Three Warm Meals for Cold-Weather Trips

It’s been a chilly, wet winter here so far in the Pacific Northwest, the kind of weather that makes you want to curl up indoors with a movie and a hot bowl of soup and wait for spring. But winter hiking brings its own set of rewards. Trails you’ve hiked so many times that they’ve become routine are transformed by winter into a whole new adventure. Even better, everyone else is inside, curled up and watching movies with a hot bowl of soup. That means that you can enjoy some of the most popular trails in your area without the crowds you’d find in summer.

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During a lull in the first winter storms of the season, my husband and I, along with our friend Dave, took advantage of the thinned out crowds and fresh powder on a day hike up to Talapus and Olallie lakes near Snoqualmie Pass. Knowing that the chilliness we were feeling at sea level would only be heightened by traveling up into the mountains, we were sure to bring along a few quick-cook lunches to enjoy at the lake, including–you guessed it–hot soup.

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While my light MSR PocketRocket 2 is my go-to stove for backpacking, this time I brought along our MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System, which performs better in cold conditions, so that we could boil water quickly and efficiently.

Our first meal was a spicy take on ramen, to help us rehydrate with some hot liquid after the climb to the lake.

Sriracha Ramen with Mixed Vegetables (Serves 2)

  • Rice Noodles (2 cups)
  • Freeze-Dried Mixed Vegetables (1 cup)
  • Dried Onion (2 tbsp.)
  • Bouillon (Chicken, Beef, Vegetable, or Mushroom) (1 ½ tbsp.)
  • Powdered Soy Sauce (1 ½ tsp.)
  • Powdered Sriracha (½ tsp.)
  • Dried Garlic (¼ tsp.)
  • Salt (¼ tsp.)
  • Seaweed (optional) (¼ cup)
  • Dried Mushrooms (optional) (½ cup)

Directions:

Frontcountry: Combine all ingredients in a gallon size plastic bag.

On the trail: Boil a liter of water and pour three quarters of it into the plastic bag. Seal the bag for two to three minutes. Taste for doneness, adding more water as desired. To keep our food warm while we ate, I fashioned some last-minute pouches out of reflectix (the same material used for car sunshades).

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Potato Mushroom Stew with Dill and Fried Onions (Serves 2)

  • Dried Potato Slices (2 cups)
  • Dried Mushrooms (2 cups)
  • Dried Dill (1 tsp.)
  • Dehydrated Milk (2/3 cup)
  • Powdered Parmesan (2 tbsp.)
  • Salt (¼ tsp.)
  • Black Pepper (to taste)
  • Fried Onions (1/2 cup)
  • Olive Oil (2 tbsp.)

Directions:

Frontcountry: Break up the dried mushroom into bite-sized pieces. Combine all ingredients except for the fried onions and olive oil in a gallon size plastic bag. Store the fried onions in a baggie and the olive oil in a disposable plastic water bottle.

 

On the trail: Boil a liter of water and pour half of it into the Ziploc bag. Seal the bag for two to three minutes. Taste for doneness, adding more water as necessary to reach the desired consistency. Add the fried onions and stir to incorporate.  To keep ourselves warm while we were waiting for our food to rehydrate, we used some of the extra water from the meal prep to make some hot chocolate.

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New Orleans Red Beans and Rice (Serves 2)

  • Instant Rice (1 cup)
  • Dehydrated Red Beans (1 cup) (I dehydrated my own, but Backpacker’s Pantry sells freeze-dried red beans if you don’t want to go through the trouble)
  • Vegetable Chorizo Sausage (1 link)
  • Dried Onion (⅓ cup)
  • Dried Bell Peppers (¼ cup)
  • Dried Thyme (a pinch)
  • Dried Garlic (¼ tsp.)
  • Salt (¼ tsp.)
  • Cajun Seasoning (1 tsp.)
  • Mushroom or Beef Bouillon (1 tbsp.) (optional)
  • Olive Oil (2 tbsp.)

Directions:

Frontcountry: Pack the olive oil in a disposable plastic water bottle. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a gallon size plastic bag.

On the trail: Boil a liter of water and pour three quarters of it into the Ziploc bag. Seal the bag for two to three minutes. Taste for doneness. Add the olive oil and stir to combine.

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Originally Published December 21, 2015.

Laura Lancaster started backpacking at the age of 12 and hasn’t let up since. Currently a freelance writer and editor living in Seattle, she thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014 and the Wonderland Trail in 2015. Laura has been published in Survivor’s Edge magazine and has forthcoming work in Backpacker and American Survival Guide.