Category Archives: snacks

5 days, 7 passes and 3 hungry rodents

Home (away from home) Lake

Home (away from home) Lake

Olympic National Park – entering from Marmot Pass – loop around White Mountain

Distance: 65+ miles
Elevation Gain: thousands
Date: August 24 – 28, 2014
Hikers: Groucho & Harpo
Duration: 4-5 days

Harpo Sez:

Day 1 – Sunday

Groucho and I start out on Sunday evening at 5:00 p.m. It’s only 4.5 miles up to Mystery Camp where we will start our 5-ish-day trek around the SE Olympic National Park. Surprisingly crowded for a non-holiday, non-weekend, we find a spot next to the stream and quickly set up camp in the nippy mountain breeze. Sadly, for the first time ever, our bear hang falls in the middle of the night and later we discover why… A mouse or chipmunk has tampered with my food sack, chewing a hole in the bag, and then through a ziplock in order to eat my fresh peach and all my dried fruit!! Little devil.
Day 2 – Monday 
Marmot Pass

Marmot Pass

We wake early to begin an 18 mile day. Groucho jets up hills like a billy goat (he just finished a 10-day PCT section)… while I struggle, having typed more, and hiked less, as evidenced by my soft urban feet. I put on my good mood and try to keep up. Starting with a nice easy jaunt up Marmot Pass (6,000 feet), dipping down 4ish miles to Home Lake for brunch – an hour of savory oats, blister care, and a frigid lake swim. By noon we’re heading up Constance Pass (5,800 feet),  continue up another mile to 6,500 feet, near the summit of Mount Constance. The views are 360 degrees, the weather clear and gorgeous.
We catch our breath and begin the knee buckling trek down down down down down 6 miles to the Dosewallips riverside trail. Along the way we pass a little pond with hundreds (maybe thousands?!) of tadpoles. Charming, charming little fellows.
Reaching the river we trek another 5 flat miles until my blisters start to burn. Diamond Meadows, a huge camp among the old old cedars next to the Dosewallips river, is empty. We set up camp, Groucho leads hiker yoga, we eat cold hydrated ramen and enjoy a sweet, little fire. A dreamy end to a grueling day.
Day 3 – Tuesday
O'Neil Pass

O’Neil Pass

Breaking camp early, we hike further up river to Honeymoon Meadows. Fording a small river, we meet Steve, a 67 year old gentleman who really has his it together. I appreciate his approach – using Honeymoon Meadows as a base camp for a bunch of short hikes over 5 days.  While we’re only carrying 9 lbs base weight, with 1.2 lbs of food per person per day, the 15 lbs total was starting to weigh me down. Starting up to Anderson Pass (4,450 feet), we continue counterclockwise around White Mountain, leap-froging with our new friend a few times.
The fun really begins with a long late morning walk on a high, flat path at 4,500 feet around the south end of the range. In and out of the trees, the views of nearby glaciers, lowland forest, and  river valley are epic. Finding a creek Groucho sets up a glacier-cold foot soak to help with my increasingly painful blisters. After a short break, we continue 7 miles through subalpine meadows dripping with huckleberries – we devour pints, and our hands stained with blueberry bruises. We hear – and then SEE elk – crossing our path, scattering through the woods, hooves pounding headed straight down the steep slopes. At 6:00 p.m. we cross O’Neil Pass (5,000 feet) -the rocky path makes for sore feet, but it’s all downhill for the rest of the day.
Passing Marmot Lake, we share the trail with a doe and two precious fawns. I’m reminded of my mom taking me to Bambi as a little girl. We descend to the Duckabush River and find a place to make camp as the dark settles in – the softest cedar forest beneath us we sleep, minds full of the wonders of the wild.
Day 4 – Wednesday
campsite at Dose Forks
We’ve been anticipating the climb up to Lacrosse Pass (5,566 feet), which one hiker relayed, up or down, was “hell either way.” It’s difficult, but nothing out of the ordinary for the Northwest. Abundant huckleberries, my personal power pellets, appear in blue, blue-black, hot pink, and regal purple. Taking our time we reach the pass at noon, running into our new buddy Steve. We have a fantastic conversation about gear, snacks, photography, mediation, and public service.
We climb down to Honeymoon Lake again, and begin the long trek toward the river. Arriving at Dose Forks we score a secluded site by a rushing, aquamarine Dosewallips river, finishing a 17 mile day with a quiet fire. Somehow, even using a park-provided bear wire, a mouse sneaks in my food sack as I sleep, and I lose the rest of my Grouchy Mix. I am too tired to be hungry, or mad.
Day 5 – Thursday
Constance Pass

Constance Pass

Labor Day looms, and the park grows crowded. We get up early, hoping to knock out the rigorous 6-mile climb to Constance Pass before we fully wake up. Marching straight uphill 4500 feet it is, as they say, challenging.
We continue without much rest until Home Lake, where we take a lovely late lunch. It’s hard to believe we have 10 miles left. Fortunately with the last of our food gone our packs are light both up to Marmot Pass, and down the remaining 5.4 miles to the trailhead, arriving by 6:30 p.m.
We open the trunk and find – to our disbelief – that a mouse (or some dark eyed bandito) has crept in to the closed trunk of my car (?!) and again eaten my resupply of Grouchy Mix!!!!
The trail mouse is my spirit animal for the journey. Fin.

