Gluten-Free Hiking

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were the staple food of my childhood. Anyone else? From the playground to hiking trails, the sticky-sandwiches were Ziplocked and stashed in my pack on an almost daily basis.

So you can feel my despair, when all of a sudden…no more PB&J. It’s the Gluten-Free (well, almost GF) life for me now. So here are three of my favorite gluten-free hiking snack alternatives to keep you feeling like that energizer-bunny, school kid on every mile.

Recipe for a good hiking snack:

  • packed with protein and calories
  • light weight to carry
  • doesn’t need to be refrigerated

Trail Mix

Try making your own! It’s cheaper, plus then you don’t have to pick out all the ingredients you don’t like. I enjoy a simple mixture of raw almonds with white raisins and chocolate chips.

trail mix

Rice cakes with peanut butter

Slap two of these together and enjoy almost like a real PB&J! If you want to mix it up more, try the apple cinnamon cakes with almond butter or nutella.

Apr:11

Home made granola bars

These are way cheaper than the prepackaged snacks and customizable to be gluten-free – just make sure to use GF rolled oats. I like adding sunflower seeds, toasted almonds, white chocolate chips and coconut to my creations. Just bake and wrap in plastic to make it to-go friendly. Here’s a tasty recipe!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

What is your favorite treat to bring hiking?

*Always check package descriptions and ingredients when buying gluten-free snacks.

A Not-So-Flat Hike to Flat Top

With sprawling views of the municipality of Anchorage, its muddy shores and the eastward mountains, the hike up Flat Top is well worth the crowded climb.

Flat Top from the start of the hike.

One of the most popular hikes in Alaska because of its close proximity to Anchorage, this 3-mile hike climbs 1250 feet to a flat lookout that gives the perch its name. A moderate trail with portions of gravel, wood stairs, switchbacks and a rocky climb to the final lookout, the Flat Top hike is an easy half-day trial for all ages. Carved by ancient glaciers, the top surface offers a great refuge for photographers on a clear day to savor in the sweet views of this mountainous state – just be prepared for lots of wind!

If you are not up for the hike – or don’t have the time- you can also get wonderful views of Anchorage, Flat Top and the valley from the lower parking lot. However, be warned that parking is limited for this trail head and the more sun, the more tourists and locals on the trail.

Trail up Flat Top

The lower portion of the trail

Gravel portion of the trail

Gravel portion of the trail

Looking out over Anchorage

Windy, Flat Top hike

I made it to the top – even with the wind!

Just beyond the clouds is the bay.

View east from the top of Flat Top

Mixing it up and moving to Portland!

I’m back! Sorry everyone for the short hiatus from posting. I recently took a new job in Portland, Oregon and have been crazy busy with the transition. Last week I moved north to the big city into a studio apartment – man did I have to downsize my stuff! It’s amazing how much crud you can accumulate in a few years, but the purge felt good…real good!

After a few days as a new, very lost & lonely urbanite, I am finally settling in or I have at least found the grocery store, set up internet and a located good place for a run and a cold drink. Here is a photo from my first run through Washington Park. I think I’m going to like it here!

Washington Park, Mac Trail, Portland

With this big change, you can expect new posts and photos about my explorations around this northern region of Oregon and maybe even more from Washington as well. But no worries, I will still be hiking, running & traveling to show off this beautiful state that I call home!

Hiking along the Umpqua River

To celebrate National Trails Day and to enjoy the outdoors, I joined up with a bunch of women from my church in Eugene for a day of hiking along the Umpqua River in southern Oregon. Following a portion of the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, we stopped for three short hikes to beautiful cascading waterfalls on the north Umpqua. Each building in size and awe-power, the waterfalls filled the day with relaxing river sounds and a chance to get away and enjoy the fellowship of other women in the wild! Continue reading

Worry-Free Waterfalls

A shot of fear seared the back of my throat from the smell of burning rubber lofting from the front tires like the cloud of dust tailing my small red car as we rolled down the gravel road in neutral. The red, low fuel light caught my eye around every nerve racking corner like a little wild devil against the contrast of the beautiful blue layered foothills of the Cascades on the horizon. Caught in the ultimate stare down – a battle of courage and resources – I prayed we’d make it to the bottom of Bohemia Mountain.

***

With the weather man projecting one of the most beautiful summer days yet in Oregon, the Sunday morning started with blue skies, high hopes, and plans to knock off some bucket list items after church.

The itinerary for the day included an afternoon of hiking, waterfalls and rocking road trip music for a fun half day trip into the Umpqua National Forest just east of Cottage Grove. With about five bucket list items in the region, I thought the day a great opportunity to go explore.

Feeling carefree, I confirmed my belief that today was the day to get out on the road with the morning’s church sermon. The passage, Matthew 6:25-34, said to forget my worries:

25 “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? …Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? ….34 So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

So after church and some free Soy Delicious ice cream at Alton Baker Park (which is really, really good), Sarah and I set out on the road.

