EAT!! (hike, sleep, hike)

Food! Glorious, wonderful food. It probably has had the largest impact on our experiences thus far (well okay, as far as I am concerned). From stuffed to starved to just downright content, our trip consistently revolves around food - or the lack thereof. The importance of food extends far beyond the trail; however, in respect to this post´s length, I will, reluctantly, steer away from the cultural analysis (from where many of our memories have formed) and rather focus on the hiking/sustenance aspect.

Throughout the past few months we have altered our eating habits significantly as we tinker with calories, flavor, weight, and accessible supplies. I have kept a daily journal documenting our food consumption on and off the trail. There have been more than a few days of complete gluttony, brief periods of starvation, unintentional lack of fuel, notable differences between Chilean and Argentinian products, and various phases of food obsessions. Finally after three months on the trail we have almost perfected our food allowances! Perhaps the pounds we have all seemed to pack on quite nicely will start to diminish...

A few notes of importance:
- We share dinner and breakfast, but after a few weeks of sharing lunch and snacks we decided to do those individually.
- The only time we cook is for dinner.
- Dinner is not elaborate or gourmet by any means. We prepare prepackaged instant meals or cook pasta; we always add salt (Trin and Shelley really love the salt) and some spice (red pepper flakes or merquen).
- We ideally should be eating around 3,000 calories per day while on the trail; a bit more in the cold and less in the heat. 
- Our hiking distance averages around 20km per day - significantly more on roads (up to 37km) and sometimes less on trails with difficult terrain/excessive bushwacking.

Oftentimes, we quickly become fanatic with a new product only to burn out a month later - I actually am not sure I will ever be able to eat oatmeal again after this year. Luckily, we have an ever-flowing input of new foods and ideas thanks to people we meet along the way. Following is a list of things we have discovered and love(d).

- Milo: kind of similar to Ovaltine, an instant powdered malty chocolate mix supplemented with vitamins. Thank you Austrailians for this one.
- Harina Tostada: toasted flour, has the nuttiness of frosted mini wheats but a texture resembling cream of wheat. Thanks to Don Rial.
- Merquen (Merken): a richly flavored red pepper based spice from Chile. Thanks go to Louis and Lourdes from the Salmo Patagonia Lodge in Coyhaique.
- Poundcake: self explanatory. Trinity discovered this during a period of low food while in Torres Del Paine.
- Golden Raisins: massive, juicy and super sweet, we discovered these fairly early on and still love them.
- Salty Sticks: inch long, thin, fried bread sticks covered in an overwhelmingly large, yet necessary, amount of salt
- Powdered Juices: all brands and flavors but we are particularly fond of plantano-naranja, pera, and naranja flavors.
- Flax Seeds (ground): again, no description needed. We supplement our breakfasts with these when available.
- Chia Seeds: taste best with juice (Trin's new obsession, but I think the texture vaguely resembles phlegm).
- Instant Soup Packets: we add these to everything - it provides that extra "umph" often lacking in our dinners.
- Arroz Primavera: a pre-mixed rice packet which we have deemed far superior to all other flavors. 
- Energy Balls: a varying mixture of ingredients formed into golf ball sized balls. They include any combination of the following: oatmeal, oat bran, powdered milk, honey, brown sugar, sugar, dulce de leche, peanuts, raisins, chocolate, grated coconut, and salt. 

Changes have inevitably occured along the way. We evolved from snacking on energy balls to rolls of cookies to cereal. We went from red pepper flakes to Merquen. We used to carry a kilo of chocolate as an after dinner sweet and now we bring none at all (Trinity still brings her own personal stash). We went from hardly any carbs to a super carb-loaded diet. Chile has peanut butter but lacks the variety of packaged pastas and rices. Argentina has canned beans and stellar empanadas (which we sometimes bring on the trail for a lunch or two). Undoubtedly, when we finally feel comfortable with our food selections in these two countries we will be met with an entirely new slew of products in Bolivia. Be that as it may, I cannot wait to see what the upcoming countries will bring!

