Mt. Thielsen: Part I

Just got back from a three day backpacking trip through the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness starting at the Howlock Mountain / Thielsen Creek trail head.  After a steady incline over 5.7 miles (or so) we made camp at the base of Mt. Thielsen at Thielsen Creek for two nights (see photo). 

On Saturday, we day hiked over to Thielsen’s west ridge and hiked up a ways.  Most guide books talk only of the last 100 feet or so of the ascent when they describe the challenges – and I think this leads folks to believe that the entire west ridge is a “cattle trail” to that last pitch.  Actually, there is some pretty steep hiking / scrambling below that pinnacle - and inexperienced hikers can quickly find themselves in uncharted territory.  With the loose rock – even some experienced hikers will find themselves out of their comfort zone.   And, remember, to get to that last ridgeline mile above 7000 ft, you’ve already covered 4 miles of steady elevation gain in the summer heat (if you’re planning on doing this in a single day).  Don’t underestimate this “hike”.

On Sunday – back out the route we came.  Not many miles overall – but some great views – and a few reasonable photos.

Now, when the topic of backpacking comes up – some people talk photography – some talk food or gear or location.

I’m not planning to turn Camera 47 into a food blog (there are plenty of those, like Simply Recipes or Chocolate and Zucchini or Get Your Grill On)- but – I did stumble onto some reasonably good backcountry meals that I think are tasty, convenient, and well priced.

When I first started backpacking, I typically packed along gorp (peanuts, raisins, M&M’s) and single serving dehydrated dinners (mmmm… chili mac…).   Well, some years ago, while on the West Coast Trail, I was introduced to gourmet, home-prepared food on the trail – and, really, I’ve been spoiled since.  But, on this trip, time was running short, and I was running short on creativity for “gourmet”, when Angie found these single-serving meals at Trader Joe’s that looked worth a try.  The two I brought along were Vegetable Jambalaya and Indian Fare Punjab Choley.  They were both around $2.10 each.

First, the Punjab Choley was excellent!  Take the sealed foil packet – place it in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes – open the packet – and eat wonderfully spicy food.  Second, the Vegetable Jambalaya had the same ease of cooking – good spice and, again, great taste.  Not as spicy as the Punjab Choley (the jambalaya could have used a bit of hot sauce) – but quite good nonetheless.

The only draw back when compared to the traditional backpacking meal is weight.  The Punjab Choley was near 12oz instead of the 5-7oz for a typical freeze dried meal.  For a two night trip – it was a reasonable trade off.

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