Food Jabber – Greens To Go

Do you want an easy and economical way to add greens to your backpacking meals? Spinach is my vege of choice as it goes with everything and it’s a quick no fuss, no prep dehydrating project.

Step 1:

Place baby spinach leaves on dehydrator trays. A 12 ounce bag fills my 5 Nesco trays.

Step 2:

Dry the leaves. On my Nesco, I set temperature to 125F and cook for 8-12 hours. I rotate trays maybe once or twice.  Leaves need to be dry and crunchy. 

Step 3:

Remove leaves from tray. I find tipping the tray into a large bowl is the easiest. 

Step 4:

Crumble the leaves. I like filling a gallon ziplock bag and then mashing with a rolling pin. Any leaves that don’t crumble are not sufficiently dry. Either toss those leaves or put them back into the dehydrator. If you add to your completed batch you’ll run the risk of mold. 

It takes about 20 ounces of fresh leaves to make 2 cups of dry spinach crumbles. I add a pinch or two to all my dinners before rehydrating such as mashed potatoes, rice-based meals, hummus, etc.

Link to more Food Jabber posts



WY – Hikin’ the CDT with Team Buddy Backpacker

Where do most kids want to go during their spring break? I’m fairly certain few would say “let’s hike!” But Christian aka Buddy is not an ordinary kid. At 5 years old he hiked the Appalachian Trail; at 6 he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Since then he’s been working toward completion of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). 

I first met Team Buddy Backpacker (Andrea, Dion and Christian) in 2014 when they were hiking the PCT. I had the opportunity to host them and provide a little magic. 

Luck would have it that I was in the right place at the right time to join them for this short section hike. Although the sun was in our faces, it was a nippy mid 20-degree morning. Photo credit: Dion 

We began our hike at South Pass City. 

It’s been partially restored and open for visitation in tours during the summer months (link). 

And so begins our hike. 

Although a crappy photo, I was excited to see this ermine (aka weasel). A friend who lives in Teton Valley had been posted really cute photos all winter. It was my first in person sighting . . . well except for the dead one we found on my recent ski-to-cabin adventure. 

We also saw big herds of pronghorn aka antelope. They run really fast, like up to 55 mph. I was happy to capture these images a couple days after our hike.

With the mostly flat topography, we were able to hike big miles.

The snow enhanced this normally bland landscape.

This section includes significant time wandering through the tufted grass.

Dion was chief navigator. Notice the all important water! I really dislike carrying excess water. 

You might have thought Dion led us a bit more than a few miles off trail.

“The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River towns to what is now the state of California. After it was established, the first half of the California Trail followed the same corridor of networked river valley trails as the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail, namely the valleys of the Platte, North Platte and Sweetwater rivers to Wyoming. In the present states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah, the California and Oregon trails split into several different trails or cutoffs.” Source: Wikipedia

We found a campsite near water, and got settled in just before sunset. My notes say it was a cold windy 28 at 9pm. Thankfully the wind stopped during the night and overnight temps settled at 18F in my tent.

The next day was Easter! Buddy has the best parents. 

Road walking was much preferable to picking my way through the ankle-twisting tufts. 

With thousands of miles under his feet, Buddy is a pro at stream crossings. 

Ever wonder how Buddy entertains himself over thousands of miles? He listens to music and podcasts. I  loved watching him playing orchestra director, hearing him singing or sharing newfound knowledge. As I learned during his visit in 2014, he’s also a proficient map and app reader.

We ended our hike with this hysterical hitch from a local rancher who drove his truck like we were on the Indy 500. 

Dion put together this awesome video of our hike. Let me know if you have trouble accessing as it’s a facebook link.


I previously posted about the ALDHA-West gathering (link) in which Buddy received his Triple Crown award for having completed all three long trails (AT, PCT, CDT). Below is the video of his speech. I loved that he thanked chocolate and Pooh. Once again it’s a facebook link, so let me know if problems. Video credit: Andrea


Buddy became the youngest at 9-years old to earn his Triple Crown. His efforts have been recognized by many news sources including:

I’ve really enjoyed spending time with this incredible family. They didn’t start hiking to set records or even complete long trails, it all started as a two-week vacation. To learn more about them and follow their story:

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: April 15-16, 2017



CO – Rocky Mountain NP, Snowshoe to Alberta Falls, The Loch and Lake of Glass

About a month prior to this outing I’d stretched my skill set by carrying my pack on a backcountry ski adventure (link to related post). At that time I said I think I’d prefer snowshoes. Well . . . I was about to find out! Gary is living a semi-nomadic adventurous lifestyle similar to mine; we’d been connected through a mutual friend and finally had an opportunity to share trail. I’ve always loved being out in the snow but never aspired to snow camp, but when opportunity knocks, sometimes you just gotta open the door.

Our plan was to take Glacier Gorge Trail to Loch Vale Trail to Sky Pond Trail.

First viewpoint was Alberta Falls. It was a nice combination of ice and rushing water. 

