Gravy Rice Recipe

Just a quick and very easy recipe I had this past Saturday for dinner. It would do well with a 3-ounce can of chicken added in if desired.

Gravy Rice

In a pint freezer bag put:



Add 1 cup near boiling water, stir well, seal tightly and put in a cozy for 15 minutes. Fluff up before eating.

If adding chicken, add with water and use any juices in the can.

Serves 1 – without meat, smaller appetite. With meat, normal appetite.

Big Agnes Roxy Ann Bag Review

This past week as I watched the weather reports I got that sinking feeling of knowing your gear is not quite what you need. The prediction of a very cold weekend was looming and I knew that back on Labor Day Weekend I had been cold in my then current sleeping bag, an REI ladies Sub Kilo 15* bag. I bought the Sub Kilo a few years ago and in the past year had not been as warm. I was developing cold drafts and my suspicions are that the bag has lost a good bit of down (I often have feathers in my tent after trips). It was working fine as a quilt in summer but once zipped up…..brrrrrr. And frankly? The Sub Kilo is a tight fitting bag. Skinny and petite ladies? Yes it will work, but if you are above 5’4″ and above a size 12? I have come to feel it isn’t for me. I refused to face this – I didn’t want to carry a heavier sleeping bag. I like my lightweight gear!

But….lets face reality I told myself as I saw snow levels of 5000 ft and the threat of cold winds/freezing tempatures. So off I went to shop for a down sleeping bag that would be roomier, still reasonably light, not break my wallet and most of all keep me warm.

Every bag I got in felt like a snake was swallowing me – the biggest issue I have with mummy bags is I have to lie there with my legs together and cannot shift at night easily. I have a lower back injury that leaves me tossing all night on most trips.

And then I saw the Big Agnes Roxy Ann 15* bag hanging. Lord, it was U-G-L-Y. And massive.

But then I tried it out. Being a BA bag it has no under insulation – your sleeping pad provides that. I slipped in a Thermarest Prolite 3 ladies pad according to directions and jumped inside.

Oh wow. I could actually move! It was like all the best stuff of a mummy and a rectangle bag combined. With the pad intergrated I could zip up the bag and then roll around inside the bag – the bag never moves, never tangles up, the sleeping pad doesn’t shoot across your tent floor. Everything stays where it should!

Then I noticed: the bag comes in two versions, with the petite version actually fitting up to 5’8″. So I wasn’t touching the end of the bag with my feet!

The bag has draft collars along the zipper, on the sides where it meets your pad and a really cool one around your neck. It has a pocket sewn in for your pillow or clothing to go into. And that pocket actually works as well – it stays where it is supposed to be.

So on Saturday night I pulled out of my pack a sleeping bag that weighed nearly a pound more wondering had I been stupid to buy this bag….and been stupid to carry another lb of weight for 18 1/2 miles?

It had been at freezing all day and as soon as the sun set it went down sharply. By the time I got into my bag it was in the upper 20*s. Normally I lay there shivering for a good hour, down socks on and often a down jacket over my torso (heck, I have been known to even cover my legs with my rain jacket to block the wind!). But I wasn’t cold. In fact I was warm! I zipped up and snuggled in. The bag is roomy enough I could flip over and stomach sleep – no cold spots from the bag being squashed before I roll.

So in the end I realized something: with a roomier bag that was comfortable to sleep in I didn’t need a down jacket and socks to keep me from freezing. I was actually saving weight, not carrying more with this hevaier bag!

I can say it was the warmest cold night I have backpacked in.

The only warning is you have to have a GOOD sleeping pad – one with insulation in it.

If you are a tosser, you hate tight mummy bags or desire more room check it out – you might be surprised.

Well…..if you can get past the pea soup color 😀 Then again….it isn’t hot pink.


PCT Hiking: Stampede Pass to Blowout Mountain

Steve and I did the section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) between Stampede Pass and Blowout Mountain, heading Southbound, over October 11-12th, 2008. This picked up where we had left off on our previous trip that ended at Stampede Pass.

With it being a late time of year to be doing this hike, we started early. Kirk dropped us off in the early hour. It was 29* out. The trail starts off into woods, then parallels FS roads. It was also opening weekend for hunting, we moved fast to get away from the roads.


Often the case, this section of the PCT (from Chinook Pass to Snoqualmie Pass) has some awful trail markings. This lovely one? Well you couldn’t miss it. No complaints I guess, at least it was marked.


As we climbed higher, heading South, behind us the views got better of Mt. Daniel and Stuart Mountain. The Huckleberries in this area were well over a month behind schedule and had frozen – but still tasted great. Slushy fruit bites indeed…….


Loved this “sign”, it was a fallen tree that had been carved with a chainsaw.


Well…..about there I quit taking photos. To be blunt this is not a section one does for scenic value. You do it so you can simply say ‘I have done this section’. It is of course the well-known section of flittering back and forth from old forest to raw clear cuts, to clear cuts 20-30 years growing back, to forest so stacked with regrowth that a spark would set the whole forest off. It was also so cold in most of the area, little of it ever had the sunlight above us hitting it. It was cold, lonely and not a lot to look at.

We hiked a shy 18 miles to Blowout Mountain for the day, then hooked off onto trail 1318, then onto 1388 and headed down. Our goal was a spring on the backside, which we found. We made camp in a copse of trees on the edge of a meadow. Farther down/up 1388 was another water source – a spring and a meadowy pond. The camp there was even nicer. The moon came out that night and it was so bright one could lay there and read with it. It was also very cold. I was happy I had a very good sleeping bag with me. We walked about 18½ miles and gained maybe 4800 ft gain. It was a long day indeed.

Steve in camp in the morning after we broke camp. Steve had been very cold that night, once we made camp. He wasn’t feeling so hot in the morning either.


The meadow/bench below our camp. The ridge to the right was covered in snow. We encountered snow periodically above 4500 ft or so. More icey than snow – it was cold enough that the snow does not melt.


Trail 1388 taking off from camp – it heads to the low gap.


At the gap is a multi intersection. Only 1388 and 943 are marked. Hiker beware here – if one wants to get back to the PCT they do much better to turn around and go back to the Blowout Mountain junction. The trail 943B mentioned on Green Trails map Lester 239 is NOT accurate. It is out of date and the trail has changed.


We decided to take 943B, Little Bear Trail. Let me be clear: we didn’t know at first we were on this trail. We missed the “go back” trails to the PCT as they were brushed over. Our theory was this was done to keep motorcycles off the PCT. We figured out soon enough this couldn’t be the trail, but stuck with it as it was going mostly in the direction we needed.

The trail goes down then up to another gap. It then shoots down and down to the valley floor where one encounters this old cabin (fully stocked inside…..well, if it had a roof it would be ok……)


I did not care for that cabin at all. As we were looking around I nearly stepped on a large rabbit. That was headless. Most likely Steve and I interrupted an owl having breakfast.

The trail shoots back up and then traverses the hill-side. It eventually reaches an old logging road that then promptly connects to FS 784 coming up from Eastern Washington. If one wanted they could take a right onto 784 and reconnect to the PCT not far up at Green Pass (At the junction of 784 and FS 7038).

This is where we ended our hike. Steve was feeling even worse. While we had planned to do 3 days and head for Gov’t Meadows, our detour had us on a major FS road coming up from the East (Little Naches River). I flagged down a truck coming up, and a hunter offered us a ride. He drove us all the way around, on FS roads (many only open during hunting season) and took us out to FS 70, down to Hwy 410 and dropped us off on the highway. We had been able to call Kirk, and he came and got us.

It was in the end the right choice. Steve went home and came down with the flu that night.