutely beautiful, off the beaten path (you’ll actually follow a dirt road to the parking area which fits maybe 20 cars), and there are no entrance fees. There are a couple of hiking options, one mile through the grove and a few spurs that go along the river. Either way, you’re likely to pass by the largest tree that I have ever seen, which is 17 feet in diameter! It is absolutely jaw-dropping.
After we moseyed through the grove and took copious amounts of pictures, we headed to the next spot on our list, Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods SP. The drive to get here was equally as beautiful as the drive to Stout Grove and leads you to the ocean with gorgeous views of the coast. It was $8 to enter here, or free if you have a National Parks pass, and there is a lot to do and see. One thing at the top of our list next time, is to camp on the beach at Prairie Creek campground. We also can’t wait to go back to Fern Canyon.
Walking through Fern Canyon was like nothing I have ever experienced. It’s a little less than a mile from the trailhead to the canyon and you will know when you get there. The walls must be 20-40 feet high and are lined with ferns and some of the most dense greenery I have seen. There is a creek you follow the entire way and lots of opportunities to get your shoes wet. I was wearing waterproof hiking boots (that turned out to be not so waterproof), and will probably opt for sport sandals next time. Either way, Fern Canyon is a must if you are ever in the area.
From here, we headed to Eureka for our last night of the trip. Eureka was a quaint town, but I gotta tell you, Sundays are completely dead. The whole downtown area with cute shops and restaurants was all closed. We still managed to have a fun evening with a little bar hopping starting a Lost Coast Brewery and then going to Humboldt Provisions, the Shanty, Vista Del Mar, and Steve and Dave’s. You could probably skip the last two, but the other three were pretty fun.
Monday, May 7, 2018
The day we always dread, the day we come home. We left the hotel at 6:00 am and hit the road to make it back in time for Brian to be at work by 2:15. Of course, we opted for the pretty and slightly slower route, which lead us through some beautiful country. Although we made it back with only 15 minutes to spare for Brian to be at work, it was worth every second.
I am already daydreaming of our next trip to Oregon and the Redwoods. It is an amazing area, and seeing a longtime friend along the way, is always a bonus. Have you ever been to the area? What was your favorite thing to do?
There’s no better compliment from Brian than, “this is blog worthy,” when I am experimenting with a new recipe. The inspiration for this recipe originally came from a Cooking Light email that landed in my inbox, but there was one thing wrong. It called for an InstaPot. I haven’t quite jumped on the InstaPot bandwagon yet, but this recipe still sounded like I needed to give it a try. It was a cold winter night and I needed a fiesta in my mouth!
Have you ever stuck your hand out with a few seeds on it, only to have a cute little chickadee land on your fingers and pluck that morsel off of your palm? No? If this sounds fun and you want to channel your inner Snow White, Chickadee Ridge is your place to go for an experience like no other.
Whenever I try to follow a paleo lifestyle, or at least reduce the amount of inflammatory grains in my diet from things like bread, pasta, and rice, I always turn to sweet potatoes. They are so satisfying, provide a wonderful source of carbs, and are full of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, copper, potassium, and much, much more. Here’s a few of my favorite sweet potato recipes I’ve made over the years:
It’s that time of year again. The time of year where it seems like every person who has a blog or social media presence is posting about one of two things: 1) a review of the previous year, or 2) what their goals are for the coming year. While cliche, I do think that reflection and goal-setting are an important part of personal development. I also believe that there is something to be said about making those things public. If you’ve announced the ways you plan to grow and develop to the entire world, you’re that much more likely to do it, right? It’s worth a try.
I can’t believe it. My little girl turned 11 today. Over the past 11 years, she has taught me patience and responsibility, but most importantly, unconditional love. Roxanne has been by my side through ups and downs, and always, always, loves me no matter what. There really is something to be said about the loyalty and comfort that dogs can provide.
Over the past year, we’ve really started experimenting with new recipes in our cast iron dutch oven every time we go camping. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into at first, but I have come to absolutely love it. It’s probably because I just put the stuff in the dutch oven and then Brian does all the hard work—moving it around, putting coals on top, making sure it is the right temperature—but between the two of us, I think we have a pretty good thing going.
I can’t believe it’s taken me two months to write about my awesome trip to Kauai, but better late than never? This was my fourth (or fifth??) time visiting this amazing island and it did not disappoint.
If you’ve ever heard the term “island time,” you know it refers to a slower than average pace. Like a really slow pace. I only wish that vacation went by in “island time” speed. Instead, it seems more like time is on steroids and goes by way too fast. There is just never enough of it. We definitely made the best of our time though and I’ve put together all the highlights of each day.
