Before college, hiking was never my thing. Okay, yes, I was a Girl Scout in first grade, but like everything I participate in, I was mostly in it for the apparel and the cookies. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a proper pair of hiking boots in my life. My family’s sole sleeping bag has been MIA for as long as I can remember (and I’m still not convinced that it isn’t just one of those ancestral myths passed down from generation to generation). Apart from lacking gear, I’m also lacking in the muscles department: I’ve gotten so good at skipping leg day that it’s the first skill I have listed on my résumé.
So naturally, I decided to go to Dartmouth, where a flannel and boots are basically the school uniform and going on a hike with friends is socially equivalent to getting froyo on any other campus. My college choice confused a lot of people who knew me, which was hilarious. But I didn’t just come here to keep people on their toes; it was part of a conscious decision to surround myself with people who could teach me to appreciate the outdoors like I never had the chance to before.
It’s been a very slow process. I still don’t own hiking boots (but my sneakers are notably dirtier!). The question, “Would you rather have spaghetti arms or spaghetti legs?” still hits a little too close to home, considering I basically have both. BUT I did recently acquire a flannel, so I’d say I’m definitely making progress. Baby steps.
In all seriousness, though, I have vaguely gotten more involved with the outing club on campus, and gone on a few (and I really do mean a few) really cool hikes with some really cool people. Even from the minimal amount I’ve gotten outdoors, I’ve already learned some really important lessons:
1. For some reason, few things bond people better than walking vaguely uphill with them.
2. You don’t have to bathe regularly to still have friends.
3. You can call anything a hike. As long as your legs are moving for an extended period of time and you are outdoors, you are on a hike. I hike to class every day. On weekends, I occasionally hike to frats, though the exertion-to-view ratio isn’t always worthwhile.
4. If you make a lot of jokes about how out-of-breath you are ten minutes into the hike, no one will know that you’re not actually joking.
5. Hiking snacks are the bomb. Especially sesame sticks (featured in this recipe!), which we at Dartmouth have dubbed “crack” due to its unsettling addictive properties. The act of “yum-yum”-ing, or finishing all your food before the hike is over, is one of the few hiking activities that I am aggressively good at.
The one aspect of hiking I could do without, though, are the cold, dry pitas people have come to accept as “lunch.” You’re basically eating a limp pocket of sorrow. Obviously, there’s one simple solution to this conundrum: a panini. I’ve seen people carry all sorts of things on hikes, from canoes to pies; why not a panini press? You just climbed a mountain, after all. Nature has electrical outlets, right…?
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 (Share the wonderful hiking experience and the excellent view but do not share your lunch.)
2 slices four seed wheat sourdough bread (if that isn’t crunchy, I don’t know what is)
2-3 tablespoons hummus
4-5 slices of Cabot seriously sharp cheddar cheese
A handful of alfalfa sprouts
A handful of honey-roasted sesame sticks (i.e. crack)
1. Preheat your panini press to medium heat, assuming you found somewhere to plug it in. A lighting-struck tree maybe? Where’s Thomas Edison when you need him?! Or just wait ’til you get home, I guess.
2. Spread hummus liberally on both pieces of bread. It’s the earthy version of a protein shake.
3. Layer Cabot cheese on one of the slices. You’re gonna have to yum-yum it eventually, so why not now?
4. Pile the alfalfa sprouts on the same slice.
5. Carefully pile the sesame sticks/crack on top of that slice.
6. Assemble your mountain of a sandwich (Ha! Nothing beats hiking humor) and pop it in the panini press.
7. Enjoy the hot, crunchy panini, the beautiful view and the lifetime of crippling sesame stick addiction that you deserve.