Women’s Backpacking and Yoga Adventure-Bartram Trail

Almost one year ago I called my friend and Yoga Instructor, Ashley, and asked her if she wanted to go hiking with me. We hiked to the “Big Tree” in the Sipsey Wilderness in North Alabama not far from my house the very next day. Along the hike I told her about all the hikes I used to lead, the places I worked (Outward Bound, Appalachian Mountain Club, Girls Camps, a Community College) leading backpacking trips, guiding, etc. and how much helping others enjoy the outdoors had meant to me. Ashley told me I had to share this knowledge with others and encouraged me to start leading hikes and backpacking trips again. This is where it all began…

We started out with a day hike with yoga to the “Big Tree” in the Sipsey Wilderness. Ashley asked around her classes if anyone would like to go. The response was immediate and huge. Women loved the fact that we were incorporating Yoga with hiking and wanted more!

Day Hikes

Next we planned an overnight beginning backpacking class for Cane Creek Nature Preserve in Tuscumbia, AL and a five day trip on the Bartram Trail in North Georgia.


This blog is about our latest Backpacking and Yoga adventure on the Bartram Trail October 23-27, 2015.

William Bartram was a botanist and explorer best known for walking approximately 2,400 miles over eight southern states between 1773 and 1776. He was looking for plants and probably “discovered” more new species in the biologically diverse Southeast than anyone else of his time (other than the Native Americans who already knew these plants firsthand). He also managed to document the Cherokee and wild landscape of the Southern Appalachians with a sense of respect and humanity that was unheard of for his time. Bartram may not be a household name today, but in the late 1700s, he enjoyed celebrity status, thanks in large part to his book, Travels, which documented his five-year exploration of the Southeast.

The Bartram Trail crosses over some of the most scenic mountains of North Carolina and Georgia, with many side trails leading to views of the Blue Ridge and the Smokies.

After meeting two weeks before for a gear check and a class, Nine women met in the parking lot of Shoals Yoga and drove to Chattanooga where we ate lunch and bought a few last second supplies. Then we were off to Rabun Bald in North Georgia. We arrived just as the sun was setting. The colors of the trees, in peak fall color with the sun shining on them, was breathtaking. We found a campsite near the trail head, took one car to the other trail head off Warwoman Road, and made camp and dinner.


After dishes were done using Leave No Trace principles, we used organic sage to smudge and talked about our adventure together. Then it was off to bed down in our tents in the woods. Owls hooted, crickets chirruped, and some slept.

IMG_9918 IMG_9915


We were up with the sun to a quick homemade granola breakfast, coffee from Lyons Coffee Roasters who generously donated a bag, Mothering Herbs herbal tea, and cleanup, camp breakdown and packing up. After some talented bungee craftsmanship


we headed up the Bartram Gap to Rabun Bald. We enjoyed a break with Yoga to stretch out our sore muscles. A last push up a steep section and we arrived at the top of Rabun Bald (4,696 feet) which is the second-highest peak in Georgia.

IMG_9956 IMG_9966 IMG_9985 IMG_9953

At the top we climbed what remaines of the first fire tower for this area. It was constructed in the 1930’s.  The fire tower was operated by the United States Forest Service until the early 1970’s. After the fire tower was taken out of service, a Youth Conservation Corps(YCC) crew dismantled the tower’s uppermost component, a metal-framed enclosure with glass windows that sat atop a stone base. The YCC crew replaced the metal with a railed wooden observation platform. We enjoyed lunch at the top of the observation tower and watched clouds blow over the peaks.

IMG_9989 IMG_9993 IMG_9991 IMG_9998

After lunch, we packed up and headed down the Bartram Trail to Salt Rock Gap and found an amazing camp with a small stream just a short jaunt up a small off trail from us. The ladies set up camp, started a fire (one woman brought a striker and started our fire without matches!), and prepared a delicious dinner of Chicken-Noodle-Curry with fresh veggies.

