Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mirror Lake Overnight & Heather's Choice Review

Last weekend, Max and I took an overnight backpack to Mirror Lake, near Mt. Hood Oregon. It was gorgeous:

We started at the Sno-Park across from Mt. Hood Ski Bowl and had to hike a mile or two back along the side of the road, since the Mirror Lake Trailhead is closed in the winter. Our first day was gorgeous and sunny, although a little windy. We arrived mid-afternoon at the lake, which was covered in snow, but we had an amazing view of Hood in the background. It was still very breezy, with more forecasted wind for the night, so we found a great campsite in the shallow, wide tree well of a fir tree on the shore. We pitched our tent, and then scavenged some firewood from what looked like it had once been a firepit, now just a 4-foot hole in the snow. We used the wood to set up a little cooking area, and some steps leading out of the tree well. The snow was very powdery, and did not lend itself well to permanent formations, but we were still able to make a nice camp for ourselves. The trail, a very popular one, was crowded through the afternoon, but as the sky morphed from light blue to pink to purple to dark blue, the numbers thinned until it was just us, alone next to this beautiful lake.

We cooked up a quick dinner of True Primal canned soup (reviewed here) with heaps of butter, and sat back to watch the silhouette of Hood in front of its changing backdrop. An essential piece of winter camping gear I bring with me is a pot coozie. It's made out of a foam sleeping pad that I fitted to my little pot, and it keeps food from freezing solid before you take your third bite. We didn't linger very long since the wind felt like it was whipping right through our clothes, and we were in bed by 6!

Overnight some thick clouds blew in on the very persistent wind, shrouding Hood and making it very cold! We woke up to a gray day, with thin wisps of snow snaking across the frozen lake. I pulled out the small can of coconut milk I had snuggled with in my sleeping bag to keep thawed for breakfast, bundled up, and went out in the cold. For breakfast, we had Maple Pancake Paleonola (review here!) with half of the small can of coconut milk each, along with some small bite-sized pepperoni salamis.

Then we headed up the trail towards Tom, Dick, and Harry, a rocky peak above the lake. The first part of the trail was packed and easy to follow, but as we got into the more treeless slopes, the trail had been blown away. Neither of us own snowshoes and we decided not to rent them to save money, and also get the amazing fitness benefits of post-holing in waist-deep snow, so we dug in and started across the little bowl directly above the lake. It was quite deep and we really had no hope of getting to the peak without snowshoes, so we just chose a high point and got a great view of the hills around us.

When we got back to camp, it was the highlight of the day! I had gotten a packet of Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder from Heather's Choice Meals for Adventuring a couple weeks ago, and I was dying to try it!  The reason I was dying to try it is because Heather makes some of the most inventive backpacking food I have ever seen (other meals include Chipotle Cherry Chili made with quail, and Dark Chocolate can you get bored in the backcountry with meals like that???). AND as if that wasn't enough, she is dedicated to using sustainable ingredients, like the 100% grass-fed elk in her Elk Shepherd's Pie. They're also conveniently packaged in zip-pouches that you can pour boiling water into to rehydrate, meaning you don't even need to get your pot dirty! Cuz let's be honest, who actually cleans their pot in the backcountry, and, as good as that Smoked Salmon Chowder was, who wants their tea to taste like it? So, we busted out the package, and followed the directions. Pour in boiling water, reseal, wait 20 minutes. Max kept it inside his down jacket to make sure it wouldn't cool off, and in the mean time, we each enjoyed a Lime Black Pepper Packaroon. If there's anything I'm a sucker for, it's interesting and new flavor combinations, and this combo was a hit with both of us. They were frozen solid, so they were a little bit of work to eat, but this was probably better, because I couldn't wolf it down in two hungry bites without breaking my teeth.

Lime Black Pepper Packaroons!
Then we boiled some grass-fed hot dogs, and slathered them with some frozen mustard-sicle (still delicious!), and waited... But not for long. We shared a 1-serving packet and it was so dense, it filled us both up alongside the hot dogs. And the flavor was out of this world. There is definitely nothing compromised for the quality of these meals, and you can taste it. There was a great balance of all the ingredients and flavors, and was hearty and warming on a really cold day. The only thing was it was still a little crunchy because we didn't wait the full 20 minutes. I couldn't tell if it was also affected by the cold weather cooling it off too quickly for a proper rehydrating, but we probably could have fixed this by cooking it a little in the pot first, like we often do with our own dehydrated food. But overall, I couldn't have asked for a better meal! I highly recommend you check them out!

Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder!


  • Veggie Stir-fry with Ground Pork (at home)
  • 1/2 a banana
  • 2 grass-fed hotdogs w/ mustard
  • 1 or 2 oz. raw cheddar cheese
  • 4 rings dried pineapple
  • 1 bag of plantain chips
  • 1/2 a Bison Bacon Cranberry Epic Bar
  • 1 can True Primal Beef & Vegetable Soup
  • 2 TB butter


  • dried apples
  • 1/2 a Bison Bacon Cranberry Epic Bar
  • macadamia nuts
  • Trail mix & more Paleonola (in the car)

No comments:

Post a Comment