Savory Oat Express

Instant savory oatsOn a recent backpacking trip, Groucho tested out a new savory oat recipe. This one’s stove-less for those times you run out of fuel, or just don’t feel like carrying the extra weight of the stove and fuel on a journey. The coolest trick (ye olde backpacker standby) is to tear the top off the packet and pour your filtered water right into it. The packet is resilient enough to be your temporary bowl.

Mix together:
1 package plain or flax instant oats
1packet miso soup mix (we used savory soup with seaweed)
1/2 cup filtered or purified water

Let sit for a few minutes to hydrate the oats

Top with:
1 spoon nutritional yeast
A hearty sprinkle of Furikake rice seasoning


Quinoa Crispies

Quinoa Crispies

Crispie with packaging (screenprinted at VERA Project low environmental impact water based ink on found parchment paper), with transit pass & button (the buttons were also printed at VERA on Tilda Swinson’s face found in a 2004 W magazine)

Last fall, while enjoying three days of trail angel hospitality in Waynesboro, VA, we received a care package sent by Groucho’s mom. Included within were highly addictive, extremely tasty Quinoa Crispies – a high-class, more-nutritious, hippie relative of classic Rice Crispie treats.  The snacks were so sweet, crunchy and satisfying that Groucho, Andiamo (our super generous host – a 70 year old former PCT thru hiker who invited us to crash at his house) & I ate the entire bag in one day. So when the time came to make power-bar-eske treats for our “Drunken Boot” participants, this was the first thing I thought of.

The foundation of Quinoa Crispies is a quinoa product, commercially made through a puffing process involving some kind of vacuum. These puffy/crunchy delectables have been available in the bulk section of several stores in the Seattle-Area in recent months… however I was sad to learn the day before our event that all of the stores were out. The product has been discontinued.  Okay – improvisation here we come – this was the recipe for my adapted Quinoa Crispies

1 cup brown rice syrup (heated up to almost bubbling)
1 cup almond butter (mixed with the heated brown rice syrup)
5 cups puffed brown rice cereal
1 cup dried berries (I used blueberries, cranberries and sour cherries)
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted quinoa (toss in a dry pan over medium heat until they are fragrant and browned)
Dash of salt

Mix all ingredients together and press into greased pan. Leave out or put in fridge. After awhile cut them up.

Quinoa Crispies

Crispies packaged with pins & transit passes, ready for the Drunken Boot

Hot Cold Summer

Hot Cold Life

Quinoa & raw garlic (shaved with the microplane, so nice!) with arugula, avocado, fresh corn, parsley & cherry tomatoes

It’s been a minute since we had a snacks only post – but we’re still eating. The reader might note a theme here – hot cold salads with quinoa. Harpo & I acquired a large amount of quinoa for the Drunken Boot Quinoa Crispies, but ended up only toasting and using part of it. Regardless of the grain – the hot/cold salad is one of my favorite summer snacks. In this iteration it was mainly arugula & quinoa, tho any combination of grain & green works; amaranth & massaged kale, brown rice & spinach (with lemon tahini dressing iz my personal favorite) and always topped with some fresh herb and other seasonal summer veggies for texture and color. Also, avocado A+ both for fat content and because, as vegetarians, really what else is there…

More of our daily meals can be found at No Money Meals.

Hot Cold - again & again

Quinoa with avocado, celery, broccoli sprouts, fresh corn and arugula.

Hot Hot & Cold Cold

Hot Cold with quinoa, avocado, fresh corn, broccoli sprouts and cilantro – dressed with olive oil, nutritional yeast salt & pepper

Hot Cold Salad

Hot Cold salad with quinoa, avocado, fresh corn, broccoli sprouts and cilantro – dressed with olive oil, nutritional yeast salt & pepper

Inaugural New Mystique Cooking Club

Urban house sitting has it’s privileges including – when we’re lucky – a well appointed kitchen. A recent stint on Beacon Hill in Seattle gave us an exciting opportunity to launch the New Mystique Cooking Club. NMCC emerged from a concept Harpo developed with her friend and former colleague from On the Boards, Tania.

Tania cuts bread into croutons after a cutting lesson from NKO

Tania cuts bread into croutons after a knife-skills lesson from NKO.

Both Sara and Tania consider themselves improvisationally challenged in the kitchen. While we’re able to follow recipes, we’re often unsure 1) what that bay leaf is actually doing; 2) how to cut up a head of fennel; 3) what do you buy instead if the store is out of dandelion greens; 4) what do we do with that peach that is starting to turn?

