Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hiking the 46 Adirondack High Peaks

I am thrilled to be able to share this article, written by Gillian Scott, about Meredith's and my experience hiking the 46 Adirondack High Peaks over a 15-year period.  The article appeared in the August 7, 2015 Times Union.

Outdoors-Mother-daughter-complete-High-Peaks Adventure (Times Union)
by Gillian Scott

Hundreds of people become Adirondack 46ers each year, joining the ranks of thousands who
have climbed all 46 High Peaks with summits of more than 4,000 feet. The luckiest ones find
more than adventure or challenge or even natural beauty — it's the people they hike with that matter the most.

Virginia Boyle Traver and her daughter, Meredith Traver, finished their 46er quest in mid-
June, bagging Algonquin and Iroquois on a wet, miserable day. The tough slog in dangerous
conditions felt anti-climactic.

"We were definitely not excited," said Virginia, the outings chair for the Albany Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club.

"We'd been looking forward to it for so long," Meredith said. "And then we couldn't see
anything and it was so windy and cold and rainy."

So one bright, sunny weekend in July, Meredith hopped back on a bus and came up to Albany from her home in New York City. The women slept in Virginia's car in the parking lot at the trailhead and got an early start the next day. They hiked the same mountains they had done a few weeks earlier, this time soaking in sunshine and ample views. Then they drove back to Albany, and Meredith got on the bus again. A music therapist for Hospice home care, she was back at work the next morning. Finally, they had closure.

The hike was the culmination of a 15-year experience for the two women, one that started when Meredith was just 16. Virginia would take the kids — Meredith and her brother, Thomas — camping for a week before school started every year. And every year, she'd take them hiking. Both Thomas and Meredith were "blown away" by Cascade, their first Adirondack High Peak, but it was Meredith that decided, almost right away, that she wanted to climb them all.  "It was just gorgeous up there and you have that 360-degree view," Meredith said. "I was just immediately inspired."

Up until that point, Meredith said, "I absolutely hated every mountain we did." So it's
understandable that Virginia had some doubts about her daughter's sudden ambition. The two started out with some Adirondack classics, like Marcy and Algonquin. They took two trips a year, chipping away at the mountains, and pretty soon they were determined to finish. "As the numbers add up, you get a little bit hooked," Virginia admitted. Virginia actually started hiking High Peaks with her father when she was 14 — they did about a dozen together, climbs she would repeat for Meredith.

"I think she thought at some point maybe I would bring my fiance and maybe he and I would do a hike," Meredith said. "Or maybe I'd have some hiking friends and we would go and do them. But I was like no, this is what we do together."

Some hikes were particularly hard — like when they hiked all five peaks in the Dix Range in one day — or particularly scary — like the steep cliffs between Basin and Saddleback. A hike would end on a summit socked-in with clouds, or the trail would be deep with mud, and they'd wonder, "Is it worth it?" But the next trip out would be better, and they'd be re-inspired.

That rainy June day on the trail to Algonquin and Iroquois, Virginia and Meredith talked over their long quest, discussing what they'd like to do next, which High Peaks they'd climb again and which they wouldn't, and what the whole experience meant to them.

Virginia talked about gaining confidence in her abilities on unmarked trails. Meredith talked
about learning resilience, the ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter
how hard things get.

And both of them talked about how much the time together meant to them.

"For me, there was nothing like spending that time with her," Virginia said. "To spend that
much time in the woods with your child is an amazing experience."

From the year Meredith was 16 until she was 30, she and Virginia had those long days together, twice a summer, to camp and climb and talk and just be. They worked around Meredith's summer jobs in college, a year abroad, and her move to New York City and a new career.

Meredith said in the past few years, she and Virginia have chosen to camp or backpack to hike peaks they probably could have done as day trips. "But it really was about enjoying the woods, enjoying each other's company and making the most of it," she said. "It really became about the whole experience."

Changes are afoot for the Traver family. Meredith is getting married this month, and Thomas and his wife are expecting a child. Virginia and her husband of 36 years, Bill, are about to become first-time grandparents.

