I remember back when I used to go snowboarding, I don’t anymore, too many gapers on the mountain. I would get up at 4:30 a.m., turn on the T.V., pop in a snowboarding video to get stoked, and pack my pack. Since I don’t snowboard anymore, I had Michael, a U.S. Outdoor snowboarder, tell me what he puts in his pack.

The first thing you need is a pack. Michael rocks a Burton Day Hiker 28L. It has enough room to carry everything you need for a day on the mountain. One of the most important things that I always have on me is a beanie. Probably because I’m bald. There is nothing worse than cold raindrops on a bald head. Michael likes the Burton Waffle Beanie. Always carry an extra pair of socks. He likes the Burton Merino Phase Socks. Always go for the Merino wool. It just sounds cooler. When it comes to keeping your hands warm I would go for gloves. They give you the freedom to give certain gestures. No not that one, the hang loose sign brah. But Michael likes the Dakine Team Baron Mitt. Mitts just keep your hands warmer than gloves. Next for a good piece of layering clothing he wears the ThirtyTwo Rest Stop Polar Fleece. When he gets too warm he just takes it off and stashes it in his pack. One of the most essential pieces of equipment a snowboarder has are goggles. Michael likes the new Anon M2 Goggles. You can change your lenses quickly with the new magnetic lens interchangeability. You need a good tool if something goes wrong with your bindings on the mountain. Like when your beginner girlfriend decides she is actually goofy foot on the top of Palmer. A good one to use is the Dakine Stance Driver. Hydrate or die. You need liquids when you are riding. The Hydroflask water bottles are the best. They keep hot things hot and cold things cold. Trust me I have two. Now we come to one of the most important things to have in your pack; snacks. Michael alway carries Cliff Bars. Now personally I’m a Milky Way man. I can hear all you Snickers people out there, but I just don’t like nuts in my candy. It just seems weird to me. These are just a few suggestions for things you need in your pack for a day on the mountain. If you take issue with any of them, don’t tell me. Take it up with Michael. It’s his list.

Camping and Performance food

For every outdoor recreationist, food plays a major role in enhancing the experience. For me, planning any type of trip includes a careful analysis of what kind of food will be included. Weight, calories, nutrition, and ease of use determine what makes a trip or stays home. There are two items I almost always bring if I am going hard and/or spending the night somewhere. They are Mountain House freeze dried dinners and Hammer Nutrition Gel.

Good Time for a Gel Shot

Good Time for a Gel Shot

Hammer Nutrition Gel is an energy gel that is made from real fruit, complex carbohydrates, and other natural ingredients. Whenever I feel myself getting close to bonking, a full shot of this get always helps get me back in line. What I really like is that the gel provides a very controlled injection of energy that almost immediately impacts my performance. This is accomplished without a rush or surge of energy. Instead, I just feel equalized and strong again. Another great thing about the Hammer Gel is that they sell a small five shot flask that can be refilled. This is much more convenient than the individual packets because you don’t have to open the packet or deal with the sticky waste. Also, sometimes it is nice to have more than one shot at a time.

Enjoying Mountain House

Enjoying Mountain House

For overnighters, the only dinner I eat is one of the many Mountain House freeze dried dinners. The product is made in Oregon, using simple, natural ingredients. The best thing about Mountain House dinners is that they are all “just add water” dinners. You don’t need any extra cook ware besides your stove and spoon. You boil your water, add it to the Mountain House Pouch, and let it sit for 9 minutes. When done, it is fully hydrated, delicious, and super easy to clean. To clean, I just add a small amount of water to my empty pouch, reseal, shake vigorously, then open and drink clean. The water tastes just like my dinner did, and adds more hydration to my evening which I usually need. No soap or rinsing required. A great space saving tip is to keep old Pouches handy for reuse. When I take my wife, I pack all the dinners in smaller Ziploc bags, and use two old pouches as our dinner bowls. They can be reused over and over, are super easy to clean, and pack small and light. Nothing beats Mountain House for ease of use, nutrition, taste, and weight.

Whatever outdoor adventures you have planned, consider trying Hammer Nutrition Gel and/or Mountain House freeze dried dinners. The US Outdoor basement has a wide variety of Mountain House dinner options. They also sell breakfasts and desserts. In addition, you can find large refill containers for you gel flasks. Multiple flavors are available. Just ask the employees which ones they like, or try a small packet of each to find the one you like.


