hike blog

Behold the bar!

vegan pemmican bars pack a high-calorie & nutrient-rich punch (includes recipe!)

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. 

Virginia Wolff
Bars are a go-to for nearly every backpacker.
A high energy snack for the pack.

This has been a difficult summer for most all of us.

Nonetheless, in this time of Covid, I went ahead and started a new business and launched a podcast to share stories of this stubborn, middle aged gal finding enlightenment while “hiking her own hike.”

I figure, if I can thrive now, I can handle anything life throws at me.

Life always seems to find a way to remain simpatico with my walking quests, and that pep-talk style conversation I have with my sorry little self, finds its way into just about every day I’m on trail.

C’mon, Al, you’ve got this crazy-steep and exposed ridge/slip-n-slide epic mud pit/total white-out in pouring rain! If you can manage here, just think how bad ass you’ll become?! What’s that aphorism again?? ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!’ Right…keep moving!

I happen to believe that Nietzsche never saw suffering in and of itself as a means to strength, but more in how we use obstacles as an opportunity to build strength – strength of body, mind and also, spirit – to give suffering its magical power.

Right now, I’m reading this amazing book called Grit. In it, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth posits that it takes more than talent – and even more than skill – for us achieve. It’s passionate persistence that pushes us to greatness, much of it, like the gritty word ‘grit’ itself, unglamorous and repetitive.

So exactly what does this have to do with a backpacking bar recipe, you might ask?

Years ago when I planned my very first solo thru-hike of the John Muir Trail in California’s Sierra Nevada, I knew I needed tools to keep me going. While grit, attitude and drive were necessities, the right gear and the right fuel would bring everything together.

At the time, I was a bit hooked on the amazing feats of a Minnesotan athlete named Scott Jurek. He somehow managed to leave every ultra runner in the dust, even while fueled up on a completely plant based diet. Everything he said made sense to me at the time, and so I copied him and planned to walk my first 200+ mile trail as a vegan.

Let’s just say being a Vegan didn’t last past day three when a burger called my name at the a cafe in Tuolumne Meadows.

That being said, I did find a killer recipe for “vegan pemmican,” a vitamin-packed bar of fat and carbs that has withstood the test of thousands of miles walking and remains to this day, a staple of my thru-hiking bliss.

As I prepare for my next hike on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, I will be cooking up a batch for my own pack.

hike blog

Dried veggies and fruit

Accepting your own mortality is like eating your vegetables: You may not want to do it, but it’s good for you.

Caitlin Doughty
Fruits and veggies are incredibly easy to dehydrate and weigh next to nothing while they pack a nutritional punch.
Fruits and veggies are incredibly easy to dehydrate and weigh next to nothing while they pack a nutritional punch.

The easiest way to get veggies and fruit on your backpacking trip is to dehydrate them. Fresh fruits – like apple and watermelon – and many vegetables – like cherry tomatoes and bell peppers – can be dried directly on the racks, but some – like carrots – need to be blanched first, which takes time and is just one more step I don’t feel like doing. So I was delighted to discover you can get fantastic results dehydrating frozen vegetables as is, no cooking required! including carrots, peas, string beans, corn, and those packages of frozen medleys – as well as a wide range of fruits like mango and pineapple.

Dehydrated vegetables can be added to any meal, and work very well with potato bark. I tend to eat dehydrated fruits all on their own. There is nothing like mango, watermelon or pineapple at the top of a hard-to-reach peak. They taste like candy; a real treat.

Pro tips:

  • For best results, don’t let the fruits or veggies stack on top of each other as the dehydrate.
  • Place them directly on the tray, though you may have to gently peel them when you flip them.
  • Some fruits can get a little sticky or turn slightly brown. You can always add a little lime juice which also gives them a mild margarita taste.