Back Country Fun & Food!

UPDATED 6/6/2022

Training and back country exploration are always fun. Here are some photo’s and tales of some recent trips…(Some call it “camping”.)

“If it’s sun – it’s fun. If it’s raining – it’s training. “

Tents? We don’t need no stinkin’ tents ! A tarp is usually just fine. If that.

Above is a typical camp – ready for any afternoon hailstorm. We’ve had snow up here during every month of the year except August – but the weather is usually spectacular!  Then again….

August 10th – at 7500 feet. Hailstones gone in 10 minutes. Sunny in a half hour, dry again in 2 hours – glad we covered the wood pile! And my buddy set up HIS tent….Actually pretty unusual weather in the summer.

Straw hats are no match for hailstones this size. Better wear a helmet next time. (Just kidding….) This size hailstone HURTS (No kidding..) – but throw a bunch in the blender with some Snakebite and mixer and you are back to normal…

The FIRST social networking site

This will cure whatever ails you.  The first – and still the best – Social Networking Site.

Above is a typical “Forest Recon” destination while exploring via Dirt Bikes. This is above Relief Reservoir in the Stanislaus National Forest, just visible. Lots of fun to get to this spot overlooking the lake.

The Three Chimneys in the Stanislaus National Forest. Late summer snow fields, no hot lava….On our last trip here, 3 of our camping buddies climbed to the base of the right-hand chimney. Good chance to exercise FRS radios and a signal mirror….Took them about half a day.

Hell’s Half Acre just above Beardsley Lake, SNF  A favorite for Kayakers.

Utica Lake – Here we come! Canoeing on the Lake looking for Geocaches among the islands and shorelines. A fun way to find GREAT campsites!!

Happy Hour: Nothing like frozen Mountain Margarita’s after a long day of canoeing and exploring !!

Amphibious landing operations at a remote island marina.

How the US Army makes bacon….Nothing like it in the morning with coffee, pancakes, bananas, and a good Sierra Steamer!

GI Canteen Cup DIY Cover

Canteen cup tea – wood-fired canteen stove with DIY cup cover.

Or, alternatively, my very reliable Swedish Svea 123 stove. This stove generates enough heat to fry bacon in my G.I. mess kit. Or boil lots of water…Works every time for me since it was new in 1976 (when it was very shiny!).

Svea 123 White Gas Stove

This runs on white gas (or unleaded vehicle fuel) and generates lots of heat. Mine is a veteran of many back packing trips (when weight was less important in my earlier years!) A bullet-proof classic.

Two camping veterans

Nothing like hot tea or coffee with a little half-n-half (and USGI trigger finger mittens) in cold weather.

Another classic:  Battalion Landing Team (BLT) sammitches made in my trusty USGI Mess Kit:

Battalion Landing Team Sammitch

Bacon ala Mess Kit Cooking

Battalion Landing Team (BLT’s) in a Mess Kit

Back country Recon conveyance. A quiet 250 cc 4-stroke dual sport with long range and good mobility. Radio equipped with a VHF walkie talkie on belt rigged to helmet. “Which way back to camp?” This is a great way to explore the back country. You can get to many places cars can’t (or are not permitted to) go. Following horse trails, fire roads, mining accesses or just about any route in the “forest transportation system”. Slow going, lots of sightseeing, you can cover a lot of country on a tank of gas.

The radios are handy for bike-bike comms or back to camp if someone has a problem. Scoot up to a mountain top and you have comms out to hundreds of miles via the various ham radio repeater sites. Very handy – especially since this area is well beyond cell phone coverage.

Fashion Police: Al has a special outfit for every occasion!

They’re behind you Al !

Free parking. No meter maids back at a remote deer hunting camp along the creek. Both bikes are street-legal so you can operate on “official roads” leading into the boonies.

Dirt Bike Dudes

Fun with the boys up at Stoneyford / Fouts Springs. It all started simply enough! Lots of life’s lessons learned here…Andy is third from right.

Dirt Bikers “doing lunch”

Nothing like homemade chow after a long day of riding. Focus!  Mom’s not here…..! LOL

Staged photo – no, we didn’t ride them right here…..Private property.  Oh, and flowers…

Yuba River dogfish……Where’s my dinner? Huh? Huh? Huh? I love fish! What’s water? What’s a fish? Why are we doing this again? Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy……..!

A friends cabin WAY off-grid. Wood-fired tacky Hot tub, BBQ and Bar with a great view! Twenty miles from the nearest paved road.

How to fuel your Coleman gas lantern for 23 years – just in case! WOW! Barry gets the prize for the Most Extreme Illumination Challenge. And, he brought 345 pounds of coffee to go along with it!

Sunrise on Jeff Davis peak above Tamarack Lake, Toyiabee National Forest. Eastern side of the Sierra’s beyond Ebbits pass. About 8000 feet in here – pretty close to the tree line. The lake has gone down over the summer – this is mid September, getting chilly at night.

Bear claw scratchings about 7 feet up on a tree. Sheesh !  OK, It’s your turf…….

There really are fish this high up !

So proud! At least I got plenty of roughage on this trip…..

Dinner for five? Right this way…

Surf and Turf….Yum!

Exploring the Rubicon 4X4 Trail up on the granite, early fall. Got Comms?

Have a blowout? AAA Towing Service – back country style.

Torch lit readings from “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche”. A backwoods tradition (right after helium-assisted limericks….)