Virginia and Meredith would like to keep hiking together, at least one weekend a year, but are not planning to move onto another list. The Catskill and New Hampshire peaks will
remain unhiked. "It really was about the Adirondacks," Meredith said. "Now it will really be about doing it for pure enjoyment." •
8/7/2015 Outdoors: Mother, daughter complete High Peaks adventure - Times Union

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Day in Jasper National Park

May you enjoy this journal entry, that I have chosen to share with you, from the week that Bill and I spent in the Canadian Rockies, June 20-28.
A list of recent animal sightings, posted at the Jasper Visitor's Center, indicated that people had seen wildlife on the Maligne Road (pronounced muh-leen, with a French twist). Our early-morning start should make our chances of seeing animals more likely.
(We thought Jasper was a charming town)

Through beautiful scenery, we passed “watch for bear” signs, “caribou crossing” signs, and “mountain goat area” signs. We saw nothing, not even a chipmunk. We pulled off at Medicine Lake. Medicine Lake is really just a clog in the Maligne River, but, at this point, the river goes underground, creating the lake and making it appear as a separate entity from the river. Over the summer the lake drains into the underground river, and becomes very shallow.
(Medicine Lake in shades of placid blues)

On this day, the water was still high. In the morning light, with mist hanging on the mountains, Medicine Lake was the picture of serenity. Is there something more that makes these scenes feel so meditative, besides the color of the water, the grandeur of rugged snow-capped mountains, and the morning light? Perhaps, it is also the vacation mood, and the newness of the views to those of us who come from a different geological area. Regardless, I loved Medicine Lake, and walked closer to the water, through the wildflowers.

(Maligne Lake is framed by mountains from end-to-end)
Maligne Lake, at the end of Maligne Road, is more developed, with a cafe, boat rental, boat tours of the lake, a gift shop, and a tea house. We chose to hike the 3k Moose Lake Loop, despite the warnings to beware of moose, and how to react in the likely case that we would meet one. For the most part, the trail was wooded, first leading to Moose Lake, a small green  body of water that felt very remote. A few ducks had it to themselves.
(Beyond the blow-down, but not quite to the lake.  Moose territory?)

From there, we wondered if we had come to the end of the trail, even though it still appeared on the map. Blow-down almost obscured the way, as we climbed over logs. Bill wanted to turn back, and I agreed that, if the trail didn't present itself more clearly in a few minutes, we should probably do so. I began to wonder if we would come upon moose in this dense area, and I wasn't so sure I wanted to right then. Suddenly, I saw blue beyond, and knew that we had almost reached the shore of Maligne Lake, the trail's destination.
(Virginia keeps her feet above this ankle-numbing glacial water, but what a setting!)

How nice to have nothing better to do than to sit on the stony edge of the lake and watch the water and mountains, or the occasional boat pass by. We spent a long time here. A few people passed us, but we were basically alone. The trail continued along Maligne Lake to where we had begun. 
(Mama is a little patchy.  It's still spring here.)
("Wait, I thought my mama was right behind me!")

We had a good lunch at the cafe, before driving back on Maligne Road. Part way along, cars stopped by the roadside, a sure sign of animal activity. We got out and joined the small gathered crowd, peering through the trees. We could barely see one black bear lying down and resting, and another yanking greenery off the trees to eat. A few miles farther along, female big-horned sheep and their lambs walked at the roadside, nibbling grass. With patchy fur, partly shed, the females were not pretty, contrasting with their adorable long-legged lambs. Our list of animal sightings was improving!
(the water is wild coming through the canyon)

Our next stop was Maligne Canyon. This was similar to the flume at Athabasca Falls that we had seen the day before, but bigger. We learned that the water had begun carving out the stone while the glacier was still on top of it. Once the glacier retreated, the water level of the river dropped, and the deep rock gorge was exposed.
(Both the high road above the Maligne River and the low road through the canyon offer spectacular views)

We walked the length of the canyon, about 2.5 km one way, going down stairs and through rock passes. On the return, we chose to walk the high ground, on a mountain-bike trail. More level above the canyon, this path was also beautiful, with wildflowers on the hillsides, views down to the river, and up to the mountains.
(It's interesting to see how the 1% lives when visiting the chateaux.)

Showers came on in the evening. Our after-dinner plan was to visit Jasper's Fairmont Chateau, and also to hike a nearby Flower Loop. We drove to the Fairmont, and decided that we liked this one best of the three chateaux--Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. In log construction, with colorful Adirondack chairs on the green lawn before the lake, the Jasper Fairmont seemed more relaxed and comfortable to us than the others, although staying here would be extremely expensive.

