Day 29: "I was on the trail at 6 in about an hour the strong cold wind started blowing again, as I had my sleeves cut off my arms y wrists got very cold so I pulled my "extra' pair of socks on my arms. I passed the little town of Jefferson, then I crossed the divide over into the head of the N. fork of the S. Platte River. after hiking down along this for a couple miles I got a ride with a fellow who was going all the way to Denver, but after a few miles we got down into a nice y interesting canon that i like to examine little closer y perhaps take some pictures, so I got off on the excuse that it was too cold to ride then I hiked the rest of the way past a couple more little town y several summer camps y [unintelligible] down to the town of Bayley where I got me a can of P y Bs [pork and beans] y some R.O. Then I intended only to hike a couple of miles, y then find a nice camping place where it would not be so cold. But again I was offered a ride so I rode about 4 miles y that was ll uphill to, after that I tried to find a good campsite but was not very successful. It was impossible to get any good view today as it was been snowing in the mountains the whole day y tonight it is snowing here too days. I took a room in a hotel as the public camps are a long ways from the City."


Day 27: "Thursday 5/8 I had a good sleep last night, but this morning soon after I got on the way I had to face this strong Cold northwind y it has been blowing the whole day y is roaring overhead now. I had a rather uninteresting hike as far as "Fairplay," an old mining y cattle town, which I foud out is above 10000 ft. alt. I had noticed patches of snow here y there down in the valley this a.m. so I thought it must be pretty high. There has been considerable gold dredging operations goin on in the river bed at Fairplay. Sometime after lunch I kept on going, the road staying very high up near the lower edge fo the timber (there seems to be only a 1000 to 1500 ft (alt) strip of timber from timberline down to the open plains y valleys) to the town of Como where I bought a few groceries then after about 2 mile more I spyed [sic.] a thick willow patch a short distance from the road, which looked like it might give some shelter so I went over there y found a fairly good place although the ground is wet y there is several patches of snow nearby. It has been snowing off y to up in the mountains the whole day y getting worse tonight y every once in a while I get some of it here too. I managed to get some spruce boughs for my bed y I have lots of dead willows for fuel so I guess I will make it pretty good."


"My camp 5/2/24"
'I didn't sleep very well last night due to the cold.' Pete's journal entries for the next few days all begin with some variation of that line. After crossing into Colorado on May 1, he travels cross county for the better part of a week. Even he must have found it monotonous as he stops taking photographs for a while. As you can see in our reconstructed map of his route, he notes passing through Antonito, Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Buena Vista. We'll pick up his story again on May 8 as he heads towards Denver.

We know from his journals and previous research that Parsons came to America from Sweden. In 1909, Parsons and his friend Otto Witt got work on a four-masted freighter sailing from Germany to Oregon. As Barney Mann wrote in an article on Parsons for Backpacker magazine, "Parsons and Witt were both 20 years old and fleeing dismal prospects in Sweden and Germany. Witt had aroused the ire of the freighter's violent captain and the pair jumped ship in Portland, Oregon, rather than completing their contracted journey back to Europe."

Pete Parsons and Otto Witt, undated

Parsons and Witt made their way to Mill City and the Hammond Lumber mill. "The two soon fell into a pattern," Mann wrote, "Parsons would work in the lumber mill for a few months at a time and give the money to Witt, who served as his personal bank. Then Parsons would take off, exploring the Oregon Cascades and beyond."
Four-masted sailing ship
Parsons journals, photographs, and other records are now part of the Mazama Library and Historical Collections. His journals and photographs document his many adventures, including a previous hike in 1923 from Mill City to Kernville, California. That 1200 mile hike may have lit the spark that led him to hike from Mexico to Canada the following year.


