Trail Food

Inexpensive, yummy, healthy and ultra lightweight. These are the 4 parameters we’re all trying to maximize. Here’s one of my favorite recipes: home-dried veggies and instant rice. Very easy  but you do need a method for drying food. I have a dehydrator and I consider it part of my backpacking gear. You can also use the sun. Look on line for simple food drying methods if you’re not familiar with it.

I begin with a bag or two of frozen mixed vegetables and toss them into the dehydrator (or sun) for a couple of hours. Before drying, determine how much of the vegetables you would eat in a single sitting with a serving of rice. They will be very small when completely dried. Using frozen vegetables eliminates the mess and time required to cut them yourself. I put my food together in the weeks leading up to a trip. These packets are being prepared for an 8-day hike on the Colorado Trail next week. If I were preparing for a 2-month trip I would of course be working my food much earlier.

I have two bags going in here. The top is a Mexican vegetable mix. The bottom a soup mix. I’ll get 2-3 meals from each. Experiment. I admit that some of my concoctions don’t always please me, but they usually please me more than most of the prepared foods on the shelf.

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Those two bags dried down to 1 1/2 cups, 1/4 cup per meal. Don’t be fooled – it’s more than you think. Mixed with 1/4 instant rice it makes a very filling and healthy meal for me.

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Now comes the hard part. Mix equal parts rice and dried vegetables. Add herbs. My favorite is a mix called Herbes de Provence. Sometimes I toss the rice in tamari sauce then dry the rice. I also use Italian spices and add dried tomatoes, onions and peppers to the mix. It all works. And this is the final product:

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Dry everything completely as they will mold if they’re damp and set aside for weeks or months. I don’t worry so much when I’m planning to eat it within a couple of weeks. I also dried 3 apples, enough for one trip, and left them slightly softer than I normally would.

And now for the best part: cooking. I’m big on using as little fuel as possible. It’s a weight thing. So I carry a pint container with a leak-proof lid. An hour before I plan to eat I put the day’s dried meal packet into the container with 1 cup of cold water. By the time I’m ready to cook all the water has been absorbed and the vegetables are hydrated. All that’s required is a quick heat up.

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All that’s left to do is eat and watch the sunset. Enjoy!

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Footnote: The final product, packaged in paper envelopes rather than plastic. I’m using business envelopes cut in half and butcher paper stapled along the edges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, time to get serious

I’ve now read Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods, once and watched the movie three times. I’m ready to begin my own adventure. I fear if I watch it one more time I’m talk myself out of going. As a line in the movie goes: Why hike it? You can see the whole A.T. in 4 minutes on the internet.

I’m not sure that keeping up with the adventures of others is a good idea. Many of the adventures are not that pleasant. But honestly, whenever I mention it to friends and family I get the same reaction that Bryson got – upraised eyebrows and concerns about my sanity. The only place I find any sympathy or understanding is from other A.T. wannabes. Not quite true. I’m encouraged to follow my dreams, sometimes cautiously (Are you sure that’s a good idea?), other times with modest enthusiasm and a kind of if-you-plan-it-maybe-I’ll-come-along-for-a-week response. I need to buy the book about Grandma Gatewood to continue to inspire me when I weaken.

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Grandma Gatewood (natureworldnews.com)

After all, the A.T. is unlike any trail in the world. It’s its own beast, its own brand of Americana insanity. I’ve heard it described as a moving city that’s 2,200 miles long and 6 feet wide, with a population of about 3 million supported by all that they need to survive their ordeals: grocery stores, hostels, hotels, shuttle services, medical facilities and outdoor gear shops, to name just a few.

I’ve just arrived in northern Texas from my home in western Colorado. While not exactly like the climate of the southern 1000 miles of the Appalachian Trail – the portion I intend to attempt first – this climate gives me a feel for what I’ll be facing. Yesterday it rained. Not the soft rains of western Colorado that are a delight to walk in. No, these rains are deluges, as if the sky were an ocean with the bottom ripped out. It doesn’t rain, it pours. Standing inside and looking out it’s awe-inspiring.

Whoa, people are actually reading this

“Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.” -Brian Tracy

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I found this map on another blog and couldn’t resist pulling it over to mine.

I started this blog just as a way to record my thoughts as I move through this coming year of planning for the A.T. I know it’s a public blog, but I kind of didn’t expect anyone to look at it. Glad I didn’t post any compromising photos of myself. I also didn’t expect that there are other blogs out there, written by people just like me, and that we’ll see each other’s tags and be able to follow along on each other’s journeys.

I’ve already discovered Appalachian Trials facebook and blog and have gained courage and inspiration from them. In fact, it inspired me not only to hike the A.T. but to write about my experience also. It doesn’t matter if I write well. Of course I do. When we share ourselves and our passions, it inspires others.

 

 

Why Hike The A.T.?

I read that question on a forum recently, that we should ask ourselves that question. I don’t know about everyone else but I have about 100 reasons and depending on the day, one will be more important than another. So here’s an unnumbered list in no special order except as they’ve come to mind.

Why not? Because it’s there. How can I call myself a hiker if I’ve never even set foot on the Appalachian Trail? I have nothing else to do next summer. I’ve never hiked in that part of the country. I’m fascinated to see the new flora and fauna. For the cultural experience. I drove through Shenandoah National Park several years ago and I told myself then that I’d like to come back and hike it. I always need a challenge. I love to hike and hike and hike and . . . . It’s a long trail that I can hike without support. PCT, CT and CDT all require long hikes out to towns to resupply. Many support systems have evolved along the A.T. I need a challenge. To be a hero, at least in my own mind. To help me to come out of my shell and write. Because I promised myself when I returned from traveling abroad that I wanted to explore the US on foot as I had done in other places. I can hike as short or as long as I desire. 2,200 miles? I doubt it, but . . . maybe. We’ll see. 150 miles? 500 miles? 1000 miles? We’ll see, we’ll see . . . .

For now I’m happy with planning. That’s as much fun as the trip itself. Another reason to hike the A.T. I get a lot of pleasure out of looking at maps, checking distances, planning food and campsites, looking at pictures and reading blogs. I think sometimes that even if I don’t step foot on the physical trail I could still be happy. Though, I must believe as I plan that it will happen, and barring unforeseen events, it will.

 

And So It Begins . . . . .

“Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” ~ Dylan Thomas

I definitely need a goal in life to keep me engaged. Right now I’m circling in on it. It’s many pronged. I long to do a long-distance hike and have chosen the Appalachian Trail as the target. I am, after all, a hiker and a walker, and how can I call myself a hiker in these days if I’ve never set foot on the A.T.?

I awoke around 1am last night feeling a lot of anxiety. I’ve developed this anxiety around my breathing, like if I don’t pay attention to it I’ll stop. Like, I constantly feel as if I can’t get a deep breath and I must constantly take deep breaths until my breath ‘catches.’ Then I get this creepy anxiety feeling in my body. Icky and awful.

I met a man outside the grocery store yesterday as I was leaving. He was about my age and pushing one of those walkers with a seat, and he was moving along fast even though his body was barely functional. I commented on how fast he was moving. He told me that he has Parkinson’s Disease and that he used to be a jogger. “I could still jog,” he said, “but it’s my balance that’s gone.” We talked for a few more minutes then went our separate ways.

I love meeting extraordinary people. He’ll never know how much that short conversation affected me. May I also greet whatever life gives me with such extraordinary strength and acceptance.IMG_1175