IMG_0011 IMG_0014 IMG_0013 IMG_0023 - Copy

Around the time we were relaxing around the fire, chatting, eating and enjoying dinner we saw headlamps heading our way down the Bartram Trail from the North. It was a group of first time backpackers who needed a campsite in the worst way (one of their party had sprained her ankle). They camped across the trail from us and we offered them left over dinner which was happily eaten. One of the ladies on our trip was a nurse practitioner and had worked at the same Community College Outdoor Leadership Program I had many years ago. We went to visit the lady with the sprained ankle and got to knew her. With her permission, I made a comfrey poultice for her ankle (I am an herbalist and comfrey is one of the items we had in our herbal first aid kit for the trip). Then it was back to our campfire to continue the belly rolling laughter. We finally went to bed and slept very well.

Herbal First Aid
Herbal First Aid Kit by Mothering Herbs

We all slept in and got up to begin to make Buckwheat pancakes, Lyons coffee, and organic herb tea from Mothering Herbs.

IMG_0032 - Copy IMG_0038

We ate, cleaned up, and went to check on the sweet lady next door. Her ankle hadn’t swollen much more so our Nurse Practitioner used Rock Tape to wrap her ankle so she could walk out. We ended up talking and bonding with a woman in her group and invited her to practice yoga with us. Ashley led us in one of the most powerful yoga sessions I have ever experienced (check out her offerings at ashleybakeryoga.com). The energy was palpable, and everyone was touched if not emotional before we were done. Ashley then led us in a guided journaling exercise.

IMG_0056 IMG_0063 IMG_0042IMG_0049

Next was the day hike to the top of Rabun Bald for several ladies.

IMG_0076 IMG_0075 IMG_0091 IMG_0105 IMG_0107IMG_0064

Several stayed in camp to knit, journal, talk, and create an awesome fire. It was a perfect rest day. Once everyone was together again we made dinner together (Pesto Pasta with Summer Sausage). Then it was fire time with laughter, talk, and so much more.


Our last day in the woods we woke early in the dark, cloud covered, forest to cook a quinoa breakfast pot, coffee, tea and pack up. Around the time we got most everything packed the rain began. It was a light sprinkle here and there with clouds floating around us.


It was perfect weather for backpacking out. We headed off past flattop, over hills, around contours to Wilson Gap and then on to Courthouse Gap where we finally, and gratefully, found our car parked. It was a hard, long, day and I was proud of all of us for hanging in there and keeping going. We transported ladies to their mud wraps/massages and picked up the other car and got everyone to Kingswood Resort and Spa for hot showers. Then we all headed to Universal Joint for dinner in Downtown Clayton, GA. It was a fun place with great service and food. We piled back into the cars and headed back for foot massages, Healing Balm on sore/bruised areas and sweet sleep in warm rooms under clean sheets.

Our last day of the Adventure had us enjoying Yoga class with Ashley, Massages, Steam Room, and Jacuzzui. Bliss! What an amazing way to end a Backpacking trip. After our pampering we packed up and headed to Grapes and Beans for lunch.

IMG_0122 IMG_0127IMG_0131

This is a local and small Farm to Fork place with yummy food and drinks in Downtown Clayton Georgia and totally a spur of the moment find. We found a small Vineyard (Stonewall Creek Vineyards) that wasn’t far away and decided to go for a tour and a wine tasting. They weren’t open on Tuesdays but were gracious enough to open their doors and give us a private tour and wine tasting before our drive back to North Alabama.

IMG_0138 IMG_0133 IMG_0141 IMG_0144 IMG_0148 IMG_0165IMG_0176IMG_0183

What an amazing five day adventure with these wonderful, strong, compassionate, women! The overall feeling was that we all wanted to stay in the woods longer. Connections were made, friendships rekindled and formed, and plans made to connect again, soon!

Contact Ashley@ashleybakeryoga.com or Summer@motheringherbs.link to learn how you can join us on our next hiking/backpacking and yoga adventure.

Herbal Dry Brine For The Holidays!

Thanksgiving is approaching…and with it, holiday meals, events, family and friends getting together, sharing food, traditions…


I love to cook! And I love using local, sustainably produced, and organic products as much as possible. During the holidays all my loves (herbs, cooking, local) come together along with family and friends in a large melding of delicious, healthy, food and drinks.

