Thanksgiving on the Trail

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, we have heard the plans of many folks who are looking to be backpacking over Thanksgiving. Sounds like a great way to avoid the masses in the grocery store and do away with Black Friday altogether! We have compiled a few trail friendly Thanksgiving Day Recipes that may come in handy this Thursday for those who will be out backpacking! Enjoy!

 

The Main Course: Thanksgiving Stuffing by Ian Mangiardi and Andy Laub (shared trail name: The Dusty Camel), New York, NY
thanksgivingIngredients:
1 packet of Stove Top brand stuffing
1 7-ounce pouch chicken
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions: Boil 1 1/2 cups water, then stir in stuffing. Add chicken and cranberries. Serves two.

 

The Side: Mashed Potatoes with Gravy

turkeyday1

Ingredients:
1 Package Idahoan Instant Mashed Potatoes
1/2 Package McCormick Brown Gravy Mix

Directions: Prepare potatoes by adding 2 cups hot water. Stir until all water has spread thoroughly throughout. In another pot, gradually add water into gravy mix, stirring as you go. Boil gravy over low heat and let sit until it has thickened. Pour over mashed potatoes.

 

The Bread: Campfire Biscuits on a Stick (Recipe adapted from Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’, by Tim and Christine Conners)

1164732

Ingredients:
1 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup water

Directions: Pack Bisquick in a zip-top bag. In camp First, build a fire. Next, find a good cooking stick—think a sturdy, marshmallow-roasting stick. Add water to the bag, seal it, and squish with your hands to mix. Add dribbles of water until dough develops a moist (but not runny) texture. Cut off the corner of the bag and carefully squeeze dough onto the end of your stick, twirling the stick until the dough is firmly stuck on. Bake over the campfire (or coals), rotating until the biscuit is golden brown. –

 

 

The Dessert: Pumpkin Pie Muffins (Recipe by By Tanya Krezevska )

pumpkin-pie-muffins
Ingredients: 
1 cup dry muffin mix
2 tablespoons pumpkin powder or 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 silicone or paper muffin cups

Directions: When at home, mix all dry ingredients in a zip-lock bag and put oil into a leak-proof bottle.Once  on the trail, pour olive oil and 1/4 cup water into the bag with dry baking mixture. Close the bag and knead until smooth. Cut off a corner of the bag and squeeze batter into the muffin cups (or cook pot/ whatever.) Bake until dough is cooked through.

 

For those of you who will be out backpacking over this Thanksgiving, we salute you! May these recipes make you a merry feast!

It’s Cold Outside! What Now?

Brrrrr it’s starting to get cold on the mountain! Many people shy away from hiking in the Fall and Winter because of the cold weather. What most people don’t know is this can be a great time to go hiking. There are less people on the trail, the leaves are off the trees so you can see out further, and snow and ice can be beautiful! We want to encourage ya’ll to take a chance on the cold and go for a hike!

IMG_5815.JPG

View from Springer Mountain in the winter

Preparing
Checking the weather before your hike is key. It can be difficult to get an accurate report for the mountains. Checking towns nearby can work. Whatever the temperature in town is, know that for every 1,000ft elevation gain, in the South it will be about 5 degrees cooler because of the humidity. Somewhere out West where it is dryer, would be about 3 degrees difference. Check out Mountain Crossings for example. Going to weather.gov gives us the weather conditions for Blairsville with some good detailed information. It shows the elevation there is around 1600ft, whereas Mountain Crossings is at 3100ft. Subtract about 8 degrees to get a more accurate temperature for Mountain Crossings. Another great site is atweather.org. This has more specific weather for particular shelters on the Appalachian Trail.

Know your exit strategies. If you are on a trail that could cross roads, or other connecting trails, make sure you note these and have possible shuttle drivers on hand. Cold weather camping isn’t for everyone and if you realize this halfway through your hike, go a head and get out of there. If the weather turns worse than you expect, know how to get out of there. Better to be safe than sorry!

IMG_5818.JPG

Unexpected snow on the Appalachian Trail

Gear
I’m not going to go into gear too much. There are so many reviews online about clothes and gear that are very useful. Just remember to be smart and pack accordingly. Jeans may not be the best choice if it looks like it might snow.  A fleece sleeping bag may not keep you the warmest in 15 degree weather. For cold weather camping, you will have to drop some money for quality gear and clothing.

I do have a few recommendations. I know my finger and toes tend to get the coldest. Invest in some warm, waterproof mittens for your hands. Having your fingers all together helps keep them warmer. I do have to take them off to do some tasks but they warm up right away in the mittens. The feet get special treatment. At camp, I will wear wool socks, down socks, and down booties. This keeps my feet super warm and everyone else at camp jealous. Nothing beats a great down jacket either. It keeps you warm and you can use it as a pillow when you go to sleep.

We have included our winter gear list winter-gear-list-2015 to help you get started!

IMG_5820.JPG

Hikers staying warm in the snow

Tricks
After experiencing some cold weather camping myself, I’ve learned a few things to help keep me warm, and prevent my things from freezing. Your sleeping bag at night is your friend. You need to keep several items in there to keep them from freezing and keep yourself warm. I put my hiking clothes in the bottom of the bag to dry them out if they are damp, and to keep them warm. There is nothing worse than putting cold clothes on in the morning! I will also boil water before bed and put it in a Nalgene bottle and throw that at the bottom of my bag. Keeps me and my toes nice and warm. You will also have some drinking water for in the night. You don’t want to keep water out during the night if it is going to get below freezing. I keep water in my pot so even though it freezes, you fire up the stove the next morning and it melts. The water filter should also go in the bag. If it freezes, you won’t be able to filter water. If you use fuel canisters, that also needs to go in the bag. The fuel wouldn’t actually freeze, but water will boil faster if the fuel is warmer. So your sleeping bag is nice and full, but you will be happy in the morning.