Where I grew up in Alaska, we called it termination dust.

You know, the dusting of white that starts creeping down the mountain in early September signaling the termination of summer sun.

Here in the states however, October snow is something worth singing about. Not a funeral dirge. I’m talkin’ about “Joy to the World” or “Go tell it on the Mountain it’s time to ski and board!”

Seeing the snowy alpine report makes the rain around my house in Oregon’s Willamette Valley a bit more bare-able. In fact, my family laughed in the face of the thunder and lightening as we set out shopping for my oldest daughter’s ski jacket. We’ll be in our rain jackets for a couple months yet. Still, when powder covers Mt. Bachelor and hits the valley floor, we’ll be ready.

After exploring an ample amount of puddles on our walk, p.j.’s and hot cocoa by the fire seemed like just the right topper to our rainy afternoon with a promise of snow.


Having good hot cocoa on hand is a must have when the weather turns. However, if you are all out of Swiss Miss or just want to try something a little richer, try my easy peasy recipe for The Mother of all Hot Cocoa.


2 mugs of milk (about a 2 cups)

1 tbsp cocoa powder (the unsweetened stuff from the baking isle)

2 tbsp sugar

Directions – Heat milk (don’t boil), stir in cocoa and sugar, top with marshmallows, drink, and head back outside! If it’s too rich for you, just add more milk.

Serves 2

Battle of the Bars

My go to energy bar? Clif. Why? I don’t know. I think it was the cheapest bar when I was on the high school cross-country team. Back then the choices were either Power Bar or Clif Bar.

Now, the energy bar options are endless. Ranging in price from about $.70 to $3.00+ depending on where you shop, the choice can be confusing! Thankfully I’m on your side doing the tough research to break down the best option.

With so many choices, I stuck with bars that were chocolate flavored. I opted for several protein rich varieties since my husband, Ryan, and I were taking these bars on a backpacking trip and needed sustained energy for the long haul. The only exception was the Odwalla bar which came in either protein rich or chocolate. I opted for the protein rich variety.

THE LINE-UP (random order)

Tiger’s Milk’s Peanut Butter Crunch: 6 grams protein, 13 grams sugar, 150 calories “Chocolaty and sweet with limited fakey chemical taste. Very candy bar-esque.”

Odwalla’s Super Protein: 14 grams protein, 17 grams sugar, 210 calories “Oatmeal and raisin are the strongest flavors. The texture is a bit more natural but the after taste is pure chemical. Still, a nice break from the imitation chocolate flavored bars.”

Power Bar Protein Plus’s Chocolate Crisp: 23 grams protein, 18 grams sugar, 290 calories “Can you say cardboard? The texture is classic Power Bar – pressed, chewy, who-knows-what-this-is-made-of bar with a few rice crispies folded in here and there, finished with an imitation chocolate coating.”

Promax’s Double Fudge Brownie: 20 grams protein, 28 grams sugar, 280 calories “A chewy bar, very chewy. This bar is more chocolate with a caramel texture than brownie texture.”

Pure Protein’s Chocolate Deluxe: 20 grams protein, 2 grams sugar, 180 calories  “Chewy and fudgy. It’s no brownie but it could be a relative.” 

Luna’s Caramel Nut Brownie: 8 grams protein, 12 grams sugar, 180 calories “No wonder this is marketed to women. This is by far the prettiest bar! Even though it looked like there were different layers and flavors, it tasted pretty much the same all the way through. I don’t know were the nuts were, but the texture was similar to a brownie and the chocolate flavor was sugar sweet without being chemically”

Clif Bar’s Chocolate Brownie: 10 grams protein, 22 grams sugar, 240 calories “Looks like a turd. Tastes like a smoother version of a no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookie. Not bad!”


Lindsey’s Winners

1. Tiger’s Milk – “Tastes like a candy bar!”

2. Clif Bar – “Has a natural feeling texture and is chocolaty without being overly sweet.”

3. Luna – “Another sweet bar and interesting texture. No fake chemical taste.”

Lindsey’s Loser

Tie! Power Bar – “Pressed chemicals and cardboard,” and Odwalla – “Strong chemical after-taste, plain nasty.”

