Nature calms and resets — Backpackers and campers are invited to learn Camp Kitchen Cuisine |

Nature calms and resets — Backpackers and campers are invited to learn Camp Kitchen Cuisine

Nick Somers of Mountain Recreation will give a talk about Camp Kitchen Cuisine during Bear Yuba Land Trust's Fireside Chat series 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Inn Town Campground. Suggested donation is $10 and supports land conservation, nature programs and trails. Learn more and register at:
Photo by Erin Thiem |

Nick Somers, a self-proclaimed “gear nerd,” knows a thing or two about backpacking.

A life-long “car camper,” Somers began backpacking in his early teens. His trips have ranged in length from short overnights to multi-month, long backpacking and climbing trips.

“My first experience on my own was an overnight backpack to a hot spring in the central Oregon Cascades with my father. This tuned me into the therapeutic value of spending time outdoors. Whether I am attempting a strenuous route solo, or relaxing with a group near an alpine lake, I find that nature calms and resets me,” said Somers.

In June, the employee of Mountain Recreation taught a backpacking basics class during Bear Yuba Land Trust’s series of Fireside Chats at Inn Town Campground. Next week, he’ll teach a second installment with the backpacking theme — this time it’s all about cooking.

Somers will lead the Fireside Chat: Camp Kitchen Cuisine from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, at Inn Town Campground located at 9 Kidder Court in Nevada City, next to the Railroad Museum. A suggested donation of $10 supports the Land Trust’s ongoing commitment to land conservation, trail building and nature programming.

He’ll discuss camp kitchen essentials, how to choose the right cooking system, ration planning for longer trips and Leave No Trace techniques specific to a backcountry kitchen. Part of the evening will focus on freeze-dried food options, quick do-it-yourself meal recipes and how to stay fueled on the trail. There will even be food samples.

Participants can camp that evening with 50 percent off regular tent camping sites or 25 percent off regular glamping sites if available. Booking your campsite in advance is highly recommended.

For beginners just getting started, the backpacking world can feel overwhelming. Somers and the rest of the staff at Mountain Recreation are on hand to help customers allay some of their fears and answer questions.

Somers has completed several National Outdoor Leadership School courses, including their “Outdoor Educator Semester.” He has a Wilderness First Responder medical certification and several rock climbing certifications.

At his talk in June, Somers covered the basics, like pre-trip planning, the 10 essentials, lightweight gear options, how to pack a pack, Leave No Trace practices and local backpacking opportunities.

“This area is about as good as it gets for outdoor opportunities. The Tahoe National Forest has some of the easiest access to very scenic areas. While there are definitely backpacking options here, this area tends to have lots of forest service roads that allow for a ton of car camping or shorter backpacking trips both at established Forest Service campgrounds and in ‘dispersed camping’ areas. The El Dorado National Forest has some fantastic longer options as well, especially in some of the less traveled areas of Desolation Wilderness. But basically it’s tough to go wrong anywhere in the Sierras that is close to some water,” said Somers.

Some of his personal favorites include: Lake Aloha and Horseshoe Lake in Desolation Wilderness, Glacier Lake and Phoenix Lake in the Grouse Ridge area, and the Sierra crest just north of Mt. Whitney.

Somers likes to send novices up to the Grouse Ridge area.

“Backpackers can start at Carr or Lindsey Lakes and trips could range from two- or three-mile ‘out and back’ trips, up to 16-plus mile loops, both with nice lakeside camping options. This is a fairly popular area with good trails and great views. I also really like going from Glen Alpine Springs up to Susie or Heather Lakes in Desolation Wilderness. This hike also has easy-to-follow trails and some good fishing at Susie,” said Somers.

Permits are required for Desolation Wilderness and can be obtained through the Forest Service.

Besides being a wealth of knowledge, Mountain Recreation carries a full line of backpacking supplies that will suit a variety of outdoors folk, including:

Backpacks from brands like Gregory, Deuter and Kelty.

Hiking shoes by Keen, Salomon, Merrell and more.

Water filters – Katadyn and MSR water filters and chemical treatment options.

Stoves from MSR and Jetboil; higher-priced options often include cookware.

Tents by Mountain Hardwear, Nemo and Kelty.

Sleeping bags by brands like Mountain Hardwear, Marmot and Kelty — synthetic bags and down bags.

Sleeping pads by Thermarest and Nemo — bulky foam pad and inflatable pads that pack to half the size of a water bottle.

Laura Petersen is the Community Engagement Manager for Bear Yuba Land Trust. You can reach her at or 530-913-3067.

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