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Yellowstone National Park

colter_co_yellowstone

This year we made a trip we've been wanting to make for a few years. Yellowstone National Park. First of all, because our kids hadn't seen it yet. The other is because it's a sort of John Colter Mecca journey for me. John Colter was the first European to explore the Yellowstone area. He spent a lot of time alone in that area in search of good trapping streams. He was not alone. There were many others like him, but his finds and his stories of endurance, physical strength and cunning made him a part of history and the subject of many campfire stories. The grand nature of his expeditions were so extraordinary, it becomes difficult to determine truth from overactive imagination. Although few believed his stories of a land where the water boils and sprays in the air, it's still there. And it's an amazing place. 

Colter_co_yellowstone

Living in Washington can sort of spoil a person. It's so rich with pristine old growth rainforest that you start to not notice it any more. It's hard to maintain that sense of awe that nature can provide when you are surrounded by it daily. A trip to Yellowstone will quickly shake you out of any nature indifference you may be experiencing. Between the beautiful winding rivers, the roaming herds of Bison and the boiling mud pots, it all starts to feel like a trip to another place in time. If not another planet. It is easy to find yourself wondering what it would have been like to be John Colter, wandering down into this giant caldera for the first time. It's easy to feel the amazement he must have felt in seeing Old Faithful for the first time. Or finding a massive thundering waterfall carving out a vast yellow canyon. It's the kind of place that makes you feel a new respect for the planet we live on. 

Colter_co_yellowstone
Colter_co_yellowstone
Colter_co_yellowstone

If you have not been to Yellowstone, please go. It will give you a chance to see nature through new eyes. And remember John Colter while you are there.  

Colter_co_yellowstone
Colter_co_yellowstone
Colter_co_yellowstone

instructional article

500 camping & dutch oven recipes

I love cooking over a fire. I especially love cooking in dutch ovens. The process, the taste, the whole experience is an essential outdoor activity to me. Dutch oven cooking is something that is a part of my family heritage. I have recipes from my Grandfather that I use. Of course, like a lot of things passed down from grandparents, they're more like guidelines than recipes. Even though I have some classics that I enjoy I am always on the look out for new ideas. When I came across this, my jaw dropped. This free booklet has all kinds of ideas in it. Not only does it have 500 recipes for dutch oven and backpacking, it has a guide to regulating heat and setting up improvised ovens.

You can download it here: http://momwithaprep.com/500-camping-recipes/

Well worth the $0 you will pay for it. 

instructional article

Fire starters

DIY fire starters

Living in a damp environment makes you think waaay ahead about things like fire when you go camping. In the Pacific Northwest finding beautifully dry tinder is the exception, rather than the rule. Even during the summer months it can be challenging. These little cotton ball fire starters are very helpful!

You can find the full article here: http://www.pinchingyourpennies.com/diy-cotton-ball-fire-starters/

I have made a version of these that I found very good. I prefer to mix in paraffin wax (or bees wax) and melt the petroleum jelly in with that, then soak the cotton balls and squeeze out the extra. You end up with a nice, compact little puck that is much less greasy and messy in the end. When you want to use it, you do need to fluff it up a bit to loosen up the small fibers so they catch fire more easily. These little babies will burn for 3-5+ minutes! Very helpful if you are working with soggy twigs to get a fire going.

We recently added the Colter Spark to our offering. It's an excellent ferro rod fire starter that pairs nicely with this fire starting technic. Get your Colter Spark here