Meals so good you won’t want to share with your hiking partner

Janet “Slow n’ Steady” enjoys breakfast on the Appalachian Trail//Antlers Campsite, Maine//Photo by Janet “Slow n’ Steady//Text by Anne Baker, marketing assistant 

Food. We’d like to bet that besides gear, it’s what hikers think the most about while they’re out on the trail. But if you’re tired of getting your calories from those chicken teriyaki Mountain House meals or a Snickers bar dipped in peanut butter, we don’t blame you. Here’s a few tried-and-true backcountry recipes from our staff.

Ingredients: Package of soft tortilla wraps, individually wrapped small cream cheese containers, summer sausage, and a box of grape tomatoes

Directions: Smear cream cheese on wrap. Place cut up pieces of sausage in cream cheese and then add grape tomatoes. Roll up and enjoy!

Comments: It’s a simple meal, but all the ingredients are extremely durable and the individually wrapped cream cheese containers last for a long time even at room temperature.  The cream cheese holds everything in place if you are trying to put it together on an uneven surface, and the tomatoes are a welcome blast of flavor, freshness and water on a hot day. You can also easily turn this into a vegetarian option by eliminating the summer sausage. Perfect!

– Mark Saari

Ingredients: Package of any kind of pasta (Barilla Torellini is great if you’re willing to carry the extra weight), sundried tomatoes, olive oil, pine nuts or walnuts, Italian spices, and a small package of parmesan cheese

Directions: Boil water and cook the pasta with the sundried tomatoes until they become soft. Once the pasta is cooked, toss with olive oil, nuts, spices and cheese. If you want, you can also save the water if you’re hardcore enough to drink some tasty starch-and-tomato broth!

Comments: Pre-trip, package the spices, nutsand parmesan cheese in a zip-lock bag (unless it’s summer, in which case the cheese might melt). This makes the meal easy to prepare on the Trail!

– Kathryn Herndon

Ingredients: Package of ramen noodles, a smear of peanut butter, honey, and cocoa powder

Directions: Open a package of ramen, but don’t cook it! Smear the peanut butter across the top, add the cocoa powder, and then drizzle honey over the whole thing.

Comments: Uncooked ramen might sound disgusting, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Adding the peanut butter, cocoa and honey make this snack a satisfying treat full of energy.

– John Csordas

Ingredients: Canned biscuit dough, vegetable oil, and chocolate frosting

Directions: Rip each portion of biscuit dough into four pieces and drop into a small pot of hot vegetable oil. Once golden, remove the fried dough, let cool, and smear with chocolate frosting. Enjoy!

Comments: This is a really easy recipe to satisfy even the most voracious sweet tooth, and you don’t have to mix anything together at all! Just be sure to pack out that empty can of biscuit dough.

– Olivia Divish

Okay, your turn! What are your favorite Trail recipes? Let us know with a comment below.

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A (not-so) ‘Wild’ gal

Ellen Gass on the Appalachian Trail//Photos and text by Ellen Gass, guest blogger

Let me start by saying that I loved “Wild.” I loved the book. I loved the movie. I loved the way they captured many of the struggles and fears that hikers, especially solo female hikers, have while backpacking. And, it gave me a sincere appreciation for the fact that my toenails fell off on their own without having to rip them off.

After returning from six months on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), one of the questions I get a lot (after “How was it?” – a question that is impossible to answer in less than 45 minutes and without a 400-plus photo slideshow) is “What did you learn?” or “How did you grow as a person?” There are, indeed, a lot of things I learned. For example: porcupines will eat your shirt if you leave it out to dry on a bench at night. Most hikers carry at least one or two things they could do without, luxury items you might say. I learned that a shirt is not a luxury item. A shirt is something you need. I also definitely grew as a person. Confidence abounds after keeping yourself alive in the woods for months at a time. However, I have found that people seem to be looking for a more of a “Wild” answer.