Rain came down harder. We chose to just find the trail head for the Flower Loop, but save walking the trail for the morning. Along the way, we again saw cars parked along the roadside. One man said that they had seen a brown bear, but now he was gone. We continued down a dirt road to the trail head, not far from the end of the canyon trail, where we had been earlier in the day.

Drizzle continued and we turned around going back along the narrow road. And there he was, just like a teddy bear and within feet of the road. We could drive very close, giving us a better view, by far, than other people had had just a short time before. This brown bear was busy, turning over rocks, looking for bugs. It was fun to watch him paw at the rock, make it tumble away, and then bury his snout into the dirt. And when he found all the snacks he could, he walked on.

We returned to the larger road, where a small herd of elk had caused a traffic jam! We certainly made up for the absence of animal viewing earlier in the day. If the weather had been nicer, we would have walked the Flower Loop and missed all this...or, if the weather had been nicer, would the animals have been elsewhere too?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Two Visits to Henderson Lake

I had had Henderson Lake on my must-see list for a few years, ever since I acquired my single-person Poke Boat.  Located fourteen miles down a mountain road, and nearly half a mile beyond the road's dead end, this lake is considered the actual beginning of the Hudson River.  The Hudson's source is high up on Mount Marcy, at Lake Tear of the Clouds, but the majestic Hudson, as a river, begins here.

(a bright paddler on a dark day)

Henderson Lake is also famous for its views of some of the highest peaks in the state, and Wallface, a formidable rock cliff.  My father has a picture of himself kayaking on Henderson Lake, and told me that he felt like he could almost touch Wallface.  I wanted to see for myself.

(Where are the mountains?)

Last September, I was one of the committee that organized 52 outings over three days as part of the Adirondack Mountain Club's Fall Weekend in Keene Valley. Each of us on the committee  would have time to participate in one of the outings.  As soon as I saw that Skip Young was leading a trip to Henderson Lake, I registered for it.

Besides fitting perfectly into my schedule of responsibilities for the weekend, the Fall Outing's location in the northern Adirondacks was a plus.  I would already be close to the Henderson Lake trail head.  One of my stumbling blocks to paddling this lake had always been that it is nearly a two-and-a-half hour drive from my house in Albany.

(early fall foliage lights up the shore)

Another complication was the 4/10ths of a mile carry from the parking area to the lake.  Even though my boat weighs only 29 pounds, carrying it for any distance, along with my lunch and other gear, would not be easy.  As the September weekend approached, I bought a kayak cart, wheels that would go under my boat so that I could easily pull it on a trail.  I practiced walking it like a pet, around my back yard.  Now, I was ready in every way!

(even this gray day offers serenity)

Unfortunately, when the day arrived and about ten of us set out on the water, heavy clouds covered all of the mountaintops.  A muted beauty gave the views a solemn aspect, but Wallface and the other peaks were completely hidden.

"You'll have to come back," Skip said. "And when you do, send me a picture of Wallface, so I know that you saw it."

(taking my boat for a walk to the lake on a perfect June day)

Thanks to Skip's guidance, I felt comfortable offering to lead a trip to Henderson Lake this spring. When I posted the outing, I wrote, "the weather has to be perfect or almost perfect or I will cancel the trip, because the drive is very long."  Every day I checked the forecast for the Newcomb area of the Adirondacks, and every day it never waivered, 70 degrees with a full sun.

(the Hudson River, all riled up)

Three participants and I met in Latham to begin the journey up the Northway.  In Pottersville, we picked up three more, who were coming from their Adirondack summer homes.  And at the trail head, we rendezvoused with another, making a nice group of eight for this outing.  Everyone was prepared with wheels or had boats light enough to carry for the distance.

(the same view as the first, but so different)

We could not have asked for a better day!  Each of us mentioned how fortunate we were, but I expounded, as I often do, over and over.  Finally, I said to those nearest me, with a sheepish grin, "I will probably say that this is a perfect day about fifty times--don't feel like you have to respond."  I couldn't help myself.  I was in heaven.

(I chose this picture to send to Skip)

We spread out, heading north along the lake shore in bright sunshine under a cloudless sky.  High visibility enabled us to almost count the rocks on the mountain summits...and below, we could see far into this water, so recently melted from the deep snow and ice of the past winter.

