Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thursday Night Hike

Last Thursday was perfect for an evening hike.  At 5:30 I left from the Cucumber Tree Trailhead on the Athens Trail.  The wildflowers on the Rockhouse Trail are near their peak. Especially good is a stretch beyond the Market on State and before the Blue Ash Cave.  Next Thursday should be even better!


Dutchmans Breeches


Breeches by the yard

The Bluebells are just starting

Wonderfule evening light

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Drying Food for wilderness trips

This time of year some of us are getting on the trail and others are still preparing.  We all have our own way of rigging and getting ready for multi staged wilderness trips.  I have developed a system over the years that involves drying my own backpacking food.  About 2 months before I start a trip I dry my own beans, tofu jerkey, stirfrys, pasta sauces and any reasonable meal leftovers.

My dryer is a top motor stack that air drys 4-6 trays.

It also has clear plastic sheets that are for leathers and drying liquid things

On the PCT a hiker introduced me to dried yogurt.  .Yogurt will dry into a chewy leather, and you know how you will sometimes miss that creamy dairy flavor. This stuff is nirvana after a few days out.

Sauce leather before processing to powder
A big item for us is sauce.  You can only eat so much Knorr noodles before they all taste like crap.  I dry red Pasta Sauces, Strogonoff sauce, and Alfredo Sauce.  You dry them into leathers, then chop them into powder.  I keep sauces in big plastic jars and put them and some dry beans in my bounce box.  To reconstitute the sauces you spoon or pour some hot pasta water into the ziplock and knead (in a high altitude windy camp this process is therapeutic) By the time the pasta is ready the sauce is ready to toss with the hot noodles.

I also dry a lot of beans to add protein to Knorr sides.  I like black beans, lentils and white beans.  You can be gourmet and cook the beans then dry them.  I buy canned, rinse them, then dry them.

Missing fresh veggies?  The trick to fresh veggies for me is to dry frozen peas, corn and various mixes.  Anything that dries bigger than a pea should be processed in  food processor until the bits are smaller or they will take too long to rehydrate.  You can dry spinach fresh from the farmers market -- just put it on the tray and dry it.  It tastes so good out there.

I know a lot of you are stoveless.  I have dried and reconstituted cream cheese, Yogurt, fruit smoothies and lots else.  I make my own tofu jerky.

The best thing about drying your own food is it makes your house smell fantastic.  And you get the benefit of healthy diverse food on those long trails.

Happy Trails

Ultralight crosses sports

This summer the crazy Mattsons have decided to bike the New Mexico portion of the CDT instead of hiking it.  Using all frame packs we are hoping to keep our gear even more minimal than backpacking.  We have a trunk bag, two frame packs and a handlebar bag.  To experiment with all the new gear and packing it I did a solo trip to Ocala National Forest (Florida) in March.  On my bike I carried  my Marmot Helium in an OR silnylon UL dry bag, a 6.5 oz bivvie sac from Equinox, a tyvek tarp and the old footprint of a Sierra Designs tent, various string and tent stakes, an ultralight Thermarest.  In my triangle bag was a repair kit and my pataogonia down sweater, my handlebar bag carried my wallet and keys and the rest of my clothes, sunscreen and bug juice.  I went stoveless so 3 days of food and a MSR bladder of water was all the kitchen I needed.  My trunk has 
two fold out bags I put my raingear and a spare water bladder in one and half my food in the other.  There is one more small pack that sits on the stem.  My camera and mp3 player and a snack bar lived in that.  All in all it was alot like backpacking but faster.  Ocala has one short 22mile mountain bike Path which was a complete hoot, I was hoping to ride on some of the dirtroads that border some of the wilderness areas and looked nice but they were all too sandy.  I rode a big loop on paved roads the second day and then hiked a little on the Florida Trail the last day.   All in all it seemed that my UL gear was perfect for bike packing and translated very well.  Sure missed those hiking sticks for my tarp set up though. 


All loaded up

The mountain Bike trail and the Florida Trail intersected

Sunrise in the Juniper Prairie Wilderness

Florida Scrub Jay

Alxander Springs River

How to Go Light presented by Vicky Mattson at the Buckeye Trailfest April 26th 2014

How to Go Light – Or How I Learned to Love Silnylon

Join veteran backpacker Vicky Mattson as she presents stories and lessons learned from a lifetime of heavy packs and reforming her gear into a 9-15 lb base weight for her Pacific Crest Trail hike and her Continental Divide Trail attempt.  In 2011 and 2012 Vicky and her family hiked the 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.  She is currently working on Section Hiking/biking The Continental Divide Trail (very large chunks) Last year we hiked the Colorado and Wyoming portion of the CDT, this year we will finish with the CDT in New Mexico and Montana.  She is planning to hike the AT alone next year, completing the Triple Crown of America’s long trails.  Along the way Vicky has learned many strategies regarding gear, food prep, and planning for these long hikes.   The program will include some photos of Vicky’s hikes as well as examples of gear and going light.  Vicky will also have some Gossamer Gear (  )products to share, and discount coupons.  If you are planning any long trail hiking or are just sick of heavy packs this workshop is for you.
9 AM Saturday April 26th at the Buckeye Trailfest 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter Vacation by Jay Mattson

