Meals in the high country | High Sierra Topix  

Meals in the high country

Have a favorite trail recipe or technique you'd like to share? Please do! We also like reviews of various trail food products out there. The Backcountry Food Topix forum is the place to discuss all things related to food and nourishment while in the Sierra wilderness (as well as favorite trail head eateries).
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Meals in the high country

Postby Rosabella » Sat Jul 01, 2006 4:44 am

Markskor's last story (Meeting People in the High Country - June 30th) got me wondering about my meals and what other people prepare. I must confess - I use the "freeze-dried, foil-wrapped" meals for dinner (I actually like them; I just wish they didn't have so much salt :\ )

I think the main reason I like them is the simplicity - I make dinner almost every night at home, so I don't get too excited about preparing anything on the trail... boiling water to add to a packet sounds real good to me :D !

I don't really have a breakfast and lunch per se - I break camp and get on the trail as quickly as possible, and then pretty much start "grazing" 'til mid-afternoon on Cliff/Luna/"whatever" bars, dried fruit, oriental cracker mix, jerky, and an ocasional packet of smoked salmon with crackers - it varies. Again, it's simple and works for me.

So, what does everyone else do for meals on the trail?



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Postby Strider » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:42 am

Being in the wine industry, the downside is harvest starts in late August, and that cuts into hiking time, especially this year. The upside is having access to high-proof (190 proof distilled brandy.)

It is very versatile in the high country. It sterilizes spring water, is concentrated so light-weight, an anesthetic for cuts and scrapes, fuel for camp stoves, and fuel for conversation.

Of course, there is always enough room in my pack for a 375ml bottle of Chardonnay, in case I catch a rainbow for dinner.
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Re: Meals in the high country

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Jul 01, 2006 10:18 am

Rosabella wrote: I must confess - I use the "freeze-dried, foil-wrapped" meals for dinner (I actually like them...


Early on, I used to like freeze-dried dehyd, but after a few long trips it got to the point I could not look a dehyd in the face without getting sick. After a while we were burying meals in the fire-pit, if available. Usually, I have extra left over from lunches. So, on trips less than a week, I just use high quality asian noodles, the ones with greasy pockets of goodness. The problems is on long hikes after you loose all or most of your body fat, the noodles are just not enough and you HAVE to eat dehyd or something with substance. Read PCT journals: after a while, all they talk about is food...
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Postby yosemitechris » Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:46 pm

On our 2 JMT trips, my son and I brought along a BIG bag of corn pasta. Some people don't like it, but we did and it provided heaps of energy for the next hiking day. We fried up some fresh garlic in olive oil, then added water and boiled the pasta with just enough water so we didn't have to drain it and added to the water as it boiled: dehydrated mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini etc. and maybe some salami and finished it up with a wax covered cheese cut up. Every 2 days or so we ate a "fancy" freeze-dried meal for variety but the corn pasta was our mainstay.

Breakfast was a granola/cereal mix with dried soy milk powder (and water) and lunch was tortillas with either salami and cheese until it was gone, then super peanut butter (pb w/ m&ms or gorp). Snacks were different kinds of nuts, a baggie each day for variety, and a baggie of dried fruit every day.
I brought along dried cocoa for drinks but we didn't drink much of it - not sure why. Pass-bagging treats were hard or soft candies.
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Postby giantbrookie » Sat Jul 01, 2006 5:24 pm

We (my wife and I) usually bring various instant rice and pasta dishes, commonly picking the ones with the highest calorie count (per unit weight). Although these require much more cooking time than the freeze dried stuff, they are way cheaper and taste better. We usually bring enough to be decently fed if our fishing doesn't go well, but we eat much better when the rice or pasta is simply a side dish to a trout main course. On one trip we found the fish were rather small so we were releasing everything we caught. About day 4 or 5 of the trip we noticed that we seemed a bit slow, so we decided to keep and eat fish. It really put some hop back into our step. After that time we made sure to eat enough fish on all of our trips. We also always include the freeze dried veggies to make sure we stay regular.

We also used to have different tiers of trips, and meals done accordingly. The easier backpacks would be designated the espresso and Chardonnay trips, where we'd pack in the screw top espresso maker, as well as a bottle of Chardonnay, whereas the harder trips would exclude the wine and espresso.