In regards to general nutrition, we are trying to balance our food as much as possible while maintaining our light-weight status. This means bringing about one piece of fruit per day with dried fruit supplementing fresh during longer stretches, not packing canned food, sharing one veggie at dinner, and buying products supplemented with protein.  Protein products are by far the most difficult to acquire. Coming from previously vegetarian and/or vegan lifestyles, processed meat products are not entirely appealing and do not settle as well in our stomachs. Cheese was a great option until summer arrived and now it melts into a greasy, slimy mess. Peanut butter is only found in certain cities in Chile (we miss it SO much). When available, we buy garbanzo beans then drain and bag them in town for the first day or two on the trail. If garbage cans will be present, Shelley and Trinity often will bring a can or two of tuna along as well (not me, note seafood allergy). However, carbs are what keep us trekking along. Cereal has proven to be our go-to snack with the salty sticks suppressing our sodium cravings. Purchasing rolls from Panaderias in town has also been a pleasant addition to our lunches, and the powdered juice mixes offer a great little lift of sweetness throughout the day. Although not completely ideal (we miss our state-side hiking foods), we feel generally satisfied while on the trail; then once in towns, we load up on veggies, fruits and whole grains if possible - and wine and beer but that's another thing altogether.

Here are a few daily logs exhibiting our varying degrees of food consumption.

B = breakfast  S = snacks  L = lunch  D = dinner

Oct. 8: no fuel, first week out, hungry
B: oatmeal w/ powdered milk, oat bran, raisins, brown sugar
S: peanuts, cookies
L: salami, mozzarella, green olives, prunes, raisins
D: veggies (avocado, yellow bell peppers, carrots), piece of chocolate bar with peanuts, orange

Oct. 28: few weeks in, low-carb days
B: oatmeal w/ powdered milk, brown sugar, raisins
S: our homemade "energy balls", apple
L: salami, cheese, pieces of chocolate bar
D: prepackaged pesto pasta w/ half of an instant veggie soup packet, tomato, red bell pepper

Nov. 1: Torres Del Paine, gluttony
B: oatmeal w/ powdered milk, sugar, raisins
S: chocolate covered biscuit cookies, cream filled cookies, prunes, peanuts, more cookies
L: peanut butter and jelly on rolls, peanut butter on chocolate chip cookies
D: four cheese pasta, bread

Nov. 13: hiking out of El Chalten, high calorie/high mileage day
B: oatmeal w/ All Bran, sugar
S: chocolate covered peanuts, chocolate cream filled cookies, apple, granola, snickers, prunes
L: bread rounds w/ mayo, ham, cheese, and avocado, cookies from a Panaderia
D: arroz primavera w/ soup packet and 2 tomatoes, honey cookies, pieces of chocolate bar with almonds

Nov. 28: Post Don Rial, very low calorie/high extertion day
B: harina tostada w/ oatmeal, milo
S: week old dry roll, hard boiled egg, spoonfull of jam
L: harina tostada w/ sugar
D: oatmeal w/ milo

Dec. 8: almost figuring it out, high exertion day
B: oatmeal w/ milo, harina tostada
S: vino crackers, chocolate covered biscuit cookies, cheetos mix, honey flakes cereal, snickers
L: 2 rolls w/ cheese and jam
D: bite sized angel hair pasta w/ spaghetti sauce, dried veggies, and red bell pepper, milo, pieces of chocolate

Dec. 17: just about right
B: oatmeal w/ harina tostada, sugar, flax seeds and milo, juice
S: multigrain cheerios, juice, 2 hardboiled eggs, dried apricots
L: roll w/ tomato, cheese, avocado, juice
D: soup packet with the small angel hair pasta and tomato

Dec. 31: perfect 
B: oatmeal w/ harina tostada, flax seeds, milo and brown sugar, juice
S: cereal, salty sticks, juice, apple
L: roll w/ avocado, tomato and cheese
D: spiral pasta with spaghetti sauce, green bell pepper

So, our breakfast mixture is perfected, our snacks (salty sticks, cereal, juice, and fruit) well-balanced, and our dinners simple, quick and tasty. We may have finally nailed it. Salud!!

low point on a hungry day: lunch consisting of cheese with mayo

our improvised wind shield and (not our favorite) pasta dinner

example lunch from early on in our trip

the avocados here are amazing!! Delicious, cheap and surprisingly durable

super questionable meat product

our famous pico de gallo

we love the fruit and veggie markets! 

1 comment:

  1. I currently have the luppens as my screens saver... Now I think I'm going to put the avocados as my background. Greg, mike (Greg is cats fiance, mike is his brother), cat, and I all just read and enjoyed your current post! Trinity: I applaud your commitment to chocolate. greg just left and said 'goodnight trinity!' (not to u but to me)