A few weeks ago for my brother Kyle’s birthday we decided to hike from the beautiful and rugged California Coastline in Big Sur up into the southern most sections of the Coastal Redwoods. This is possibly one of the most beautiful hikes we’ve been on. The hike is extremely diverse as you enter and exit scattered sections of Redwood groves with breathtaking ocean views throughout. The hike in is almost entirely uphill but the trail never gets too steep and is well maintained. And whenever you stop to take a breather you’re completely in awe of the beauty that encapsulates you. More posts to come when I will explain how we got a two layer birthday cake up the mountain to celebrate my brothers birthday.
We often bring most of our food into Yosemite but there is also a good general store with a decent amount of vegan food including cookies, primal strips and a nice beer selection.
This time we brought in some Shells and Chreese with Artisan Tofurkey Spinach Pesto Sausages. The Louisville Vegan Jerky is tops and always in my pack these days. I scored the General Sherman, Hot Pickle and Cookie inside of Yosemite. I brought a Pranqster with me because they’re the best. The Justin’s Peanut Butter was also scored in Yosemite and I don’t know if they were having a fire sale but it was half the price it is in the city.
Biking in Yosemite is so much fun! We stayed in Housekeeping Camp which is right by the Merced River and centrally located in the Yosemite Valley. The best and most efficient way to get around Yosemite Valley is by bicycle. Especially in the summer when the buses and roads are extremely crowded, you breeze by everyone and can explore all the neat nooks and crannies of the valley.
There’s about 12 miles of bike paths and of course you can venture onto the roadways but we stuck mostly to the trails and had a heck of a good time. There are plenty of bike racks at the trailheads so you can lock-up to go on hikes. And almost everywhere is a beautiful place to have a picnic. Pack your swimsuit and a towel so you can jump into the river.
You have to go check these places out. Devils Postpile is close to Mammoth Lakes and a little further north is Mono Lake. If you want to keep the adventure going head west up into Yosemite and drive across the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
We were out in the desert on the eastern side of the Sierras when we stopped to take a photo of Mt. Whitney in all of it’s sunset glory. The landscape was pretty barren of interesting vegan friendly restaurants so we decided to cook up dinner right alongside the 395. Cows to the right and the highway to the left. It was scenic, fast and mighty tasty. I highly recommend this as it has quickly become a tradition.
Ramen is inexpensive, comforting, quick to cook and easily expandable. Add what you love!
Probably one of the best backpacking trips I’ve been on that is extremely close to Los Angeles. it’s about a 10 mile hike round trip so 5 miles in and 5 miles out. The Narrows are about 1 mile but can take a decent amount of time since the trail is not maintained and is covered in poison oak. And yes it gets very narrow and your essentially just hiking up the creek. Check out more info about our trip here and a lot more photos of the adventure here.
Recently we headed to Red Rock Canyon to go stargazing and camping. It was quite spectacular and not too far of a drive to see the stars. There were a few scattered clouds crossing by but they just added to the dramatic landscape. We saw several meteors and just laid on our blanket in silence. A wind storm ripped through the desert in the middle of the night and shook the tent pretty good and it didn’t disappear until first light.
I brought a Doomies red velvet whoopie pie for a treat and we cooked up oatmeal and scramble tofu with toast and coffee (the usual) for breakfast.
1st pic: Vegan S’mores made with Dandies marshmallows and I got the Speculoos cookies and vegan chocolate from Trader Joe’s. I usually cook them up but these are also quite tasty straight out of the bag.
Alix and I picked up a bunch of dehydrated vegan backpacking meals at REI. It’s kind of nice to be able to grab these in a hurry. The lentils, rice with indian spice are good. You can rehydrate this meal in the bag but I always like to cook it in my pot and add some extra seasonings. If you don’t like cleaning your pot you can also eat out of the bag.
I like the kettle chili quite a bit. We let the chili rehydrate in the bag. It was fine but next time I’ll cook it in my pot. I’m not sure if I added too much water but it seemed like it. A common technique to thicken meals out in the field is to add some dehydrated potato flakes. This time I added some nutritional yeast and it did the trick.