Mentally noting that my tank was only half full, I planned to stop at a gas station to fill up on our way out toward Dorena Lake on Row River Road – but in true Sarah and Kelsey travel tradition, while caught up in an embarrassing duet rendition of Moulin Rouge’s “Elephant Love Medley” at the top of our lungs I missed our turn off and continued out toward the forest.

First on our schedule was a stop at Wildwood Falls. Located a short drive past Dorena covered Bridge off Lower Brice Creek Road, Wildwood Falls is a popular hangout for young adults with its diving spots into a cool pool from the half circle cliffs. Exposed dry flat rocks surrounding the falls make for the perfect place to lay out in the sun on a warm day or enjoy a picnic lunch – just be prepared to walk to the falls on a hot day because parking is limited.

Kids hanging out at Wildwood Falls

Not quite ready to get wet yet and with hiking ahead of us, Sarah and I snapped a few photos of the pounding water before pulling back on the road to head further up creek.

Following Row River Road east Sarah and I next swung off at Brice Creek’s West Trailhead for a walk along the slow moving river (actually we thought we’d reached Brice Creek Falls, but still a fun jaunt out of the car). With several trails leading along the water, we rock jumped along the edge of the shore and stuck our toes in the chilly clear current at Emerald Pool – we even ran into a couple panning for gold along the creek’s banks.

Man searching for gold

From the West Trailhead, we continued east to Cedar Creek Campground to see the actual Brice Creek Falls. A short .3 mile trail walk along the north edge of the creek from the campground parking lot leads to these series of small waterfalls. Carving sharp 90 degree cuts in the river rock, Brice Creek Falls make for a dramatic cascade of water and another great place to dive in.

Brice Creek Falls

Not done for the day, Sarah and I decided from Brice Creek Falls to head up the road 4 miles to the two Trestle Creek Falls. Tucked in the arch of a hill within the heavy trees, the sister waterfalls at Trestle Creek tumble far from the sky to the rocky creek bed below in a beautiful shower. From the roadside parking lot, the .6 mile trail to the lower Trestle Falls can be accessed from the Brice Creek Trail just on the other side of the bridge, while the Upper Trestle Falls trailhead is just another thirty feet up the road on the same side.

Up for some exercise, Sarah and I started up the Upper Trestle Creek Trail, a 1.5 mile hike up the hillside to the falls. At the top of the trail, you hear the crashing water before you see the white sheet of H2O fall over the edge, but the sound of the water is only a tease – the view from the corner of the trail is even more phenomenal. Wrapping up around the edge of the falls, the trail passes behind the upper segment of the waterfall, where you can feel the cool water against your hands. After taking dozens of photos and cooling down in the damp breeze from the descending water – we also descended, following the loop trail down one mile to where it joins the Brice Creek Trail and then the final .7 mile back to where we started.

Upper Trestle Creek Falls

Hungry and legs a little tired from the hiking – we checked our map and gas gauge once back at the car. With enough energy left to take us the final 15 mile drive to Bohemia Lookout and a quarter of a tank left in the car – we set off further down the now one lane road with fingers confidently crossed that we had enough gas.

The road swerved and curved along the creek until we reached a sharp right turn onto a gravel road that began the climb up Bohemia Mountain. But as the slope steepened, the nose of the car up, the gas level dropped and dropped. Hovering just above the E, the warning light flashed – but I kept pushing the car up the road as gravel spun off under my tires. Thinking, it can’t be much further to the top.

As we slowly crept up in altitude, I could feel my blood pressure rise with anxiety to turn around. Oh my poor little car. But just as I was about to give up the battle and try a 12 point turn to head back down the hill, the trees finally broke opening up to a panoramic view that seemed to stretch forever. Hills covered with dense forest like that hairs on a cat layered onward and onward to the horizon. Slowly transitioning from deep green to pale gray blue, the hills seemed to dissolve into the sky. To the north east, snow topped peaks glistened in the summer sun trying to not melt away.

Sarah and I at the top of Bohemia Mt.

As much as I wanted to melt away in the moment as well, I couldn’t see pass the height of the hills demonstrating their position for the return trip. The worry nibbled on my nerves also from my slight fear of heights. The thought of driving down scared me but the thought of walking to the nearest gas station frightened me even more. So down we slowly headed.

***

Neither of us knowing much about cars, Sarah and I decided to put the car in neutral to save gas, thinking we could just roll down the hill. Sliding down the switch backs with the full weight of the car on the breaks, we quickly realized how wrong we were.

“There’s no point worrying right?” I said to Sarah as we rolled down the windows, finally sitting at a dead stop at the bottom of Bohemia Mountain. The smell of burnt breaks suffocated the small interior, as we breathed out with relief, yet still 4o miles from the nearest gas station. “Well, we will either make it back to town or….not.”