Kicking it off with a new favourite trail and an old favourite recipe!
This year we spent 5 days hiking the unbelievably beautiful Berg Lake region in Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia. The undisputed highlight of the trip was the day hike up to Snowbird Pass from our basecamp at Rearguard.
The trail is 19km return, with 800m in switchbacking elevation gain. It takes you from the toe of Robson Glacier to a high rocky ridge with spectacular views of the ice. Then suddenly, you’re into a perfect little hanging valley that’s lush with willow and wildflowers and a gently gurgling stream. These meadows are the reason why you need to plan your trip dates carefully: the caribou calve here so the trail is closed until July 1 (They’d moved on by the time we did it- but we did see a few mountain goats in the valley here.) You might be tempted to just nap the afternoon away by the creek but it’s worth the final push back into the rocks and up the last ridges to the pass itself- suddenly you’re back in the land of snow and ice again with a jaw-dropping view of the Coleman glacier and the Reef Icefield.
19km later, you’re back to camp and it’s time for Spaghetti and Meat Sauce for dinner! Easy to prep at home and easy to cook on the trail, this is now one of my stand-bys for backcountry meal planning. The meat seems to absorb some of the sauce as it rehydrates and it tastes like a long-simmered marinara sauce.
You only need 3 things: a jar of premade pasta sauce (I used a generic jar of “Classico Di Napoli Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce” for this trip), a box of angel hair pasta (because it cooks faster than spaghetti) and a package of ground beef. For the true backcountry gourmand, a bit of parmesan is a nice touch, it keeps well as a hard, dry cheese.
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
Home Prep Time: 8-10 hours
Camp Cook Time: 15 minutes
Calories Total: 2550 (Sauce: 234, Beef: 1506, Pasta: 810)
Calories Per Serving: 637
Weight Total: 410g (Sauce: 65g, Beef: 110g, Pasta 225g)
Weight Per Serving: 103g
- 1 large (650ml) jar store bought Spaghetti sauce
- 1/2 package angel hair pasta
- 1 lb ground beef, browned and dehydrated
- Parmesan (optional)
- 2 pots
- Cheese grater if you’re paddling and weight doesn’t matter? A woman lent us hers when we were kayaking the Bowron Lakes circuit and it blew our minds.
Dehydrate spaghetti sauce at 135℉ on either a fruit leather liner or a tray lined with parchment for 8-10 hours (I usually leave it overnight because it doesn’t seem to matter much if you over-dehydrate it), then tear it into small pieces and store in a ziploc. I don’t recommend vacuum sealing the package of sauce because it seems to just stick back together into a giant glob that’s harder to rehydrate. I also don’t bother blending the sauce before dehydrating- any chunks in it will still reconstitute faster than the beef itself.
Measure out your pasta and prepare a batch of dehydrated ground beef. ⅛ of the box of pasta is the recommended serving, but you’ll probably be hungry- take more.
Dump the dehydrated sauce and beef into one pot and roughly add a couple cups of water and let everything soak for 5 minutes. Then, light the stove and bring to a boil with the lid on for a minute. Remove lid and reduce heat to a low simmer until the meat starts getting soft- stirring continually so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot.
When the meat is almost ready, remove it from the stove and cover it again, and use the stove to cook the pasta (we had to snap all the pasta in half to fit the pot.) Angel hair is supposed to be cooked for 6 minutes, but who brings a timer when they’re backpacking? Just keep sampling bits when it looks like it’s getting close to al dente.
Toss a bit of the pasta cooking water into the sauce and drain the rest of the water off. Add the noodles to the sauce as well and give it another blast of heat if necessary.
Serve with salt, pepper, chili flakes and grated cheese.