Dutch Oven Deliciousness

Any time of year is perfect for dutch oven cooking, but I especially enjoy it during the autumn months. Perhaps it gives me a feeling of camp cooking, or it is simply just spending some time outdoors. The beauty of dutch oven cookery is it can be done practically anywhere, no campfire required!

I’m a succer for a delicious coffee cake. My father in-law makes a great one every Christmas morning. Maybe this year I’ll get him to try this one!

Do you have a favorite dutch oven recipe you’d like to share? Submit it to Suniechick!

11 (more) Things Every Outdoors Woman Should Experience

Eleven you ask? Most of these types of  lists are ‘ten’. I even have one myself. There is such a variety of experiences I feel should be had by not just every woman, but everyone. Here is a list of eleven more things I’ve added to the list of should dos.

  • Setting up a tent completely on your own. This leads to quite a feeling of accomplishment if you’ve never done it.
  • Starting a campfire from scratch; no firestart sticks, newspaper, just what is provided by nature.
  • Drinking your tea/coffee around a campfire (one of my favorites).
  • Summiting that mountain, whatever size it may be.
  • The scent of evergreens blowing in the breeze.
  • A whispering creek telling bed time stories as you drift into dreamland.
  • Chopping wood, can be difficult but rewarding.
  • Cooking anything over the fire.
  • That moment of peace when you gaze out into nature, feeling the breeze caress your skin while the birds and squirrels hold their conversations. This can be done almost anywhere, even your own backyard.
  • Ice cold creek water running between your toes.
  • Cool grass, soft mud, sun warmed river rocks under your bare feet. This makes me feel so connected, when my feet can touch the earth sans coverings.

Most of these items bring upon a sense of accomplishment for me, no matter how many times I do them. Not because I’m a ‘girl’ that was able to chop my own firewood or set up my own tent, but because I am proud of who I am, and the things I can do for myself. I’m not afraid of a little hard work, and am usually fairly good about asking for help when needed (although I have been known to be quite stubborn). I ask you to try new things, to challenge yourself. You might just be surprised at what you can do.

Are there items on your ‘Experiences List’ you’d like to share? Please, send ’em in!

September Escapes

Smoke hangs heavy in the air, obscuring my promised mountain views. Flies swarm in and out with their incessant buzzing. The only wildlife spotted has been a handful of birds, one black squirrel, a lone mule deer and a pesky chipmunk we have dubbed “Alex”. He’s grown quite bold over the last couple days, and somehow found himself inside our cabin making an attempt at our trash bag.

The few deciduous trees have become brilliantly gold in the short time of our visit. Autumn is rapidly approaching these Idaho mountains. Meanwhile, fire watch planes roar overhead, blotted out by dense smoke. Despite these inconveniences, there is extreme beauty and much needed peace.

I do get a bit saddened seeing how dry the landscape is. Even after the big fire a few years ago, summers were filled with rain, and lushness continued to embrace September. Mother Nature is parched.

In consideration of cold nights and wanting, needing to umplug, we rented a rustic Forest Service cabin. Dating back into the early 1930’s, equipped with wood stove for heat and hand pump for water, this was to be our home for four glorious nights. Forest Service cabins are a great alternative to camping in cold temps, or for those wanting to get their feet wet with the great outdoors. The prices are usually fairly reasonable. Ours has two beds, tables, solar lighting, propane cook stove and stocked with pots, pans and dishes. And yes, there is also an extremely clean vault toilet out back. We are quite comfortable.

The sun is beginning to set, marking the approach into our third night. Time has been filled with a small hike to a once amazing hot spring. Forest fire and human abuse have turned it into nothing more than an algae covered muck hole. Two wonderous soaks have been enjoyed at one of my favorite spots. Games have been played, many pictures taken and much pleasure has been relished. If the smoke lifts, tomorrow will entail hikes and more hot spring exploration.

Taking this time to disconnect and reconnect with nature helps me recharge my batteries. All too soon inclement weather will be upon me. Mountain trips will be more difficult. So, I will ingrain every moment of this visit into my soul and carry it with me to the next opportunity. In the mean time, I’ll dust off my winter adventure plans.

Day Trip Preparedness

September has arrived, and with it summer begins its transition into fall. This season has been filled with enourmous amounts of heat (and horrific forest fires), making day hiking a bit more difficult. School is starting for some, and ‘regular’ life and routine have returned. The weather has started to cool, and thus begins one of my favorite times of year; day trip season! I continually re-evaluate my day trip needs, reviewing packlists and current contents of my pack. I would like to share with you a bit of day trip prepardness for those non-camping jaunts into nature.

