Here’s a weird fact: I never go on a hike without planning out a menu for the trail.
To many, many hikers, this seems kind of counterintuitive. Hiking is a physical pursuit, and perhaps also a spiritual one. It’s a chance to work our muscles, feel our bodies move, or reconnect with nature and our own thoughts. If you’re out on the trail, shouldn’t you be more consumed with hiking than with, well, consuming?
Maybe I’m just quirky, but I don’t think so.
For me, a new hiking trail is also a chance to have a delicious meal in a beautiful place. I know from years of experience that food and drink tastes a thousand times better when I’m out in nature, especially after a period of intense physical exertion. So, we plan our trails around our stopping points:
“Is this the right place to stop and eat? Wait, no, let’s keep going until we find a spot that’s shady and has beautiful views….”
I can hardly relate to the trail mix munching, granola bar crunching sort of hikers who would rather just have a quick boost so they can keep on hiking. For me, mealtime on the trail is an integral part of the hike itself. It’s a chance to stop and pamper yourself for a moment, to really absorb your surroundings, to close your eyes and feel the cool breeze on your face. Or to savor the relative warmth of a cave and a streaming hot drink on a drizzly winter day.
Is there anything better than a cup of home brewed iced coffee made from freshly ground beans? What about if you drink that coffee after climbing to the top of a desert mountain? To me, the pleasure of eating a sandwich on toasted sourdough is intensified by a full morning of hiking and waiting. When I’m sitting somewhere beautiful, every bite is just so much better.
Planning a meal in nature adds one more avenue of enjoyment to any hike. For this reason, you’ll never find me out on the trail without something good to eat in my backpack. Maybe I’m just a foodie, but to me, hiking trails are all like different outdoor cafes. The view, the scenery, the weather, and even the comfort of sitting cross legged on a carpet of pine needles make each one of these meals in nature more memorable. And so much more delicious.