Valley Wilds : Campfire Cooking - Pumpkin Pie

Campfire Cooking : Pumpkin Pie

By: Ranger Seth Eddings 

When we think of Fall, we think of certain staples this time of year: turkey dinners, leaves changing colors, and football games. My personal favorite? Pumpkin pie. A great pumpkin pie can make a gathering with friends and family a memorable one, especially baking one on a camping trip! Fall may not be the most popular time of year to go camping, however it has its merits. For example, the campgrounds can be less busy and the scenery more tranquil without the large number of tourists. Cooking, let alone baking, while camping can be a strenuous chore. However, I have a very simple recipe that requires minimum prep work with one tasty outcome. 


   This baking recipe will make you the most popular person at the campground, with the best smelling campfire around. Briquettes, instead of wood, are going to be used, as they hold heat a little better. We will also be using a pre-made pumpkin pie crust that will make campfire cooking so much easier. With this recipe we will be making our pumpkin pie filling with 5 simple ingredients and an optional can of whipped cream! I hope you enjoy all that Fall camping has to offer, and especially this pumpkin pie! 

Ranger Seth’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe 

Things you need: 

  • 12-inch Dutch Oven that is well seasoned 
  • Dutch Oven lid remover 
  • Mixing bowl 
  • Measuring cup and spoons 
  • Pre-made pie crust in metal deep dish pie pan 
  • Can opener 
  • Mixing spoon 
  • 24 Briquettes 
  • Tongs 
  • Oven mitts 



  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla 
  • 14 ounces of sweet condensed milk 
  • 29 ounces of 100% Pumpkin Puree (not canned Pumpkin Pie) 
  • 1 Teaspoon pumpkin spice seasoning 
  • 1 can of whipped cream 



Step 1: WARMING UPUse the campfire ring to cook in 

  • Heat up 24 briquettes until they are glowing red. 
  • Once heated, take 8 briquettes and spread an even circle the size of the bottom of the Dutch Oven. 
  • Place the Dutch Oven on top of the 8 briquettes with the lid closed. 
  • Add 12 briquettes on top of the Dutch Oven lid. 
  • Preheat the Dutch Oven for 15 minutes, it should be about 350 degrees. 

Step 2: MIX IT UP: Do this while the Dutch Oven is preheating 

  • In the mixing bowl add: 14 ounces of sweet condensed milk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice. 
  • Mix well. 
  • Then add 29 ounces of Pumpkin Puree.  
  • Mix well. 
  • Pour pie filler into pre-made pie crust. 


Step 3: BAKE ITOnce the Dutch Oven is done pre-heating after 15 min.  

  • Remove the Dutch Oven lid keeping the briquettes on the lid. 
  • Place the uncooked pie (in the metal pie pan) into the Dutch Oven, and place the lid back on.  
  • Bake for 40 minutes, undisturbed. 
  • If the pie does not look fully baked, replace the lid for an additional 3 minutes until fully cooked. Feel free to bake longer if you need to. 

 Note: You might have to heat up more briquettes if they have gotten cold.


Step 4: WHIP IT UP

  • Remove pie. 
  • Serve slices with whipped cream for campers who desire the whipped cream. 


Step 5: ENJOY!  

Valley Wilds : Tarantulas!


By Ranger Vickie Eggert

 It’s the time of year when the tarantulas come out onto the trails and are seen frequently by visitors in the park. What are these spiders doing and why are they most frequently seen in the fall? 

    These large, hairy spiders are mostly from the family Theraphosidae. There are over 900 species of tarantula worldwide. Most tarantulas are found in Central America, South America and Mexico, but some are from North America. One, is found right here in the park: the California Tarantula

   Like all spiders, they have eight legs and two parts to their bodies. The head and chest are combined into a part called a cephalothorax and the lower part is the abdomen. Tarantulas have two parts in front of the mouth called chelicerae where their two fangs are. They either hold or are connected to the spider's venom glands. These are used to inject venom into their prey. 

  So, just how big are these spiders? Depending on the species, they can average between 0.2 - 4.3 inches (0.5-11 cm) long. The smallest kind is the endangered Spruce-Fir Moss Spider. Found in the Appalachians, this spider measures a mere 0.10 - 0.15 inches (0.25-0.38 cm). By contrast, the Goliath Birdeater is the largest. It is found in the northern part of South America and is the largest spider in the world, weighing in at 6.2 ounces (175 g), with a body length of 5.1 inches (13 cm). However, it is not the longest spider. That distinction goes to the Giant Huntsman spider whose leg span can reach up to 1 foot (30 cm). 

   Tarantulas are by no means tiny, but they will on occasion try to make themselves look even bigger. If they are threatened, they will raise their front two pairs of legs in the air. They do this to try to scare off potential predators. In addition to this intimidation tactic, many New World species have hairs called urticating hairs that the spider can flick off into the face of a predator. These hairs can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. 

   So, how can you tell that big, hairy spider is actually a tarantula? Look at their fangs. Tarantula fangs face downwards, as opposed to those of other spiders, whose fangs face each other. All tarantulas are venomous. Their venom is not deadly to humans, but some bites cause pain and can become serious, particularly if the person bitten is allergic. Like other spiders, tarantulas are carnivorous. They will eat insects, centipedes, and millipedes. These spiders can also go for extended periods without eating. One account says they have been known to survive on water alone for about 2 years.  

   Tarantulas have two or four spinnerets, depending on the species. Spinnerets are flexible, tube-like structures from which the spider makes its silk. Tarantulas are also able to shoot silk from their front feet to help them cling to slick surfaces. 

   Tarantulas periodically shed their external skeletons in a process called molting. A young tarantula may do this several times a year, while full-grown spiders may molt only once a year; to regenerate lost limbs or urticating hairs. They may regenerate lost organs in this manner as well. When spiders have reached sexual maturity, they no longer molt, and as a result, can no longer regenerate their legs. 

   Tarantulas can live for many years and most species take two to five years to reach maturity. After they reach adulthood, males live about one year more. At this time, usually in the fall, the male tarantulas will go out and search for a mate. This is when most people will see a tarantula. They are often seen on roads and trails as they make their way to the burrow of a female spider to mate. Male tarantulas rarely molt again once they reach adulthood. Females will continue to molt after reaching maturity and have been known to live 30 to 40 years. The oldest tarantula on record lived to be 49 years old! 

   Tarantulas can be seen in September and October walking out in the park looking for mates. Keep an eye out, you may get lucky and see one of these awesome spiders up close! 

LARPD Board Approves Transfer of Grant Funds for Arroyo Trail Project

The LARPD Board of Directors approved the transfer of $229,892 in potential grant monies to the City of Livermore. These funds will support the Arroyo Trail project aimed to close the gap between the existing trail at Wetmore Road and the Arroyo Del Valle Trail at the Arroyo entrance of Sycamore Grove park.
This project is being led by the City of Livermore. The project and grant fund distribution are being reviewed by the State of California’s Office of Grants and Local Services (OGALS). The transfer of funds from LARPD to the City of Livermore is contingent on that review. 
LARPD is excited to be an operational partner supporting the City of Livermore throughout this project.