Breakfast over the years has been monotonously the same (can remember this from at least as far back as the 70's): the usual flavored instand oatmeal packets and hot chocolate. Lunch varies, but always includes some cheese, different crackers, cookies. More recent additions are various Trader Joes type things such as dried edamame and other goodies.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Postby wingding » Mon Jul 03, 2006 12:32 pm

I used to like the freeze dried meals, but I gag on them these days. I still carry them because they are easy and light, but I really have to force them down. I carry bars for lunch, but it's about the same there - I have to force myself to eat them. Food on the trail has been a real struggle lately - I'm just not eating as much as I need to. I wish I had the same problem off the trail and then I could lose the extra 20 pounds I'm carrying around.
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Postby Rosabella » Mon Jul 03, 2006 1:45 pm

Yeah... I know what you mean about "forcing food down". I get real tired of the bars, and inevitably, when I try a new bar that sounds good at the store, it's AWFUL on the trail. I don't like a lot of sweet stuff, other than my dehydrated fruit; I can't eat that sweet GORP. But I've got my favorite freeze-dried dinners, and I just don't get tired of them. My attitude towards food is pretty much just fueling up the body.

Don't get me wrong - I certainly enjoy going out to dinner for a great meal or having my lasagna for dinner (which is hands down the best I've ever had anywhere! ;) ), but I just don't like to fuss over food a lot - I'm just as happy with something simple like throwing a can of tuna in some soup and calling it dinner - it's just food. :D
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Postby wingding » Mon Jul 03, 2006 7:13 pm

I must say that I am envious of you folks that have regular backpacking partners (such as a spouse) and can plan your meals together and split the weight of the bear can, stove, and cooking pot. I've never been able to do that.
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Postby quentinc » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:41 pm

It all depends on your spouse/partner. Although my backpacking partner is bigger than me, he doesn't like to carry more than 30 pounds, so I still end up with a 45+ pound pack!

As for food, I've (unfortunately) never had a hard time wolfing down food on trips. Which is part of the reason my pack is always 45 pounds. :)
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Postby markskor » Mon Jul 03, 2006 9:32 pm

I recall another discussion about not being to eat…"forcing it down", on long – JMT - type trips. Drawing from experience gleaned from long treks taken previously, the first three or four days, I cannot eat either; just plan accordingly.
Some other things that I discovered:
You will get tired fast of foil dinners.
Make each successive food drop larger…only food you actually love, (and have actually tasted)…now is not the time to try new meals.
If given a choice, buy the better brand of everything food wise.
Put in a can or three of chocolate frosting, or some other similar extravagant sweet treat to consume on your food drop days.
By the third week, you will eat anything.
I never ate all the energy bars either (taste like dust).


It takes me about a week for my body to switch over to hiking mode…find my legs again…be able to assimilate to the diet, etc….so take less in the beginning. Along with a similar breakfast as Brookie’s – (except mine is always Cream of Wheat and hot chocolate)…I mostly survive the afternoons on dry fruit chips, beef jerky, cheese, pb, Crystal Lite,…and candy…I like those big jelly candies, the red ones.

I also enjoy fishing and now not having to do more than 8 – 10 miles a day… getting in camp early…having the time…and enjoying camp cooking. Concerning dinners, after hiking the Muir all day on a tight schedule, you do not have these luxuries…so; take whatever works…your body will tell you when it wants food.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Postby copeg » Tue Jul 04, 2006 6:39 pm

I've gone through stages of eating all sorts of things, from freeze dried to extravagant. Personally for dinner I prefer the easier, add hot water to a bag meal. I like the freeze dried meals but prefer to add my own ingredients. I tried out some of the freezerbagcooking.com recipes, which are a fantastic idea, but sometimes they just don't seem to completely satisfy me. Now I'm moving into a phase where I rehydrate things I've dehydrated in freezer bags. For example, dehydrate some asian black pepper sauce. Add it to some freeze dried chicken with dehydrated veggies, and rehydrate in a freezer bag with some instant rice either together or separate. Trader Joe's also has some things that I just don't get sick of. Annie's microwave mac-n-cheese, and those indian 'boil in a bag to cook' meals are my favorites. Breakfast has always been either granola or oatmeal with dehydrated fruits added. Lunch has usually been just munching all day long on all sorts of things.
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