(Virginia meandering through the marsh)

As we approached the northern end of the lake, Wallface came into view, round-topped and rugged beyond a marsh and tall spruces.  Often, it would be impossible to explore further, but heavy rains of the day before had raised the water level, allowing us to follow twists and turns through the marsh's partly-submerged shrubbery.

(a little bonus, thanks to unusually high water)

A few people took off, going farther in.  As the rest of us waited for their return, I said, "I hope we aren't missing anything."  I'm always worried that I might miss something that could be good.  When they returned, two of them said, "We found a beautiful stream. It won't take long.  I'll take you back there."  Three of us took up their offer.

Aware that we would rarely have water deep enough to explore this far into the woods, we appreciated the variety that the little creek paddle offered.  "This is the kind of paddling I like best," one woman said.

A rocky section with shallow rapids forced us to turn around.

(waiting their turn to dock at the lunch spot)

By now, we were all hungry.  Henderson Lake has a few lean-tos and campsites. Most are difficult to reach, because the shoreline in front of them has been washed in with debris, providing no easy place to pull a boat in.  One, set high on a promontory, beckoned.

We found an easy docking spot, just big enough for one of us to pull in at a time. When the first person's boat was completely out of the water, the next person could brings theirs in.  Soon we all clambered up the hill and sat on a soft bed of hemlock needles to eat our lunch and visit.

What would it be like to camp here, and wake up to this view in such a remote location?  Should I begin a new Henderson Lake must-do list?

(lunch time doesn't get much better than this)

Before long, we set off for the south end of the lake.  Here, too, were marshes to explore, huge rocks gracing the shoreline and dipping into the deep blue water, framed by the dark greens of hemlock and spruce.  King-fishers, hawks, and turkey vultures, glided overhead.

(a paddler dwarfed by a white pine)

Faced with a strong head wind, when we turned back north towards our starting point, this panoramic view of Wallface, Algonquin, and Colden, greeted us.  After hours of circumventing the lake, paddling against the wind was hard.  The opportunity to enjoy this view for quite a while, was the reward for our slow pace.

(Wallface, Algonquin, and Colden)

And when we rounded the point into the cove where we had first begun, we immediately faced this spectacular view of Mount Colden.

To postpone the long drive home until morning, when we would be fresh and rested, I had offered my participants the option to stay overnight on a campsite at nearby Lake Harris State Campground.  Only one person took me up on the idea, while others chose to take a little extended Adirondack vacation, or spend the night in their nearby second homes.

I found a pretty lake site, set up my folding chair, and opened my Adirondack Explorer, a publication to which I subscribe and especially like to read when I'm actually in the Adirondacks.  Engrossed in an article, I hardly noticed a loud buzzing nearby, even though it seemed to hang around.  One darn big bee, I thought, and decided to look up.  About ten inches from my face, a ruby-throated hummingbird, suspended in mid air, peered at me.  I guessed that it had been attracted to my pink fleece. We checked one another out, eye to eye, for just a few seconds, before it zipped away.

What a way to top off a perfect Adirondack day.

(view from campsite at Lake Harris State Campground)

(Many thanks to Charlie Beach, who took three of the photos in this post.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Don't overlook Overlook!

Off and on all week, I had suggested to Bill that we go for a bike ride on Sunday.  I always think of biking during mud season, when hiking trails are muddy with remaining icy patches. To my surprise, when Saturday evening came,  Bill suggested we hike Overlook Mountain in Woodstock, New York, instead. Since the trail is an old carriage road, snow or mud conditions wouldn't be formidable.

(Yikes, a full parking lot!.)

 While Overlook truly does have a beautiful "overlook" and a fire tower with great views, the mountain's location, right in Woodstock, means that we can combine the hike with Joshua's, our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant.  At 5 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 1400 feet, hiking Overlook, followed by dinner, makes a nice outing.

(As Bill had predicted, the path was nearly dry.)

In addition, we drive the scenic route to Woodstock, down Route 32, waxing nostalgic as we pass some old haunts along the way from our first year of marriage, when we lived in Acra, a village of 200 people. This drive takes a little longer than the thruway, but it's part of what makes the day a treat.

(Views through the trees abound before the leaves come out, and how about that mountain laurel?  We have never caught it here in bloom.)

Once in Woodstock, we drove up the road from the village, winding higher and higher, to where strings of prayer flags flew outside every house. Woodstock has been an artists' community since the Hudson River School painters came here in the 1800s.  That, combined with its attraction for folk and rock musicians since the 1960s, gives the town a funky vibe.

