Backcountry Cooking (Stone Mountain State Park)

THE TRIP

Glenn’s parents drove down from Michigan and met us at Stone Mountain State Park. While Glenn and I had been there several times for day hikes, we had never camped there. (Thanks, Great Outdoor Provision Company, for the recommendation!) The backcountry campsites are between 1.5 and 2.5 miles from the parking lot, are reserved on a first-come-first-served basis, and cost $9 per site per night. We stayed in campsite A on Friday and Saturday night, which is right along a creek with a waterfall.

On Saturday during the day, we hiked a mile or so to the main trail head and hiked the Stone Mountain Loop trail. Glenn and I have hiked this trail many times and I am never disappointed by it — you hike by a homestead, a waterfall, and wind up on an exposed rock summit. What more could you ask for? It was quite a long hike, but it wasn’t too difficult since we weren’t carrying our full packs.

On Sunday we hiked up to see some of the other campsites before heading home. Always good to know you got the best spot.

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THE EQUIPMENT

Glenn’s dad and I have very different backpacking philosophies. I carry a 40 liter pack; he carries an 80 liter pack. Enough said.

Below, you’ll see my cook set first. It’s a Snow Peak Giga Power stove. With 1.3 liter titanium pot and fuel canister, it weighs all of 1 lbs, 1.5 oz. I love it. Now that I have the windscreen for the stove (a small aluminum piece that fits over the burner to protect it from the wind), the heat distribution is much easier to work with.

Glenn’s dad’s equipment is the second photo. I believe it’s an MSR WhisperLite stove with MSR Alpine 4-pot set. This cook set along with fuel weighs in around 5 pounds. His pots are much larger than mine and they’re nonstick, the combination of which makes it much easier to cook and clean for a crowd. As long as he’s willing to carry them, I’m willing to cook with them.

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THE FOOD

Glenn’s dad and I share a backcountry food philosophy: eat real food, lots of it. Since we were camping in the same site Friday and Saturday night and only had 1.5 miles to hike with our packs, we could be pretty liberal with our food weight. If you have time for a hot breakfast and a hot lunch, I highly recommend it. A hot dinner goes without saying. It is almost just as easy to make meals from scratch as it is to rehydrate a mix. You’re backpacking. You’re doing everything the natural way. Why not cook the natural way, too? This was our menu:

Friday: Andouille Sausages with Jambalaya and Biscuits for dinner. (Sausages — thumbs up, Jambalaya — two thumbs way up, Biscuits — I will never do that again)

Saturday: Breakfast Burritos, Lentil Soup with Flat Bread for lunch, and Sauteed Vegetables with Couscous for dinner. (Two thumbs up for every meal — all big winners)

Sunday: Granola Bars and Trail Mix for breakfast, and the Best Restaurant within 10 Miles of the Park for lunch. (It’s the last day — cut me some slack)

Jambalaya

  • 1-2 Tb oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion and garlic (chop at home and pack in a Ziploc bag)
  • 4 Tb salsa
  • 2 cups instant rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 packet Sazon or other spice blend
  • Saute the onion and garlic in oil. Add the salsa, water, and Sazon. Bring to a boil. Add rice, stir, and cover for five minutes.

Lentil Soup

  • 1-2 Tb oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped vegetables such as onion, carrots, celery, and garlic (chop at home and pack in a Ziploc bag)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • Saute the vegetables in oil. Add the water and bouillon. Bring to a boil and add red lentils. Cook about 8 minutes. (Red lentils cook much more quickly than other lentils, so it’s really important to get the right kind.)

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