As we write this post, Yosemite National Park is experiencing devastating wildfires that have burned thousands of acres of pristine wilderness. It’s such a sad and difficult moment, for we wanted so much to share the joys of our last camping trip with all of you. Yosemite has always been a special, magical, and inspiring place for us, as it has been for millions of it’s visitors. With the fire 40% contained, there’s still 60% of hard, backbreaking work that the firefighters have to fight against. Thank you to all of the firefighters, police officers and volunteers who are working tirelessly to fight not just the Yosemite fires, but all the other California fires that have been burning over the last month. We applaud you.
Grand view of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
We’re not going to let the fires dampen our spirits. Luckily when we were there, the fires were not in the National park yet, but we could still see the smoke encroaching the valley from surrounding National Forests. Even with a little bit of smoky haze in the morning, the sights of Yosemite’s granite monoliths, cliffs and canyons were breathtaking, as they always have been. Ansel Adams, the famous nature photographer, conservationist and early environmentalist said it best, “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.“
Crossing Mine Creek, Inyo National Forest
Of course, our lucky canines accompanied us on this trip and lucky for them, Yosemite Valley is quite dog friendly. National Parks do not allow dogs on hiking trails, but they are allowed on paved trails, paths and roads. With miles and miles of these paved paths in Yosemite’s vast valley, the pups had a grand time hiking and visiting with many of the parks visitors and friendly rangers. We set up base camp at Bridalveil Creek campground for the 3 days and took day trips and hikes to various parts of the park. One of those days was visiting Tuolomne Meadows, an amazing spectacle of pristine lakes and meadows! The best part of the trip was hiking outside of the National Park into neighboring Inyo National Forest, which is very dog friendly. National forests allows dogs on trails and often times, even allow dogs to be off leash. So we found the ever spectacular Saddlebag Lake area and let the dogs hike, run free, and play in the waters of Mine creek (from Junction Campground).
Off leash time: cooling and free at last!
Here’s our little video to share with all of you:
Video #13- Yosemite National Park and Backcountry Couscous
When we’re out camping or backpacking, FOOD IS VERY IMPORTANT TO US. After a long days hike or climb, all we can think about is a good hot meal when we get back to camp. The days munchies are normally something quick and simple like bagels, granola, chocolate and crackers, but when it’s time to set up camp and fire up our stove, it’s all about eating well. We try our best to pack light and simple, but without compromising too much of flavor and some good stuff that makes us happy and keeps us warm. Couscous is one example of our staple meals because it is light, non-perishable, quick to cook, nourishing and satisfying to soothe our tired bodies and blistered feet.
carmelized shallots, fried ginger matchsticks and grilled zucchini
In the video, we share with you our version of our quick and delicious one-pot Backcountry Couscous. We will always bring or pack in some fresh, veggie essentials that are again, light, flavorful and tough enough to pack in our backpacks. For this couscous dish, we brought along some zucchini, ginger and shallots, all of which bring some fantastic flavor to our starch essential couscous. We just simply stir fried them up in our pan with a little oil, added some water, couscous and let it come to a boil. In just about 5-10 minutes, we have a hearty meal that has our much needed carbs, veggies and awesome flavors of ginger and shallots. Of course, we always doctor up our backcountry meals with extra special ingredients and this meal we added soy sauce and parmesan cheese! We can never go without our soy sauce and cheese in the great outdoors! This meal requires very little fuel and so quick that it makes for the perfect camping meal and the best part about it is that it can easily be duplicated in your home kitchen.
minced parsley topping
For home, and the main picture of this post, we added some extra goodies to the couscous. The recipe has all the shallot, ginger and zucchini goodies cooked in with the couscous, making it simple and camper friendly. But at home, we added some more grilled zucchini, fried ginger matchsticks and carmelized shallots on top. Enjoy!
Couscous Recipe w/ginger, shallots and zucchini Recipe
Yield: Serves 2-4
Total Time: 15 Minutes
- 1 cup couscous
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tablespoons olive/grapeseed oil
- 1 cup diced zucchini (about 2 small or 1 medium zucchini)
- 2 Tablespoons minced/grated ginger (about 2″ bulb)
- 1 Tablespoon minced shallots (about 1 large shallot)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- optional topping we added in video: soy sauce & parmesan cheese
- Add oil to pan and add zucchini, ginger and shallots.
- Cook till soft and fragrant.
- Add water, salt, couscous and bring to boil.
- Stir once to mix couscous grains evenly with ingredients and remove from heat.
- Close lid and let sit for about 5-10 minutes, then fluff couscous and place lid on top again for about another 2-3 minutes to allow grains to cook more evenly.
- Add extra salt/pepper to taste or your choice of extra toppings.
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More fun pics for you to view: