The Camp of Hikes

Last week our family took our new-to-us tent trailer camping at Spruces Campground. While it wasn’t my first choice for campsites, it really was a good trip.

We ended up leaving on Monday afternoon about 3:30pm. That was a lot later than I had originally planned, but I could get myself moving on Saturday to get the trailer packed and ready. So, we did most of the packing on Monday.

After we got to camp, we decided to do tinfoil dinners first, because the dutch oven meals were still frozen. It was nice. We then settle in earlier than usual for camping, because we had worked hard that morning.

In the morning, I woke up before everyone else (which is typical). So, I decided that I would start the day in searching for a geocache. The is called New Name New Cache and it is located up the Days Fork Trail. It is accessible only through the Spruces campground, but you can park just outside the campground if you don’t want to pay the fee.

It was a rough hike at first, but it levels off near the end and is very pleasant. I was tempted to place another cache to attract people up there, but I really didn’t have a good container. So, I will put one up next year. Spruces seems to be an annual tradition in our family.

When I got home we had a big breakfast of biscuits, sausages, and eggs. The biscuits were done in the dutch oven, and as you would expect from the dutch oven, there were better than from a regular oven.

After breakfast, I got the geocaching but again. So, I offered to take my kids on a hike to find a geocache. We headed out in search of Health Come to Dog Lake. When I got to the trail head and saw that the trail was 2.6 miles, I should have known it was too much for my 4- and 2-year-old to handle, but when I am caching such common sense departs.

After getting about 1.5 miles into the hike, I contemplated turning around. It was a beautiful enough of a spot to call our final destination. There were hundreds of butterflies, a few bees, and thousands of beautiful flowers by the stream. It made a great resting place.

However, after eating the snacks that we had brought, I was renewed. So, we pushed on. I told my children that we would decide about turning back once we got the the fork in the trail. At the fork, it was only a half a mile left to Dog Lake, so we decided to do it. It was a lot rougher, but no more difficult than the first half of the trail. It was at this point I started to carry Capt. Z.

We finally made it to Dog Lake. It wasn’t much to see, but it was a good hike. We thought about pushing on the the cache. But realized that it was 2:30pm and that Mom would be expecting us home soon. So, we gave up on that cache, and decided to find the two that I had already found before. We found the first, but not the last.

We ended up not getting home until 5:30pm. So late, that my wife had called my dad, and was ready to send out the search teams. But my dad assured her, that I was just following in his foot steps and turning a short hike into a forever hike.

Sandy had dinner all ready to go by the time we got home, so I helped her get dessert ready. We had the Great Chicken Dinner that I have told you about again. But we finished it off with some very delicious Orange Knot Rolls. I will share the recipe with you tomorrow. After a long hike, it was very delicious and satisfying. I don’t remember ever eating that well while camping.

We started a game of cards that evening, but the younger kids were acting up, and we decided that we should call it a night.

Wednesday morning, I decided to stick around for two reasons. The first was because we were having German Pancakes in the dutch oven. The second was that I was tired from the 8 miles of hiking that I did the day before.

After breakfast, the kids relaxed and played in the nearby stream, and I didn’t do much. I did take a short nap, and played a little catch with the kids, but for the most part, I watched the trees grow.

After lunch, which was hot dogs and mac’n’cheese, we play a game of ‘May I’ (that’s pronounced like the request “may eye?”). One of these days I hope to explain it to you, because I believe that it is a Gazelem Family phenomenon.

Then for dinner we had barbecue country style pork ribs (if you need the recipe then you have never dutch oven cooked) and baked potatoes. The potatoes were done by wrapping them in tinfoil and then cooking them in the dutch oven. They were amazingly good.

I couldn’t let the day go by without some geocaching, so we decided to do some drive-by caches in the canyon. We started out with a no find, then we had a couple of easy finds by a restaurant and a trail head.

The cache by the trail head gave me an idea of where I wanted to go in the morning. So after an okay night’s rest, I started by going after perhaps the lamest virtual cache in Utah, and perhaps the reason GC.com doesn’t list virtual caches. Then, I headed back to the trail head, and head up the canyon to grab several different caches.

But the main goal to to get a possible First To Find. I knew from the description, and looking at my TOPO maps on my GPS that this wasn’t going to be a pretty hike. But I had to go for it. Because my database was a month old and it looked like a possible First Find experience. The hike up was rough. There was a couple of times that I thought about giving up. But I perservered, and I was the second to find the cache.

My only regret is that my camera batteries were dead and so there were no pictures taken of this beautiful site. I might just have to do this again for the great pictures. But I think that I saw an easier approach while I was up there, so I might try a different route next time.

Coming down was an adventure itself. I decided to follow in the steps of the person before me (not that I saw his tracks, just had the same mind set). And I headed straight down the hill. There were several times that I felt like I was going to fall and break something, but after slowing down just a hair, and keeping my eyes wide open, I managed to get to Willow Heights safely.

When I got home, we started packing up the trailer and started heading home. It was a fun week, and I am glad that despite my misgivings, that we went camping at Spruces. Next year, I will definitely place a couple of caches in the area. Because I know that I will be going often enough.

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Spring/Summer of Dutch Oven (SODO)

About a month and a half ago, our office had a Chili Cook Off with a $100 cash (well, Visa Gift Card) prize for first place. I decided that I would enter with a Dutch Oven Recipe that I found on the Internet thanks to the good people at Utah Association of Geocachers.

I won. $100 that I still haven’t decided how to spend.

But that isn’t the point of the post. Since then I have cooked one dutch oven meal every week for my family. This will be a little bit of a challenge, because as of yet, I own one and only one 12″ dutch oven. It is great for casseroles, deserts, and roasts. But if I want to do a meal of separates, we might just have to use the conventional oven.

The meals that I have cooked have ranged from the pre-cook off test run of chili for the family. To this weekend we had breakfast before Conference out of the dutch oven. I cook the typical but always delicious peach cobbler. It wasn’t as brown on the top as I would have liked, and some of the peaches were a little burnt. They weren’t too burnt, just too far beyond caramelized.

Then to end the Conference we had a delicious Beef Roast with potatoes and carrots. Again it was excellent. The beef was a little too crispy on the bottom, but honestly, it tasted great. It almost added a little jerky flavor to the meal, and everyone liked it.  Hmm… I see a new family tradition starting…

Both of the recipes for this came from the Better Home & Garden’s Checkerboard Cookbook that my wife and I received on our wedding day (or she got it at a wedding shower). I mention that because in future posts, I hope to share the recipe. But since I am at work, I don’t have the recipe, so I am offering up the source.

As I just indicated, this is my first in a series of post about my adventures in dutch oven cooking. I hope to keep you posted weekly on which recipes I am using, and how it turned out. So, keep your taste buds under control this Spring/Summer, because I am going to be sharing some culinary delights. Just keep your eyes open for the SODO preface to indicate that it is about tasty goodness.