Trail eats: Major league carbo-loading

What to eat when you're dog-tired
The Appalachian Trail.
The Appalachian Trail.

The weight of the food, its price, whether you can cook it with your camp stove and how long it can keep without refrigeration are a few of the main things to consider when resupplying. This is of course assuming you’re not going stoveless, in which case it’s cold ramen, cold oats, candy, days-old fast food and Pop-Tarts all around.

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The basic menu of a hiker bum (disclaimer: Some folks were able to eat quite healthy and wholesome food on trail. This was generally not my experience. Consider yourself warned.)

  • Ramen noodles.

  • Instant mashed potatoes.

  • Ramen noodles and instant mashed potatoes all mixed together, also known as a “Ramen Bomb.”

  • Mac and cheese with tuna.

  • Pasta sides and rice sides — you can find these for less than a dollar at most supermarkets. Even better with black trumpet mushrooms picked from the trail.

  • Oatmeal (extra tasty with fresh blueberries straight from the trail).

  • Snickers. Too many to count. Cheaper than Cliff Bars.  

  • Pop-Tarts, Honey Buns, Nutty Buddies.

  • Carnation Breakfast Essential chocolate protein drink mix.

  • Instant coffee.

  • Tortillas with peanut butter and nutella.

  • Cheez-Its or potato chips. They will turn to dust, but you will crave salt and you will drink the crumbs.

  • Frozen burritos — eat them when they thaw within the same day or so of resupplying.

  • The nights after resupplies are a good time for a bag of salad from the supermarket.One of the few ways to eat something green.

  • Though it was somewhat uncommon due to how heavy fruit is, I would almost always carry a few apples to have for breakfast with heaps of peanut butter.

  • Carrots, red peppers, and other sturdy vegetables keep fairly well. Avocadoes are a great source of fat on trail but it doesn’t take long for them to become guacamole after a 20-mile day bouncing around in a backpack.

If you happen to cross paths with a chef with a handleless skillet on trail, which I had the luck of doing, freshly cooked burgers with sauteed onions, tomato, cheese and eggs (kept safe in a plastic Easter egg container from the dollar store) may be in your future.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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