MSR Backcountry Cafe: Tomato Pasta

Though it was early September when my husband and I were cycling through the Po River Valley region of Italy, the summer sun still blazed, dry and scorching, lending a golden light to an already golden landscape. As well as being oppressively hot, the afternoon was also deathly quiet. We were used to this Italian riposo by now, that time between about two and four in the afternoon when shops closed, the buzz of activity at the local café dwindled, and the wooden shutters on everyone’s homes were shut tightly against that flaming sun. And so, it was with some surprise that I happened upon an elderly man who was up and about, despite the riposo. He was standing in a field that was parched, barren, and brown, walking carefully through the…

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Reflections & Camp Recipes from Granada, Spain

Motes of ochre and gold cover our shoes. Grains of sand, millennia-old and shaped by wind and water, feel as insubstantial as flour or dust. Yet all around us, we see towers and walls hundreds of feet tall, sculpted into wondrous forms from these same grains. A thousand kilometers to the north the Pyrenees are locked deep into winter mode, ski tourers and mountaineers playing on frozen faces and in deep powder. Here in Andalusia, we’re bathed in bright light, desert heat and cricket chirps. The smells of a desert environment are totally different, judging by Whip the dog’s intense sniffing and tail thumping. He’s static, nose in the air, nostrils flaring as he takes in the scent of wild animals, dust and a million other molecules that we can’t…

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