Hoppin’ John

A southern tradition.

We celebrate New Years’ Day with two traditional foods from the South Carolina Lowcountry: Hoppin’ John and Collard Greens. These classic dishes were inspired by African traditions and have been a New Year’s tradition in the Carolinas for at least a hundred years. Pam (who grew up in lowcountry South Carolina) made a wonderful meal for us this year, guaranteeing us good luck and financial prosperity: “Eating those two dishes will ensure prosperity in the new year, and the collards represent greenbacks and the black-eyed peas coins. Or so they say.” [Moss 2014]

A small serving of collards (left) and hoppin’ john (right).

In preparing this post, however, I looked around a bit and found that fascinating article ([Moss 2014] from a Charleston food writer in 2014) about the history of Hoppin’ John… providing interesting background on the African origins of this dish, and how the commercial evolution of the key ingredients (bacon, rice, beans) mean it’s difficult to really accomplish the original quality of this dish. Next time, we’ll strive to find the original ingredients and see how it turns out!

Blueberry mountain

A hike on a blue-sky New Years’ day.

Tim, David, and Kathy, on a hike to Blueberry Mountain.

It has long been a tradition for my Dartmouth friends and me to hike a mountain on New Year’s Day. Today we were fortunate to have outstanding weather: a blue-sky day with moderate temperatures (20-30º), and a fresh (though thin) layer of powder snow at higher elevations. We had eyes for Moosilauke – our traditional destination for New Years – but with weather this nice, we anticipated huge crowds. Instead we headed for Blueberry Mountain, a pretty little (2,663′) bump to the southwest of Mount Moosilauke.

I’d been up here once before, but from the east, and today we came up from the west. The west is a longer approach, but a pretty trail nonetheless. We were the first to travel this trail since the snowfall a few days ago. To be more precise, we were the first humans on the trail since the snowfall – we were following a coyote’s tracks for most of the way up! Indeed, the coyote often provided clues about the route when the trailbed was not so clear.

The view from the summit is partly obscured by trees, but Moosilauke was visible and delightfully clear from this close. It must have been a grand day up there! In the photo below, the south peak is most visible.

On the summit of Blueberry Mountain: Kathy, Tim, David, David.

The sign at the trailhead advertised 2.2 miles, but my GPS track shows we walked 8.52km round-trip (5.3 miles, or 2.65 mi each way). Two smartwatches also indicated a distance closer to 2.7 miles for the ascent.

A fresh dusting of snow decorate the trail near the summit of Blueberry Mountain on New Years’ Day.

Hike stats:
distance 8.52km
gain: 423m
time: 3h15m

Blueberry is at left: blue trail is today’s route.
Moosilauke is at right: purple is the Glencliff trail in November; red is the Gorge Brook trail in July.