If there is one place I can never get enough of in the Lake Tahoe area, it is Desolation Wilderness. The 63,000 acre area with endless trail systems and lakes has a solid permit system that keeps it from being overcrowded. Although this sometimes works to your disadvantage if you can’t secure a permit, it is worth the solitude. Every time I go, it is a different experience with memories to cherish for a lifetime. This past weekend with Brian and our fur babies was no different.
I have been toying with the idea of dehydrating my own backpacking food for quite some time . Sure, I love Mountain House, Ramen, and oatmeal, but I really wanted to find a way to make delicious backpacking meals that didn’t make you question what you were really eating. The only problem was, I wasn’t sure where to start. I love cooking, but dehydrating can be a little intimidating in that it requires special knowledge and equipment.
Don’t fret! I’ve put lots of hours into researching and experimenting for you, and have to say that my first finished product turned out better than any prepackaged meal I’ve had. A couple of things before I get to that recipe. To start, you’ll need a few things:
I am so excited that I got my first girls’ backpacking trip in this summer! Several summers ago my friends, Lisa and Jenn, became my wilderness soul sisters. We backpacked together four times that summer (Desolation Wilderness, Grouse Ridge, Bear Lake, and Star Lake) and haven’t done it since. We made a point to get out the other weekend to somewhere new and beautiful, Loch Leven Lakes.
Summertime in the Sierras is in full-swing and I was so happy to get a camping trip in this past weekend. Because of other commitments on the weekends and a snowpack that is still monstrous at high elevations, this was our first camping trip in the mountains this year. Either way, it felt good to get back in the woods for a few nights, cook over an open fire, and swim in a cold mountain lake.
Our choice this past weekend was Gold Lake, located off of Gold Lake Highway in Plumas National Forest. The lake is one of dozens of lakes in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. A couple of summers ago when we hiked the nearby Sierra Buttes, you could see all the lakes in the area from the peak. It is definitely a beautiful sight.
The first five days of my June 100 Mile Challenge have come to a close. I’ve gotten a pretty good start on my mileage and put in 13.15 miles in the first 5 days – only 80 some-odd miles to go in 25 days! Below is a recap of what the first few days looked like:
- Thursday (6/1) – 5.58 miles on the elliptical
- Friday (6/2) – 3.09 mile run by the Lake
- Saturday (6/3) – 1.42 mile hike in Galena Forest
- Sunday (6/4) – no miles; just gardening and lots of house chores
- Monday (6/5) – 3.06 mile run by the Lake
- TOTAL MILES @ 6/5 – 13.15
It has been so nice to be outside in Tahoe lately. Spring (summer?) is finally here and the weather has been perfect the past few days. If you’re anything like me, when the weather gets warm, one of my go-to things to eat for lunch on a weekday is a big salad with whatever leftover protein I have in the fridge from the night before.
When I graduated with my MBA this time last year, I told myself that I was going to get back to one simple thing that helps make me feel whole–running. Well, a year has passed and I haven’t run more than a few days in each week…and there have been lots of weeks when I didn’t run at all. We can all relate to the excuses of work, life, weather, etc., but the fact is, if you really want it, just do it.
In my last post, I wrote about finding a little gem of a beach when we were driving home from Tomales Bay, CA a little over a month ago. This past weekend was Memorial Day and we decided to make a trip back to the coast to explore here some more. The little town of Dillon Beach, CA is located at the mouth of Tomales Bay on the Sonoma Coast. Without traffic, it is almost exactly a four hour drive from Lake Tahoe. We packed up and left on Saturday morning and were at the campground by mid-day.
Looking outside on a gloomy Tahoe afternoon in April, all I can think about is the beautiful adventure we were lucky enough to go on this weekend. I didn’t know anything about where we were about to go. Only that my parents were there for the first time in September and fell in love with this quaint little area on the California coast. They loved it so much that they wanted to share it with us this weekend (thanks Mom and Dad!), so we packed our bags for a four hour road trip to Nick’s Cove, located in Tomales Bay, CA.
Yesterday was our oldest fur baby’s 13th birthday. Yep. 13. I guess there is something about the fresh Lake Tahoe air and fetching tennis balls in the ice cold, crystal clear water. We would have loved to take the old dude for a dip in the Lake, but it was a pretty miserable day with rain and snow showers. Side bar, Mother Nature, did you get the message that it is supposed to be Spring??!?
I am so glad this week is finally over. I have been hanging on by a thread, just trying to make it to the weekend, without whatever crud I have in my head turning into a full blown cold. This weekend is going to consist of nothing but naps, movies, and some delicious shepherd’s pie. Oh, and snow. Did I forget to mention snow?