Tired of PBJs, GORP and freeze-dried dinners on trail? Need some culinary inspiration to liven up your trailside snacks and backcountry meals? We've heard from many hikers that they want recipes, so we're bringing back WTA's Backcountry Kitchen. It's starting out in our blog, but if this is something you like, we will look for ways to make it a more permanent feature.
Today we tackle trail snacks, with three can't-miss options to keep you and your companions energized and well-fed.
Nut Butter Tortillas
- Spread favorite nut butter
- Add fun ingredients: sliced fresh or dried fruit; honey; cereal; granola; chopped fig newtons; potato chips; pretzels; pickles
- Roll 'er up and eat!
Make ahead or on the trail, and be creative to give this hiker lunch a new twist. For breakfast, it can also be heated up before serving.
- 1/4 cup dried hummus* per person
- curry or other spices (optional)
- crackers or pita
This is a great lunch option for hikers and backpackers.
Put the hummus and spices in a quart-sized bag before your hike. Redehydrate in the bag on trail with an equal part water (or follow instructions on mix). Dip crackers and sliced cucumber in bag for a nutritious and tasty meal.
*Dried hummus can usually be found in grocery stores with good bulk food departments.
Chewy Granola Bars
- 1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
- 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips (frozen)
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or honey)
- 1/2 cup peanut or other nut butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
This is a carbo-rich snack to make before you head out on your trip.
Spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Mix the first five ingredient in a large, heat-safe mixing bowl.
In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and syrup to a boil. Take off heat and add nut butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Quickly add the hot syrup to the dry ingredients, mixing while pouring in.
Once thoroughly coated, dump mixture into the prepared pan. Pack down firmly. Let sit until cool then slice into bars with a thin knife. Wrap tightly for carrying.
Share your modifications
What do you think of these recipes? If you have modifications to suggest, please add them to the comments section below.
Reprinted from Mar+Apr 2013 issue of Washington Trails magazine, by Sarah Kirkonnell. Join WTA to get your one-year subscription.
Disgusting. Creepy. Disease-ridden. Nuisance. There is no end to the derogatory feelings we have about ticks. However, with a bit of awareness, preparation and vigilance, hiking in Washington's tick country can be incredibly awarding and enjoyable.
Tick prevention starts by covering up
Minimizing your exposure to ticks begins with your clothing. Ticks tend to latch on in grassy areas above the cuff of your pant-leg and move upward, looking for dark places to burrow. Here are a few tips for hikers:
- Wear pants and long sleeves -- no shorts! The best choice is convertible pants with a flap over the zippered legs -- this is an excellent tick trap.
- Tuck your shirt into your pants. Tuck your pants into your socks.
- Wear light colors, so you can identify the ticks more easily as they climb.
- Don a cap with a flap behind the neck, if you have one.
There is a lot of discussion about tick repellents. Hikers report that DEET works great for mosquitoes, but not so well for ticks. Permethrin is a better choice for ticks; several brands of clothing are made with Permethrin-infused fabric, or you can buy a spray. Do note that these are pesticides and thoughtfully consider if and how you want to use them.
During and after your hike
Stick to the trail. Ticks like to hang out in shaded, grassy areas. Sticking to an established trail is good prevention, but certainly is not fool-proof. This is one more great reason to keep dogs, who are tick-magnets, on leash.
Tick check frequently. Hikers in tick country will want to do regular tick checks during the day. Brush those bad boys off or crush them between your fingers, but don't worry that they are going to burrow in immediately. Ticks like to cruise around for awhile before they take a bite.
Post-hike tick check. After your hike you'll want to do a thorough check. One hiker we know changes into a complete set of new clothes back at the trailhead. She puts all of her hiking clothes in a garbage bag and seals it, then does a full body check. Favorite tick burrowing sites include the scalp, waist and other dark places where they can hide.
Back home, take a shower. Consider filling up a bathtub or washbasin and tossing in your hiking clothes. Ticks will float up to the surface. Crush them or flush them down the toilet; note that they can survive a wash and rinse cycle.
Check your backpack. Don't forget to give your backpack a full check too. Leave it outside rather bringing it in your home.
Tick First-Aid: five steps to remove a tick
If a tick has found a place to burrow in on your body, don't panic. Chances are very slim that you will end up with Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The Pacific Northwest is a "low risk" area for Lyme and spotted fever is extremely rare. But you do want to get the tick out quickly and completely.
How to check for and remove ticks on your dog
If you hike with a dog in tick country, prevention and tick checks should be a regular part of your routine.
- Talk to your vet about preventative medications.
