Fruit Leather – Summer Recipe

Salty snacks, GORP, energy bars… Palate fatigue is a real thing, and after a few days of these foods something fresh tasting is like a little slice of heaven. Fruit leathers are one of the snacks that provide a break for my palate.

This awesome recipe* helped me power my four-day trek through the Tetons this summer. It’s just as delicious as my autumn recipe, plus I added a couple of optional ingredients for added nutrition. Continue reading Fruit Leather – Summer Recipe

How to Choose a Backpack

There’s nothing more exciting for a new backpacker than the purchase of their first backpack. Sure, the other gear can be fun to collect, but the backpack makes it official. You’re not just a camper any more. You’re ready to go places – wild, and otherwise inaccessible places.

But there are several variables to consider when shopping for a backpack, plus dozens of brands, and hundreds of options. So getting started in the shopping process can be intimidating. Is there a point to spending an extra $200 on a particular bag? Do you really need an 80 liter pack for a 3 night trip? Do you really need to stick with a name brand? Continue reading How to Choose a Backpack

Backpacking Savage Gulf State Natural Area

Savage Gulf State Natural Area is one of nine properties that make up South Cumberland State Park in Southeastern Tennessee. Roughly an hour and a half from both Nashville and Chattanooga, TN, and 5-6 hours from Midwestern cities such as St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati, the beautiful views and extensive trail system are enough to justify a multi-day trip for beginners or advanced hikers alike. A trail map is available here or at the trailhead, and here’s a helpful distance-finding map for planning your hike. See the notes below for more camping tips, costs, & hiking information.

View from Great Stone Door, Backpacking Savage Gulf, South Cumberland State Park, TN

“You won’t make it to Hobbs Cabin before dark,” snapped the ranger at the Stone Door Ranger station as we checked in around 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. “That’s eight miles from here.” Continue reading Backpacking Savage Gulf State Natural Area

My Favorite Backpacking Snacks

When it comes to backpacking food, the name of the game is calorie density. The easiest snacks are pre-made, and they’re usually really high in sugar or processed starchy carbohydrates. Common trail snacks are candy bars, Twizzlers, traditional GORP (“good old raisins and peanuts” – which usually contains M&Ms or chocolate chips as well),  Cliff Bars, Luna Bars, Power Bars, etc.

You may operate just fine on these snacks, but I’ve found that I tend to do better on a low-carb Primal / Paleo style of eating. This means that I need to replace the energy dense sugar and starch with something. Fat is more than twice as calorie dense as carbohydrate/sugar, and it’s a perfectly natural fuel for the human body, so it makes perfect sense as a replacement. But it’s just as important to me that I consume the right types of fats as it is that I minimize the sugar.

Here’s a list of my favorite foods, and why I love them: Continue reading My Favorite Backpacking Snacks

Backpacking Forest Glen Preserve – River Ridge Backpack Trail

Three hours from St. Louis, two and a half from Chicago, one and a half from Indianapolis, and less than an hour from U of I in Urbana-Champaign, Forest Glen Preserve is close enough to be a great day hike and/or picnic destination, but challenging and remote enough to be an excellent one or two-night backpacking destination. Mix and match trails to make your hike as easy or difficult as you’d like, but following the River Ridge Backpack Trail as mapped may be physically challenging for unconditioned folks to accomplish on a one night trip. A .pdf of the trail map is available here or can be found at the trailhead.

Climbing a hill, Forest Glen Preserve, River Ridge Backpack Trail, Backpacking Illinois

Choosing a backpacking destination between Chicago and Indianapolis is pretty easy – there are two. And one of the two doesn’t permit camping between October 31st and April 1st*, so choosing a backpacking destination between Chicago and Indianapolis in December is even easier. Continue reading Backpacking Forest Glen Preserve – River Ridge Backpack Trail