Baking. Hands down. Cooking is a life skill and showy backcountry baking usually blows people's minds. Many students have this image of eating canned vienna sausages and hardtack on their course. Teaching someone that baking is easy, fun and delicious sets them up for a lifetime of success. I don't know if all my students will climb, hike, cave or fish again, but I'm damned sure they'll eat.What is your favorite course to teach?
I like working the mountain sections of the Rocky Mountain Fall Semesters. The students come committed to a lengthy, challenging experience, the weather is often fairly sporting, and there are few people and fewer bugs in the mountains at that time of year.
Give me your best backcountry recipe.
Crispy hashbrowns (fried, hydrated and then fried again) with black beans poured over. Topped with cheese and enough spices to send a Rottweiler into spasms. A close second is backcountry-made tortillas filled with a spicy, cheesy mix of bulgar, rice and cous-cous. Line your Fry-Bake with those burritos and slather with re-hydrated red sauce and its a pan o' heaven right in your camp.
Whichever piece of equipment I use to make expedition coffee. Most often that's a small (but not tiny!) espresso pot and/or a coffee sock. A coffee pot is sorta heavy, but so too is the burden of possible caffeine withdrawal. And, let's face it, life is just too short for instant coffee. Coffee socks can be hard to find, but they are rugged, light and brew a reasonable cup o' joe. In the old days, we used to call brewing with a coffee sock "suckling on the teat of life"— for good reason, as anyone who's enjoyed hot coffee on a rock slab beneath the stars can vividly tell you.
What music/food do you think about when in the backcountry?
For some reason, strains of Little Feat and Bonnie Raitt always bounce around my head in the backcountry— I'd carry Bonnie's guitar to the ends of the earth (uphill) if she'd just sing on one of my courses. On the food side, I crave stuff that's crisp. You can easily eat "gloppy" or even "crunchy" stuff in the backcountry, but "crisp" (as in the snap of a lettuce stem, carrot stick or celery rib) is pretty hard to conjure.