One of the items I have been working on for years is my Turkey recipe for Thanksgiving. One year we bought free range turkeys  from a local sustainable farm, used a wet brine, then baked them in oven bags. They turned out amazing but the mess of the wet brine didn’t appeal to me. I tried Martha Stewart’s Spatchcocking method and loved it: amazing taste, great results, only the turkey doesn’t look amazing in the pictures or on the table (it is cut into pieces). Then, last year,  my husband smoked a turkey in our smoker:

IMG_0414 (3)

 Yum! It took a long time to smoke and we were not sure how long it would take so we smoked it the day before Thanksgiving and had reheated and cold smoked turkey the day of the feast.

I decided to create an herbal dry brine

I have spent over a month trying out different herbs, brine recipes, and researching what other amazing cooks like to use and how their Turkey’s turned out as well as experimenting with pasture raised chickens.

The results are in! Dry Brining is a great, easy, and fun way to get an amazing tasting turkey (or chicken) every time.


The science behind the Dry Brine: The addition of salt alone will allow proteins to bind more readily to water during the cooking process, so in the simplified sense that brines improve texture, flavor and moisture retention, a salt heavy dry rub can be thought of as a “dry brine.”

When making a dry brine, salt is usually mixed with other dry seasonings such as herbs and spices and rubbed onto the surface of the protein. A good starting point for the amount of salt to use is around 1% based on the protein’s weight.

The salt rub is left on for a given period of time, (anywhere from 4-48 hours), and then cooked as is, usually without being rinsed. Although this method doesn’t introduce excess water to be absorbed, the salting does allow the protein to bind moisture more tightly, yielding a moister finished product, assuming of course that the protein is cooked properly.

To understand what’s really happening, you have to look at the structure of turkey muscles. Muscles are made up of long, bundled fibers, each one housed in a tough protein sheath. As the turkey heats, the proteins that make up this sheath will contract. Just like a squeezing a tube of toothpaste, this causes juices to be forced out of the bird. Heat them to much above 150°F or so, and you end up with dry, stringy meat.

Salt helps mitigate this shrinkage by dissolving some of the muscle proteins (mainly myosin). The muscle fibers loosen up, allowing them to absorb more moisture, and more importantly, they don’t contract as much when they cook, making sure that more of that moisture stays in-place as the turkey cooks.

How to Dry Brine a chicken or turkey:

The Quick overview: Carefully pat your bird dry. Generously sprinkle Mothering Herbs Herbal Dry Brine on all surfaces by picking up the mixture between your thumb and fingers, holding it six to ten inches above the bird and letting the mixture shower down over the surface of the turkey for even coverage (then rub into the areas not reached). The turkey should be well-coated with salt, though not completely encrusted.

IMG_9664 (2) IMG_9670 (2)


Transfer the turkey to a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Without rinsing, roast your bird.

Dry-brining for more than 24 hours will produce even more juicy and well-seasoned meat. To brine longer than 24 hours, loosely cover turkey with plastic wrap or cheesecloth before refrigerating to prevent excess moisture loss through evaporation. Let rest for up to 3 days.

  1. Exact Directions to Make the turkey (for a 22-24 lb Turkey):  Rinse inside and outside of turkey, and pat dry. Rub or sprinkle 2 tablespoons salt mixture evenly inside turkey cavity, 2 tablespoons on each leg portion, 1 1/2 teaspoons on each wing, and 2 tablespoons on each breast. Place turkey in a large Pot with a top or an oven bag and seal tightly, removing any trapped air. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate for 24- 48 hours (see above instructions about covering vs not covering and timing).

  2. Remove turkey from bag, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Combine 1 stick butter, 1 cup of dry white wine, and 4 whole bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.

  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in lowest position.Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Tuck wings under turkey. Loosely fill cavity with 4 cups stuffing (use your favorite recipe).  Tie legs together with kitchen string. Rub 1/2 stick butter on turkey. Pour water into roasting pan.