"Heading north 5/1/24"
"May 1st Well I am camping in Colorado tonight among snowbanks 6 ft thick y at abt 1000 ft elev. I was on the way at 5.30 and got to Chama abt 8.00. There I left some film y got some more Y inquired abt my intended route, but everybody said I could not get through because of the snow. Well, I got enough grub to last me for 8-9 days, then I struck out, there

was both a road y a r.r. [railroad] going in my direction for a while. The road was impassable, nothing but soft nub so I followed the R.R. (a narrow gauge line belonging to the D y R.G.W.) up to where there was lots of snow here y tried the road for a ways as it was straighter, but the snow was so soft that I sank down to my knees every step y where the ground was bare it was mud y I had to go back down to the RR which I followed to abt 11 miles from Chama. here I cut up the hillside to the north along a bare strip of ground hoping to find a sheltered spot to camp so I

could cut across the snow tomorrow morning before it got soft. Finally I got u near the top of the ridge y here I found the snow pretty solid so I keept [sic.] going about a mile more to what looks like the last ridge, here camp, but the snow is dep nearly everywhere and the bare spots are soaking wet, but I cut a lot of spruce bough y I found a lot of dry limbs for fire wood. But by the time I got pretty well fixed up it started snowing y blowing, but it quit after a while y is clearing up but it will freeze pretty hard I expect. but that will make good going tomorrow morning. My [feet] was wet y got pretty cold

before I got camp fixed but socks y shoes are drying nicely now y I got a big supper under the belt so am feeling pretty good now. This is like camping in Alaska about this time of the year. Here is quite a few wolf or coyote [illegible] up here."


"In Arroyo Seco 4/29"

Day 18 "This morning I came across a large plain that forms an of the old spanish grant. Then I crossed the Rio Chama, a quite large stream than I headed up Arrayo Seco. Here I got a ride on a wagon up to Canjilon near the summit. Where I camped. I noticed some interesting rock in the valley I crossed today, [it] appears to be some kind of Obsidian or I believe it is commonly called flint it is of several different collars [sic.], black, blue, gray, yellow y white. and where the old surface are exposed they are covered with a white coating which could indicate that this flint rock has been inbedded [sic.] in the white lime-stone. I have not been close enough to the lime-stone cliffs to verify this."

This post is part of an ongoing story, told in real-time, of Pete Parsons journey in 1924. Over the next several months, we'll follow him using his photographs and journals to retrace his travels. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, and the Mazama blog as we track his progress and learn about him and his journey of a lifetime.


"Jemez NM"

Day 15 "This morning I left town [Albuquerque] abt 8 am after about a mile I got a ride through to Bernalillo 18 miles from there I got another ride to San Ysidro where I had lunch. I started off from Jemez Hot Springs and after 5-6 miles I got another ride to the Springs, all together I have come about 60 miles today. ... I have passed a couple of Indian pueblos and met a lot of the Indians, they all seem happy y contented y most of them have a piece of [unintelligible], they all wear a red band around the head. I have made so good progress today y it was so cold y wet that I took a room in a hotel tonight. People say there is too much snow north of here for me to get through, but I will try it tomorrow."

 Parsons passed through Jemez Pueblo, the ancestral home to members of the Jemez people. Today it is home to members of the Jemez and Pecos Tribes.

 As Barney Mann writes in "The Swede who showed America how to hike," in Parsons day there was no Continental Divide Trail, only the next ridge or pass to cross.* "Parsons pieced together prospectors' trails, old mine and timber tracks, railroad rights of way, long lengths of cross-country, and road-walking on two-lane highways. He was capable of 30-mile days and strung many together." Long before thru-hiking was a thing, his goal was to get there, if it meant taking a ride made the journey a little easier, so much the better.

 *Backpacker, Jan/Feb 2020


"On the trail in N.M. 4/24"

Day 13 "It as been interesting to note all along the valley the great number of red-winged blackbirds. This p.m. I got me a new knife on whim I removed the handle y ground down the shank in a machine shop y manana I will try to get the materials for another handle. I also got me some maps and have been planning my route ahead."

