Happy Friday! Today Shannon, from Must Hike, Must Eat joins us to talk about single parenting, hiking, putting your oxygen mask on and food…..trail food! Her post is full of encouraging words and yummy hiking food ideas. Enjoy!
I make no bones about it, I am obsessed with hiking. Anyone who knows me describes me with the words “hike” or “hiker”. They maybe even use the word “crazy”, as well. Who knows? I live to hike and hike to live.
Hiking is what nourishes my soul; I don’t know what I would do without the solace I find when I am out meandering (or sweating) in the wilderness. I test myself, sometimes even a little too far. The absence of worldly distractions and hours and hours of acceptable daydreaming keep me sane.
Someone might ask how I have been able to head out on my wilderness adventures over the years and leave my son, Mitchell, for long periods of time as a single parent (the longest time was the 5 weeks I spent on the Washington State section of the PCT in 2013: 519 miles). The truth is, I have been blessed with a large family and many wonderful friends, including a loving church family. They are the only reason I can pursue my passions with such gusto.
And it’s not always easy. I have as much “Mommy Guilt” as the next parent. Ask me about that gnarly scar my son has on his back from playing under his bed when he was 8 or the boxes of macaroni and cheese and McDonald’s drive-thru he ate over the years when there just wasn’t enough time between school, youth group and little league games.
Hiking is something I do for myself and for others. Have you heard that expression “put your own oxygen mask on first”? It’s not cliché to say that we have to nourish ourselves first before we can be there for the important people in our lives. Even though I sometimes worry because my son only has one parent now, life is filled with risk for all of us and I am more likely to lose my life driving home from work one night than to fall off a mountain. I am leaving my son with a legacy of knowing that it is okay for him to follow his own dreams and passions so that he can be the best person possible both for himself and others.
I’ll always remember when I walked back into parking lot at the Sunrise Visitor Center after finishing a 6 day trip circumventing Mt Rainier on the Wonderland Trail last year and I sent my son a text message letting him know that I was done a day earlier than I had planned. As I made my way home on the road around the national park (which has spotty reception), I receive a text from him saying he is headed to the ER with Nana for stitches because he cut himself while running around the house during a last minute attempt to complete the list of chores I gave him before leaving on the hike. Good grief. Who should be worried about whom? I have yet to need stitches after a hike (or a cast for that matter and he’s had 4 of them through the years between falling off the slide at school, falling while snowboarding and crashing his bike).Hiking and being outdoors consoles and nourishes me through life’s changes and challenges, but it is not the only thing I do to treat myself right.
I do my best to take care of myself with healthy food, even when out hiking (thus my website, Must Hike, Must Eat). I started following a paleo lifestyle four years ago and although I could do an entire blog just on that experience, I will say that is has been life changing both for my physical and mental health.
A lot of people feel that because you are exercising (burning calories) that it doesn’t matter what you eat (a calorie is a calorie) but science tells us that isn’t the case and when you eat for health, you feel better and your body performs like you need it to.
I can compare how I eat on the trail to what we call “Stick Day” at the preschool I work in. Often the kitchen will send us elaborate casseroles and soups for the kids to eat but the day when most food at the table is consumed is the day when foods all come separate and simple: Stick Day. The less complicated the better (or if you have a young one, you know it’s all about the food not touching).
Because I am often out hiking 2-3 times a week, I have learned I need to keep certain things on hand so that I don’t resort to junk. I often make things from scratch like jerky, dried fruit, and grain free crackers but there just isn’t always time. I have bags of dried fruit (unsulfured, without added sugars and oils), nuts and seeds, snack bars, rice or gluten free crackers and turkey patties in the freezer to supplement the cut up fruits and vegetables I normally have in the fridge. I usually shop at Costco, my local Asian market or the co-op by my house, looking for the things with least amount of additives.
I try to get a good mix of protein, fat and complex carbs and I worry less about sugar on the trail, opting as much as possible for sugar attached to fiber. Chocolate and honey sticks are usually my only exception! The foods I typically eat break down mostly into two groups: proteins and plants.
My proteins can look like turkey sticks (cut from Costco turkey patties), pepperoni, salami, jerky, hard boiled eggs, protein bars, hummus, nut or seed butters, prosciutto and cheeses. I make my favorite hummus with pumpkin and I use a recipe similar to this, but without the zucchini.
My plants usually look like fruits and vegetables (fresh or dried) in the form of sliced apples, easy-to-peel oranges, bananas, carrots, jicama and celery. I eat a lot of dates, both as themselves and in homemade bars. I talk about that here. I even started taking baked nori; you can find my recipe here. Guacamole is delicious, too, and I talk about my favorite apple dip and where I get my condiment packets you see in the pictures here.
You will often hear people talk about the 10 essentials of hiking. I believe there are essentials for living, as well. For me, keeping myself nourished both mentally and physically is essential to being the kind of person I want to be. I spend a lot of time taking care of others and it’s important that I take care of myself, too.
Shannon was born in Seattle and grew up in the PNW part of a large family that spent summers camping and hiking along the Sauk River, up the Mountain Loop Highway and around the Sun Lakes area. Her God given life is messy and beautiful. She has just recently sent her 18 year old man child (son) off into the world after raising him as a single parent for the last 16 years. Shannon is also preparing for the end of her long time job as a social worker for children and families and bravely exploring a new direction in employment. Although she enjoys reading, being crafty, volunteering, gardening and road trips, her true passions are hiking and backpacking (including section hiking the Pacific Crest Trail) and eating a whole foods diet (AKA just eat real food). She has started sharing her journey and adventures over at her blog, as well as Pinterest, Instagram. and Facebook.
What are some of your favorite foods to eat when hiking?