Sunday, October 10, 2010

Echo Lake - Snow in May!

We loved Echo Lake from the moment we set foot on that campground. It was off-season so there wasn't a camping fee which is always a plus. We set up our tent and noticed that we weren't the only campers there so we headed on over to the Echo Lodge to see what the story was. The lodge is so neat, they sell all sorts of touristy things and have some great food as well. We learned the other campers were a group of boys who'd just caught a good sized rainbow trout down at the lake. Echo Lake is very interesting. It's not too big and isn't actually very deep. In fact, it has to be restocked every spring because it freezes completely solid every winter. After learning a few things, we headed back to camp and met the other campers over there. It wasn't long before it began to snow, and what a surprise that was! We were up at about 10,000 feet so it probably shouldn't have come as quite a shock, but we were still in shorts and t-shirts! I'd missed the snow since I'd been living the past year on the coast in the southeast and I know Chuck was excited about it as well.

We changed into warmer clothes and made some dinner while the boys in the site next to us cooked their trout. We eventually made our way over there to see if they had any weed, and we smoked it up with them as we stood around the campfire. The snow came down quitely around us while we lauged and told stories as the sky turned dark. We all eventually turned in for the night, but Chuck and I were awoken sometime in the middle of the night to some sort of commotion. He went out to see what was going on and quickly returned to tell me that the snow was too much for their tent and it had begun to leak pretty badly. He grabbed the headlamps and went out to help them pack up. By morning, we were all alone with a blanket of white surrounding us.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hitchhiking Tip #2: Stay Clean!

If you haven't had a shower in a week, at least try to look like you have! This, to me, is a very very important tip. Ask yourselves, if you were to pick up a hitchhiker, would you pick up one who looks like he'll stink up your car? Most people would say no, they wouldn't. So even if you do smell to high heavens, at least look like you're as fresh as a daisy. Once they realize you've just rolled in the dumpster it'll be too late to drive off without you!
Also, have some gear with you, a backpack at the very least. This gives you purpose. Again, many who picked us up said they did so because we looked like travelers, not hobos. Chuck always stayed clean shaven and wore a travelling hat. He swears by that hat to this day. So go get one! It'll keep the sun off your face and make you appear all "worldly and stuff."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 2: Mt. Falcon Park to Echo Lake

Once up and on the way, we still had a while to go before reaching the top of the trail. It was still just as rough on me; this was pretty much my first real hiking experience, and boy what a way to start! We stopped a time or two for a handful or GORP and to let more ambitious bikers ahead of us. When we reached the top we found a picnic table so we sat and refueled; luckily the hard part was behind us. I was really tired of puking my guts up from the altitude sickness. We got back to hiking and ran into a nice biker. She gave us her number and told us if we were going back in the direction of Denver to give her a call. She'd have been more than happy to let us get showers, have a beer, and let us sleep on the couch. We would have taken her up on the offer, but there was no way we were tackling that trail a second time! The shower and beer did sound nice though...3 days on a Greyhound bus doesn't exactly leave you smelling as fresh as a daisy. We moved on though, not realizing that we just experienced the first of what would soon become many generous offers from such amazing people. Before we knew it we found the Castle Ruins. What an unexpected surprise! We walked around them for a bit and ran into an older couple going the same way as us. We told them we were walking the American Discovery Trail and were on our way to Evergreen. They were heading the same way and offered us a ride! We walked and talked the rest of the trail with them until we reached the parking lot. They had a tiny white pick-up that would prove to be one of the most uncomfortable rides we endured. I had to sit on top of Chuck's lap which I know didn't feel good for him, but I still think I got the rough end of the deal as the entire ride was downhill and my knees were forced into the dash and my head kept getting banged on the ceiling. But honestly, we were just glad to have the ride and from such nice people too!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mt. Falcon Park, Colorado Day 1

We were picked up outside Starbucks in that nasty part of Denver and were taken over to Mt. Falcon Park where our backpacking was to begin. On the way there, my 'uncle' was stopped by the police for making some weird turn. He acted crazy too, getting out of the car and trying to make jokes with the cop; it was pretty halirious. We were let go, and made it safely there. The sun was already beginning to set and one look up the trail told us we had a ways to go before we could make camp. (Which was technically illegal there.) I didn't adjust well to the altitude, and to make matters worse had just started my period so horrible cramps and altitude sickness plagued me the whole hike up, up, and further up. Chuck was a complete gentleman though and stopped with me everytime I needed a break and even carried my pack a little ways! We finally couldn't go any further that evening and needed to set up camp. Unfortunately, we ended up doing it on a HUGE slope. We got off the trail a bit, set our tent up directly over some cactus the first time and then moved it. The next week was spent repeatedly saying, "Did you know there were cactus in Colorado? I didn't. Wow, that's crazy."

