Home Hikes A Conditioning Hike & Strawberries

A Conditioning Hike & Strawberries

by Lisa

At first I really didn’t feel like blogging about our hike from last weekend as there isn’t a whole lot to say about it. But seeing as I have strawberries to brag about I thought I’d throw it in!

Last weekend’s hike was chosen very much for conditioning purposes. Conditioning for hiking falls mostly into the “Aerobic Condition” category. Wikipedia defines aerobic conditioning as “a process whereby the heart and lungs are trained to pump blood more efficiently, allowing more oxygen to be delivered to muscles and organs.” In the hiking world, this translates to choosing rather strenuous uphill hikes.

The hike we chose is called “Cow Heaven,” and is on the edge of North Cascades National Parkin Northern Washington. It involved a 4000 foot, switchback-filled climb over about 5 miles.

It absolutely had the chance to seriously kick our butts. Thankfully our training is paying off and we did formidably on the trail! 

​Hike Name: Cow Heaven
Date: Saturday May 14
Location: Newhalem, WA
Approx. drive time from home: 2 hours
Distance: 10 mi. / 16 km (return)
Elevation gain: 4000 ft / 1290 m
Max. elevation: 4400 ft / 1340 m

Hiking time: 6 hours

The trail started not far from the North Cascades Nat’l Park Ranger Station in Newhalem, Washington. It started out on a relatively easy grade through the ferns of the valley forest. The steep and short switchbacks followed beside a nice stream, allowing us excuses of breaks to admire the many waterfalls.

​About half-way up the mountain we ended up amongst some awesome old-growth trees. We enjoyed making a game of spotting the giant Yellow Cedars and Douglas Firs and guessing how old they were.

We knew we were nearing the top when we reached the sub-alpine forest filled with shorter Hemlocks andFirs. We also started crossing the occasional snow patch, though nothing that required our trail crampons.

We had a brief adventure where a rather large hemlock had fallen completely across the trail. It was rather sappy work to get under and over the branches but finally made it through and were able to press on.

We made it to “Cow Heaven” about 3 hours from starting the hike. The meadows were snow-filled but the view was pretty great of the surrounding peaks. It would be nice later in the season to explore the meadows and scramble the nearby ridge.

We took a well-deserved lunch break and then made our careful way back down the mountain, getting back to the car about 2 hours after starting down the trail.

We celebrated our achievement with some great beer from Birdsview Brewery, which was only 20 minutes down the road.

Now to the more exciting topic! Today our fruit market had first of the season, beautiful, fresh, local strawberries! Our local strawberries are smaller and more flavourful than the California varieties that we find in our supermarkets.

Dehydrating strawberries is ridiculously easy. Pop the tops off (I use a cherry corer), give them a good wash and then slice them to about 1/4 inch thick. Most of my batch ended up getting sliced in half or in thirds.

Spread them out on a dehydrating tray with space between them and dehydrate for 6-8 hours.

The resulting fruit is a bit chewy and crammed with flavour. They will make a great addition to our trail snacking! I’m starting to think we’re going to be the healthiest, most nutrient-filled hikers on the trail!  

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