And scrambled tofu is pretty much what I aim to have every morning I’m camping & backpacking. If I’m going out for multiple days I can’t always do this but heck it’s really tasty and easy to make. My alternate version of scramble tofu where I cook it all in the same pot. What’s in the seasoning? Mostly nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. I add a few secret ingredients but it’s really only a secret because I’m always changing the recipe.
The Backpacker’s Pantry Louisiana Red Beans and Rice was quite good. I let it rehydrate in the bag as I cooked the tofurkey dogs. Then I added the beans and rice to the pan and cooked it on low heat for a couple of minutes. Then I take off the heat, cover it and let it cool down for a few more minutes. I offended my friends from Louisiana when I sprinkled some Daiya on top. You just don’t add cheese, vegan or not to red beans and rice. I won’t do it again, it was a one time thing! I’ll keep trying new variations and techniques with my food but I’m extremely happy with what I make on the trail. I have a couple longer trips planned where I’ll be dehydrating my own food and I’ll post some photos of that. And I should of posted about Ramen and Oatmeal. It’s super cheap and easy to make on the trail.
Here’s the camping photos from our backpacking trip in Kings Canyon National Park. We brought an insane amount of food and it was definitely worth it. As some of you know I love making my tofu scramble for breakfast as well as having a delicious cup of coffee. This time I managed to have grits and vegan beans & weenies with my breakfast as well. Alix kept it simple and went with oatmeal. We also brought some dehydrated vegan backpacking food which we ate for lunch later in the day. I’ll post a couple of those photos sometime as well. Have fun on your trip.
BACKPACKING IN KINGS CANYON / GIANT SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARKS
A little over a week ago we went backpacking in Redwood Canyon, the largest Giant Sequoia Grove on the planet. It resides in Kings Canyon National Park which is right next door to Giant Sequoia National Park. We slipped in right before the busy season (trail quotas and permits) and we were practically the only people on the trail. Throughout our two day stay we hiked about 11-12 miles. I’ve backpacked / mountaineered in the Sierras for quite some time and although trails dip into the forests on occasion it’s common for them to be mostly exposed, sure with brilliant views but also with intense sun and heat. I love hiking in the woods and I wanted to go backpacking in the woods. This was the first overnight backpacking trip I took in the Sierras where I was completely shrouded in a forest for the entire adventure. We peaked out on a rocky overlook but other than that we were deep in the woods the entire time. It was delightful and magical.
Planning adventures ls something I rather enjoy. it’s always fun to figure out how much and what kinds of food to bring. Then the joy of packing the right stuff in your pack without it becoming to cumbersome. I have some of the newer lightweight stuff but mix it with plenty of vintage and older backpacking gear. I don’t mind extra weight here and there. Hiking is part of the fun but I also like setting up a nice camp. My wife is a bit more interested in the lighter weight gear and dehydrated meals than I am. I’ll hike with heavier foods such as tofurkey dogs, baked beans, bread, burritos, and tofu so I can make my classic scrambled tofu for breakfast no problem.
The hiking. The trail was relatively easy. There was plenty of uphill but nothing too steep or strenuous. We took our time and had a really nice hike both days. All five of us made it without much of a hassle. We took breaks regularly and we took lots of photos.
There’s a few caveats to hiking in this area. Bear canisters are required or highly recommended (for overnight camping) in several of these wilderness areas so check it out in advance. Alix and I own two smaller bear canisters and our friends rented canisters at the Lodgepole Visitor Center for $5. I don’t mind them at all, I quite like mine because it fits perfectly in my pack and I keep my cookset, stove and food inside. You can also use it as a stool. I’ll post more tips on this type of stuff later.
It’s springtime and the Sierras are just beautiful this time of year. There are so many pretty wildflowers. We were super lucky and we even saw a bear :) I’ll post some camp photos soon with the vegan eats that we packed and cooked. Have fun!