Author Archive

Camp Chow Freeze Dried/Dehydrated Meals

I have been camping and backpacking in and around the Colorado Rockies for over 16 years. It has become a passion of mine and for me there is nothing better than packing up and heading out into the wilderness for some camping and fly fishing with family and friends. For the sake of ease and weight in the backpack, I have always brought freeze dried meals for breakfast and dinners. Just add hot water and you have a good enough meal to satisfy your intake requirements for the days adventures. All that was fine and good enough, until this year.

 

Every year I stumble upon new products to try out and this year was no exception. Tents get lighter and use different materials for waterproofing and durability. Backpacks get updated and camping stoves get lighter and faster at cooking when trying to boil water in the wind when camping at 11,500 feet above sea level. But this year I found the best addition to my backpacking arsenal, Camp Chow!
Camp Chow is located in northern Minnesota surrounded by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, off of the Gunflint Trail at Trail Center Lodge. In the past I have visited that area a handful of times and it is amazing! What sets Camp Chow apart from all other dehydrated/freeze dried foods is the quality of their ingredients and it’s combination of dehydrated and freeze dried foods. With other meals, the taste is ok and mostly you have the feeling you are eating straight sodium. But with Camp Chow it’s like eating a home cooked meal.
One of the meals we ate was their beef stroganoff. Labeled as a meal for 4 people, it was true to its suggestion and we actually all had enough for seconds. The ingredients set these meals apart from all others! I’m fairly certain that there were at least 3 different varieties of mushrooms in the stroganoff and some of them were the size of our spoons. The thing you noticed after taking your first bite is it honestly tastes like something you had made at home in your own kitchen. No overpowering taste of salt, no half cooked noodles and chunky bits of something you aren’t quite sure what it is, the Camp Chow Beef Stroganoff was one of the best dehydrated/freeze dried meals we have even eaten!
Another meal we had was their turkey dinner. Again, amazing taste and texture and with the hint of cranberry you could almost picture yourself sitting down and eating it for Thanksgiving dinner. Cooking up two single portioned meals, Tom and myself easily had enough to fill our stomachs. One morning Tom, Shawn and myself had the roast beef hash. Again having great portion sizes, labeled for 4 people, we all had plenty with some even left over. On the other side of the portion spectrum, previously using a different companies meal that stated it was for 2 people, it barely fed myself and my 10 year old son who doesn’t eat large portions at all!
Camp Chow has figured out how to use the best ingredients and package everything together with the most honest portion sizing I have ever used. Unless you are hiking in your own steaks to sear up for a dinner, Camp Chow will be the best meals you have ever had while out in the backcountry. And if you are in a pinch to find something to cook for breakfast, lunch or dinner in your home, they’re as good in your home as they are in the woods.

Hoka One One – Kaha

26 Miles out of the Box

I promise I tried, I tried very hard to find the time to break in my new Hoka Kaha hikers before going on a backpacking trip. I got the Kahas two months ago and after the unboxing I was excited to try them out after all of the positive reviews I’ve heard about Hoka One One and their lineup of products. But then came the fateful soccer game that put everything on hold.

 

The author shows off a beautiful cutthroat trout caught at 12,300 feet above sea level.

 

I truly enjoy assistant coaching my son’s soccer team! Helping nine and 10 year olds develop their skills and knowledge of the game and then watching their improvement each week is a lot of fun for me. At the end of each season, we play a half hour scrimmage where it’s the kids vs. the parents and the kids always enjoy beating us. Last scrimmage,  I was taking the ball downfield and went to pivot and pass to the middle and POP, I went down. My left knee just gave out, popping in and out and I knew I was done for. The next day I could barely put any weight on it and it swelled up to three times the size it was supposed to be.

Three Doctor visits and a MRI later, it was determined that I had a 3 mm tear in my meniscus and needed surgery. I told my Dr. that in a month and a half I had a backpacking/fly fishing trip planned and was it possible to push out the surgery and if it was even possible for me to hike. He gave me a shot of cortisone and told me to do some light stretching and working the leg out and to have fun and let him know if I made it.