The approach to The Loch was a steep one. 

If I wasn’t such a wuss, this would have been a fun glissade on the way back. 

The Loch

We found a place out of the wind to set up camp and Gary shared his wisdom from years of snow camping. 

The next morning we watched as the sun kissed a distant peak. 

We had planned this outing to enjoy the full moon. Mother Nature had different ideas. By late afternoon the wind had blown in clouds, but after a windy night we found the blue again. 

Our plan for the day was to leave base camp and hike up to Lake of Glass and on to Sky Pond. 

We could see part of the route from camp and were feeling the anxiety. With Gary’s mountaineering experience, he led the way. 

Time to get up through the chute. 

That’s so not going to be fun coming down. But that something to worry about later. Until then it was my turn to get up, so up I went. 

Celebrating completion of challenge #1. Photo credit: Gary

Looking down at The Loch. Our camp is in one of the white patches below the ridge.

The wind was fierce once we reached the ridge. I could barely stand up and it was biting cold. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect though. Upon arrival the sun made it’s way over the ridge and gave us optimal photography lighting. 

Lake of Glass aka Glass Lake with Gary the photographer doing his thing. You can find his work at High Wild Places Photography (

Gary caught me playing amateur photographer. 

Sky Pond would need to wait for another day. Gary figured it was about 25 degrees with 40-50 mph wind gusting in our faces as we tried to capture images. 

It was so beautiful though . . . made it hard to leave. Photo credit: Gary 

Gary capturing final images with a background of gorgeous pinnacles. 

Getting back down took serious concentration. 

We had to carefully descend the bowl. There was some wind slab avalanche risk. 

This is what it looked like in the morning on my ascent. Photo credit: Gary 

Look closely at the first ridge to the left of the big rock. Those are our tracks!

Not a bad way to celebrate an epic adventure. Cheers to Gary for mentoring me! 

Hike Details:

  • Date(s): April 11-12, 2017
  • Mileage: 8.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: according to Trimble 3,500′; according to CalTopo 2,000′ (that’s a big difference)
  • Elevation Min/Max: 9,200’/10,800′




Photo credit: Gary

CO – Crested Butte, Twin Lakes and Mt Elbert

After spending a day spent exploring the Silver Thread Scenic Highway (link to related post), I found myself headed northeast on US-50 and on to CO-135 where I was meeting a friend in Crested Butte. 

Back on US-50, I stopped at Monarch Pass, another crossing of the Continental Divide.

I turned north on US-285 to US-24 making my way to Twin Lakes for the night. 

I was grateful for the shelter of my car as I watched the storm. 

The next morning brought pink skies. 

And an opportunity for a little hiking.

A preview of a future date I’m sure I’ll have with the Colorado Trail. 

Those are some impressive mountains. The clouds played hide n’ seek keeping me busy with my camera, trying to capture a clear view.

I finally ceded defeat and headed back down the trail. 

That’s ice in the foreground. 

My little blue friend wanted a portrait. 

A view of the peninsula between the Twin Lakes. 

Back on the road I continued north on US-24.


I was excited to visit Melanzana, although I was disappointed they were out of stock of most clothing items. It was cool to see the sewing room and store front. I did snag this souvenir hat!

Leaving Leadville I traveled northeast connecting to I-70 and then continued on CO-9 north to Kremmling where I planned to skirt east on US-40 to US-34. Sadly I made an amateur move and didn’t double check road conditions. A friend recommended the route, but I later learned US-34 was closed for the winter. I grabbed this room with a view in Kremmling so I could rest up before reversing my route. 

What is weather like in early April? 

Leaving Kremmling, I drove US-40 east to Granby and south to I-70. From there I took CO-119 north to CO-72 to Co-7. Hello Rocky Mountain National Park!

Adventure Date(s):

  • April 8-10, 2017


CO – North Clear Creek Falls and the Silver Thread Scenic Byway

My body was busy acclimating to Colorado elevation and temperatures. The previous day I felt that 11,000′ as I snowshoed from Wolf Creek Pass to the Lobo Overlook on the Continental Divide (link to related post). I continued my travels northeast on CO-160 to South Fork, then turned northwest on CO-149 to Creede, after which I came upon this sign. 

Who cares that it’s 27F and 8am, it’s just a short jaunt. What’s an Observation Site? It’s a viewpoint or overlook.

According to signage, it’s a drop of more than a 100 feet off the edge of the rock shelf that creates North Clear Creek Falls. The rock shelf, called the Nelson Mountain Tuff, was formed out of ash flows from an enormous volcanic eruption about 27 millions years ago.

That’s some icy water. 

Yaktraks made for safe walking across this icy tundra. They aren’t nearly as aggressive as microspikes but served the purpose on this day. The Altra Lone Peak Neoshell shoes keep my feet toasty warm and dry during the winter.

Another short jaunt I’d taken the previous date was to Treasure Falls, near Pagosa Springs off CO-160. 

