One of the most asked questions I hear is: “What do eat on the trail?” I started to write some Tweets about this yesterday:
Tweets, by their very nature are brief and can lack refined grammar structure, but you get the idea. Men and women on the trail eat many of the same things, but the women do have a strong leaning to things chocolate.
Deciding what to bring along for subsistence on a long hike can be challenging. More often than not, it is dictated by one's economical situation. For those with limited funds, the choices are very limited. First there is the decision around whether to cook meals or just carry cold foods. Cold foods have distinct advantages on the trail: there is no need to carry a stove and fuel, plus, one can eat quick meals. The downside of eating cold is obvious, it can prove boring and in cold weather, the additional heat from warm food can be a real comfort.
In my own case, I did carry a stove and would often have a warm meal at night. On a few occasions I even stopped along the way to make hot tea or cocoa. On some of the colder mornings, I would prepare hot oatmeal, and I have to admit, really appreciated it.
Most mornings laziness won out and I would gobble down a Pop Tart (cold) or bagels and cream cheese or peanut butter. I'd wash it down with Gatorade. It all really depended on my mood and how rushed I was.
Lunch was almost always, cold. If I could carry something from an overnight stay, it would be a deli-prepared sandwich. Otherwise it was usually more bagels, or tortilla flat bread, and tuna or canned herring. To make things more interesting, I would also allow myself the luxury of some good grade cookies for desert.
Snacks along the way were usually a candy bar, such as Snickers, Milky Way, or Paydays. In normal, everyday life, I never eat these things, but on the trail, I had them often. The body just craves calories.
My evening meal was typically pasta or bean based. Most often, due to availability and cost, the side dish meals won out. Even though the packages indicate cooking times of 15-20 minutes for many of them, I found that if I boiled water and then just let the meal sit in the water, with the stove turned off, they would still cook adequately. Instead of the recommended butter or margarine, I used olive oil. Olive oil is high in calories and worked well as a substitute. The biggest difficulty was finding small enough quantities of olive oil to carry in the pack. When in town, I would usually try to find other hikers that were also looking for some olive oil and then we would split the container. Often, containers of olive oil could be found in the hostels along the way.
The evening meal was always the largest meal of the day. Accompanying the pasta or beans, I would have something bread-based, as well as packaged meat or fish, such as tuna, sardines, corned beef, or pepperoni. I tried to have variety. As the hike up the AT progressed, I found myself cooking more and more and really enjoying it. Best of all, it takes very little cooking energy and yet offers tremendous nutritional energy. In my mountain bike racing days, I always had on the day before a race, and it proved a valuable ally. I preferred the because it came with a flavor packet. I would remove it from it's box, since the boxes are half empty and would take up valuable backpack space, and repackage the in a plastic zip bag. The bags could be used over and over again.
Each hiker finds what works for him or her. I heard of one fellow that hiked the entire AT eating nothing but peanut butter. It does have most of the nutrients needed, but I would think it a bit boring. To each, his or her own.
What I ate on the trail worked for me. I'd love to hear from you readers, what works for you? Write a comment and let the rest of us know.
Seth Godin, a writer of some acclaim, blogged an interesting piece that I'd like to share. I'm on his mailing list and without fail, he sends out copies of his blog each day that are usually thought provoking and inspirational. The one that caught my eye today was titled: .
As is Seth's way, he can take a topic that is mundane and obvious, and explore it and awaken you to aspects of the topic you may never have considered. A good portion of the world lives in “civilization” today, but many do not. People that live in places where 14 year-old girls are shot for blogging, or people have their heads removed because they “look different” are not living in civilizations.
One line he wrote really caught my eye: “We don't need more stuff. We need more civilization.” How true. When I wrote my story about hiking the Appalachian Trail, Three Hundred Zeroes, I finished the last chapter with that theme. I discovered that, even though I was walking through some very remote country, I was walking through a civilization that was comfortable with itself. I started the walk in the deep south of the United States and ended up in the farthest northern region and yet there was a common bond to be found all along the way. Everywhere I went I was greeted by friendly people and made to feel at home.
Many, if not most of those I met, had very little in the way of worldly goods, yet what they had, they shared willingly. Total strangers invited me into their homes, fed me and asked nothing in return. They could all “use” more stuff, many would be considered “poor,” but they didn't measure their wealth in the size of their car (if they had one) but rather in the size of their hearts. I'll never forget those people.
In the book's last chapter I talked about the impact all of this and the effect it had on me. When Jane and I went off to walk the Camino de Santiago last year, we carried our world on our backs, in our backpacks, and we were walking in bliss. As long as we had enough to eat and a place to sleep at night, we were content.