- Find out how to do a thorough tick check of your dog and get tips for removal.
Follow these five steps for the best way to remove a tick:
- Use an antiseptic or alcohol wipe to clean the area around the tick.
- Grasp the tick with tweezers (or fingers) as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull straight and steady. Do not twist or yank. You do not want to leave the tick's head and legs under the skin.
- If parts do remain under the skin, pinch the skin up and try to scrape the remains away. Use a sterilized needle if you have to dig anything out.
- After you finish, use another antiseptic or alcohol wipe to clean the area.
If you are concerned about disease, save the tick for testing in case you get sick. Watch for symptoms of rash or fever, and if you have concerns, visit your doctor.
The Spokane Regional Health District has an excellent one-pager that covers most of the content in this blog.
You can also send your ticks to the Washington Department of Health for study.
Hikes with known tick issues
Some hikes require extra tick-prevention measures. Don't let ticks scare you off from the wildflowers or other great springtime wonders, but do be careful and read recent Trip Reports to see if ticks have been spotted in the area.
- Columbia River Gorge: Lyle Cherry Orchard, Columbia Hills State Park
- Central Washington: Umtanum Canyon and Ridge, Yakima Skyline
- Eastern Washington: Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (in spring)
Starting today, a string of low tides in Puget Sound and along the Pacific Coast bring opportunities to discover an ecosystem usually inaccessible to those who like to keep their feet on solid ground. It's a great way to get outside and explore nature in springtime, whether you choose a city beach or a hiking trail along the coast.
I lived near some of the best tide pooling beaches for a dozen years and never explored them. Then one day at Lincoln Park in West Seattle my young son and I stumbled upon volunteer beach naturalists from the Seattle Aquarium during a low tide. Since then, I take my kids tide pooling a few times each year. We usually go to the same beach, but every time we go there are different creatures to find.
Keep sea creatures, marine environments and your family safe
Plan your trip by consulting NOAA's Tide Predictor online or by carrying a tide table (especially when exploring the Pacific Coast where you could become trapped by a returning tide). For maximum viewing, time your visit for an hour before low tide.
The beach naturalists showed us some cool things -- my son was hooked! They also introduced us to good beach etiquette. Here are my take-aways for you:
- Always step carefully during low tide, avoiding sea creatures like anemones that lie at or just below the surface of the sand. For this reason, I highly recommend leaving kids and toddlers at home until they can understand the impact their actions have on the marine environment.
- Do not collect. While beachcombing and collecting may have been one of your treasured childhood memories, the culture has changed as biologists have witnessed the effect of these actions on the intertidal marine environment. Please do not take home shells or animals; they are all integral components of the ecosystem.
- Touch gently, or simply look. Low tides can be stressful for the sea animals.
- Know your tides. Watch for the incoming tide and for rogue waves, especially on the coast. You can find a tide table for dozens of different locations from NOAA.
Your guide to tide pools and easy-to-get-to beaches
If you want to get started, but don't know where to go, I have put together a guide to three excellent tide pool hikes. I've also listed 13 city beaches, from Olympia to Whidbey Island, that are known for the tide pooling. Have fun!
On Saturday the hiking community lost one of its stalwart ambassadors. Don Hanson, owner and proprietor of Scottish Lakes High Camp, died when a tree dropped a giant load of snow on him while he was working outside the lodge.
Don is described by those who knew him as a "force of nature." At 65, he had more energy than most people half his age. He and his wife Chris, transformed the Scottish Lakes High Camp in the their 18 years of ownership, building and renovating several cabins, expanding the lodge, building and maintaining extensive new backcountry hiking, ski and snowshoe trails and much more. But what made High Camp such a unique and special place was the care and hospitality that guests enjoyed from their hosts during their stays. Don was always generous and gracious, becoming lifelong friends with many of his guests.
When not working on the High Camp, Don loved nothing more than an epic backpacking trip. Guidebook author Craig Romano fondly recalls many hiking adventures with Don and his wife. Don was along for several of Craig's research trips for his Backpacking Washington book, including marathon days of 20 plus miles hiking to Chiwaukum Lakes and traversing The Enchantments. It's safe to say that there are few people who knew the east side of the Alpines Lakes Wilderness like Don did.
A Celebration of Don's Life will be held at 3pm this Thursday, March 7th, at Festhalle in Leavenworth. Details can be found on the Scottish Lakes High Camp website.
All of us at Washington Trails Association sends our sincerest condolences to Don's family.
