Imagine a This American Life dedicated to stories about the outdoors and you’d get something similar to The Dirtbag Diaries. Fitz Cahall’s podcast is one of the best on the internet. Couldn’t be more entertaining. You can now listen to his latest and greatest, “Episode 38: The Accidental Journalist” right here:
As a child, Freddie Wilkinson was fascinated by K2 and the adventure narratives from 8,000 meter peaks. It led to an incredible career as an alpinist seeking out difficult routes on obscure peaks across the globe, but his interest in climbing the trophy peaks waned. In August 2008, 11 climbers lost their lives on K2. The ensuing media frenzy was just that — a frenzy. Facts were hazy and right from the start people began making broad generalizations even though the details had yet to emerge. Something about it pissed Freddie off and stirred his curiosity. What really happened up there? Freddie started asking questions and in the process he found himself chasing an incredible story. You don’t need a journalism degree or a press pass to be a reporter. All it takes is a little New England “Can Do Spirit” and curiosity that won’t rest.
The trail’s most ubiquitous meal. And with damn good reason. Martin’s Whole Wheat Potato Bread (always in the fridge), Crunchy Peanut Butter and Reny’s Jalapeno Jelly made it into the pack this weekend.
What’s on yours?
The High Huts of the White Mountains (map is up top) are a series of eight mountain huts in the White Mountains, in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, owned and maintained by the AMC. They are positioned at intervals along the Appalachian Trail, generally separated by six to eight miles.
The huts are maintained by a team of five to nine caretakers – called the “croo” – during full-service season. Each crew member works for eleven days on, three days off. During the eleven working days, they must make four trips back down the mountain to get perishable food and other supplies, carrying heavy loads. At the beginning of each season, fuel and supplies are flown into the huts by helicopter.
Madison Spring Hut, built in 1888, is both the oldest hut site in the chain and the oldest hut site in the United States. The first overnight guests stayed in the winter of 1889, and in 1906 a fee was instituted to utilize the shelter — 50 cents per night. The original hut was expanded in that same year, as well as 1911, 1922, and 1929. In 1940, a fire — caused by the ignition of gasoline for the gasoline-electric power generator — destroyed much of the hut. The following year it was rebuilt and re-opened. It is the second highest hut in the chain, and sleeps the third highest number of guests. The hut is accessed most directly from the Valley Way Trail (from the Appalachia parking lot) and is generally considered the most difficult of the full-service huts to access, based on distance and elevation required to reach it. If you’ve ever done the hike, you’ll know that to be true. The Valley Way Trail is STEEP.
Hope it’s good for everyone.
19 May 1973
Herewith my bit for your cookbook. This recipe is not original but a variation on an old (perhaps ancient) Southwestern dish. It has also been a favorite of mine and was for many years the staple, the sole staple, of my personal nutritional program. (I am six feet three and weigh 190 pounds, sober.)
I call it Hardcase Survival Pinto Bean Sludge.
1. Take one fifty-pound sack Colorado pinto beans. Remove stones, cockleburs, horseshit, ants, lizards, etc. Wash in clear cold crick water. Soak for twenty-four hours in iron kettle or earthenware cooking pot. (DO NOT USE TEFLON, ALUMINUM OR PYREX CONTAINER. THIS WARNING CANNOT BE OVERSTRESSED.)
2. Place kettle or pot with entire fifty lbs. of pinto beans on low fire and simmer for twenty-four hours. (DO NOT POUR OFF WATER IN WHICH BEANS HAVE BEEN IMMERSED. THIS IS IMPORTANT.) Fire must be of juniper, pinyon pine, mesquite or ironwood; other fuels tend to modify the subtle flavor and delicate aroma of Pinto Bean Sludge.
3. DO NOT BOIL.
4. STIR VIGOROUSLY FROM TIME TO TIME WITH WOODEN SPOON OR IRON LADLE. (Do not disregard these instructions.)
5. After simmering on low fire for twenty-four hours, add one gallon green chile peppers. Stir vigorously. Add one quart natural (non-iodized) pure sea salt. Add black pepper. Stir some more and throw in additional flavoring materials, as desired, such as old bacon rinds, corncobs, salt pork, hog jowls, kidney stones, ham hocks, sowbelly, saddle blankets, jungle boots, worn-out tennis shoes, cinch straps, whatnot, use your own judgment. Simmer an additional twenty-four hours.
6. Now ladle as many servings as desired from pot but do not remove pot from fire. Allow to simmer continuously for hours, days or weeks if necessary, until all contents have been thoroughly consumed. Continue to stir vigorously, whenever in vicinity or whenever you think of it.
7. Serve Pinto Bean Sludge on large flat stones or on any convenient fairly level surface. Garnish liberally with parsley flakes. Slather generously with raw ketchup. Sprinkle with endive, anchovy crumbs and boiled cruets and eat hearty.
8. One potful Pinto Bean Sludge, as above specified, will feed one poet for two full weeks at a cost of about $11.45 at current prices. Annual costs less than $300.
9. The philosopher Pythagoras found flatulence incompatible with meditation and therefore urged his followers not to eat beans. I have found, however, that custom and thorough cooking will alleviate this problem.
Yrs, Edward Abbey—Tucson ***
Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument is situated along the access road into the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. The 200 square foot rock is a part of the vertical Wingate sandstone cliffs that enclose the upper end of Indian Creek Canyon, and is covered by hundreds of ancient Indian petroglyphs —one of the largest, best preserved and easily accessed groups in the Southwest. The petroglyphs have a mixture of human, animal, material and abstract forms, and to date no-one has been able to fully interpret their meaning.
The first carvings were made around 2,000 years ago, and although a few are as recent as the early 20th century, left by the first modern day explorers of this region, the main groups have been assigned to the Anasazi (AD 1 to 1300), Fremont (AD 700 to 1300) and Navajo (AD 1500 onwards).
More photos from PiedmontFossil’s 1981 Western Tour can be found here
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