It’s a 105 foot drop. Too bad I didn’t pull out my camera, so the best I have is this stinkin’ phone photo. 

When traveling through new areas I like to stop at the scenic byway posters to gain perspective and find short jaunts like the two mentioned above. 

I’m always drawn to high points. 

Travel days are a good way to build miles though a series of mini jaunts. 

Views from the Continental Divide from Slumgullion Summit (love the word).

Just a bit west of Slumgullion Pass.

Further west on CO-149.

Check out this private bridge on Lake San Cristobal. 

A view of the bridge from the other side of the lake. Must have cost a pretty penny! 

The geology changed as I got nearer Lake City. 

Self discovery is the best. I’d driven down this road in Lake Fork Canyon to find a campsite. 

Lake Fork of the Gunnison would provide nature’s lullaby. 

The gift however was this discovery as I took a short jaunt. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • April 6-7, 2017




CO – Wolf Creek Pass, Snowshoe to Lobo Overlook

After a day spent in reverie while visiting the Ancestral Puebloans at Chimney Rock National Monument (link to related post), I found myself traveling northeast on CO-160 though Pagosa Springs and onward to Wolf Creek Pass where an opportunity for snowshoeing with views awaited.

Although the winter season was ending, there was still plenty of snow for me. 

I was happy to find someone had broke trail. It had a crusty top with deep powder below. 

Well that didn’t last long. Less than 1o minutes later my trail breaking buddy gave up. Breaking trail is quite a workout; I found the road grade plenty challenging.

I almost gave up before reaching the tower. Powder conditions and elevation of over 11,000′ was wearing me down. 

The views from the Continental Divide were outstanding. 

There’s my car! In the above photo you can see the pull out whereas the below photo is on zoom. So sad to see so many dead trees.

It’ll be a while before you can use this restroom. 

Hello little friend. You make such cute toe prints. 

I love shadow art. 

There were a few places with wind slab avalanche danger. I’m grateful for my avalanche awareness training and experience. 

I gave up on the road as I neared the top, then took the fast way down.

Snowshoe Details:

  • Date: April 7, 2017
  • Mileage: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,100’/1,100′

My Snowshoe Gear:


CO – Chimney Rock National Monument

The weather finally provided a window of opportunity to escape Durango, where I’d been graciously hosted by friends after a grand ski adventure (link to related post). As per my normal travel pattern, I had no itinerary nor destination in mind. I drove US-160 to CO-151 to where I found this sign. Well dang . . .

I decided to drive up the road for a better look anyway. As I stood there pondering the situation a volunteer arrived and said I could hike the road and view the exhibits. This Park is only open when it can be staffed by interpretative center volunteers between 5/15 and 9/30.  Lucky me!

That must be the chimney?

What is Chimney Rock?

This undiscovered gem is an intimate, off-the-beaten-path archaeological site located at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains  in Southwestern Colorado. You’ll walk in the footsteps of the fascinating and enigmatic Ancestral Puebloans of the Chaco Canyon, following primitive pathways that haven’t changed for 1,000 years. Archaeological ruins and artifacts, abundant wildlife, and its setting in the breathtaking San Juan National Forest make Chimney Rock a must-see.

Chimney Rock covers seven square miles and preserves 200 ancient homes and ceremonial buildings, some of which have been excavated for viewing and exploration: a Great Kiva, a Pit House, a Multi-Family Dwelling, and a Chacoan-style Great House Pueblo. Chimney Rock is the highest in elevation of all the Chacoan sites, at about 7,000 feet above sea level.  Source: ChimneyRockCo.Org

On September 21, 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimed Chimney Rock a National Monument, making it the seventh national monument managed by the USDA Forest Service. The Chimney Rock a National Monument encompasses 4,726 acres of the San Juan National Forest between Durango and Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The Chimney Rock Interpretive Program is managed and staffed by the U.S. Forest Service and volunteer Chimney Rock Interpretive Association.  Source: USFS

The construction details.

From the top you are awarded 360 views of Colorado and New Mexico.

Maybe it should be called Chimney ROCKS?

The pinnacles that give Chimney Rock its name frame multiple astronomical alignments. The Ancestral Puebloans incorporated their knowledge of astronomy into the design of their community. Today Chimney Rock is one of the best recognized archaeo-astronomical resources in North America, with alignments with the northern lunar standstill, summer solstice, equinoxes and Crab Nebula. Source: USFS

Hike Details:

  • Date: April 5, 2017
  • Miles: 7 miles round trip (because road was closed)
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,300’/1,300′ 


  • This would be one of those places were you’d learn a ton through a tour, but when you can’t this looks like a great resource and one I wish I’d known about. 
  • Stop by the Ranger Station in Pagosa Springs for additional information and a visit with Smokey. 
  • While researching materials for this blog post, it appears the Pueblo Trail, where I took most of my photos is off limits to all except to those on guided tours. Obviously signage could be improved. 
  • Full moon tours are offered, and with the astrological significance of the area, this would be an awesome opportunity.