Ryan’s Winners

1. Odwalla – “Both chewy and crunchy, the flavor was a bit more natural than imitation chocolate.”

2. Clif Bar – “Tasted more like a candy bar than a health bar.”

3. Promax – “It’s a good chew!”

Ryan’s Loser

Power Bar – “If you cover cardboard in chocolate, it’s still cardboard.”


Women have taste buds. Men don’t! The only bars we agree on are Clif as a winner and Power Bar as a loser. Other than that, I like the high sugar low protein bars. Ryan preferred bars with a more interesting texture.

Another plus, our mutually appreciated Clif bar was one of the least expensive and mid-range for protien making Clif Bar our Overall Winner! I’ve had it right since high school.


Search and Rescue

The time has come. The time is now.

The backpacks have been filled and weighed. The kids are at their grandma’s for the weekend. The trash has been taken out and wash switched over to the dryer. I’m ready to hit the trail.

I’ve been wanting to go backpacking for as long as I can remember – or since about Junior High when I was hiking Flat Top behind my house in Anchorage, Alaska and I saw some particularly grody outdoorsmen emerging from the wild valley just behind the mountain.

Wondering where they came from, I asked around and found out there is a two day trail from Girdwood to Anchorage through the Chugach Range. The names and places aren’t important. What is important is the idea that they had to sleep in the woods and carry everything they needed in their packs – like pioneers, without mules.

“Someday,” I thought, “Someday I’m going to hike that trail.”

Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever hike that trail, but now I have my sites set on the PCT – Pacific Crest Trail.

The plan: Out and back on a northbound route from Benson Sno Park off Highway 22. Stay two nights hiking deeper each day. Return on Sunday.

Your job: Check back here on Sunday evening. If you haven’t heard from me by 8:00, CALL SEARCH AND RESCUE.

And now I’d like to thank those grungy outdoorsmen for the inspiration, Goodwill, my dad, my in-laws, and especially U.S. Outdoor Store for the gear. And last but not least, I’d like to thank God for the venue.

Have a great weekend. I plan to.

By the way, I’m conducting an unofficial, on-the-trail protein bar taste testing. I’ll report my finding next week.


It’s not camping without . . .

You know how to finish this statement, “It’s not camping without . . .”

For me, it’s not camping without fish, rice-a-roni, red vines, a campfire, and marshmallows. For others it could be hotdogs, bitter perked coffee with a layer of grounds at the bottom of the cup, fishing, sleepless nights, mosquitoe bites, ghost stories, body odor, sandwich clamp cookers, whatever!

It just so happens that growing up in Alaska we went camping with a purpose, to fish. Knowing that we would be getting plenty of exercise, fresh air, and healthy fish cooked in foil, my health-nut mother alway let loose when packing for a camping trip. Instead of olive oil it was butter. Instead of broccoli it was rice-a-roni. And dessert was actually on the menu – toasted marshmallows. Red vines and hot cocoa were packed and savored on the banks of the river. I loved camping!

So of course, whenever I go camping now, I’ve got to cook everything with a little butter, pack rice-a-roni, catch or bring some fish for dinner, chew on some red vines, and toast some marshmallows.

However, traditions have evolved and I must say I’ve improved on the marshmallow front. No I’m not talking about your regular old smore. In our family, the chocolate always dissapears before evening toasting time and the baby ate the graham crackers in the car-ride to camp.

I’m talking about something even better. Fudged striped shortbread. You heard me! Perfect size for one toasted mallow. Softer than graham crackers so the marshmallow doesn’t get immediately squished out the sides. Perfect, even distribution of chocolate. Soooooo delicious! No more fumbling with chocolate squares and crumbly crackers while your perfectly toasted marshmallow oozes off your stick and plops in the dirt.

“Why have I not heard of this?!” exclaimed Amanda and Avery last weekend on a group camping trip.

I’m telling you, I was almost awarded the unofficial title of camping goddess for this masterful campfire creation. But I can’t take all the credit. This was my brother-in-law’s idea.

So thanks Todd. You made me a star among my friends. You perfected the pinnacle of toasted goodness – The Stripped Shortbread Smore. There should be books written about you.

Now it’s your turn readers. What is your camping classic updated? Or finish the sentence, “It’s not camping without . . .”

I can’t wait to see what you write.

Happy Camping!