February 4, 2022


“I’m tired. My thought factory closed too late last night.”

--Romy, 8 years old

weekly tip

Ever feel overwhelmed by all the non-stop covid coverage? Yeah. Us too. Want to NOT feel that way? Same. Same. Here are a few tips.

trail talk

We could all use a bit of bright, happy news, right? Well this story certainly fits the bill. It’s about a 190-year-old tortoise living on St. Helena Island, a tiny British territory thousands of miles off the African coast. Turns out the 440-pound tortoise is named Jonathan and he is the oldest living land animal in the world. There may be sharks that are older, but Jonathan, who is believed to have hatched in 1832, is the grand poobah of the land-living lot. The stories he must have! If only we could speak tortoise…

Although it might feel like we were all just watching the summer Olympics, it’s time now to tune into the 2022 winter games in Beijing, which begin today. And, in honor of the event, we thought this story about a young woman named Eileen Gu, who at 18 years old just happens to be the best female freeskier in the world right now, would be of interest. Because what makes Gu’s story particularly noteworthy is not just her incredible skill and high-flying tricks. It’s the fact that the California native, born to a Chinese mother and American father, has chosen to compete for China instead of the U.S. It’s an unusual move and some wonder if Gu, who decided to make the switch at 15, was really capable at that age of understanding the implications of her choice. Either way, it makes for compelling reading because her decision necessitates deftly navigating the worlds of politics, diplomacy and the media, something that can be difficult to handle for even the savviest athletes and celebrities.

trail matters

How green are the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics going to be? Hard to say, really. Despite the fact that the organizers claim they are protecting native species, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cutting down on resources while putting on the games, critics aren’t so sure. These will be the first Olympics ever to rely entirely on man-made snow—a water and energy intensive endeavor—and the alpine ski events are taking place in a nature reserve from which more than 20,000 trees were removed to make space for the runs. Still, it’s not all bad news. In order to fulfill their promise of an Olympics relying on 100 percent renewable energy, the Beijing Olympics Committee has overseen the construction of new wind and solar projects to provide enough clean energy for the Olympics and the city of Beijing as a whole. So, it seems to be a mixed bag of some progress and some setbacks. We’ll certainly be watching how it unfolds over the next few weeks.

trail treasures

It’s COOOOOOLLLLLLDDDD outside! And so we’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to stay warm. Not sure about you, but a hot, hearty, home-cooked meal goes a long way to accomplishing that for us. So, we’ve included some of our favorite recipes to share to warm your bellies, too! Enjoy!

Kailey (co-founder):
First of all, I am obsessed with Half Baked Harvest, because of Karissa. All of the meals on this site are amazing. Second, I know chili is a bit basic, but this one is so good! The recipe calls for a little maple syrup in it, which is unexpected but just lovely. Last time I made it for a group, several people asked for the recipe, so that’s a win, right?! I made it without the poblano peppers because, a, I couldn’t find them (!), and, b, I was cooking for a few little ones, too. But it was just as delicious, so you can leave them out for a kid-friendlier version.

P.S. You don’t have to use a crockpot to cook this. A regular old pot on the stovetop works well, too. Some people have even done it in an Instant Pot.

P.P.S. In the recipe comments, several people mentioned making this in advance and bringing it camping. They just re-heated it over the fire once they were settled by their tents. While that is totally our style, I guess it also means this is a good summer recipe, too! Wahoo!

Karissa (co-founder):
My favorite recipe is another soup! And also from Half-Baked Harvest! It’s for a creamy wild rice chicken soup with roasted mushrooms, which I do without the chicken for a veggie version, and is just delicious. You can cook this one in a slow cooker, Instant Pot, or on the stove top for the ultimate flexibility. Side note: the author of Half-Baked Harvest is Tieghan Gerard. Her brother just happens to be Red Gerard, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2018 for his performance in the snowboard slopestyle competition. He’s headed to the Olympics again this year to defend his title. Here’s a fun story about how the tight bonds among this family of 10 propelled these two siblings to some pretty major success in their respective fields.

Danielle (copy chief):
Is there anything better than home-made bread?? I was always intimidated by the idea of it, until I found this recipe. Don’t be alarmed by the total time it takes (more than a day): most of that is just letting the dough rise and doesn’t require any attention or work on your part. In fact, over all, there’s really not too much to do. But the outcome is beautiful and tastes divine. Dip it into your favorite soup or stew (see above for some ideas!) or have a slice warm with some butter—and maybe even some honey for a real treat—and you will not be sorry. There’s a reason the recipe notes say that “this is one of the most popular recipes The Times has ever published.”