(Patches of snow remained as we got higher up.)

To our dismay, every parking spot was taken in the trailhead lot, and parking along the road is not allowed.  It had been a long cold winter.  Like us, other people were eager to get out on one of the first nice spring days.  We drove down the road, turned around, and came back.  A spot had opened and we made a run for it!  As with many places we visit, a parking lot can be full without making the location feel crowded.  Overlook can comfortably accommodate quite a few hikers and still be very pleasant. 

(Remains of the last Overlook Mountain House are completely overgrown)

It felt great to hike in just hiking boots,with solid ground underfoot, instead of hiking in snowshoes or using microspikes. With the air temperature around 60 degrees, and a cloudless sky, we couldn't ask for more.

("A view from the Piazza of Overlook Mountain House, 3000 feet above the sea")

Two miles up the carriage road are the remains of the Overlook Mountain House. Four different hotels had been built on this same location, beginning in 1833 and ending in 1941.  Unlike other Catskill hotels, Overlook's higher elevation, and lack of a direct railroad line, made the hotel difficult to access and a less-popular travel destination. During the century, each successive hotel fell to fire. Eventually, the mountain became the property of the State of New York, and the last of the hotel remains was abandoned.

(360 degree views of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley are spectacular from the fire tower )
The final half-mile of the hike, from the Mountain House to Overlook's summit, had about a 6-inch snow covering.  A strong sun and spring warmth turned the snow to mush, and our pace slowed.

Still, it didn't take long to pass the ranger's cabin, and reach the fire tower. I climbed the tower and admired the spectacular views  in all directions. The atmosphere had the clarity of winter, with the warmth of spring; I could see for miles.

Bill and I had hiked so many of the peaks in view. Since he grew up "on the mountaintop" in Prattsville, my first visits to his parents' home often included hikes.  And when we lived in Acra, we explored the entire region with friends and cousins. Over the decades, we often returned to favorite places.

(The Mountain House remains in the foreground, a sliver of the Ashokan Reservoir in the center, and the Burroughs Range still snow-covered as the backdrop)

Bill is not a fan of fire towers.  That's okay, because Overlook has rock ledges that offer excellent views of the surrounding mountains and the Hudson Valley. A small sign by the ranger's cabin indicates a narrow path, leading to a scenic viewpoint.

(The Blackhead Range from the fire tower)

We sat on the rock ledge, soaking in the sun and the view.  I had packed nut bars and apples for us.  These would hold us for now.

Nineteenth century tourists often carved their names and a date into the slate ledges. The date of 1859, in this photo, was the oldest we found here.We could imagine women in long dresses, and men  with bow ties, walking up from the hotel for a light picnic on this rock.

Although, today, carving in the rock is discouraged, we found that recent hikers still sometimes etch their names in stone.

(a panorama from a rock ledge looking east to the Hudson River)

Instead of returning on the old carriage road for the first half-mile of our descent, we chose to stay on the trail that continues along the edge of the ridge past numerous viewpoints.  To our surprise, this trail had had just enough sun to melt the last of the snow.  Walking was easy and pleasant, not slippery with slush.

(the ridge trail is dry and walkable)

Returning to the trailhead, we signed the log book, and left a parking spot for other eager hikers.  We had more on our agenda for this gorgeous spring day.

Parking was easy in town, although plenty of people were here too, sitting on benches, eating ice cream cones, or playing guitars on the square.  We hadn't been to Woodstock in five years, a long time away for us.  As we walked the village streets, we discussed what businesses had left, or moved. We don't go in many of the shops, but we do have a few favorites. Fortunately, Joshua's is a mainstay.

(Joshua's, an old favorite, and still delicious)

Isn't it great to go to a place you love and still find many of the same dishes on the menu that you remember?  Today, I had the Shwarma salad, a delicious house salad with tomato, avocado, brown rice, grilled chicken (or tofu), and a cucumber feta dressing. The refreshing flavor of cucumber in the salad dressing complemented the salad perfectly.  Bill had the smorgasbord of stuffed grape leaves, felafel, tabouli, hummus, baba ganoush, olives, and an Israeli salad.