Parsons was also very good at taking photographs of himself, no small feat in an era before cameras were equipped with easy to use remote shutter technology. As you will see in the coming weeks, Parsons often trips the shutter with a length of twine.

Like most long trail hikers, Parsons was obsessed with weight, always on the lookout to trim a once here, and an once there. This is just one of many examples in his journal where he modifies something to either make it lighter or better fit his needs, be they functional or aesthetic.


"In the Cuchillo Canon" 

Day 11 "4/22 I was on the trail about 6 y I had hard to keep warm, after hiking 7-8 miles a [unintelligible] overtook me y it was the same fellow I rote with yesterday, he gave me a ride all the way to Magdalena (about 40 m.). Then after having dinner there I struck out over a shorth-cut towards Polvadera in the Rio Grande Valley y hiked about 12 miles. I was told I that I would find wather [sic.] before this, but I did't find any so this is nearly a dry camp as I drank most of what I carried before I camped. I found a lot of nice flowers around here that I put under my bed to keep everything from getting full of sand. ... I did't intend to come as far east yet, but the [unintelligible] was going east to beat the band so I was in Magdalena before I could lay a different course."

"View from camp"

"In the Cuchillo Canon"


Day 9 "This morning when I started for <> [Diamond] Peak, I thought I would take a short cut and climbed the wrong hill before I saw it, then when I finally got there, there was not much to come for, but the trail went over the top." Pete works his way cross country for several miles until he reaches a valley. "After going down this for a mile I can to a cabin where there was an old miner living who was just fixing up his dinner so he invited me to stay for some eats as I had nothing but R. oats left myself. He told me it was about 12 miles down to Cloride y 2 more to Fair View where there is a store."


 Day 7 "I had a pretty early start this morning and it was very cold, there was ice every where on standing water and wet ground. I was following up along Cherry Creek Canon to Red Rock R.S. here I branched off towards Scotts sawmill which is deserted except for a caretaker who told me where to find the trail. ... I have a nice camp tonight at the head of a stream. I don't know just where I am at, but it does not matter, I have plenty of grub and agua."


Day 4 "I did not sleep very well last night because the wind was blowing very hard and there was a lot of noise from the threes and it was still blowing very hard this morning so I did not dare to start a fire because there was dry pine needles all around. ... I found a cactus this p.m. that had some good juicy fruit on it. Then I was going to try the fruit of the cholla cactus. I could not feel any stingers on the fruit, but I guess there was some anyway for I got a lot of fine stingers in my thonge [sic.] and lips, I learned a lesson."


Day 2 "Last night I camped right on the open prairie, this morning I stopped at a ranch for a while to get some information about the country ahead but I found out that a lot of the younger people at least only know the country by the auto routes. Well I layd [sic] my route as straight as possible for a pass in the Chiricahua mountains where I expect to cross tomorrow."


Ninety-six years ago a young man started a journey. Over the next several months, we'll follow along in real time using his photographs and journals to retrace his travels. Don't know who Pete Parsons is? That's okay. Get to know him by joining us on Facebook, Instagram, and the Mazama blog as we track his progress and learn about him through his journey of a lifetime.

Day 1: "April 12, 1924. I left Douglas Arz. yesterday at 1 pm and headed north along a road that goes up to some ranches up in Spring valley. I carried about a gallon of water to start with, but I found out after a while that it was not necessary as I could get water at the ranches. It was cloudy and raining at times, I hiked barefoot."


Snow (but not mud!) Free Hikes for Off Season Training

 Neahkahnie Mountain from the Cape Falcon trail.
Photo: Darrin Gunkel.
by Darrin Gunkel

Snowshoeing not your thing? Traction devices annoy you? Here are 8 hikes to keep your blood pumping through the winter months that don’t involve strapping anything beyond gaiters to your feet.

