Brunch with Outdoor Bound
At Fjällräven we’re very excited about our new collaboration with Outdoor Bound, an organization dedicated to creating and bringing you on amazing trips in the outdoors. We met with the guides at Outdoor Bound a couple of weeks back and we thought we’d share one of their Brunch hike stories here:
In a city where endless mimosas and bottomless bellinis entice brunch-goers at every corner café, there are a handful of adventurous gourmands who would break from the traditional Sunday Funday fare and scene and opt to enjoy a leisurely meal next to a crackling mountain lakeside bonfire, huddled together over autumn-themed delicacies that warm the heart as well as chilled hands. Northern New Jersey’s late fall foliage is at its transformational peak, dramatically painting the hills with a blend of reds, oranges, yellows, and a few remaining greens.
Saturday’s dismal weather blanketed the New York metro area and outlying towns with soggy flurries, but by Sunday morning the storm had passed and clear skies beckoned us to the trails. Max, Garan, Dan, Jess, and I waited anxiously at Union Square to guide our hungry hikers – some old friends and some new faces – up to Surprise Lake. Once the last person had arrived we packed into our vans amongst portable stoves, cookware, and food. Weeks of menu planning and trip preparation could not account for the unexpected snowfall, and the effects of a premature winter storm in autumn didn’t go unnoticed. Trees had buckled and tumbled under the weight of a new white coat causing downed power lines and road closures, but detours are what turn trips into adventures, and we rerouted a few times.
At the trailhead Max and Garan forged ahead, leading the group through nearly a foot of snow from one blue marker to the next on the State Line trail. As the path wound its way uphill the promise of a hot meal sustained our intrepid party and kept spirits high. We darted nimbly along switchbacks as mid-morning sunlight glanced though the fiery leaves, casting warm rays on our backs and sending clumps of snow plummeting down from overhanging limbs. We crested the saddle between Bellvale Mountain in New York and Bearfort Mountain in New Jersey and veered left onto Ernest Walter trail knowing there was only a half mile to go from the new trailhead to our woodland brunch venue at Surprise Lake. Yellow markers led us up and over glacier-scarred rocks made slick from thawing snow and ice while nearly six hundred feet below, Greenwood Lake glittered in the noon sun. Garan, Max, and Jess arrived first at a clearing on the eastern shore of Surprise Lake and started preparing the site for our meal. Dan and I followed shortly after with the rest of our group.
Crouched low behind a large boulder Max sheltered the flame of the portable stove from wind gusting off the lake. In mere minutes he was stirring a large pot of bubbling pumpkin chili. Apple spice tea with cinnamon sticks and apple cider muffin hors d’oevres satisfied growling stomachs as Garan, Jess, and Dan set to work carving pineapples, making pumpkin pancakes, warming up scrambled eggs with peppers, onions, and cranberries, and roasting seasoned potatoes. I enlisted the help of a few hikers to forage for wood to fuel a fire. The snow storm had brought down a number of trees, and we built a teepee over a base of dead leaves that lit up easily.
Between mouthfuls our brunch hikers exclaimed how delicious the food was – well worth the effort and so much more rewarding that cramming into a busy restaurant and rushing through the meal. Beside the lake we could sit back and admire nature’s fine decoration and an ambience that would garner a perfect rating from Zagat himself. Once the food was gone we packed up camp, put out the fire, and made our way back to the vans. The first brunch hike was a huge success, and we look forward to bringing our hikers back for seconds.
– Brent, Outdoor Bound