  4. Place turkey, legs first, into oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then baste with butter-wine mixture. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees, and roast, basting with butter-wine mixture every 30 minutes, for 2 1/2 hours. (Add more water to roasting pan if necessary to prevent pan drippings from burning.) Rotate pan, and roast until skin is golden brown and thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone) and center of stuffing register 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer 30 to 45 minutes more. (If turkey is done before the stuffing, remove turkey from oven, and spoon stuffing into a buttered baking dish, and continue to roast until golden and center registers 165 degrees.) Transfer turkey to a rimmed baking sheet, reserving pan juices and roasting pan, and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

IMG_9902 (2)IMG_2672 IMG_9898 (2)

Where to purchase Mothering Herbs Herbal Dry Brine: The Saturday before Thanksgiving (November 18 2017 9-3) I will set up at Bluewater Creek Farm selling the Dry Brine, Bay Leaves, and other herbal goodies for all your holiday needs (Healing Balm for cuts, Holiday Home and Body Spray for stress and a great smell, Baths for De-Stressing, organic soaps, Hostess gifts and more!). You can also order, anytime, from my website shop  www.motheringherbs.link.

IMG_9664 (2) IMG_0250

Don’t forget hostess gifts and gift baskets! Any host or hostess would love a basket of organic herbal products to thank them.


About Mothering Herbs


Organic Herbs, Herbal Products, Workshops, Herb Walks, Consultation, Educational Programs, and More.
We sell only the freshest handcrafted herbal products to provide you with the best possible nutrition and care. 

Why buy from Mothering Herbs?
Fresh is best when it comes to herbs.
We guarantee our herbs will be less than a year old
at purchase.
We grow what we can and buy the freshest and best ingredients that we would use ourselves.

We are a mother-owned and operated business.

We are local and small. When you
buy from us you support local women, family, and a cottage

Find us on Facebook  at Mothering Herbs and learn more about us and find up-to-date workshop and product info on our blog:

We are committed to helping women and families help themselves with herbs for the pregnancy year and beyond. 


Founded in 2008, Mothering Herbs is a combination of a mother and daughter effort.

Ginger is a Master Gardener and has 48+ years experience with herbs and organic gardening. She moved to the Middle Tennessee homestead, where she currently lives, in 1977 with her husband to raise and home school two children without running water or electricity for ten years. In this location they along continue to use organic practices in their herb and vegetable garden.

Summer grew up gardening and exploring the natural world first with her parents and later as an Outward Bound Instructor. She now farms using organic practices with her husband and two young children in North-West Alabama. She has a Bachelors Degree in Biology/History Education with a Masters degree in History from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  Summer is currently taking an Herbal Educator Course (400 hours) with Aviva Romm M.D., Herbalist and Midwife and has taken Webinars and Computer based courses with SevenSong and David Winston along with studying her continually growing library of herbal books.


Company history
In 2007 Ginger became a grandmother for the first time and Summer, her daughter, became a mother. While helping her daughter journey through her first pregnancy, birth and care of her first child, Ginger found the thirty-three years of herbal experience she had from growing culinary and medicinal herbs was very useful. They also found that there was limited local and fresh herbal resources for midwives, pregnant women and families. Based on this they decided to start Mothering Herbs.
Mothering herbs has since expanded to include organic herbs, herbal products, consultations, workshops, blessingways, school/homeschool educational programs, and herb walks. Most recently, a Community Supported Herbalism program was created and has pickup locations in Florence and Huntsville. Summer is also working with Ashley Baker Haselton of Ashley Baker Yoga to offer hiking, backpacking and yoga trips in North Alabama and North Georgia.


Ginger has decided to play a background roll in the business. She is still part of Mothering Herbs but enjoys growing, learning about herbs, and being a resource for Summer, rather than out in the front and center of the business.

Summer Ware McCreless
 manages the website and facebook page, orders, makes the infused oil and balms, mixes the herbal tea blends, organizes and teaches workshops, classes, consultations, blessingways, and grows herbs in Wolf Springs, AL. She will be happy to create an custom hand crafted herbal order for you!

Sign up for our monthly newsletter! It is filled with fun herbal info, recipes, classes, workshops, and what we are up to.

We hope you will come grow with us!