Eating well when on the trail can be a challenge, however with a little forethought and preparation, things needn't be so hard.
Over the Grand Final long weekend, Shan and I along with some friends took to the trail of the Great Ocean Road. Traversing over undulating hills for 3 days with all clothes, supplies and tents on our backs, doesn't sound appealing for some, however I'm in my element.
We often over-complicate things in our daily lives. Create issues that needn't exist and conjure up the stresses in our minds. In Nature, the simplicity of things intensifies with a direct correlation to the ache of muscles. Its a true challenge to carry 14+ kgs on your back for 3 days so when it comes to food, you want to ensure that you are packing light!
I enjoy a challenge, so like any other I started with my options. Most light weight camp food is full of preservatives and taste second rate, not to mention ridiculously expensive! A little mission around your local supermarket and you will find there are plenty of options for light weight, single serve dehydrated and freeze dried foods.
Carman's sugar free oats provided a great breakfast and the addition of home-made trail mix with Robert Timms coffee bag was sensational start to the day. Wild Rice cinnamon pudding pouches are also a great way to create variety to breakfast and provides protein, slow release carbohydrates and magnesium for hard working bodies.
Chef Ainsley Harriot's single serve flavoured cous cous or rice were for lunches. Simply add boiling water (thanks Jetboil) and they come to life! We added Safcol tuna pouches (light weight also) and each meal per serve weighed under 90g.
The cous cous was vegetable or mushroom flavour and we had the Singapore/ Vegetable rice.Tuna pouches come in different flavours; olive oil, sweet chili, tomato and onion, providing variety. We mixed through the tuna pouches for a complete meal. Tasted great and less preservatives than other options. At $4 per serve (rice/cous cous and tuna), it is hard to beat!
Ideally I would have grabbed some more freeze-dried vegetables to have, limiting the amount of carbohydrates even though all fuel burnt during hill climbs. If we were away for longer than 3 days, more vegetables would have found their way to my mouth.
I like to try new products and although it wasn't in my ideal price range, The Outdoor Gourmet Company, Coq a Vin was a welcome change. At $23 it provided freeze dried vegetables and chicken opposed to dehydrated. The difference is actually remarkable and after 20 km of elevation the Wine sauce with real vegetables over mash potato was a taste sensation. It was a decent 2 person meal that was quite filling.
Now, I've actually kept the best to last... This is the SNACKS!
This is essential and this is what ultimately drives you up the next hill, through the beach crossings and softens the descents. DO NOT underestimate the importance of snacks..
I create my own trail mix and short on time this trek, it consisted of what was in my cupboards with some sneaky additions.
Cashews, almonds and pepitas made up the majority of the mix with dried cranberries and blueberries mixed through. The sneaky additions this time were pretzels and M&M's.
After long sweaty days, there is nothing more satisfying than digging into the trail mix and pulling out chocolate with a handful of nuts, seeds and pretzels. I usually make my own chocolate however the coconut oil base will not withstand the environment so best left to the confines of home or office.
Whilst fresh foods are great to take along, their weight can be the determining factor to how much you will pack. Banana's unless eaten the first day aren't ideal as will bruise easily, same too with apples. I strongly recommend however, that at least 2 oranges are packed for a 2-3 day trek.
Oranges provide Vitamin C, a powerful anti-oxidant that promotes collagen production, the connective tissue that helps repair skin, tendons and blood vessels. It also plays a role in flushing the lactic acid from our muscles, the build up which contributes to the burning/ aching muscles. This is why many sports give children oranges at half time.
Other great snacks to take along, is the freeze-dried fruit. There are absolutely no additives/sulphites as common with dehydrated fruit (unless you have done yourself- this is the next purchase for the Connell household). It is extremely light weight and an experience to crunch through a mango! Maintaining all nutritional profile, it is a great way to get fruit into you whilst not compromising weight.
Jerky is also a great way to get protein in whilst providing flavour. Its lightweight and Shan and I will definitely be making our own next time to avoid all the nasty additives.
Miso soup sachets (single serving) are great for feeding our internal gut flora, particularly important when a change of eating. This assists with digestion and is incredibly warming on nights that drop as low as 2c.
Then there were the little packs of snack olives. A mix of Sicilian and Kalamata that were exceptionally well matched to the dry red wine - thanks to McWilliams for putting in a light weight goon -bag! A Grand Final spent at Ryan's Den after a hard days walk, totally worth its weight.
Lastly, in addition to the Robert Timms coffee bags, it can not be underestimated the warm feeling of a herbal tea as the sun sets and you wind down for the night. We packed out Higher Living- Organics Sweet Dreams Tea. A relaxing infusion of lemon balm, lavender and chamomile. It helps send you off into a deep slumber as you rest your weary muscles.
Next adventure on the cards, just to decide location and with whom....
Holistic Hikes Overnight Hikes.... 2019 ?!
Where would you want to explore? Challenge the confines of your mind. Challenge yourself, emerge physically, emotionally and spiritually stronger!