Once we were set up, we cooked our first first meal (some oatmeal), sat down in the darkness and smoked a joint while we watched all the lights slowly twinkle out in Denver. We had an amazing view but we didn't have a great camping spot. Because of the slope we were on, the entire night was spent sliding to the bottom of the tent and crawling back up. It was worth it in the morning though, we crawled out of our tent grouchy and sleepy only to see 7 or 8 deer grazing not 50 feet away. We took a picture and packed up ASAP so no one would know we camped there, fixed some oatmeal and headed on our merry way.

Ultralite Backpacking List

It's back up and revised. It's super detailed so check it out! I'll be putting it up here soon.

Backpacking List

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to Make Dehydrated Hamburger

You want to bring meat with you on your backpacking trip, you say? You don't want spam or tuna, but something much lighter?

Well, let me tell you how to dehydrate hamburger. It's very, very easy!

First things first, figure out how much you want to take. We made two(2) five(5) pound bags. We brought one bag with us and had the other mailed with some more food supplies we had prepared when we stopped in San Diego for a week. Remember that when I say 5 lbs that means how much the meat weighed before it was dehydrated! One 5lb bag of meat probably weighed much less than half a pound, though I can't be specific.

What you'll want to do is make sure you have a dehydrater and know how to cook hamburger. Get the leanest hamburger possible as you'll repeatedly have to drain the fat.

1. Cook the meat thoroughly, draining all excess fat and breaking it up into small chunks. Make sure to get as much out as possible! The less fat, the longer it will last. It's said if there is little to no fat, your dried hamburger will last indefinitely. I take this to mean you probably won't be carrying it long enough for it to go bad.

2. Throw that cooked meat in a colander and run hot water over it to get all that grease off then blot off all excess liquid.

3. Put some wax paper down on your dehydrater sheets if you don't want the little pieces of meat falling through or if you have solid trays, even better. We dehydrated 5 lbs in a couple hours. I'm sure dehydraters vary, so just make sure it's hard and completely dry. It will look like gravel when you're finished.

And that's it! Fill up some ziploc bags with it, get the air out and throw it in the freezer until you're ready to take off! We carried 5lbs of meat in one regular ziploc bag. Now that's nice!

To reconstitute, we would put the hamburger in a cup of water while we waited for our noodles to cook and throw it in at the end to heat it up. It's not the tastiest, but it's nice to have some meat. In fact, we were of the opinion that it didn't really taste like anything. It does tend to take on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. We even made some "spaghetti" with it one night when we cooked it with some spaghetti mix and put it over our friend, ramen noodles.

Here's a more detailed list of dehydrating meats, and they have a slightly different way of drying hamburger: How to Dehydrate Meat

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lost in Denver

Denver is not a small city, I don't care what anyone says. So we were in the middle of Denver with no idea of where to go to get to Mt. Falcon Park, were in need of another cell phone charger, and we also had 40 lb soaking wet backpacks to lug around in the late spring heat. So I called 411 and found out where the nearest ATT store was. Now, I will give this to the people of Denver, I think you meant well. Unfortunately, every set of directions or bus info we recieved was wrong. We began to think people were out to screw us up. We finally found the ATT store where we had to shell out more than $30 for a stupid charger, we left it charging there and went off down the street to check out some thrift stores. I found a nice light fleece jacket and Chuck got himself one as well. Alright, now we just had to get the charger and phone and find out how to get to Mt. Falcon Park.

Well, we walked. And walked. Rode that free trolly. Walked a lot more. We somehow ended up in a very bad part of town with no clue if we were heading the right way. We were sitting on the lawn of some business across the street from a strip club, trying to relax and figure out what we were to do when we hear a female voice yell, "HEY! I like to FUCK!" To which Chuck replies, "Everyone does!" Then the nasty stripper was laughed back inside.

After realizing we couldn't afford another cab, we walked a ways more until we made it to a drive thru Starbucks where we took out our wet sleeping bags and laid them out to dry. A very nice lady who worked at the Starbucks brought us out some ice water. I decided to try my 'uncle' one last time, so I worked up the tears and dialed. "I don't know where we are *sniff* some horrible part of town *sniffle sniffle* please, please, could you come help us? *crying* We'll have to sleep on the streets *sniff cry sniff*" And we were in. "Ok, ok, what street are you on? We'll be right there!" So we packed our stuff back up and waited for our ride.