Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wild Azalea Loops...

So enough about duck hunting and the utter lack of fishing we've had this winter. I still love getting out in the woods with Ruthie for a weekend. We'd planned to hike for a few consecutive weekends but these "polar vortices" have kept us away. We made the commitment to hike a loop on the Wild Azalea in the Kisatchie National Forest no matter what the weather. It looked favorable going into the weekend with slight chances of showers but generally warming from friday through sunday.

The great thing about the Wild Azalea is all of the fire roads that criss cross the trail giving you a multitude of options for a hike. You can shuttle from car to car with others, make short loop hikes or go out and back in a lot of ways. We chose to drive up friday night and park at Evangeline Camp off of FR 273. We geared up and walked under headlight a little ways down the hill to the Boy Scout camp and set up the tarp for the night.

There was a few ulterior motives for this hike this weekend. Number one was to get out of the house. Number two was to start carrying and training for a heavy load like I'll be carrying on the JMT if i'm lucky enough to get to attempt it this year. I packed in my BearVault bv500 and made it a point to tote and extra liter of water for most of the weekend. As an added bonus I got Ruthie more comfortable with camping in rainy weather in a tarp.
We set up friday night in a drizzle and it continued off and on all night. The plan was to get up early saturday morning and put in a solid day of around 15 miles. The alarm went off at 7am and after the second snooze, I turned the alarm off. Not the most productive action but it was what it was. We both slept until 9 and we left camp late. Adjusting the route to go out and back after a lunch break on the Lakeshore Trail and we were off through cool temps and scattered sunshine.
Through the flocks of mountain bikers and white pelicans we made our way up the east bank of Lake Kincaid and the trail was in great shape. Three hours later we were content enough with out progress to take a coffee/almond butter break before the turn around back towards Lamotte Creek. I was happy to sit by the lake and watch birds fly under the canopy of big pine trees.
Another bonus of going heavier for the weekend was that I did not scrutinize my pack weight down to my last clif bar like I normally would. Saturday night we made our trail tacos, a messy dehydrated mix of meat, beans, veggies and spices. Finished with taco bell sauce on a flour tortilla. So easy to make and rehydrate I feel like every backpacker with a dehydrator would do extra miles for them. May warrant an extra post for this one. A fire, messy taco hands, snickers and sleepytime tea before bed and we both crashed a little after sundown.
The next morning we experimented with a new recipe for trail pancakes. I'd bought an old MSR non-stick pan on closeout for luxury hikes just like this. This too was a simple recipe for mix and pour panacakes. They worked out wonderfully in the small pan. Just have to remember to bring less maple syrup next time as it spilt all over everything on the hike out. Hope that everyone else is taking advantage of this weather before the heat turns on and the camping opportunities drop to nil.

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