What could possibly go wrong?
Why you should not use charcoal in a brand-new gas BBQ – with bottom vents..
Or, Rocket Assisted Backwoods Cooking…..

All you need – just the basics. A cot, sleeping bag, lawn chair and a nice view. Oh, and solar-powered long range high frequency radio communications via voice and morse code.

Don’t bother standing guard – Scorpions only head for your boots after dark.

Forward Operating Base (FOB) BigFoot. Head for the mountains. Drive past the last struggling Prius, 4X4 15 miles from the end of the last pavement, into the bush, Dirt bike from there, generator to power the blender and Comms.

ATV -ing at Pismo Beach CA

Riding the Dunes at Pismo Beach.  Fun!

Boondocks Chow: Stick Bread
We did this in Boy Scout camp with the kids about 20 years ago. I tried the following “Interwebs” recipe and found it quite tasty, kinda like a cross between a bisquick biscuit and “Italian” bread. Pre-warm the stick so the bread cooks a bit from inside too. For the initial, modern dry run (no campfire) I baked it in the oven at 350 for about 22 minutes.

2 cups jive-time flour
1/4 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp dry milk
1 Each Stick, Wood, Mark 1 Mod 0

Mix with about 1 cup of cold water and knead into a stiff dough. You could add a bit of butter or olive oil to the dough as well. Divide in half, roll into long cylinder and wrap around two sticks. Toast like marshmallows. These are done when the bread can be easily pulled off the sticks or sounds “hollow” when tapped. Fill the inside with jam etc, or split open for a less messy method. Two sticks feed one hungry person. Thanks Julie! Below: Kitchen Dry Run

Stick Bread Sans Campfire

Pretty easy at home; Below same recipe (different stick) in the Boonies….

Campfire Stick Bread

Baking stick bread on the fire. Toast for about 15 minutes depending upon heat and thickness of dough – This one was a little thick – a thinner “dough roll” will cook much faster.  Experiment!  Your mileage may vary. Somewhat like Bisquick biscuits, but tastes 17.4 db better since it is cooked and eaten outside!

Stick Bread – Ready to go!

Toast until golden brown…..Bring plenty for your initially – skeptical buddies!

Bisquick Stick Bread

Above: Another simple recipe made with just Bisquick and a little milk.

CampFire Bacon

In the meantime, get that bacon cooking on the fire in Granma’s old cast iron frying pan. NOW, it’s an Official camping trip!

Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Sammitches

Breakfast in the Boonies

Smells like Camping !! Now for some Hash Brown’s:

Improvised cooking of Hash Brown Potatoes

Improvised cooking of Hash Brown Potatoes

The frying pan was busy……

Pork Chops N’ Taters

Then, you Hafta eat dinner (it’s a rule…)…..Pork chops and campfire coal potatoes, corn still cooking.

Camp Kabobs & Steaks

Eat your Veggies! and a Stack ‘O Steaks!

Tactical Lumpia

Tactical Lumpia – freshly made. Basic subsistence nutrition…. Caution: Tactical Lumpia is an extremely effective Zombie attractant!  Who Knew ??  Be careful…..

Ribs in-progress

Sometimes you can’t have a campfire in late summer – then it’s the GirlieMan BBQ. Just need to camp higher up next time – no campfire restrictions.

Hence the name for this place: LZ Lamb Chop

Getting dinner started at LZ Lamb Chop. Yum!

Sausage and Peppers in Grandma’s Cast Iron Frying Pan

Hard to mess up Sausage & Peppers cooked in an old cast-iron frying pan. This will keep your fire lit all night.

Another favorite: Papa Gene’s cast-iron Tactical ‘Taters.

Cast Iron Taters with Onion Soup mix

Cut up a couple of russetts, brown with a little butter, sprinkle in a package of powdered Onion Soup mix once they are cooked. Simple. Yum!

Lunch: Tactical Tube Steaks ala Mess Kit Cookin’

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On the Hoof Stuff

On the Hoof Stuff

When all else fails, C-Rats, MRE’s or “On The Hoof”. By James Guttenberg, a real classic cookbook.

Anyone for some Jane Fondue?  (Left wings of chickens – in Red Sauce.) How about Tactical Turkey, Military Mussels, RECON Rabbit Stew – you get the idea….

Chopped pine needles for tea

Cut up some pine needles for tea. Chop, rinse, drop into very hot water, let it steep. Good stuff!

Canteen Tea with the ever-popular Trioxane Tabs

Canteen Tea with the ever-popular Trioxane Tabs

Above: Canteen cooking. Pine Needle Tea using the handy canteen stove and Trioxane fuel tablets. One tab will boil a canteen cup of water for coffee, tea, Ramen, whatever…. If you have some tabs they keep your gear cleaner than using twigs, wood shavings or just placing the cup in a fire. (Placing the cup diagonally across the stove top speeds heating – better heat flow. A cover helps a lot as well.) Best not done on a wood table….

Pine Needle Tea

Tastes pretty good. Has a little zip – nothing like you’d expect. Sorta like regular Black tea.  Apparently a lot of vitamin C as well. White Pine needles are pretty good. Avoid using those Freeze Dried pine needles laying on the ground…..

Sierra Sammitches

Sierra Sammitches

Above: Sierra Sammitches; Bacon, Tomato, Mayo on a steak bun for breakfast. Maybe some roasted peppers from last night. Yum.

“The best chef is an empty stomach” Boris

Hot dog and Canadian Bacon surprise!

Yet another crappy day in the mountains…….