Day Trip Pack List
Depending on your destination, and the journey to get there, your list may vary. These are some things that I ALWAYS take with me despite where I may end up.

Clothing Items
* Extra socks
* Knit hat (beanie)
* Gloves (the little “magic” gloves will do)
* Jacket/hoodie
* Towel

Food
* Granola bars (I prefer Larabars, very few ingredients and yummy!)
* Nuts. dried fruit. trail mix type items.
* Shot Blocs (for extra electrolytes if needed)
[The above items can be stored in your day pack and changed out as needed since they have a longer shelf life and no need for refrigeration}
* Fresh fruit; mandarin oranges, apples, grapes etc
* String cheese (can go awhile without refrigeration)
* PBJ
* Lots of water

Miscellaneous
* Big black trash bag for setting my stuff on or myself, also works as a rain jacket in a pinch
* Small plastic grocery bags for picking up others trash
* Head lamp/flashlight
* Knife
* Lip balm
* Lotion
* Bug spray
* Sun screen
* Camera
* Notepad and pen

A few of these items may seem frivolous or unnecessary, but in my fairly extensive experience these are must haves for me. I dream fondly of the next adventure to come. I’m sure it will be here sooner than later.

Are there any items that are must haves for you to include? Please remember to pack it in, pack it out, to leave the wilderness better than you found it and to tell someone where you’ll be. Safety is important!

Happy Adventuring!

Coping With the Unexpected

Life has a way of throwing up unforeseen obstacles that must be overcome. This transcends into time in the outdoors. There are some trips, no matter the detailed preparation, that the unexpected creeps up and can whap you in the kisser. One such journey into the forest recently happened to me.

I was planning on spending a few days in the Payette and Boise National Forests, with the intentions of avoiding the traditional holiday campers. I looked back through old trip notes as well, because I also wanted to avoid the Tribal Salmon fishing season. I have entered into this area in the past during fishing time, and was greeted with an overwhelming amount of people, noise and rude behavior. My notes dictated that this particular event was still a couple weeks away. I was in the clear!

For days I was looking forward to campfires, starlit nights and serene hot spring soaks. My food was in order, gear double checked, weather forcast perused and the vehicle had been given the preliminary once over. I was ready. The drive, as usual, was gorgeous. The scent of pine and earth drifted through the open windows. A smile split my face from ear to ear. It was just me, SS and our four legged friend. The trip was lining up for perfection, until we turned onto the forest road of our destination.

This narrow, winding mountain road had turned into L.A. gridlock. Almost every pullout was packed with cars and trucks. Our usual campground was filled beyond capacity. We slowly made our way further down. We found a half full campground! The first night was quite peaceful. There was even a midnight soak to be had.

Upon awaking with the sun, the campground had filled up completely. There were even illegal makeshifts spots created by the creek. I was dumbfounded. The holiday was still 5 days off, how could there be so many people? As we sipped our tea and coffee, the answer was shown to us. Truck after SUV after car rolled by with traditional spear and nets. We had arrived just before salmon fishing started. The signs had not yet been posted when we entered the forest road. Run-off was also early this year so fishing was able to begin sooner. I was almost crushed. There went our peace and quiet. There went our private soaks. There went less stressful driving. We had already paid our camping fees, so we decided to make the best of it.

Up went the privacy shelter, which helped tremendously. The volume of people was not the only issue we faced. Mother Nature decided to be about 15 degrees hotter than the weather man predicted. Now 15* doesn’t sound like much, but when it is 90* as to 75*, with little shade and the creek being bogarted, it’s just plain hot.

Solutions, solutions. The privacy shelter helped with the overfilled campground and provided a little extra shade. We also explored a new trail which we didn’t have to drive to which led to another section of the creek with bountiful trees and a great spot to picnic. The biggest and most important solution, was an attitude adjustment. Sometimes you simply can not predict what is going to happen. During this same trip we experienced a few more unexpected obstacles. However, making up my mind to enjoy my time in the mountains, not letting the unplanned grate my nerves, allowed me to truly experience nature. I still found my moments of tranquility, my moments to reconnect. And I took away a valuable lesson; to cope and adjust are a necessity if one is to adventure.