Winter Vacation 2014
By Jay Mattson

On Friday, December 13, 2013 I opened 5 My Christmas presents because we were traveling on our winter vacation. We drove across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas over two days then into Colorado. December 16 we  checked into the good night Lonesome Dove, at about 11 AM. We have stayed at Lonesome Dove on many other occasions. Almost every time we stayed in our favorite cabin “Clara.” Mom dropped me and dad off at Wolf Creek ski area, while she went grocery shopping. We skied for four hours, warming up our skills. Mom picked us up at the ski hill. I was very hungry. Mom made one of the best dinners that I ever had.
Ski hills have color and shape that code the difficulty of each run.
Green circles


 Blue squares
 Black diamond
most difficult
 Double black diamond
Double Black diamonds with EX means Extreme 

The first time I went extreme skiing was at Wolf Creek on this vacation. At the top of the Alberta lift I took off my skis, and then hiked with them on my back on steps that were kicked into the snow toward the High ridge. There was a sign at the top with the E X symbols. The sign said “watch for unmarked obstacles and avalanches.” I walked through that gate by myself. I felt like I had let go of a lifeline. I hiked for about 15 minutes.  Then I got to the top of the ridge. The view was amazing, I felt like I could see 500 miles of snowy peaks and big plains. I turned my Go Pro camera on to record a 360 view. At the start of my run I looked down. My heart was racing and my hands were sweating, all I could see was rocks and trees and a very steep drop. So I started to think “is this really a good idea?” I said to myself “I'm here I'm not going back and I will not fall!” Then I dropped in. The snow was unexpectedly powder. It was like skiing through whipped cream but nowhere near as tasty. I did turns the whole way down this steep section, then I look back at my tracks then skied through some trees. It was so much fun that I did it again while dad took pictures.

On a ski hill you can meet a bunch of different people at different skill levels. Here are the people I met. When I was going down Alberta face I saw three kids. I asked them what they were doing. They were building a jump. I asked them if I could ski with them. They said, “ok.” Ethan went first. He hit the jump and went really high and did a tail grab. Then Cody went. He did a nose butter which looks a little bit like a handstand at the end of the jump. Evan did a straight jump. It was my turn. I started towards the jump, I knew exactly what I was going to try… A backflip. As I left the jump, my right ski came off. I knew landing with one ski wasn't going to be easy. Then I realized I wasn't rotating fast enough to land on my feet. I landed on my back which sounds more painful than it was. Ethan skied over and said “dude are you okay?” Cody and Evan skied over and invited me to ski with them. We skied to more jumps then the three of them showed me some terrain I hadn't been in before. I skied with them for two days. We had so much fun skiing together that we exchange contact information, and I hope to ski with them again sometime.
Since my dad's college switched to semesters this spring break was really long. After our skiing trip we went to the Grand Canyon and camped in the campground and then started hiking the next day. T he first day we only hiked about 5 miles but descended 3000 feet. The next day we descended about 2000 feet to Bright Angel camp ground. After we left Bright Angel we hiked across a big suspension bridge that ended in a tunnel. We climbed 2000 vertical feet and found the Tonto trail on a plateau. We spent three days on the Tonto trail. Then we camped on horse shoe mesa.  The next day we left camp and went up some of the scariest trail that I have ever hiked on. In some places the trail was built above air with ice and snow on it! After we finished hiking the Grand Canyon we drove to Durango, CO to ski at Purgatory. We skied there for two days then we drove to our next stop in Gunnison Colorado so we could ski Crested Butte.
Then we drove to Monarch ski resort where I got injured. After that we drove to Michigan to see my aunt and uncle. As we got close to Michigan it got really snowy, and the roads were really hard to drive on. We made it to Aunt Lauri and Uncle Tom’s safe and sound. It was so snowy that we stayed inside for the three days we were there. Dad had driven to Ann Arbor Michigan to do research so my mom and I got on a train and rode to meet him. Then we drove home to Athens, OH.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

We delivered 98 gallons of clean fresh water to Charleston today. Thank you to all of our friends who donated water. Please try to donate water to the Pat Thomas trip next week
Drop off Monday's & Thursday's, 4-6 at Grace Christian Center, 9322 Johnson Rd. (next to Athens Messenger) & Saturday's Chelsea's Real Food, Adams Rib (when I'm there) at the Athens Farmer's Market 10-1:00.
Along with bottled drinking water, we would like to include plenty 2 1/2, 5 gallon containers for bathing, shampoo, cooking...
I haven't established a departure date, focusing on this weekend or early next week.
Thank you again, I can't wait to do this, so we can so it again!

We delivered 15 gallons to one family that had a single mom on crutches witha teenage son. Much of the Charleston are still can't use their water. The volunteers that helped us coordinate the delivery were so greateful. Please help if you can.
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Please Donate Water for Charleston WV
As a through Hiker the Crazy Mattsons know how important clean available water can be and the deep appreciation of the volunteers that provide it.
The people of Charleston West Virginia are still unsure of their water and are seeking fresh water donations. We are planning on taking a car load to Charleston on Saturday or Sunday.

Any of our local friends who are interested in donating to this cause we can handle 1 and 2 1/2 gallon jugs. You can drop them off on our front porch 32 sunnyside Dr Athens OH anytime in the next couple of days.

We will be attributing this donation to the Sierra Club so please donate generously if you are a club member. email Vicky Mattson at, message her on facebook or call7408186737 with Questions.