One of the beauties of hiking and climbing in the greater Portland area has always been the multitude of 365-day per year (more or less, depending on the occasional ice storm) training options afforded by the Columbia Gorge. That is, until the Eagle Creek Fire shut down most every trail on the Oregon side of the river. The 2017 conflagration put dozens of reliable all-season hikes out of commission indefinitely. And it ruined more than a few winter training schedules.

The speed of the recovery isn’t smiling on the itchy-footed and the impatient. Gorge trails are beginning to reopen, particularly around Multnomah Falls and Angel’s Rest. Unfortunately, the Forest Service warns conditions can be dicey, with downed trees, washed out trails, and lots of loose mud and rock. As a result, expect your favorite off-season training trails to be a bit slower than before. Even if you’re experienced with rough trail conditions, there’s also the matter of conservation to consider. During the wet season, the erosional effects of fire damage are magnified and “normal” wear and tear takes a greater long-run toll. The message here is maybe we should go easy on the Oregon side of the Gorge for a while.

Not like our region doesn’t have plenty other winter hiking options. What follows are some of the better low elevation trails for varying degrees of training. Outside of the occasional winter snow blast, these routes are open year-round, and more or less the same distance from the main population centers as the Gorge trails.

1. Tryon Creek Outer Loop: 5.7 miles, 630 feet elevation gain

If you’ve found yourself a little out of shape after the holidays, Tryon Creek State Park’s a great place to break your hiking fast and begin warming up for the summer. The Outer Loop, as described in the OregonHikers.org field guide is just the right length to begin restretching those (ahem) well-rested muscles. The park has tons of trails through mature second growth forest, though, and with a trail map in hand, you can tailor your own workout to fit whatever mileage and elevation needs you have.

2. Milo McIver Riverside Loop: 6.1 miles, 690 feet

This loop around the north side of Milo McIver State Park drops down the bluff to wander along the banks of the Clackamas River, saving the workout for the end. It also skirts a top-notch disc golf course! Again, Oregon Hikers maps out the details of this particular trip. But as with Tryon Creek, plenty of trails crawl up and down the bluff, allowing you to patch together any sort of workout you like.
Clackamas River Trail. Photo: Darrin Gunkel

3. Clackamas River Trail: 8.2 and 1,550 feet, one way

If you want to bring a bike, or an extra car, you can stash either the Fish Creek or Indian Henry Trailheads on the Clackamas River and through hike this fine portion of the Clackamas River, and sample one of Oregon’s newer protected areas, the Clackamas River Wilderness (established in 2009.) The net elevation gain from Fish Creek to Indian Henry is just 350 feet, but the trail bobs up and down the whole way, stacking up the elevation and making it a better workout than many other lower-elevation river hikes. If you don’t want to car shuttle or bike (or hitchhike) back to your car, an out-and-back trip from Fish Creek to Pup Creek Falls is bit shorter, at 7.8 miles, but adds 145 feet to the total elevation. Or, if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you could always do entire trail out and back for a workout equal to many of the tougher trails on Hood. 

4. The other Eagle Creek: up to 15.4 miles and up to 1835 feet

Not a lot of people know about the other Eagle Creek, flowing west out of the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness, into the Clackamas, near Estacada. It could be argued that this is a better springtime hike, once the carpets of oxalis on the old growth forest floor start blooming. Then again, there are many things to recommend the deep ancient forest in the depths of winter. Not the least of which is the lack of company. This hike begins and climbs a little higher than the others listed here, so check with the Estacada ranger station about snowpack before you go. 

5. Silver Falls

There’s a lot more to Silver Falls State Park than the Silver Falls and Ten Falls Loops. The Perimeter Loop rewards your efforts with 16.8 miles and 2470 feet gained, but could be a bit snowy or icy. If you do the Buck Mountain Loop and add the Howard Creek and Cutoff Trails, you not only clock 8.6 miles and nearly 1,000 feet, you get to admire some fine old growth trees, as well.