Rebeginning

Oregon Desert Landscapre

Staring out at the desert landscape I contemplate the last 18 months. Crickets chirp, insects buzz my head and a breeze blows through the stubby grass and sage brush. There is so much life in this corner of the Oregon desert.

A great deal of life has happened since I last posted to Suniechick. I graduated college, the first in my family. Many adventures were had including foreign places and a foiled pack trip to a still sought after hot spring. Healing of the heart and soul from the loss of my Mom and darling Dolly, has begun. I have had to refocus on other aspects of my life for awhile. A temporary hiatus was needed for all this life to occur.

The sun begins its descent, yet still nicely warms my skin. I think about myself, direction, who is Suniechick? She is a strong, independent woman. Someone who is surrounded by love. She is passionate for the outdoors and wishes to protect it and share it with whomever will listen. Suniechick believes that these places are the foundation of life, and that everyone has the right to experience them. Whether you’re packing out 50 miles into wilderness or strolling through the park watching the ducks, those experiences, those moments where we can connect with nature are deeply important.

There has been a refocus, a rejuvenation. While I, Suniechick, will be here to help guide you to partaking in the glories of nature and sharing my adventures, I will also be sharing with you some of what else lies close to my heart. As I said, I wish to help protect and preserve the drastically dwindling amounts of wildlands left. This may come in the form of “activism” or my rambling thoughts. For me, Suniechick is new and improved. This is an exciting time. To live life, take advantage instead of for granted. It is a rebeginning. I hope you join me.

Backcountry on the Back Burner

Well, that statement isn’t entirely true.

2010 brought a roller coaster of life, and many changes.

This summer was filled with nights under the stars in the Boise National Forest, soaking up the hot springs, hiking in Yellowstone National Park and breathtaking views of the Black Hills. There was actually little lack of backcountry.

As some of you may recall, I spent summer of 2009 in Northern Idaho with my Mom. It was a difficult summer, filled with chaos and a plethora of emotions. However, it is a time that I would NEVER take back. In June of this year, my Mom passed away from pancreatic cancer. She was the ultimate outdoors woman, the woman who introduced Mother Nature to me. Her passing has rested heavy on my heart. Now that some time has passed I am ready to jump back on the bandwagon!

The backcountry is in my soul, and forever will be a part of me. The outdoors is a passion, an obsession. Due to the changes in life I didn’t spend as much time with the pack strapped on, but not all was lost, just momentarily set on the back burner.

Camp Time, Almost

The camp director hat has been placed upon my head once again.

Two summers ago I embarked on a unique undertaking. I was the Camp Director for a Girl Scout camp in central Idaho. Once again I am about to commence on a 5 week journey filled with trials, challenges, personal growth and joy.

The quest has already begun with pre-camp planning. This year I have been given more “control” of camp happenings. I have been put in charge of hiring staff, programming and a myriad of other details. There have been moments of frustration and moments of pure excitement. I am thrilled to have several staff members return to be by my side this season, as well as welcome new faces to join in the experience.

I hope to be able to share my stories along the way. I aspire to inspire more women to take a leap, enjoy the great world with their daughters, sisters, friends and anyone else they can grab hold of!

2010 Earth Hour On The Horizon

March 27th marks the third year of One Hour No Power, Vote for Earth!

The countdown has begun for Earth Hour 2010. I pledge once more to turn off my lights, computer, phone and anything else that eats up valuable energy.

“The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations” ~WWF

Join Suniechick, World Wildlife Fund, Alanis Morrisette, a variety of US landmarks and many other companies, countries, cities and people around the world in taking part of One Hour No Power 2010!

NWF 2010 Be Out There Resolution

National Wildlife Federation Challenges YOU to be out there, everyday in 2010!

“Go play outside” was a common phrase in my household growing up. The weather didn’t matter. Snow, sun, brisk temperatures, outdoors is where we were supposed to be. I think it was mostly to get us kids out of my mom’s hair, but a connection was being built. Now, “playing outside” is what I desire most.nature's beauty

During the time I have spent as a Girl Scout Camp Director, and as many of my friends have children of their own, I have noticed a disturbing trend. Many of these children don’t know what it’s like to run and laugh and experience the great outdoors.

I would like to challenge you, along with NWF to get you and your kids outdoors everyday. Rebecca P. Cohen took this challenge in 2009. A short walk, bird watching, gazing at the stars, fifteen minutes minimum is all it takes. Help build that relationship for your children which we have all cherished. Be out there!