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archive for June 18th, 2012

put one foot in front of the other

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Recipe: anzac biscuits

I can never get into the mountains early enough. This is the truth seeing as we like to mountain year round. It’s just that the summer season is so fleeting up here – typically not melting out fully until mid-July and then getting snow as early as mid-September. Trust me, I am NOT complaining about snow in the backcountry. In fact, I would prefer a little more this year. Jeremy and I did a couple of hikes recently and nearly cried tears of sorrow at the sparse and measly little patches of snow at 11,000 feet. I mean seriously… this is what the backcountry looked like last year on the first day of summer.

my kind of summer

Really though, our tears are more for the parched wilderness than the skiing. We can find skiing of one kind or another most of the year, but the snowpack is 2% of normal right now and there is a giant wildfire blazing an hour north of us. We are on alert. Our evacuation items are ready. In the meantime we hike (and mountain bike and trail run). It’s funny to walk up these trails without heavy boots and skis and skins on your feet, and by funny I mean way the hell lighter. It’s also mind-numbingly slow hiking out compared to skiing out. And it’s hot. That’s why we love our mountain forests, for the shade they provide and the beautiful, lush undergrowth.

shooting star by a small stream

ski hut

the view across to the continental divide

When I first began hiking with Jeremy almost 20 years ago, I was an impatient hiker who was hellbent on peak-bagging. I think that’s a common newbie characteristic. As I’ve grown older, maybe even wiser, I’ve come to accept it for what it really is – a journey. The journey IS the goal. Once I understood this, I’ve enjoyed a greater success rate of summits despite the fact that summits aren’t really my goal anymore. So zen. This is especially so when you hike in a place you know well, as if you are visiting the plants and animals and rocks and streams – the community. One of my favorite local hikes is Pawnee Pass (and Pawnee Peak given no thunderheads) on the Continental Divide. It’s beautiful. It is long enough to be a worthy hike, yet not so long that it kills you. It has a nice climb, great views, and so many wonderful flowers and critters at the right time of day and right time of year.

fairy primrose (alpine primrose)

my favorite blue: alpine forget-me-nots

The flowers get shorter and smaller as you climb higher, because the weather trashes the higher elevations with wind, rain, snow, everything it can throw at you. Look out across the high country and most people see grasses, dirt, and rock. If you look closely, you will discover so much life thriving in little crevices where a pocket of soil has developed in the lee of the boulder or a stream has fed a tiny depression. This has always amazed me, inspired me. A few years ago I had done this hike with Jeremy, our friend, Marianne, and Kaweah. It was shortly after my radiation treatments had ended, but I felt that I needed to get outside. Halfway up, I was hit with these recurring abdominal pains which I figured were just side effects from radiation or perhaps chemo. I didn’t realize I had a smoldering appendix until two months later in the emergency room. But I told Jeremy and Marianne to hike ahead and I would have Kaweah for… company (let’s face it, she’s not saving ANYONE) and that I’d just turn around when I caught up with them on their return.

on the pass

storm clouds building

Jeremy and I talked about that hike this time.

Me: Remember when…
Jeremy: Yeah. I was so happy when I saw you and Kaweah coming over the rise.
Me: I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the pass, but I leaned into it and put one foot in front of the other and the distance just disappeared under my feet.
Jeremy: I’m sure Kaweah was tugging at the leash and going nuts smelling all of the marmots and pikas.
Me: There was that…

Maybe the reason I love hiking so much is that I find it’s a lot like life: a journey, an adventure, with very real risks and decisions. It’s good to be at it again, good to see the high country in bloom and buzzing with critters. It reminds me that it’s good to be alive.

Have you ever done a hike that you thought looked or sounded meh on paper, but turned out to love once you were actually there? I love those kinds of surprises. (I’ve also done plenty of hikes that looked like they would be awesome and were absolutely miserable.) This cookie was one of those for me. My first introduction to the ANZAC biscuit was when I visited my friend, Kell, in Sydney. She placed her hand on the cookie jar and said in her delicious Aussie accent, “Jen, I’ve got some ANZAC biscuits here if you’d like to have some.” There was no sign of chocolate and they sounded interesting – this cookie was sent to those in the Australia New Zealand Army Corps during World War I, because it wouldn’t spoil on the long trip to the soldiers. I forgot about them until day 2, and I could have sworn she put crack in those cookies.

what’s really in an anzac biscuit: butter, flour, oats, coconut, sugar, golden (or light corn) syrup, salt, baking soda

mix the dry ingredients together

**Jump for more butter**