I've found, through some anecdotal evidence, that a hearty breakfast is the fastest way to get sleepy friends out of their tents on a brisk morning. Especially when that morning is during the first cold backpacking trip of the season. It's cold, your body aches, and you are so cozy in your sleeping bag - why on earth would you want to get up for some mediocre instant oatmeal and pack up camp? Just fifteen more minutes...
That is, until you smell the fresh sausage cooking.
For short trips, or for the first morning on a longer trip, you can have fresh meat on a backpacking trip. We've discussed this before (see Bistec de Palomillo) and the same principle applies.
You can take meat, uncooked, into the backcountry if you:
For our short trips (two-day) we will plan to bring meat for the first dinner if it is a long first day and the first breakfast, to encourage people to wake up cheerfully. For fresh biscuits and gravy, we bring store-bought biscuits from the bakery or make our own the day before the trip. We bring one small log of publix lean breakfast sausage (any brand or tube will do) and freeze it solid in the coldest part of our freezer for at least a week to ensure it is absolutely frozen to the core. When you get on the trail, keep the sausage double zip-top bagged in an insulated soft-cooler. In our part of the world, Central Florida, it will still be slightly frozen by breakfast time!
Note: You do not want the meat to warm up prior to cooking. It should still be slightly frozen when you start to cook it. Or in other words, enough of the meat needs to still be frozen enough to keep the meat's temperature out of the "danger zone".
Backpacking Biscuits and Gravy
Feeds six, I recommend trying this prior to getting on the trail and adjust the recipe accordingly to your group so as to avoid bringing too much food.
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Please note: We are not trained chefs or medical professionals. We are not responsible for any illness or other unfortunate event that may occur if you choose to make this meal on a backpacking, or other camping, trip. We have made this meal several times with no ill effect and are sharing our recipe to enrich others' experiences. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. My blog post, comments, and responses are never intended as medical advice.
If you're an outdoorsy type of person and live in Florida or Georgia, there's a good chance you've heard of Cumberland Island National Seashore. One of the largest undeveloped barrier islands on the Atlantic Coast, Cumberland Island is an oak covered paradise only 45 minutes off the coast of Georgia via ferry.
We've been trying to get to Cumberland Island for probably ten years now? I'm not sure. I had been dreaming of visiting ever since our high school biology teacher assigned a project on coastal ecosystems. I finally got around to editing the photos I took during our trip (in November, yikes!) and let me assure you, it lives up to all of the daydreaming.
The island is covered in wind-worn oaks, spacious pine stands, salt marshes, and coastal scrub ecosystems. The island's 50-miles of trails are well maintained and campsites are intimate with vegetation cover and primitive benches. You aren't allowed to have campfires in the wilderness camp sites so if your camping experience requires s'mores, stay at the Sea Camp or Stafford Beach campgrounds. You can learn more about the camping arrangements at this website. NOTE: All camping requires a permit and some campsites are first-come first serve.
There is non-potable water available in the wilderness area from a sulfur well; so, make sure you bring some Gatorade if you are sensitive to the flavor.
We stayed at the Hickory Hill wilderness campsite and had plenty of room for three large tents (4 person) and three small tents (2 person). Hickory Hill is a nice and easy 5.5 mile hike from the ferry drop off so you'll have time to explore once arriving at camp. It rained for most of our trip, but like all Florida hikers we relished in the cooler temperatures and misty ambiance. I'll take drizzly and cool over hot and muggy ANY DAY. The cold weather inspired one of the best backpacking meals of my life thus far ... fresh from scratch Fettuccine Carbonara with peas and bacon. To die for. Recipe post coming soon!
If you get the chance, I highly recommend a weekend at Cumberland Island National Seashore. As the second National Park System trip I've done where you must take a ferry, I can personally recommend this style of camping for a relaxing and more secluded wilderness experience close to civilization. Have fun and get outdoors!