Rock Climbing Group (F-Rock)
By Lauren Hough and Tim Kim
Imagine a box of Apple Jacks. Now take out the cereal and crumple the box. Submerge the cardboard box in water and shape it into a “pancake.” Slap ‘em on a heavily buttered, moderately warm Fry Bake – and there you have it: a genuine, deconstructed, backcountry pancake. With its batter full of trail spice and the final products coated in peanut butter to mask the taste, this meal was nothing short of disgusting. But yet, our endearing failure left us all with bodies full of fuel, and ready for the hike ahead of us.
Though the above meal may have been a failure, a result of our novice cooking skills, in all seriousness, delicious meals were definitely a highlight of our first expedition. To the majority of us who were used to “backpacking food” while backpacking, ingredients like avocado, sunflower seeds, and garlic powder spiced up meals. (Side note: F-Rock would like to give a quick shoutout to Gardetto’s for keeping morale high and bellies full. We love you!) Throw-aways in the beginning like brussels sprouts and onions quickly became sought after commodities as we learned about their abilities to transform bland dishes into aromatic splashes of vibrant color. Pizza and cinnamon rolls were made from scratch, and we even had a birthday cake delivered to us for Justina’s birthday.
With the expedition requiring miles of bushwhacking, or ‘shwhacking,’ as dubbed by our lone Minnesotan, Nick, with 50 pound packs, we quickly grew comfortable through commiserating and suffering together. The type 2 fun (translation: not fun now, but fun later) would always be realized around a warm campfire or our laughter-filled evening meetings that concluded our days.
With the ingredients of our days prepped and packed in 85 liter home-on-our-backs, we embarked on journeys up mountains, over rivers, through woods of the Sawatch Range of Colorado. At the summit of Mt Elbert, Colorado’s highest 14,000 foot peak, we relished in the delights of our sacred Snickers and the sights of pikas (small alpine rabbits, known for their tenacity and resilience) cheering us onward.
Over the course of our 10 days in the backcountry, life in and around us flourished. The yellow leaves of the aspen trees became illuminated against the cozy, grey backdrops of fall in the Rocky Mountains. And like the changing of the leaves, we too started to feel shifts deep within ourselves as the turn of a new desert-filled season of this adventure auspiciously awaits.