Ahh, the time is here again. The time when I slink into Safeway, praying nobody I know will see me and the cashiers won't judge. It is even worse than usual, because I used to be able to divide my trail food buying between two stores. Alas, we no longer have a grocery store in my little town so I have to drive to the Safeway the next town over.
The struggle is real: it is hard to have healthy food on trail. Especially if you aren't bringing a stove, or any dehydrated food at all, because California is in a massive drought and you are pretty sure you will be doing 40 mile water carries. That leaves no room for extraneous water. I see newbies all the time stating they will eat healthy on a long hike, only to devolve into the tortilla-peanut butter-salami--Oreo wrap. At the same time. Turns out, hiking twenty plus miles a day carrying six liters of water means that a steady supply of calories is necessary, and high calorie at that.
So I load up my cart with stuff I never buy in real life: Bars. Peanut butter pretzels. M&Ms. And also, a stab at being sort of healthy: Tuna. Almond butter packets. Shelf stable hummus. Nuts, even though I don't really like nuts all that much. Cheese. You also have to consider the relative weight versus benefit. Hiking a long trail is pretty much the only time you will see a woman, any woman, look at calories of an item and discard it because it is too little calories.
I used to bring turkey pepperoni (I'm not really a beef fan either) but it was always so salty and seemed too processed. Salami and jerky are faves of other hikers, but, not a big meat eater in real life, I couldn't stomach these after a few days. Also, I never eat jelly beans anywhere else but on the trail: but when you need a quick boost to go the last four miles, jelly beans do the trick. Dried fruit, if you can find it without added sugar (really hard to find at Safeway) can also help.
You can ask Good Stuff about the time I ambitiously decided I was going to bring kale for dinner. Kale in a wrap! After day three, it didn't seem like such a good idea.
Inevitably, someone I know will appear in an aisle, their cart full of organic produce. I sprint on by, hoping they don't judge my snack-full cart. It looks like I'm settling in for a month of Super Bowls.
I'm sort of kidding. I don't worry that much about what people think about the food I'm getting. Sort of. Wish me luck, I'm going in.
Trail food! What's a favorite of yours?