The country's latest fiscal stand-off, known widely as "sequestration," is set to commence on March 1. Should Congress and President Obama fail to come to a fiscal agreement, one of the primary consequences would be five percent across-the-board budget cuts.from the National Park Service demonstrate the broad and adverse impacts that these cuts would cause, including more than $1.6 million in cuts from Washington's three national parks. Only two options avoid sequestration -- agreement around a solution to the problem or passage of a continuing resolution that maintains funding levels at current (or perhaps slightly lower) rates.
In a memo dated January 25, 2013, NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis directed each park unit to make a sequestration plan that reduces its budget by five percent by February 11. New details from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees emerged today about what that would mean at some of the largest national parks, including Mount Rainier National Park.
In the meantime, the Park Service has instituted a hiring freeze. This comes at a time when hiring decisions are usually being made for seasonal staff who handle the massive influx of summer crowds. At some parks, it is possible that no seasonal staff would be hired should these cuts become mandatory.
What would a five percent mean for Washington’s three national parks?
- Mount Rainier National Park, would need to carve $604,000 from a $12.1 million budget. At minimum, this could include the closure of the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center this year.
- Olympic National Park would have to cut $639,000 from a $12.8 million budget.
- North Cascades National Park would face a $365,000 reduction from a 7.3 million budget.
Each of these parks rely heavily on seasonal personnel during the busy summer months. Eliminating these positions would have a serious effect on hours of operation, wilderness rangers, preservation, maintenance and much, much more. These cuts could also have a chilling effect on local economies.
The National Park Service also operates six other sites in Washington that would face five percent cuts: San Juan National Historic Preserve, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, Fort Vancouver and the Whitman Mission National Historic Sites and the Klondike Gold Rush Museum.
And, of course, these are examples from just one agency. Sequestration would impact the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies in similar ways, and we can assume that they are having similar discussions that have not been made public. Let’s hope that our elected officials come to their senses and come to a budget agreement before March 1.
Today President Barack Obama nominated Sally Jewell to be the new Secretary of the Interior. Jewell is a longtime resident of Washington, a hiker, conservationist and businesswoman. She has been CEO of outdoor retailer REI since 2005 and spent 20 years in the banking industry. During her tenure at REI, she’s been a strong advocate for hiking and youth in the outdoors, and if confirmed, will give our state a strong presence in Washington, DC.
“Sally Jewell is a Pacific Northwest treasure. She's a savvy, visionary leader and committed conservationist,” commented WTA Executive Director Karen Daubert who went hiking with her last summer. “We commend the Obama administration for making such an excellent choice, and look forward to working with an Interior Secretary of such caliber who hails from Washington.”
Jewell brings a strong business background to the agency. In addition to her eight years at the helm of REI, where she oversees 11,000 employees, more than 120 retail stores, and almost $2 billion in annual revenue, Jewell had a 20 year career in the banking industry and a few early years as a petroleum engineer. She’s a strong conservationist as well. She is currently a vice chair of the National Parks and Conservation Association and a board member and longtime leader of Mountains to Sound Greenway.
Jewell is the first woman appointed by President Obama to a top post since his election. She represents an unconventional choice for Interior, traditionally led by male politicians from Rocky Mountain states.
The Department of Interior has broad jurisdiction over the country's federal land and natural resources. The National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geologic Survey and Bureau of Reclamation are just some of the agencies that will be under Jewell’s direction. The U.S. Forest Service is managed by the Department of Agriculture.
If confirmed, Jewell will be stepping into a big job with many challenges. From fiscal cliff scenarios at every agency to climate change, energy policy and the call for the Obama administration to leave a legacy on public lands, it will be interesting to see one of our own tackle the issues and leave her mark at the agency.With current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar stepping down in March, it is likely that the Senate will take up her nomination within the next few weeks.
All of us at Washington Trails Association wishes her the best of luck!
If you want to climb Mount St. Helens this year, get ready to apply for a permit on February 1st!
Permits will be sold only online. Weekends and holidays go the fastest, so check your calendars (and the Farmer's Almanac for weather predictions). The cost is $22 per permit and you are able to purchase up to twelve permits for each day.
Permits are required for climbing above 4,800 feet on the volcano. From May 15 through October 31, climbing is limited to 100 people per day. It may seem like a lot of permits, but they go quickly, especially with guides and outfitters snapping up a dozen at a time.
From November 1 - March 31, permits are free and available in person at the Lone Fir Resort on SR 503 in Cougar, WA.
Climbing Mount St. Helens is a challenging, but not technical, climb. It boasts a relentless elevation gain, constant exposure to the elements and unstable footing, but the view from the crater rim is unrivaled and breathtaking. Everyone remembers their first climb to the rim.
