I’m fortunate that my work allows me a midweek day off, which enables my boyfriend and I to share one day off together. We try to spend it productively with a long hike or, like this week, a last minute single night camping trip semi-close to home.
We opted for the Salmon River trail in Welches, Oregon — about one hour outside of Portland. We used the Salmon River West Trailhead as our access point and were advised that there was a campsite about 1.5 miles into the trail.
We hiked a very easy mile (but got to use our new Osprey backpacks, nonetheless) and spotted a lot of prime camping terrain, including a fire pit right alongside the swift moving Salmon River. Looking back on it, we’re positive it wasn’t the campsite we were told about, but whatever, it was a great locale either way!
We arrived shortly after 3:30/4 PM and decided to make a chill night in the woods out of it. Three Creeks Brewing‘s FivePine Chocolate Porter hit the spot, beer after beer, and we spent the rest of our daylight hours scouring the damp rainforest for Morel mushrooms to no avail, as well as taking many practice swings with our new $14 hatchet from Portland’s Andy & Bax Military Surplus — by the way, this was the first time I have ever attempted chopping firewood and I think I did a pretty decent job.
Though the trip was mostly an opportunity for us to escape the house and be outside, we took advantage of it by rehearsing some camping procedures we’ll have to do daily during our Glacier National Park backpacking trip in August… We prepared and hung a bear bag and then tested out some food we anticipate on bringing with us — In this case it was the Backpacker’s Pantry meal, Pad See You with Chicken. My experience with freeze-dried food is very limited and consists only of the time I did a National History Day project on space food’s significance to space exploration. NASA sent my group and I samples of the foo and I refused to try to icky freeze-dried beef dinner, but I gotta admit the freeze-dried ice cream was pretty awesome.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect from Backpacker’s Pantry; its reviews are unanimously good but doesn’t everything taste like a 5-star gourmet meal when you’ve been hiking a strenuous 15 miles all day?
The Pad See You contains chicken, broccoli, garlic, and soy sauce. We followed the directions (bring water to boil, pour boiling water into bag, seal bag, let sit for X minutes) and then feasted.
… It was pretty damn good. Very garlic-y (we are huge fans of garlic so we may be biased). Not to mention, the portion sizes exceeded my expectations!
Last but not least, the pouch doubles as a helpful container to packing out your trash.
Surprisingly, there wasn’t much to complain about this freeze-dried dinner… Only cons include the sauce not distributing evenly, even despite our shaking and squishing of the pouch, and then after the prescribed cooking time, it was still a little watery — but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because the directions are for a 5,000 foot elevation and we were at less than 2,000 feet (plus, I can’t say I hated slurping on the tasty garlicy broth after the meal).
It’s hard to rate Backpacker’s Pantry’s Pad See You with Chicken because I feel like my judging is slightly skewed since it is my first freeze-dried backpacking meal. However, I’ll give it a number anyway… 4 stars out of 5. I’m psyched to try the Pad Thai on our trip to the Enchantment Lakes in Washington come June!
In my opinion, the best part of the trip was not having cellphone service. It was nice to unplug (minus taking these photos) and not think about my email, work, social media, or texts, and even nicer to have some one-on-one time time in the woods with Colin.
Though our trip was brief, it still did some spirit cleansing and it was just the thing I needed this week.
– Freeze-dried meals ain’t so bad.