(Because we have to eat…)
Eating is a part of hiking that has always interested me. (Actually, isn’t eating a part of almost everything, and what’s not to like about that?) It is challenging to plan for a time when physical demands on the body are great and food is… well, scarce. On this hike, we will have to pack our meals and snacks for three days, carry fuel and gear to cook the food, and make sure we leave no packaging behind. Some of the food needs to be accessible on the trail as we walk. And, of course, we need to carry enough water for drinking as well as cooking. Here’s our plan.
My brother has some “rations”, dried meals, that he wants to use for the nights when we will be in camp. These will be simple, just add hot water and stir, meals that are designed to be high in calories and electrolytes. We know we will be hungrier than usual and the recommendation is to increase our calorie intake by half – 3,000 calories per day at least. Other than these two evening meals I don’t plan to have to heat anything – that will mean less fuel to carry and less time spent cooking.
Dried or dehydrated meals are really great because they are light. Our guidelines say our food for the day should only weigh between 1 and 1.5 pounds. If it’s heavier than that, it isn’t the right food.
The noon meals while hiking will be short stops, so I want to take tuna or chicken in foil packs, and some kind of cracker. We will also be snacking on trail mix, nuts, Kind bars, and dried fruit. I tend to like salty foods rather than sweet while hiking because I know I need the electrolytes. Sodium is especially important to avoid dehydration (see my D post for more on that). Another way I’m going to watch my electrolyte balance is by putting powder Gatorade or similar drink mix in my water. The flavor helps me drink more of it too.
Other than the foil packs for the dried meals and the tuna/chicken meals, I want to repackage my snacks in zip-locks so I don’t have wrappers to dispose of. I can use the zip-locks to hold whatever trash I do have to haul out.
Our food guidelines included a few other tips such as:
- Include some spicy sauces to add to bland foods like rice or instant dried beans
- Hot cereals are great for breakfast if you have time to boil water
- Dry instant milk, dried meat like turkey or beef jerky are other dehydrated foods that work well
- Granola gives some crunchy variety to breakfast or snacks
- Avoid anything in a can – heavy and you have to carry it out too
- Avoid fresh fruit that will get bruised, or affected by the heat
Just thinking about all this dried stuff makes me hungry and thirsty for fresh vegetables and fruit and something cold to drink. And that brings me to the final part of the hiking experience that I look forward to – the meal after the return to civilization. Deprivation heightens appreciation, just sayin’…