by Christian Santelices
It was a tough summer in many ways for a mountain guide …
Monsoon moisture produced twice the average precipitation in August, which meant many canceled trips in the mountains. However, this unexpected downturn in business provided me a chance to spend precious time with my family, enjoying the foraged bounty that the rain produced.
Yeah it was tough—munching fresh huckleberries and yogurt, sprinkled with my wife’s homemade granola, at the Exum Hut on the Lower Saddle in Grand Teton National Park. And for dinner the night before—curried rice with chanterelle mushrooms picked in the Palisade Mountains with my kids and friends. Harvesting their own food was quite a learning experience for the kids!
Our family has a passion for eating local. This feels so good in many ways. I love putting a face to the food I eat and knowing that my friends grew, harvested, and/or prepared it with passion and love.
So what’s there to eat around here?
This summer, I incorporated the following into my daily adventures:
- Locally harvested chanterelle mushrooms—Thank you Tye, “the Mushroom Guy” for helping us locate and pick these safely!
- Huckleberries from the Big Hole Mountains
- Elk steaks from my wife’s hunt in Colorado
- Homemade chorizo hand-filled by my family with meat from Sassy, a pig raised in Alta, WY
- Lots of Teton Valley Creamery Cheese
- My daughter Mariela’s homemade chocolates and bars
- Kate’s Bars, made in Teton Valley!
- Ground beef from our cousin’s ranch in Northern California
Aside from the importance of supporting small-scale producers, the best part of eating real food is the energy and taste you get from it.
Food is not that appetizing at high altitude. In my experience, if I bring food I love, I’ll eat it and enjoy it, better fueling myself for endeavors up high. I tell my guests to bring food they love too, even if it weighs a bit more to carry (my friend Nat’s mantra is “eat your best food first!”). That way, they’re psyched to fuel up for our adventure together.
Eating locally is also a great way to weave stories into my trips. As a guide, I obviously help people climb our mountains, but I also share stories about our beautiful home, local culture, and community. Through food, visitors learn about local the people, their values, and their history. It helps create a worldly view.
So now I’m off on my next food adventure. Next week, I’ll be in the Dolomites in Italy, where food is a huge part of local culture! And from there, I visit Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee and the cradle of humanity.
We are proud to call Christian Santelices a Kate’s ambassador. As a certified mountain guide, public speaker, writer, and activist, he dedicates his career to adventure team-building and empowering educators. Check out Christian’s personal guide service, Aerial Boundaries and his new company, Teton Adventure Park, coming soon …