I just got back from my first backpacking trip on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Trevor and I took Friday off from work and arrived at the trail head for Shi Shi beach that evening and backpacked the short 2 miles in. The beach was absolutely breathtaking and unlike anything I had ever seen before. I was in awe that a sight so beautiful could exist just a few hours from home. I will never forget waking up to the sound of the waves rolling onto the shore. It was so calming that we actually fell back asleep and didn’t wake up until almost 10:30am! We had a lazy Saturday morning, sipping on instant coffee and playing with the little creatures we found in the tide pools.
After we packed up our things and made the steep descent out, we hopped in the car and headed to Cape Flattery which is the most northwestern tip of the continental United States. On a clear day, you can see British Columbia off in the distance. Unfortunately, it was really cloudy and overcast so we were not able to see that far but man, was it gorgeous! Plus, how many people can say they’ve been to the very tip of the country??
The road trip continued as we made our way south to La Push, Washington which is famous for the impeccable beaches. We first stopped off at Rialto beach where we walked along the shore, carefully selecting the most unique stones we could find. We then drove by First, Second and Third beach, admiring all of the other tourists and backpackers who too, were looking for a bit of paradise. We continued to make our way east to the Olympic National Forest where we would spend our second night. We ended up passing through Forks, the town where Twilight was based and I couldn’t help but snap this picture (sorry Trev, haha)!
After a few more hours of driving, we set up camp in the middle of the Olympic National Forest near the Dungeness Forks campground. We choose a spot right next to a bustling river where we could refill our water and cook our freeze-dried meals for the night. We were so exhausted after a full day of driving and sightseeing that we ended up passing out right around 9:00pm.
We woke up bright and early the next morning with the intention to climb Mt. Townsend – a supposedly beautiful hike with views of the San Juan islands, the cascades and the Olympic Peninsula from the summit. We drove up and down Forest Roads for nearly two hours but could not find the trail head to save our lives. It was raining hard (for Washington at least) so we took it as a sign that it was not meant to be and headed back to Seattle. Trev is determined to get a real map of the forest roads (Google maps wasn’t cutting it) so I’m sure we’ll be back sometime. That mountain isn’t going anywhere!
Two things I have a newfound appreciation for after a weekend of backpacking are showers and fresh, healthy meals. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the freeze-dried dinners we had over the weekend (vegan approved too!) but we were both ready for something more hearty. I researched a few recipes on the car ride home and ended up creating my own sweet potato and garbanzo curry recipe. I amazed myself with how good it turned out! In fact, it was so tasty that it would be a crime not to share it with all of you. Voila!
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 can garbanzo beans
- 2 cups coconut milk
- Fresh basil, for garnish
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp freshly pressed garlic
- Salt and pepper
- In a medium saucepan, boil the sweet potato to your desired tenderness. I like my sweet potatoes a little bit softer – they took about 25 minutes to boil.
- In a separate saucepan, combine the rice, a pinch of salt and 1 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and let cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomatoes, sweet potato, curry powder, ginger, paprika, and garlic, salt and pepper. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk to the tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 more minutes, until most of the coconut milk has boiled off.
- Add the chickpeas and cook until heated through – about 3 minutes.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and pour the curry over the rice. Chop up fresh basil and use as garnish, if desired.
This is a healthy vegan meal that will keep you full for hours. The sweetness of the sweet potato, the spice of the curry powder, combined with the creaminess of the coconut milk, gives this dish a ton of contrasting flavors that you and your loved ones will be sure to enjoy. Let me know what you think 🙂
Back to city life and reality today but already looking forward to getting back to the mountains! If you ever have the chance to explore the Pacific Northwest, make sure the Olympics are on your list – you won’t regret it.