Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Food for thought.

One of my most favorite things to do is to go to a farmer's market; something that is not always achievable when living in a tent or out of a backpack. My compromise this past summer when I was in the woods for long stretches of time was to carry lots of produce and upgrade my approach to backpacking meals.
Fried polenta cakes, sauteed vegetables, veggie burgers, stir-frys, and a nice big pot in order to cook pasta with the correct amount of water so it wouldn't turn into starchy mush -  I had multiple pots and pans, which basically means that I was living the dream, people. Cans of chickpeas, pounds of yogurt... all kinds of ridiculous things that were obscenely heavy were made tolerable due to the low mileage to my destination. It was ten days of food (really heavy food) but I only had to grin and bear it and hike for less than three miles. I'm pretty reluctant to go back to my thru-hiker ways, which consisted of many dinners of cereal and instant milk and a lot of couscous, instant mashed potatoes and dehydrated beans. All of which are easy and light, but boring.
I could have opted to dehydrate meals but found in the past that they tend to taste stale and boring after a while unless you mask it with powdered cheese and hot sauce. I get tired of this very quickly. Plus it would have been a lot of work. So now I'm faced with the limitations of a very small cook pot and a very basic alcohol stove in addition to the challenges of monotonous food. Goodbye, frying pan and propane burners... it was nice while it lasted.

My biggest problem is that I like variety and in order to satisfy that my food bag becomes drastically heavier. I'm not a hiker who can eat ramen every day, as much as I'd like to be. Right now I'm contemplating carrying honey, butter, jam, and even balsamic vinegar (I'm going overboard, I know). I'll definitely have apples, oranges and avocados as treats and am going to use salad bars in grocery stores to my advantage much more than I did last hike. I didn't carry a knife on the Appalachian Trail but this time I've caught myself thinking I could do a lot more with veggies if I had a small knife and one of those really light, flimsy cutting boards.

Is this crazy? You tell me. I've been struggling with figuring out what are unnecessary indulgences for this hike for quite some time now! (You'd think I'd have this part all figured out after the first hike, but it just means that I'm sick of deprivation and I haven't even started hiking yet!)


  1. Hey Angela:
    I hope to hike the PCT one day, and have been reading your blog with interest. I really like your writing style, and your pictures are beautiful. Just writing to let you know that you have a fan in Texas who is rooting for your success. Good luck, & happy hiking.

    Pat from Texas

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Pat! It's always nice to know who is reading. I love how hiking has broadened my sense of community. The PCT will be there for you, ready and waiting. There's no rush :)