Winter Hike: Return to Chocorua

Trail Report

As the last weeks of winter rolled around I considered a winter ascent of Mount Washington. Unfortunately, there were a lot of icy trail reports that dissuaded me from attempting Washington. Instead, I decided to return to Mount Chocorua as I really enjoyed the summit and I was hoping that the lower elevation would mean less ice. Plus, in a few months the weather would be nice and undoubtedly the crowds would return to the mountains and I wouldn’t be hiking Chocorua then.

I chose Piper Trail as the starting point of the hike and would go up Nickerson Ledge Trail, Carter Ledge Trail and Middle Sister Trail to make the hike into a lollipop loop. I got to the parking lot at 8:00 am, and there were no cars in the lot. It was pretty windy (the final icing on the no-go-Washington cake) and partly cloudy. The forecast was calling for a significant drop in wind speed and a clearing of the clouds.

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Winter Hike: Mount Chocorua Sunrise

Trail Report

For my son’s 9th birthday we spent the weekend in North Conway, New Hampshire at the Red Jacket Resort. The resort had an indoor water park with water slides and a wave pool that the boys could play in all day. Early Sunday morning I got up to make the short drive to Mount Chocorua to hike it for sunrise.

Mount Chocorua, one of the more difficult peaks in the White Mountains for me to pronounce, was named after a Sokosis Chief.  Legend had it that the mountain’s namesake leaped from the summit to his death while cursing the surrounding land rather than being killed by the white man who was pursuing him. It is that beautifully rocky, shark-fin peak you see peaking between trees when driving from Maine toward the Kancamagus Highway.

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Trail Burrito

I tend to place my trail foods into two categories. Carb-rich trail foods and fat-rich trail foods. The carb-rich foods give you quick energy when you start to bonk. The fat-rich foods will give you energy further down the trail, this is is especially important on multi-day hikes (fat also has more than twice the amount of calories per gram, making it a more efficient way to pack calories for a long hike). This is part of the simple beauty of GORP; the dried fruit will give you quick energy and the nuts will give you sustained energy (and they taste great together).

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Trail Burrito and Mount Chocorua

I enjoyed the above trail burrito at a vista of Mount Chocorua while hiking South Moat Mountain. This burrito definitely falls into the carb-rich category, though the cheese and any protein you throw in will add fat as well. The tortilla and rice are super-high in easy-to-digest carbs and the spice is a nice kick in the face. The best part is that burritos, like pizza, are just as good cold (and less messy on the trail than pizza).

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Ingredients for Trail Burrito

To make this burrito you need the above ingredients, plus or minus any of the ingredients you like or don’t like. To me, that’s the beauty of cooking: you start off with a great recipe that someone else created and then you adjust it to your own preferences. Over time you learn the basics of good cooking and you no longer have to read recipes and repeat them step by step. You read them over to get the idea and then you do it your own way. I do the same thing when planning a hike.

I start off making a Mexican Rice by sauteing the vegetables in some olive oil until they start to soften. I add rice and saute it a few minutes until it is golden brown. I add all of the spices and saute for a minute.

A note about salt: I salt and pepper when I start the vegetables, but it is important to taste for these two spices throughout the cooking process. I typically refrain from cooking with salt (there are many healthier ways to enhance the flavor of your food), but, sodium is important when hiking, so feel free to indulge a little.

I add enough water (or stock if you prefer) for the amount of rice I used (typically twice the amount of rice, for brown rice add another half cup). I add a cup of salsa and then cover and simmer until all of the liquid are absorbed (20-30 minutes, 10 minutes longer for brown rice). When the rice is done I squeeze the juice of a lemon into it (I prefer lime, but I didn’t have any at the time).

While the rice is cooking I prepare the protein, in this case I baked it based on the instructions. I also make sure the oven is preheated for baking the burrito in the end, 375 degrees will suffice.

burrito-assemblage

Burrito Assemblage

When the rice is finished I construct the burrito by placing a massif of rice in the center of the tortilla (I used some lavash this time because it is enormous, like my stomach), top it with the protein and then some cheese (vegan for me please). Feel free to add some hot sauce or salsa at this point; I didn’t want the salsa to make the burrito soggy in my pack and the rice and protein were already spicy enough (it’s important to taste your ingredients together to check their combined season level). I wrap the burrito by folding up each end of the tortilla (north and south in reference to the above photo) and then wrapping one end over the filling and tucking it under and continuing to roll the burrito until it is an enclosed tube of goodness.

I place the wrapped burrito on the pizza stone in my oven making sure that the loose end of the tortilla is down so it is held closed by its own weight. Doing this fuses the burrito shut so that it doesn’t unwrap later. I bake the burrito until it is golden and crisp and place it on a wire rack to cool. Letting the burrito cool to room temperature prior to wrapping it in aluminum foil is important so it doesn’t steam itself in the foil and loose its crunch.

This carb-loaded package of spicy awesomeness was exactly what I needed halfway up South Moat Mountain. I had started to bonk when a stumbled upon the vista of Mount Chocorua at about the mid point of the hike. Due to its massive size, I should have eaten half of the burrito there and finished it on the summit, but it was too good to stop eating. I will definitely be making more of these for day hikes and maybe even for lunch on the first day of longer hikes. I think it is just too heavy and too carby on my carbohydrate-to-fat scale to bring many of them on multi-day hikes.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

References:
Macronutrients: the Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat.” McKinley Health Center. University of Illinois, 2014. Web. 22 February 2014.