Sometimes, less, truly is more.
Those of you that have seen the movie, "The Way," starring Martin Sheen, may recall a fascinating piece of artwork on the big screen. There is a scene where Tom (Sheen) and his walking companion, Jost, from Amsterdam, stop at a sheet metal sculpture of pilgrims in various historical poses. Even though the movie doesn't spend much time there, the scene is captivating in it's beauty.
The windy hill upon which the sculptured work sits is just west of Pamplona, Spain, the city famous for the running of the bulls each year. The hill is dotted with gigantic, modern day, windmills. The company that installed them, EHN, commissioned the artwork to the artist, Vicente Galbete.
In my next book, A Few More Zeroes, I mention how impressed I was with the art piece and wanted to know more about it. As powerful as the Internet can be at times, I could not track down Mr. Galbete. I posted something on a forum about the Camino de Santiago and a few days ago, I received an email, in Spanish, with a Google Translate copy of the message in English. Mr. Galbete doesn't speak English, and I don't speak Spanish, and yet we have been communicating these past few days, albeit with rough translations. How cool is that!
I've asked him about other works, and he has sent me a few links to web sites that have some of his other creations. Have a look and enjoy them.
Vicente Galbete plaque at an endurance running event at Roncevalle:
Roncevalles running event.
The plaque at the running event:
Running event plaque
Vicente Galbete work at Eneriz, in the plaza:
Here is a closeup of that work:
The Eneriz piece is particularly noteworth at night. He tells me it has a powerful light in it and displays various heavenly bodies around the piece. This would be a must see on my next visit to Spain.
Another of his works is on a flickr.com site. In Spanish it is:
Al paso de Abderramán
Monumento existente en el parque eólico de Moncayuelo.
At the Abderramán pass.
Monument at the wind farm in Moncayuelo.
I just received word that I was featured in a new book about up and coming bloggers and authors. Actually, it is more about the current state of publishing and represents a snapshot of what works for people at the moment, both traditional publishers and indie publishers.
Chapter seven of the book is an interview with me and my approach to publishing. I don’t honestly feel that I’m of the caliber of some of the others in the book, but I think the book’s author, Diana Bocco, had a different opinion. I haven’t yet read the whole book, but what I have read is both interesting and informative. I’ll report back later when I have more time.
Authors are a strange lot. When we're not writing, we're trying to figure out if we're getting new readers. Of course that translates into book sales, which can technically keep an author from starving to death. I haven't figured out how authors that have free books find food. Do they live in a Salvation Army Center? “Buy my book, and I'll contribute a portion of it to the center that I live in.”
Recently, I started using HootSuite.com to follow my stuff and it has a "klout" (“klout” is German for “klout”) factor that it displays. Twitter allows me to take the pulse of reader interest in my book (soon to be books). Now, take the following with a grain of salt, I may not know what I'm talking about here (even more than usual!).
There are software tools that Klout.com, which HootSuite uses to follow my Twitter account, which uses, oh never mind, it gets really convoluted. Anyway, Klout.com measures how much activity an individual "creates" on the Internet. I suspect they're measuring such things as Google hits, Facebook views/hits, Twitter hits/re-Tweets, RBI's, pork belly futures, etc. Who knows, I wouldn't be surprised they track how many toilet paper rolls I use, and how much my followers use. Watch out folks, 1-ply vs. 2-ply could really screw up your “klout!” When I was hiking the Appalachian Trail it may have been a leaf count.
On a 0-100 scale (that Klout.com actually uses) you'd think that an average person would have a score of 50. But nnnnoooooooo, not these guys. That would be too logical, an average person is, you guessed it, 20. Twenty is the new fifty. Man, I could have used that grading system in my school days, I would have been a genius! I'm certain I broke 25 a few times. Those kinds of scores I did obtain, although it was a struggle.
Anyway, they roll (excuse the pun) all that data up and come up with some magic number that shows how much "klout" you wield on the Internet. If you use Internet steroids, can they tell? This could open up a whole new field, Internet Drug Testing. Will my hard drive turn state's evidence? I wonder what Osama bin Laden's numbers looked like?
In the old days of DOS we called people with clout "Power users." According to the Klout website, there are places that use these numbers and mix them in a vat with bat wings, newt toes, goat entrails and come up with some potion that is consumed in a corporate board room during a full moon, along with tequila.
As far as I'm concerned it is one more thing that I'm not going to worry about. Oh look, I just posted this and my Klout has jumped to 31! Maybe if I Tweet this....hmmm.