Cooking On Trail

By Maria Pickerill, E&H Semester-A-Trail Student | Spring 2021 Semester

We have been doing a lot to prepare for the trail: day-hikes, blister-care + first aid, mental preparation, food/nutrition, and soon we will begin to embark on overnight backpacking trips.

Recently, we went on a day hike, and we brought our stoves and food for the first time. The goal of this hike was to try out cooking on the trail. Before we left, Jim brought us a plethora of food options. He brought everything from tuna to Werther’s caramels (and everything in between). Many of the foods that are easy to bring on the trail are not nutrient or even protein-dense. Because of this, you need to supplement in some “superfoods” like chia seeds, nutritional yeast, and seaweed powder. You can mix those in with your Ramen meals, and voila your body will actually be getting what it needs rather than just empty carbs. And man, getting the right nutrients, calories, and proteins really does matter on the trail. Your body cannot keep up with walking 10+ miles every day without getting what it needs. Plus food is super important for your mental health!

Anyway, we tried out our cook systems on the trail, and all I have to say is technology is insane! I mean just look how tiny our stoves are (please reference picture). We all tried cooking different things. I cooked ramen noodles with lemon tuna…sounds yummy right?? It actually wasn’t bad– anything tastes delicious after some vigorous exercise in the freezing cold weather. Also, the plus side was that it took only two minutes to cook. I’m glad we were able to try out our cook systems (and we will continue to use them) so that when we hit the trail for real, we will already be confident in our “cooking skills.

Also here’s a pro-tip: Make sure to boil your water by itself, and then add your dehydrated food in after taking it off of the stove. If you try to cook with your food on the stove, you will burn it! I’ve learned this from experience.

Overall, I’m super thankful to have been able to learn about food and food systems before embarking on the trail. I’m happy to have these skills now instead of learning them after already starting on the trail. So, I would say this food system experience was a success!

  • Tucker, Carter, and Jett practicing with their cook-systems on the trail.
  • Some of the food options that a backpacker may take with them on a hike. My personal favorite is peanut butter.
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  • The cohort practicing with their cook-systems on the trail.