Saturday, September 20, 2008

hilgard branch rolls (high sierra sourdough loop part 3)

So, it's now been over a month since this trip ended, but I just had to finish it up so bear with me.......

Before leaving Lake Italy and starting our trip downstream toward Bear Creek via the Hilgard Branch, I mixed up another dough to ferment in the pack. I tossed in the remainder of my dried herbs, so in essence I made the same dough as the day before, but carried it with slightly different intentions. Rolls this time, with a bit of grated cheese on top, and flipped once in the pan to brown both sides. I just love herbed rolls and was dreaming of a fish or three to go with them.

Our path skirted many beautiful wet meadow-ettes and I had my first real encounter with a wild sierra onion. My BIL dug one up for show and tell. Tough to remove and hardy as hell, like everything else up here, it was purple stemmed and rather fragrant. Mmmmm onion. Next time a few of these might find their way onto a pizza.

Winding our way through the forest and brief meadow encounters, we finally hit the last big meadow before joining the JMT. Looking for a well worn campsite was not tough. Despite the low traffic volume of this trail, years of repetitive use steered us toward a clutch of trees not too far from the creek.

The first cast into the creek brought in the first minnow of the evening. A beautiful little Golden it was but too small for eating standards. Hooked through only the outer lip, it was easy to release without harm. We worked the creek up and down for the few hundred yards lined by meadow. A few more hook ups resulted in more tiny fish. More than content to eat what was on the menu, we rambled back to camp. Not exactly triumphant, but happy to confirm the presence of the mythical golden minnow.

The sun was setting, beginning to make everything glow with warm colored alpine light. Even the piles of crap all over the meadow began to like nice with the sun glinting on them. Camp was eager to get eating so we concentrated on the task at hand, looking up now and then to get another glimpse of the mountains all around us. Not sure if I was sighting Hilgard Mountain or Mount Hilgard, I worked on the rolls as a compliment to tonight's final feast of the trip.

Getting absolutely feasted upon by mosquitos (they were actually trying my cuticles and fingertips!) we stayed as covered as possible. Happy to spend another night out in the majestic Sierras, we endured. It reminded me of a Northwest Indian tribe folk story about how mosquitos came to being. A monster was eating people. When someone figured out a way to trick the monster and toss him into a fire with the hopes of killing him, the ashes from his body floated up into the air and became mosquitos. Well, that must have been one huge monster because the mosquitos here were out of control. It was truly time for the mosquito netting.

The herbed rolls ended up as compliment to a delicious meal by my SIL. Curried chicken and black lentils with toasted cashews and coconut served on a bed of rice with some dahl. Wow. The herbed rolls were good but should have been flattened in retrospect; trail naan. Next time I guess. I cracked open a bottle of hooch to celebrate our having a good time and the tasty food we all packed.

The next day we hiked the rest of the way out, heading North, then East, while thunderheads started booming above. Just a few thumps and a flash or two nearby, we saw a line marching toward the crest off to our North. Good thing we'd be back at the car tonight. With a hot meal and a cold beer ahead, we marched on and with the kindness of a stranger, scored a free ride for the last two miles to the car.

We spent the next night in Reedley, home of my in laws and an enormous amount of fresh produce. With golden ketchup being a big hit last year, we made sure to come home with a few golden romas. Well, more like several hundred, as it seems that a 5-gallon bucket fits quite a few. Looking forward to some canning adventures, I got to work beginning with an ingredient list.

Turns out that five gallons makes a hell of a lot of tomato sauce. Doubling a ketchup recipe was all I could manage without thinking it was way too much, so I tried my hand at a golden hot sauce. The ketchup is a tad on the runny side, but continued thickening of the tomato sauce would have further caramelized the sugar in the recipe and made it too dark. Oh well, turns out the golden ketchup isn't a hit with the elder monkey this year. I like it though, and a few jars will make nice presents. I think the hot sauce came out nice too, so overall I'm pleased with the results. Even if I'm the only one eating it on my corndog.

Hope you enjoyed this years backpacking adventure! I sure did. With any luck, I'll squeeze in two next year.......


Chilebrown said...

Love the picture of you with the Netting Helmet.

K and S said...

man, those skeeters sounded evil!

Mimi said...

Thanks for sharing your vacation with us. It was great! It's soooo pretty where you guys backpack.

Monkey Wrangler said...

Chile: Thanks bro'! Luckily, all I had to do was bring the netting part and it fit over my wide brimmed hat perfectly.

Kat: Yep. Unfortunately evil beings must eat too.

Mimi: Thanks! This trip was one of the more scenic I'd ever been on, which I guess was really the original intent of the main trip planners as to why we headed off trail and near the crest of the Sierras.