Now, many people who spend time on the Trail do have “Wild” experiences. The Trail is a great place to heal, grow, and learn about yourself. I have been blessed to spend more than 10 years hiking and working on the Trail. It has changed me, but those changes have been slower, more gradual. So this fall, making my way from Katahdin to Springer, my Trail experience was more of a vacation than a spiritual journey. That’s to say, while every so often the thought, “I bet people think I’m contemplating the meaning of life right now” would cross my mind, the actual meaning of life rarely did. The expectation that spending so much time in the woods will lead to spiritual musings, an understanding of who I really am (other than a very hungry hiker), and an enlightened sense of self, is so pervasive, though, that I’d like to give you a taste of what really happens in the brain of a long distance hiker.

I found that sometimes, when I’m hiking . . .

  • I use my trekking poles as a microphone and dance down the Trail.
    Microphone
  • I throw my snot bandana over my shoulder and pretend it’s a cape and I’m a super-hero flying down the Trail.Photo2
  • I pretend I’m a NASCAR driver banking on the downhill turns (no one goes fast on uphill turns). But only on the left turns – on the right turns, I pretend I’m a Formula One Driver.
  • I pretend the ground is lava, and I have to jump from rock to rock in order not to burn up.Photo3
  • I pretend that I am one of the elephants from Salvador Dali’s paintings, and my trekking poles are my long spindly front legs. Then I take giant tromping steps.Photo4
  • I wonder if I can climb that, then I check to see if I am right.Photo5
  • I wonder if it’s too soon to have another snack break, or if you can eat too many sour gummi worms. (Answer: You can’t.)
  • I wonder if I have been hiking for too long . . . nah!

From idly dreaming about long hiking trips to working seasonally, then full-time for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Ellen is excited that she had the opportunity to turn her on-again, off-again flirtation with the Trail into a fully committed relationship this past summer and fall when she spent six months hiking more than 1,700 miles of the AT.

With a few miles left to go, Ellen is happy to say that she is not done, and is still hiking the Trail (albeit not on the Trail these days). Stay tuned for the full story and the rest of Ellen’s hike in a future issue of A.T. Journeys, and in the meantime, check out her blog here.  

Why we’re looking good at 90

ATC staff celebrate the organization’s 90th//Harpers Ferry, West Virginia//Photo by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy//Text by Anne Baker, marketing assistant

Today, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) turned 90. That means we’ve been around since the first issue of the New Yorker was published, the first film was shown on an airplane, and when the record temperature low was recorded in Maine (-48 degrees in Van Buren). We’ve seen a lot during our 90 years, including millions of other firsts.

But we like to think that we’re unique, and that our birthday is worth remembering. We’ve come a long way since that day in 1925 when Benton MacKaye and his team sat down to determine how to get the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) on the ground from Georgia to Maine. Yet throughout the years, the heart of the organization has remained the same: to protect and maintain an approximate 2,180-mile long footpath that is, to so many, a place of dreams, hopes and life-changing discovery.

If we had a guest list for a birthday party, it would be thousands of names long. The ATC isn’t made up of just staff, after all—it’s a volunteer-based organization that you choose to be a part of. Last year, for example, close to 6,000 volunteers helped keep the A.T. in top shape. That’s an extraordinary number, and that doesn’t even include our members, community supporters, agencies and corporate partners who have provided the funds necessary to support our work. We accomplish what we do thanks to you.

Because we’re an organization that relies so heavily on community support, we want the public to help us celebrate this year. We want everyone to get excited about who we are and what we do so we can not only relive our experiences along the A.T. together, but look ahead to what’s in store for the future.

And that whole “future” thing is key, especially because this year we began implementing a new Strategic Plan that will guide our organization through 2019. The plan will build on our successes, driving us to embrace initiatives that include managing and protecting the A.T. and surrounding landscapes; involving more young and diverse people with the Trail and volunteer work; and strengthening and expanding the ATC’s network of partners as well as our organizational capacity so that we have the resources to achieve all of our goals.

It’s a bold plan, but we believe that by the time someone turns 90, they’ve earned their right to take a few risks here and there.

Happy birthday, ATC.

Now do you want to help us celebrate? Learn more about what you can do by visiting www.appalachiantrail.org/90th.