Last week, the kids and I followed a very dusty dirt road for what felt like a very long time to get to Umtanum Creek Falls.
The description I found online for the hike said it was an easy, 3.5-mile hike round trip with views of a waterfall. What we didn’t know is that we could have driven to Ellensburg by way of the highway and simply taken the dirt road an easy five or so miles to our destination. We went the long way from Selah, winding up the river canyon on the far west side, driving past ranches and fields and into a forest I had never seen before.
Unfortunately, the trail was dry, steep and full of snakes, and where it wasn’t dry and steep it was stinky with stagnant water and very muddy. We ran from a swarm of bees that we kicked up, and Scarlet, my 5-year-old daughter, slipped on a rock and fell straight into a giant muddy bog.
We did see the waterfall, though, and the kids ran along the trail with friends, scrambling over logs and marveling at butterflies, grasshoppers and tiny little frogs they found along the stream.
We stopped for ice cream in Ellensburg on our way home and decided that while the hike itself was a bit of a bust, we were still happy we went. It’s always good to go on an adventure, even when it involves bees, snakes and mud.
We also concluded that chips and guacamole, ice cold Sprites and a margarita for mom were in order as soon as we got home. We were hot, tired and dirty, but nothing some guacamole couldn’t fix.
And lucky for us, I’ve got a killer guacamole recipe. I’m a little bit of a purist in that I don’t prefer onions or tomatoes in my guacamole. I do, however, like big, bright flavor, and I get that from a big handful of cilantro, the heat of a jalapeño, fresh chives and lots of lime and lemon juice. A generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt at the end gives the dip a little crunch and texture and balances out the flavors.
If you like a little texture to your guacamole with onions or tomatoes, just use this recipe as a starting point and add what you like to make it perfect for you. But don’t skip the lemon juice — that’s the secret ingredient.
4 ripe avocados
1/3 cup cilantro, minced
3 tablespoons chives, minced
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 limes, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
Scoop out the flesh of the avocados into a bowl. Add the cilantro, chives and jalapeños. Use a fork to mash down the avocados and combine the ingredients. Add the lemon juice and lime juice and a pinch of salt. Stir again until the guacamole is smooth and well-combined. Garnish with coarse sea salt and black pepper. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
• Andrea McCoy writes the column Kitchen Captivated for Yakima Magazine and at The Salt and Stone, a home cooking blog. The Salt and Stone is a nod not just to the essence of cooking, but also to the Yakima Valley. Read more at www.thesaltandstone.com.