Drinking hot liquids and eating hot food will keep you warm. Hand and toe warmers can also help but should really only be carried in case of an emergency. If you are well prepared with your gear and clothing, you should be warm enough to not need the warmers.

TJ-Purity-Spring-sleeping-bag.jpg

We hope this post has encouraged you to go ahead and take a trip this winter. You can stop by the store for some more recommendations on warm clothing and gear. We hope to see you out there!

PSA: Help Prevent Wildfires

As many may know by now, there are an alarming amount of forest fires burning in North Georgia, North Carolina and East Tennessee. Over the last few weeks, hundreds of fires have broken out throughout the area. The dry summer and lack of usual rain in Autumn has turned our woods into a tinder box. The Chattahoochee National Forest, which envelopes the entire AT in Georgia, has had a camp fire ban placed on it until mid January of 2017. It is now illegal to build or maintain a fire due to the extremely likely possibility that it can get out of control. Camp stoves are excluded from these restrictions but it is still massively important that these guidelines are followed for the safety of recreational area users and our forests.

cw1sh34wgaac1kr

The Rough Ridge fire in the Cohutta Wilderness has burned more that 10,000 acres of forest so far.

High winds have been aggravating the fires as of late, causing them to grow in size and send their smoke as far and wide as Atlanta. Some fires were started by lightening, some were started by the wind picking up embers and spreading an existing fire. Sadly, many are started unintentional by careless humans. Please, please, be mindful of the rules put in place. Respect that while they may damper your personal plans, they are for the betterment of all users.

If you come across trail closures in a section of trail you intended to hike, please, for your own safety, do not try to hike through that portion of trail. Even if fires are not an immediate threat, smoke inhalation is damaging and hiking in thick smoke can lead to disorientation and getting lost. For info on AT closures, check out the ATC’s site.

Union County, where Mountain Crossings is located, and 24 other counties across the states mentioned above are currently under a complete fire ban. This ban includes the use of charcoal grills, as well as open fires, and is punishable by large fines.

For a sobering view of just how dire the situation is, look into this interactive map for current fires burning in our area.

Guthook’s Trail Guide App

The latest question we have been getting at Mountain Crossings is “What is the water like out there?” The staff here love hiking in the area and we can check out water sources  periodically, but we don’t always have the free time. There is a smartphone app called Guthook’s Trail Guide for the Appalachian Trail and it is a great resource to receive updates about the conditions of the trail.

1200x630bf

About the App
We have been recommending this app for people across the board. The app has over 3,500 waypoints such as shelters, tent sites, water sources (along with historical dependability), trail junctions, road crossings, peaks, views, etc. Each waypoint has a separate page with supporting data such as elevation, and distance to next shelter/water source. The app organizes the AT in 9 geographic trail sections, including the Approach Trail. The base map options include road map, satellite or a combination. Each section can be purchased for $8.99 or you can purchase all 9 sections for $59.99.

There are several features to the app. The first is the actual map. It gives an overview of what is along the trail. You can click the icons to learn more about some of the points such as water, shelter, or viewpoint.

Another useful component is the elevation profile. It is pretty straightforward. It shows the elevation for a specific section.

The information is what will help you with water sources. You can learn about campsites and shelters and it is updated from people on the trail. If you notice water is dry at a certain water source you can write that in there for others to see. There is a Recent User Comments section with the latest comment of the area you are interested in, and if you click on a certain waypoint, you can see the comments for that particular spot.

What is amazing about the app is the GPS . Even when you are in airplane mode, your GPS system will still work and it will not use your data. All smartphones have what is called Assisted GPS, which means they have a true GPS receiver, and they also use cell tower triangulation when possible to increase accuracy and speed up the time it takes to get a lock on your location. It may take some time for it to find your location but the accuracy is fairly good. If you thought you might have passed the shelter you wanted to stop at, turn on Guthook and it will show you where you are on the trail. This is super helpful especially when you get in the “hiking zone” and aren’t really paying attention.

12448331-Touchscreen-smartphone-with-GPS-navigation-Stock-Vector-navigation-travel-mobile.jpg

Here is an overview of the best aspects of the app:
-Zero added weight – if you already intend on bringing a smart phone.
-Pictures of locations – At first blush, it seems this would only be helpful for virtual hiking. But, it’s helpful in verifying that this creek is actually that creek on the map.
Descriptions – This is great to receive more information about shelters (how many they sleep) and capacity/amenities at each shelter. It will also give an estimated tent capacity, too.
-To/from distances – This is a help in deciding if you want to move on to the next waypoint.
-Active feedback from other hikers – Although it can be sporadic, information is useful especially in the case of scarce water.
-Excellent support – The app was designed by 3 people and they are on top of things. If you contact them with a question or concern, they respond quickly and are happy to help.
-GPS – Provides near exact location on the trail map and elevation through gps function –

This app is pretty solid when it comes to the trail, but with any technology, you need to be careful. You should not solely rely on your smartphone because it could die, break, or just fail. Remember this when you are planning your hike and carry a small map or guide as backup.

To download the app for your iPhone or Android, go here. They have guides for numerous trails in the United States including the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide trail and many more!

Wherever you may go whether is is a backpacking trip, or just a day hike, this app will definitely help you find water. Good luck out there!