 

Views like these make it all worth it.

 

While my Kahas sat in a box in the corner of the room, I was icing my knee and working on the elliptical trying to strengthen my leg enough to make the trip. My friends Tom and Shawn were going with me and I really didn’t want to cancel on them so I was doing everything I could to make it. When the time came to leave, I was definitely not 100% but figured I had to give it a go and see how well I was going to do.

Day 1 started early in the morning with the plan being to hike to a lake four miles from the trailhead with the last half mile or so being off trail bushwhacking since there’s no trail to the lake. Lacing up my Kaha hikers for the first time, strapping my knee brace on and putting my 50 lb. pack on my back, I was as ready as I was going to be for this five-day trip into the Colorado backcountry.

 

Tom caught the cutthroat of a lifetime!

 

Tom was leading the charge up the trail and I was going to take it slower than I would normally hike and stay behind him. Shawn unfortunately wasn’t able to make the whole trip and would be coming in on his own the following day. The first mile was a gradual climb up the valley meandering through tall pines that followed the stream and even though I was a bit slower, everything was going better than I had expected. I did start to have a hot spot at the ball of my left foot, started to worry a bit that my feet wouldn’t hold up with brand new boots and that I would have to deal with blisters the whole trip. Fortunately and miraculously, after about 10 minutes the hot spot disappeared and the hike was business as usual, putting one foot in front of the other without issue.

 

Basecamp

After a little more than a mile and a half, the trail turned and headed up another valley that is a bit more of an incline with a more rocky terrain. Slow and steady wins the race and after an hour we made it to the area where we would have to leave the trail and head off-trail for a half mile bushwhack to the lake we were going to base camp at.

Making it to our camping destination was a huge relief! Before the trip started, my goal was to at least make it to our camp. If I could just make it there, I would have two options. Either my knee would be killing me and I would stay there and hope it got better. Or my knee would hold up and I would be able to do the rest of the hiking we had planned for the trip. Thankfully it was the latter and that I would be able to do everything that was on our list for the five days we were going to be there!

 

Hard work getting to catch Golden Trout.

 

In total we hiked 26 miles, roughly five of those were off-trail bushwhacking. We fished three lakes that are in the area and caught some amazing cutthroat trout and even a couple of golden trout thrown into the mix. That whole time, five days, 26 miles over boulders and rocks and through streams…my Kahas handled everything perfectly! Not a single blister, not a single time when I had to re-tie or adjust them. I’m amazed and thankful that I was able to take them straight out of the box and have them handle every challenge flawlessly for five days.

 

The Kaha’s taking a break next to the glass surface.

 

The author carefully bushwhacking through the off-trail portion of the trip.

Photos: No Pain, No Gain for High-Country Colorado Trout

Originally posted @ Orvis

Another amazing 5 day backpacking trip into the back country of the Colorado Rockies. Catching golden trout and cutthroat trout and hiking a total of 26 miles with a torn meniscus. All worth it!

Custom Sage X

I was lucky enough to build another fly rod on a Sage X blank. This one was setup on a 10′ 8 wt. with carbon fiber grip and Recoil guides. Shipping for the first time across the pond, Trevor will be using this soon for the brown trout run in England.

The Zenbivy Bed

I truly wish I was a ‘sleep on my back’ type of person. While out in the backcountry of the Colorado Rockies, in a tent on a sleeping pad with a mummy style sleeping bag, sleeping on ones back would be preferred but that just isn’t going to happen for me. For years I had to make do while using a mummy bag but times have changed. Enter the Zenbivy. Half quilt, half mummy, the Zenbivy is an ingenious 2 part sleeping system that allows you to easily sleep comfortably all night in any position.

At the heart of the sleeping system is the down quilt which is filled with 700 HyperDry Duck Down wrapped in a 20d Nylon Taffeta shell. First mainly used by the ultra light backpackers, the quilt is slowly becoming a favorite among the weekend warrior. Technology for the sleeping pad has helped with its redesigned choices for shapes and sizes and the advancement in technology to up the R value of the pads. Matching the Zenbivy quilt with your sleeping pad has never been easier and more comfortable. The second part of the Zenbivy process is the fitted sheet that easily goes with any sleeping pad. With its side zippers and covered pillow area, it easily slides over your pad and attaches to the quilt and allows for a variety of sleeping styles.

