Trail Food Syndrome TFS

Do you read the back of packages and get excited when you see a high fat content?

Have you ever tried to work out the percentage of calories per ounce? Bonus points if you can then convert it into grams…

Whilst shopping, do you look at a box and wonder how small you can compress it once you get the food out of the box?

If the cooking instructions are anything more complex than ‘add water’ do you think to yourself, useless?

Are you convinced that ‘Iced Frosting’ will make a good lunch, as it’s over half the calorie RDI regular daily intake in one tub?

If you answered yes to two or more of those questions then you have ‘Trail Food Syndrome’. The regular daily intake for an average adult is around 2000 calories, this they will burn off over the course of the day going about their business. Most people will fill the RDI easily with a couple of good meals, some snacks and a few drinks. On the trail however, every extra kilo you carry makes your work harder. The more you carry, the slower you go, the greater your exertion, conversely the more food you need. A kind of catch 22.

Trail Food Syndrome TFS Photo Gallery

The average hiker burns more than 2000 calories a day and as weight is at a premium, shopping becomes an exercise in not “What will taste good?” rather a more prosaic mindset of “How am I going to get the calories?”

Some people don’t mind carrying heavy packs and going slow. I’ve met people walking who carry tubs of salt/sugar, fresh produce, meat etc. They have big packs: it looks kind of painful.

Me? I sort of have a standard menu when I’m on the trail: Breakfast – 2-3 little oat sachets with dried fruit, generally cold but sometimes hot if I brew up a cuppa as well

Smoko – muesli bar(s)

Lunch – dry biscuits and Vegemite, almost out, it’s going to be a sad day when that happens, chocolate bar

Arvo snack – more muesli/chocolate bars, sometimes jerky

Dinner – pasta pack and tuna pack, or double pasta/rice packs. If it’s the first night out of town then maybe something a bit special (heavy)

It’s a pretty grim menu, it’s all processed which some of my friends back home will note with disdain but trust me it tastes really good when you’re hungry. MmmMmm.

The menu I’ve described still doesn’t cover your RDI so I’ve had to balance this by making a pig of myself whenever I go into town… something I’m about to do right now. No tuna packs for dinner tonight. Yeeha!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

If a tree falls near a camp…

Does anyone hear it?

Yes. Yes they do!

Greetings all from Erwin Tennessee, a town of around 5,000 people (Katherine, Northern Territory size) which is about where the similarities end as I don’t know if Katherine in Australia has ever publicly executed an elephant.

I will get around to writing up an entry about the towns I visit and my observations of the brief snapshot I have had of them. But that isn’t going to happen tonight, as it’s 11 pm and been a long day and I have a couple of other stories to cover with my last four days of hiking.

Those last few days have been almost a cross section of the trail so far: rain, sun, pasta packs and probably the best summit view I’ve seen on top of Big Bald Mountain.

We also had an interesting start on the first day out of Hot Springs. We were just starting to stir out of camp when we heard thunder. That was a general sign to get back into tents as no-one really wants to start the day with a wet pack. The thunder was quickly followed by a fierce localised lightning storm which managed to blow down a sizable tree about 30 metres from the camp.

At the time, it really wasn’t that distinguishable a sound as there were howling winds, but there was a loud whoosh and the sound of cracking timber.

After the storm had passed, we inspected the tree and took photos of us standing on it, making sure we got the tents in the background. I can say for sure, over the next few days, I was inspecting the fallen down trees and potential campsites with renewed zeal.

Whether or not it was my new interest in the woody carcasses, there definitely seemed to be a lot of them in the surrounding area which made me wonder whether this was a design fault in the local flora. I know that the woodpeckers would weaken them but the local firs and pines grow very tall and thin, which makes them susceptible to blowing winds. I guess they can grow that tall and thin due to the good soil, rainfall and temperate weather. The eucalypts back home however have no chance to grow that tall due to the poor soil and extreme climate… another victory for the tropics!

Australia may kill you with poisonous snakes, crocs, dropbears and a myriad of other bitey things but at least our trees are safe.

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