Winter is the ideal time to assess your hiking equipment. I clean my backpacking stove, fluff up my sleeping bag and waterproof my boots during these short days and long nights. Last weekend, I took up another of these projects: restocking my First Aid kit.
Every hiker should carry a First Aid kit. You never know when you might trip and skin your knee, develop a blister - or worse. And once you have a kit, you need to keep it up-to-date - modifying it to fit your outing, the members of your hiking party and replenishing its stores after they are used.
WTA has a great online resource describing how to build your own First Aid kit, with a fairly comprehensive list of basic supplies to include. Because I didn't want to deal with buying 50 sterile dressing pads only to include four in my kit, I chose to purchase a pre-package kit (available at most outdoor outlets) and supplement it with extra items my family needs on a hike. Since I have small kids, I've added Children's Tylenol and an instant cold pack to the mix. I swapped out the Moleskin for Second Skin, my blister treatment of choice.
During the inspection of my kit last weekend I discovered that we were entirely out of large Band-Aids, the antiseptic towlettes had gone dry and the hydrocortisone cream had expired. One trip to the drug store later, I have a First Aid kit that I can count on in an emergency - or more likely, during a small mishap on the trail.
What's your go-to item in your First Aid kit?
With the sky bluebird blue and the snow plentiful, it is time to take to the mountains for some skiing and snowshoeing. No matter where you live in this great state, there are winter recreation opportunities close at hand.
In addition to packing the right things for your winter adventure, you'll likely need to purchase a Sno-Park Pass. Most winter snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails require one of these to park in designated Sno-Park lots from November 1 to April 1, regardless of snow. The funds pay for plowing these lots during winter months.
You can find your nearest non-motorized Sno-Park here, or you can snowshoe or ski from the nearest motorized Sno-Park as well. Sno-Park permits can be purchased online from November 1st- April 30th, or for an extra $2, at a number of locations statewide. During the 2012-2013 season, the Washington Sno-Park is also good in Oregon and Idaho.
- Day Permits: $20/day. Day Permits are valid at any Sno-Park location, including Special Groomed Trail locations, until midnight of the purchase date. * Consult the graphic below to determine if you will also need a Discover Pass.
- Seasonal Permits: $40/season. Seasonal Permits are valid at all Sno-Park locations EXCEPT those designated as Special Groomed Trail locations. If you know you'll be going out two or more times, buy the Seasonal Permit.
- Special Groomed Trails Permits: $40/season add-on. This optional add-on to the Seasonal Permit allows you to park at Cabin Creek, Chiwawa, Crystal Springs, Hyak, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee, Mount Spokane and Nason Ridge where trails are groomed for cross-country skiers.
* Discover Pass and Sno-Parks in State Parks: If you have a Sno-Park Seasonal Permit (the key word here is 'Seasonal') you do not need a Discover Pass to snowshoe within state parks. However, if you purchase a Sno-Park Day Permit you will also need either a Day Discover Pass or an Annual Discover Pass for certain Sno-Parks located on state lands (see below).
Now you need to find where to go! If you're new to snowshoeing, check out our Snowshoeing 101 page. Then choose a destination. WTA has put together a list of ten easy to intermediate snowshoe hikes around the state with little or no avalanche danger. You can also go to Trip Reports and do an advanced search on Snowshoes/XC Ski. We also recommend that you consult our Winter Recreation page, which has links to mountain weather, avalanche info, winter safety tips.
Have fun, and when you return please share your experience by writing a Trip Report. These are incredibly helpful for others when they are planning their snowshoes and hikes.
The WTA website is back online. Thank you to those who wrote and called about a malware alert on wta.org today. Over the course of the day, we had our web technicians track down the problem and eliminate any threat.
Everything is working properly again and Google has removed the warning from the website.
The problem was identified in an add-on software program that had been installed on the website but was currently not being used. Our technical professionals completely disabled this bit of software, eliminated the threat and submitted a review to Google to remove the warning. It has been given a clean bill of health, and the warning should be removed on all browsers - Firefox, IE, Safari and Chrome. It is possible, however, that some form of the warning could be still cached on certain browsers. If so, you might choose to use a different browser, clear your browsing history or wait an hour for it to refresh.
We want to assure you of the safety of the Washington Trails Association website. The software program at issue has never been used in conjunction with our donation portal, Hiking Guide, Trip Reports or any site content. You should feel comfortable with using the website to browse your next hike or make a year-end donation (a separate donation website altogether).
Thank you for your patience. Have a great weekend of hiking ahead. And remember to file a Trip Report upon your return. We are oh-so-close to 6,000 Trip Reports in 2012!