6. South Molalla River Trails: up to 9.9 miles and 1,375 feet—or more!

 As with Tryon and Milo McGiver, many trails in BLM managed Molalla River Recreation Area wind up and down the bluff and along the river. Half the fun here is just picking a route. And there’s another possibility in this neck of the woods. Just 20 minutes further down the road, and you come to the Old Bridge Trailhead for Table Rock Wilderness. The trail into the wilderness here leaps up 1800 feet in the first 2.5 miles. This would put you at 3000 feet, not entirely out of the question in a low snowpack year like 2019. Not a bad jaunt, if you feel the need to do something steep with your day. 
The pyramid wall at Macks Canyon. Photo: Darrin Gunkel.

7. Macks Canyon Skyline: as much mileage as you want, and up to 1,800 feet elevation

The Deschutes River Canyon east of Tygh Valley, where Oregon Route 216 crosses the river, doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. A BLM road leads north from the river crossing, winding through a spectacular collection of basalt pyramids, ridges, and walls, ending at Macks Canyon campground. From here, you could march 23.6 miles, slowly and steadily downstream, to the Deschutes River State Recreation Area at the Columbia. Or, you can pick a route up one of those ridges. The pyramid walling the east bank of the river just past the campground is a good option. Traversing it south to north and returning via the river trail will earn you 1800 feet up and down in 4.8 miles. And views of Adams, Hood, and Jefferson from the canyon rim. 

8. Oregon Coast Trail from Shingle Mill to Short Sands 15.9 miles, 2,750 feet. 

You can drive within a half mile of Short Sands Beach, but unless you’re carrying three kids and four surfboards, why would you want to do that? To get a real workout, and a real feel of the Pacific Coast, spend a whole day on this leg of the Oregon Coast Trail. Beginning just off Highway 101, at the OCT Shingle Mill Trailhead, it’s the nearest true hiking stretch of the OCT to the Portland-Vancouver area—a little more than an hour and a half. As long as the traffic gods smile upon you or leave early enough to beat the day-tripper traffic on Route 26 (which you probably want to do anyway, given the mileage on the route) you should have plenty of time to hike, dawdle among ancient Sitka spruce, lounge above the Pacific Ocean at Cape Falcon, and watch surfers compete for waves at Short Sands.


Lightweight, Nutritious, Sustainable, Delicious

by Ali Gray

Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay
If you’re anything like me, you get super hungry when you’re out in the backcountry. After a long day of backpacking or climbing, all I want is to sit down to a hot meal and load up on calories. An outdoor meal should leave me feeling satisfied and happy. Food that’s local, created sustainably, tastes great, and doesn’t break the bank is a definite plus.

When you’re craving a burger, fries, and a cold beer, re-hydrating a package of freeze-dried mediocre linguine from the store can be a bit of a letdown. But it doesn’t have to be! There are tons of options for do-it-yourself adventure food, and just as many non-corporate, tastier options than the wall of Mountain House at REI.

Enter: the dehydrator.

You can pick one of these up for pretty cheap (around $60 from many online stores), and they’re well worth the investment. Any beginner knows a home dehydrator is perfect for dried fruit of any kind. Apple rings (tip: cut the apple through the core for pretty star patterns in your rings), banana chips, mango, kiwi, strawberry, the list goes on. Feeling adventurous? Try adding some spices—spicy dried mango, anyone? Home-dehydrated fruits are cheap, easy, flavorful, and don’t contain added sugar and chemical preservatives.

After drying some fruit, it’s time to branch out into the wider world of amazing dehydrator meals. Believe it or not, a simple dehydrator is capable of drying all sorts of foods, including vegetables, sauces, meats, soups, and beans (no soak time required).


