Spring break 2016 was unforgettable. Not because I spent it in Daytona, celebrating with friends and tequila; rather I found myself in a remote area of Georgia, surrounded by the mountains of the Appalachian Trail. This alternative spring break trip was 7 days of backpacking, covering 52 miles of the most famous trail in the United States. So much of the trip was unforgettable; the steep inclines, beautiful views, tears of jealously when we wished to be on the beach or the tears of joy when we completed a long day’s hike. Another aspect that was unforgettable was the food. My memories of my diet for these seven days give me slight PTSD, but I am willing to share my food experiences here.
Granola bar Overload:
I ate at least six granola bars every single day. Cliff Bars, Luna, KIND, Quaker Oats, Nature Valley, Kroger brand. You name it, I most likely ate it. These 4×1.5 inch protein packed bars were easy to carry in your pack and didn’t require any preparation. They pretty much made up our meals when rain didn’t allow us to use our portable stove. One night for dinner I ate three chocolate mint Cliff Bars and then proceed to pass out.
While on the trip I acquired a slight obsession for Lemon Luna bars, trading with fellow backpackers to get that good good. At a minimum of six bars a day for seven days, equals 42 bars and a lot of fiber. Since arriving back over a month ago, I have yet to eat a single one. It will take years to touch another granola bar.
Freeze Dried Peaches:
On a cold and rainy night, two very bored campers cramped in a damp tent, began eating a bag of freeze dried peaches. It wasn’t long before the two girls began playing with the cocaine like powder that was left at the bottom of the bag. They may or may not have tried snorting it. I don’t know, what happens on the trail stays on the trail.
They are exactly what they sound like. Bit and pieces of meat, with fruit and spice fillers. Disturbing to eat at first, but surprisingly tasty when someone tells you thats all we have for dinner tonight. Some people in my group refused to eat them, and frankly the first few bites are tough to stomach but if you can convince yourself that you are eating sausage then it becomes much easier. My personal favorites were the chicken smoked jalapeño and bison bacon cranberry.
Mashed Potato Heaven:
On the fourth night, the food gods blessed us with the most delicious instant mash potatoes the world has ever seen. Somehow these futuristic beige flakes were exactly what we needed after backpacking 12 miles that day. Each camper received there own bag of instant mash potatoes; that night, a bag that was portioned to feed a family of four was the dinner for one. All in all, they were the best damn mashed potatoes I have ever put into my mouth.
The final night of camping we reached into the “day 7, dinner” bag and pulled out three packets of freeze dried meals. The three meals were terkiaki and rice, macaroni chili and the infamous Alfredo pasta. After the first two meals were cooked, all but two of the campers were full. These two campers, against the wishes of our trip leader, Gandhi, cooked the Alfredo and when they were not paying attention, burnt the entire bottom layer of the pasta.
I am not exaggerating when I say that it tasted like cigarette. The whole thing tasted, charred, gritty, and overall terrible. But since we were practicing “Leave no trace”, the boys had to eat it all. One of the wrong doers exclaimed “I would rather smoke 5 packs of cigarettes than eat this one spoonful”.
The first meal that we ate once we found the van was good old Micky D’s. Imagine a herd of grimy, smelly 19 year-olds sprinting through the doors to order ice cream cones, happy meals, apple pies, or chicken tenders. It was glorious and disgusting all at the same time. I would like to make a formal apology to the costumers of that particular establishment. We were loud, we were demanding, but we were also really really sick of eating strange food.
All in all the trip was pretty firkin amazing. I learned a lot about tricking my body (and my stomach) into doing things that I thought were impossible. I would recommend the trip to any adventurers out there, but maybe leave the meat bars at home.