In many ways, hiking the Appalachian Trail is a six-month vacation. In many ways, it isn’t.
A month or so ago, the Appalachian Mountain Club published an article about a family who thru-hiked the AT. Many of the things the family said were really insightful, and the article is a short, good read. One of the comments that I most enjoyed was the mother’s saying that she was constantly busy on the trail.
When it comes to lunch on the trail, the thru-hikers who carve out the necessary time to prepare a cooked meal are few and far between. Lunch is generally viewed as one of the five to seven, non-dinner, eating periods of the day, and it often consists of energy bars and/or granola bars and/or trail mix.*
However, in my experience, just a little extra effort turns lunch into a fifteen-minute break (rather than a five- to ten-minute break) that my body is thankful for at the end of the day. Here are some of my favorite lunches to have on the trail.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Tortilla Sandwiches
These taste so much better than they sound like they would, and they tasted downright decadent by the time I got to Maine. I tend to treat the jelly like an unnecessary extra, but I shouldn’t; it adds so much flavor. You can get jelly packets by asking for some at a fast food restaurant or by ordering them from Minimus.biz. Or, you can be a total hiking hipster and carry a glass jar with jam from your family’s hobby farm. (Yeah, I’m cool like that sometimes.)
Hummus and Crackers
I’m convinced that hummus is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy. This spread of chickpea goodness is great on the trail. If you’re out on a relatively short trip (or short resupply cycle) or if the weather cooperates, it’s easy to just bring a small plastic tub in your pack. If that’s not practical, dehydrating hummus is a great way to bring it on the trail. I’ve been told that Fantastic Foods makes an awesome hummus mix, but I’ve never found it in stores.
This is probably my favorite lunch, but I almost never have the willpower to wait until lunch time to eat it! If you cook breakfast, just heat some extra water and rehydrate one of your dinners, preferably one that is well-suited to wrapping, since lunch burritos are trendy. If you only cook dinner, rehydrate an extra meal at that time to enjoy the next day. (If you’re not in bear country, I recommend double bagging it and sticking it in your sleeping bag for warmth.) My favorite dinners to have lukewarm or cold and wrapped for lunch are chana masala and unstuffed peppers.
What are your favorite trail lunches? I’m always looking for meal ideas. Bonus points if your suggestions are vegan! (Summer sausage and cheese are out!)