Our solution: trial and error. We decided to attempt to cooking through the entirety of Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone” – using appropriate vegan substitutions. We invited NKO for the occasional benefit of having a high functioning vegan chef to help drink the cooking wine. We invited Erin and Richard not only as taste-testers, but also for their intelligent conversation, wit, and good looks. Part of the fun of cooking is sharing the booty – it’s far more entertaining and rewarding than say, abstract painting.

Erin's turn to stir

Erin’s turn to stir

Richard and NKO work on the risotto

All of those fingers in the pot taste like love.

Our first menu (all vegan):

  • Peach & Balsamic Shrub Cocktail (peach, basil, sugar, vinegar with whiskey & soda), garnished with a Basil Leaf
  • Barley Risotto (earth balance, olive oil, onion, garlic, dry white wine & homemade vegetable broth), finished with Lemon, Parsley, Nutritional Yeast
  • Massaged Flowering Kale, Fennel, Celery, Spinach & Mizuna Salad, with Homemade Croutons, toasted Cashews & Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing
  • Roasted Asparagus with Olive Oil, Garlic, Salt, Pepper
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Homemade Crust
tania's selfie

Obviously we enjoyed the company. And yes everything was delicious.


It’s totally novel having a kitchen to cook in, and experience vegan snacks we only fantasized about on the trail. However, this also highlights the fact that basically all I want to eat is oatmeal and noodle soup. Hmmm… getting hungry. For further portraits of everyday vegan fare try No Money Meals.

savory oats

Savory oats with peanut butter, olive oil, Buffalo chipotle hot sauce, raw garlic. Garnished with scallions, spicy sprouts, and lots of fresh pepper.

lentil stew

Lentil stew with homemade stock, mirepoix, garlic. Garnished with scallions & lots of fresh pepper.

noodle soup

Noodle soup with tofu, gai lan, mizuno greens. With a miso based broth including tahini, coconut milk, toasted sesame oil, and sriracha.

noodle soup

Miso ramen with fried tofu, raw garlic, caramelized onion. Served with spicy sprouts, cilantro and lemon.


miso ramen with roasted garlic, mizuna, gai lan and pea vine shoots.

savory oats

Miso savory oats with pea vine shoots and black pepper.

Trail Recipes: Trail Cappuccino

This one is easy – add 2 packets Nescafé instant coffee and one packet Folgers instant (the Nescafé is tasty, but the Folgers is cheap & strong) to 300 ml cold water. Shake vigorously. Now you can tell off that mouthy barista who said you can’t have a iced cappuccino… And, if it’s 20 degrees and you wait 15 minutes, you’ll have a coffee slushie. Cheers!

Trail Recipes: Spinach Sprout Burrito

– Powdered hummus
– 2 C water
– .25 oz nutritional yeast
– .25 oz spinach powder
– dash Tapatio hot sauce
– 1 oz garlic infused olive oil
– dash seasoned salt (lemon pepper here)
– instant potato flakes (to thicken, if needed)
– trail sprouts
– 8″ whole wheat flour tortilla

Mix all ingredients except sprouts, tortillas and hot sauce in yr titanium mug while thinking about how many grams your pack will be lighter – do the conversion math, it’ll make you stop thinking about food for one second, you gram weenie. Put three generous spoonfuls of hummus on a tortilla, top with sprouts and a dash of hot sauce. Enjoy!

Trail Recipes: Trail Boss Peanut Butter Crunch

– peanut butter
Theo roasted cocao nibs
Dip yr spoon in the peanut butter of yr choice, then in the cocao nibs – iz sublime.

Our friend Ms, Joanna Lepore hooked up a boss care package, including some Theo roasted cocao nibs. We found they survive packing (and don’t melt), requires basically no prep time, and also fulfills the chocolate craving.

If you’re a hiker who needs calories you probably have a love/hate relationship with PB after the first couple weeks – these cocoa nibs will totally turn the LOVE back on.

We celebrated our 600 mile left, 3/4 done, and 500 mile left goals with the salted almond & dark chocolate bars. As you can see, we couldn’t wait to photo them before celebrating… Also boss! Thanks J!


Trail Dictionary: Dranks

Definitions relating to socially drinking whisky, or whiskey, on the Appalachian Trail. All definitions assume the vessel is a bottle unless otherwise noted because, really, who has time to take out a mug.

Sip: The smallest drink from a bottle, taken out of politeness rather than thirst.

Sup: A slightly larger, thirstier sip. Enough to whet the palette.

Drink: A good natured, hearty pull. Also, sometimes exists in a glass.

Drank: A drink after several drinks – the singular plural.

Belt: A strong enough drink to warm you belly or lower.

Slug: A belt that hits you in the head, or gut. Often accompanied by cartoon stars.

Swill: A lascivious drink accompanied by a sideways glance.