Dose Juice on Unsplash

  • Trail smoothie: Simply blend up your favorite smoothie and spread it out on a dehydrator tray. Once it’s brittle, grind it up in a coffee grinder and put it in a resealable bag. Out on the trail, add a little water and you have a smoothie, just like at home.
  • DIY oatmeal: Packaged oatmeal is a little…gross. Sugar and mystery ingredients, anyone? Instead, add whatever you want to some instant oats and you’re all set. Some fun ideas are chia seeds, hemp seeds, oat bran (fiber), powdered milk (creaminess), sugar or substitute (if you have a sweet tooth), vanilla bean powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon or other spices, dried fruits, and nuts.

Lunch and snacks

  • DIY trail mix: Home-dried fruits, nuts, seeds, chocolate, coconut...
  • DIY granola bars: Easier than you think to make at home. There are plenty of recipes online, including for KIND bars.
  • Summer sausage or home-dehydrator jerky paired with a hard cheese (safe without refrigeration in cooler temps). Eat on whole grain crackers, or rehydrate some hummus and make a wrap.
  • Consider rehydrating a meal pouch at breakfast and letting it soak until lunch. Many foods are just as good cold as they are warm.


StockSnap on Pixabay

  • Soup: Use your favorite soup recipe: dehydrate the veggies and add all the ingredients in a resealable bag. If you’re adding meat, consider purchasing freeze-dried meats since they don’t rehydrate very well when dehydrated. I did read that dehydrated canned chicken works fairly well.
  • Couscous, pasta, and instant rice: Same instructions as for soup. There are tons of recipes online—risotto, curry, jambalaya, and many more. Consider dehydrating a marinara or curry sauce in your dehydrator!
  • Ramen: Ditch the nutrient-deficient spice packet, and use the instant noodles with your own blend of dehydrated veggies and spices.
  • Other ideas: Instant mashed potatoes or polenta.
  • Dessert: Rice pudding (instant rice, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, water to rehydrate), fruit leather (DIY), apple crisp (granola, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, dried apples, water to rehydrate).

Online dried ingredient marketplaces

Don’t want to invest in a dehydrator or don’t have the time or space? There are online shops that cater to backpackers and sell pre-dried individual ingredients, reusable rehydration pouches, and single-serve condiments.

These stores are more expensive that doing it yourself, but if you’re pressed for time or don’t want to figure out how to dry some of the more persnickety foods (I’ve always struggled with squash), they’re a fantastic option. I’ve used Packit Gourmet (they also sell tasty meal pouches), but other options are Harmony House Foods and FoodStorage.com.

Other quick tips

Save your boil-in-a-bag pouches. Wash them out and re-use them for your own dehydrator meals.
Organize your dehydrator meals in clear, resealable bags. Write on the bag what is inside (and the day you plan to eat it on a multi-day trip), and place breakfasts, lunches/snacks, and dinners in separate stuff sacks for easy sorting.

Dry dark leafy greens in your dehydrator, then grind them into a powder in your coffee grinder. This is an easy way to add nutrients to your morning smoothie or oatmeal, or into a dinner pouch. “Power green” powders are also available online, but it’s much cheaper to do it yourself. All those grains and nuts take a toll on our digestive systems and adding greens can really help.

Alternatives to Mountain House

Mountain House meals are fine, but they can quickly get old. And 2 servings? More like 1. Found that one out the hard way.

There are plenty of smaller companies producing dried meals popping up in local shops and online.

  • Food for the Sole: Originally a mom making meals for her son hiking the John Muir Trail, they now make “tasty health-conscious adventure foods”. And they’re based in Bend!
  • Backpackers Pantry: Becoming widely available at local stores. They do actually serve 2 people, use high-quality ingredients, and are a member of 1% for the Planet.
  • Heather’s Choice: Small batch, healthy, and handmade in Alaska.
  • Fishpeople: Soups and chowders made with wild, sustainably caught seafood.
  • Packit Gourmet: Tex-Mex inspired meals from a mother-and-daughter team.
  • Outdoor Herbivore: Vegetarian and vegan options with no additives, less sodium, and no artificial anything.

Now get out there and plan some tasty meals!