(shops vary from expensive boutiques, to places with embroidered or tie-dyed clothing, Birkenstocks, and books)

After dinner, we walked from one end of town to the other.  And then we drove home, back north through the countryside. It had been a day to savor.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Acorn Squash Rings

"What did you make for dinner last night?" my daughter-in-law, Marlie, asked my daughter, Meredith, as the three of us had tea.  We know that Wednesdays are Meredith's night to cook a nice meal for her and Brian.

(Isn't this what a Chinese cleaver was meant to do?)

Meredith said, "I made that acorn squash dinner."  I knew what recipe she meant.  Rings of squash hold a combination of other ingredients that form an unusual but delicious dinner. She continued, "I thought I had orzo, but I didn't, so I had to use what I had on hand, those shell pastas."

"You were ambitious," I said. "That meal takes a while to prepare, and, when you called me, it was already 7:30."

"I took a short-cut," Meredith explained. "Cutting and cooking the squash takes too long.  I bought pre-cut cubes."

(Once the squash attaches itself to the cleaver, I can really get in a good whack!)

"That works," Marlie said. As an innovative cook, herself, she could appreciate Meredith's ingredient substitutions.

"Besides, cutting squash is so hard.  I think I chipped a floor tile doing it one time," Meredith added.

"I use a cutting board," I said.

"I did too," Meredith said.

(Thomas and Marlie have set me up with nice appliances in recent years, like the mini-food processor on the Smart Stick, and a scale.)

Marlie looked quizzical.  "What do you do?"

"Acorn squash," I said, "it's so hard, that I get on the floor with the Chinese cleaver to cut it. I give the squash a good whack.  Then the knife comes back up with the squash attached, and I whack it again, until it is cut all the way through."  Even as I said this, I realized how absurd the picture was that I was painting, despite having been doing this my entire adult life.

"Yeah, it is hard," Meredith added, "Lots of times I don't bother to do the slices, I just cut it in half."

(Four burners are busy.  This meal looks more complicated than it is.)

Marlie asked, very diplomatically, "You don't put the knife in, and pull it out, making slits until the squash comes apart?"

"Oh," Meredith said, "like when you carve a pumpkin?"

"Yeah." We agreed that this might be a better method. Then, in a tentative voice, Marlie asked, "But...why do you do it on the floor?"

Meredith and I responded almost in unison, "The banging would shake everything in the cupboards if we did it on the counter!"  I started to laugh.

Meredith added, "Kitchen violence!"

(Starting to look yummy.)

Suddenly, it seemed terribly hilarious.  All three of us were laughing. I gasped from laughter, and a tear trickled down my cheek, as I envisioned Meredith using the fine culinary techniques that she had learned at my knee.

I managed to say, "My mother taught me some cooking skills, but I don't think she ever whacked squash with a cleaver!!"

(Squash rings with homemade pita chips, ready to eat!)

Somehow, we composed ourselves, and our conversation advanced beyond acts of violence on the kitchen floor to myriad other topics. Now and then, I felt a giggle rising in my throat, and thought, what happens in the kitchen should stay in the kitchen!

Acorn Squash Rings (originally from a magazine ad for California Walnuts)

3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1 acorn squash cut into 1 1/2" rings
1 Tbsp mustard
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced into 1/4" thicknesses
8 oz orzo pasta
1 large bunch chard
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh dill, or 1 tbsp. dried
4 oz smoked salmon, cut into thin strips
salt and pepper

Steam squash rings, set aside.  Whisk mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper together, adding oil.  Coat frying pan with cooking spray. Add onions and cook until soft and brown.  Combine onions with mustard mixture.  Cook pasta.  Wash chard and remove stems.  Cut into 3/4" wide ribbons.  In skillet cook chard until wilted.  Add garlic to skillet and cook.  Stir in onion mixture, dill, orzo, half of the salmon, and half of the walnuts, salt and pepper.  Place a squash ring on each plate.  Fill with chard mixture.  Top with remaining salmon and nuts.  Warm each plate for one minute in the microwave.

Seasoned Pita Chips

4 (6-inch) pita breads
1/4 cup butter plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp Italian seasoning

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut each pita into 6 wedges, separate each wedge in half.  Melt butter, add olive oil. Stir in cheese and seasoning.  In a large bowl, pour over pitas and toss to coat.  Place pitas on large pan and bake 8 minutes.  Turn wedges over and bake 4-6 additional minutes, until golden and crisp.