Preparing for a Week of Hiking/Writing in Olympic National Park

My boyfriend and I have always loved to hike together. With 2020 throwing our lives upside down, we have not had as many opportunities to go on hiking trips together. A few months ago, however, we both requested several days off of work for September, planning to hike a segment of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in our home state, North Carolina.

We were hoping to get some fresh air and time away from the craziness of work, but as we started planning out our hike, it became apparent that the campsites we needed to stay at along the way were not open. They had all been closed due to a series of unfortunate events, including a lightning strike, burst water lines, and COVID closures.

Although we were disappointed, we ultimately decided to postpone that particular hiking trip. However, we then used the opportunity to think bigger in terms of our experience. I am actually glad our original trip wasn’t possible, because we came up with an even better idea.

We tossed around several trip ideas and decided on camping and hiking in Olympic National Park in Washington State, a few hours west of Seattle. Neither of us have been to any part of the Northwest, so we are thrilled to have the opportunity to explore a new region of the United States.

I decided, too, that I am going to use the opportunity to do some travel writing about the park. I recently started a freelance gig that involves writing about state and national parks, so I’m using this trip as a chance to do some freelance research.

Alex and I checked into flights to Washington and found a phenomenal deal on a flight/rental car combination. Flying during COVID times is of course a concern, but the airline is taking the right precautions that we feel comfortable with. People I know who have taken flights recently mentioned how empty the planes and the airports are. I honestly feel better about flying right now than walking into our local Wal-Mart when half the town refuses to wear masks.

Last Minute Purchases

Today, we spent a good portion of the day stocking up on items at the local REI, since they were having such a good Labor Day sale. We bought a few odds and ends, including a map of the area. I needed some good hiking socks, especially since the last time we went on a major hiking trip (Section 10 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail), I got phenomenal blisters that left me hobbling for weeks after the hike.

Seriously, I had blisters on top of blisters and had to stop at mile 65 because I literally had no skin on the bottom of either of my feet that was not blistered.

Alex is insanely brand loyal to his camping gear, and seeing as he somehow managed to hike all 77 miles of the Section 10 segment without a single blister, I took him up on his suggestion of buying Darn Tough socks. Here’s to hoping . . .

Meal Preparation: Dehydrator Recipes

I am currently working on dehydrating some meals and snacks for us to take on our trip. We bought a dehydrator a while back and have only used it for a few super simple things like drying basil leaves from our garden and drying bananas. We’re using this hiking trip as an opportunity to get more creative with dehydrated food.

Dehydrated meals are a great option for us because they are incredibly lightweight, cheap, and easily customized. I am gluten intolerant, which means I have a pretty hard time being able to find prepackaged meals I can eat, so making my own meals is by far the preferable option for me.

I prepared a wild rice and red bean pilaf in the pressure cooker earlier today and dehydrated several trays of it. I followed this super simple recipe from ThruEat and made a few modifications like using tomatoes with green chiles (my New Mexico years still live on through my palate) and using beef bouillon rather than chicken since that’s what I had in the pantry.

Not too pretty dried out, but tasty once re-hydrated!

For an easy snack, I am also making some trays of dehydrated cinnamon apple chips using a recipe on Trail.Recipes. It’s just sliced green apples topped with brown sugar and cinnamon and dehydrated for half a day. Most dehydrator recipes take at least six hours, but you don’t have to watch the food too closely since it dries out so slowly, so you can put it in the dehydrator overnight while you sleep.

Technically I was supposed to “sprinkle” the topping. But I really like cinnamon. And I *love* sugar.

So far, this Labor Day weekend has proven to be quite labor-intensive, but it is worth it. I can’t wait to update the blog with our plane trip (an adventure in itself) and the actual hiking/camping.


Share links to your own travel writing pieces or camping recipes in the comments! I love hearing your thoughts!

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