We did it! We completed our first hiking goal. When we started hiking at Joseph D. Grant County Park (or Grant Ranch Park, but we somehow ended up saying Grandy Ranch and that has become our little joke) in Spring, we enjoyed the experience so much that we made a pact to do it every weekend until we had set foot on every trail there is. Three months and more than 60 miles later, we're proud to say we did it.
Everything I now know about hiking in the outdoors in California I learned from this challenge. Like the importance of wearing appropriate shoes. Learning to read the map. Being able to identify poison oak and avoiding it. Having an idea of what to do when faced with wild animals and grazing cattle. Knowing what my body needs and packing the right sustenance.
David and I joined forces to create a trail mix with ingredients we both like, bearing in mind its crucial purpose as a snack that would fuel our activity. So we went nuts for energy – cashew and pecan are my favorite while almonds and walnuts are his regular go-to. Dried fruits and seeds made their way in without much debate. I love bananas, and banana chips were a fun addition, along with David's suggestion of coconut flakes for a creamy touch of tropical flavor. The result is something we really enjoy on our hikes, and more cost-efficient than the pre-packed options. And we decided to name it after the park.
Some trails were harder than others, but we were always in the good company of the regal tree folks. We got to know a few of them (thanks to Trees of North America by C. Frank Brockman), had lunch under their majestic canopies and even climbed several stately trunks.
Completing Grant Ranch is a small feat, but the beginning of many more. We've been filling up this Summer's weekends with camping and backpacking trips. I doubt I would have possessed the basic know-how nor strength and stamina had it not been for our training in Grant Ranch. And there's still much to learn, to discover. We're checking out another park for hiking in the Fall, and it shows a lot of promise. Walking, it seems, is just as addictive as a good trail mix.
Grant Ranch Tropical Trail Mix
Shopping at the supermarket bulk section gives us the flexibility to assemble the ingredients. Nuts make up the bulk of this trail mix, providing protein, good fats and fiber for energy. We prefer nuts that are unsalted, untoasted and as minimally processed as possible. Dried fruits contribute natural sweetness and contrast in texture while banana chips and coconut flakes add a nice touch of tropical flavors. Makes about 6 cups.
1 cup cashews
1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
1 cup banana chips
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup jumbo raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup coconut flakes
Mix all ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.