To be honest, when I first heard about the Zenbivy I was a little apprehensive. The quilt is straight forward and a no brainer for me, but add to that another piece that needs to be put on a sleeping pad and then connected to the quilt…I thought it would be too much trouble for what it was worth. I was very excited to have proven myself wrong! It’s so simple and easy to set up, not to mention the fact that it weighs in at roughly 2 lb 9 oz. Matched up with your sleeping pad, the Zenbivy sleep system should definitely make it into your over night packs as it is now in mine.

Head over to the Zenbivy website for all the specs and special offers. Also while you’re there, take a sneak peak at what they have coming for March 2019!

Photos: A Trout Every Month, for Almost Four Years!

Originally posted @ Orvis

A few years ago, I was struck by the realization that I was having a pretty good fishing streak, so I decided to look back at my photos and check their time stamps to see just how successful I had actually been. I was able to verify that I had caught a fish in December of 2014, and it was now September 2015. I then discovered that I had caught a fish every month for nine months in a row! Not too shabby, I thought. That was when I came up with the idea to see just how many months in a row I could keep up my winning streak.

This goal might be an impossible feat in certain regions, but in Colorado I can fish all year, so I don’t have to worry about a fishing “season.” Also, there are about fifty locations I can fish within an hour of my house, and although not all of them are fishable year round, there is still an abundance of areas available at any given time. Sometimes, my fish of the month is caught ten minutes down the road, while at other times it’s caught after hiking fourteen miles and fishing at 12,000 feet above sea level. This is one of the many reasons that I am grateful to call Colorado my home.

Having a goal like this makes me get out and fish when I normally wouldn’t do so, taking me out of my comfort zone and sometimes with unthinkable results. This past Super Bowl Sunday, for instance, I went out when it was 12 degrees! Not thinking I would see anything, let alone catch anything, to my surprise the fish were going nuts for the couple of hours I was able to withstand the frigid weather.

For the first year and a half of my goal, I was laser focused on making sure I caught a fish every time I went out. I would get nervous and anxious, thinking “I have to catch a fish today!” During a couple of the winter months, I caught my monthly fish on the last or second to last day of the month, feeling great relief that I had made it in time. But after those first eighteen months, I realized that I hadn’t been having fun and was so focused on my goal that every trip was riddled with anxiety. So I made it my focus to just enjoy my time outside and on the water with family and friends, and use my goal as something to sweeten the pot.

My goal is also a hit with my family; for example my son Brennon gets extremely excited when he’s the one who helps me get my “monthly fish” into the net. My wife enjoys my excitement and dedication, so now I don’t even have to come up with an excuse to get out onto the water.

Here’s to 45 months and counting!

Early Morning on The Dream

Tom and I took off of work and headed to the Dream Stream early on a Thursday morning. Did not see evidence of the spring runners coming out of the lake but still had some beautiful trout that made it into the nets!

Fly Fishing Colorado: Our Playground – 2017

Weather was tough this year but we battled through it to have another amazing year!

Fall on the Creek

I love this time of year because the big browns get so active. The creek I fish comes alive with the different species of fish that is in it. I hit it one weekend and did really well just before the spawn was starting to happen. Then the following week the spawn was on in full and there were beds all over the place. No fish were caught that week, I just walked the creek and enjoyed seeing all of the action that was going on at the redds.

 

Photos: One Last Trip for High-Country Cutthroats

Originally posted @ Orvis

I took one last trip to 12,000 feet this past weekend. Kurt, James, and Steve accompanied me into Colorado’s Sangre De Cristo Wilderness to chase Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The afternoons were spent hanging out under pine trees waiting out the rain-and-hail storms and the nights dipped down into the mid 30’s, but the Rio Grande cutts were out in full force. It’s always a good time hanging out in the Rocky Mountains and catching trout, no matter what mother nature throws at you.