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Budget Backcountry Nutrition 101 | UNITED STATES, WYOMING | 01/18/2010, by WarPigSinFin
One of many great things about being a backcountry bum is eating whatever you want. While the rest of Western Civilization gets miserably fatter, we get blissfully stronger... at least in theory.
Nothing beats starting off a day in the hills with a tall glass of oj, a pitcher of water, six cups of coffee, biscuits and gravy, eggs Benedict, and a syrupy stack of huckleberry pancakes... especially if it's served up by a friendly 30-something-ski-town-career-waitress.
And Lord knows we all love capping off a day in the hills with buffalo wings, nachos, a fat burger, and six to ten pints of brew. Worst case scenario? Food Coma and a DWI. Best case scenario? Food Coma and Erotic Massage.
Sadly, even with local hookups, stoking your internal furnace at the tavern gets pricey. DWI's aren't cheap either Generally also expensive is mentally lubricating a local beauty into an erotic masseuse willing to overlook the skid marks in and funk emanating from your long johns. Hence, poaching a hot tub becomes mandatory, and potential legal fees multiply.
Also, those tubs are fucking filthy. Many a monkey butt has been there before yours.
Thus, the clever backcountry bum dines at home and out in the hills. Hygiene can slide, commitments can wait, whole years may blend together into a blissed-out state-of-stoke... but ya gotta stay fed.
Most backcountry skiers don't eat enough throughout the day. You burn serious calories hiking, skinning, shredding gnar, and acting rad in the parking lot. Think 400-600 calories per hour. Ski six hours a day and you need to eat at least double what the typical schmo eats.
Dehydration and hunger pangs are often mistaken for exhaustion.
Eat more. Drink more. Ski more.
Less cramps. Less burn. Less fatigue.
Also, if you get hurt, lost, or otherwise benighted you'll more happily pray for the dawn on a full stomach. A couple crusty old candy bars could save your life.
Most nutritionists over-complicate matters with a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo. They also recommend foods the typical ski bum can't afford. You know the stuff: organic free-range everything. Well, that's all fine and dandy. If you can afford it, do it.
This article is for ski bums. You know who you are. Onward!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the ski bum's day. Consider the following guidelines...
*Drink plenty of coffee or tea so you'll poop heartily before leaving the land of flush toilets.
*If at all possible, have a banana and an orange and an apple. Fruit is healthy.
*Drink a grip of water. Pee clear all day.
*Eat heartily... if things go wrong it could be your last real meal for a while... if things go really wrong it could be your last meal ever. Enjoy it.
*If you wake up lacking appetite or stoke, consider herbal stimulation.
*Eggs, peanut butter and breakfast meats are your best friends. Pile on the carbs, but a good source of protein is key.
*A little grease never hurt anyone. Just wash it down with...
Lastly, no one expects poachers at a continental breakfast. Score an official looking bathrobe. Feign cluelessness. Reap benefits. Worst case scenario, you get kicked out. Best case scenario, you stroll through the lobby with a full tummy, coffee-to-go, a pack brimming with gratis goodies, and drooling Tougar digits.
A Tougar is a Cougar on vacation.
Dinner after a day skiing is crucial too. You need the calories, but a careless approach can break the bank...
*If stuck dining at home, consider eating breakfast twice. Eggs are cheap and delicious.
*Throw a weekly pot luck. People mess up their kitchens and bring food to your place. You'll have to wash a few plates but the booze and leftovers will pile up.
*Best-case scenario is a dinner party elsewhere. Always be friendly, and you'll be booked solid..
*Odds are you work nights at a restaurant anyway. Demand dank shifties. Remember, with the right attitude, even the worst service industry gig can be a bucket of fun.
*Fuck it, go out to eat. Just be thrifty about it.
*Yep, life is short. Go out to eat. Bullshit with friends. Chase tail. Enjoy it, but choose parties wisely...
The most important thing to remember regarding dinner is that grubbing hard and then passing out doesn't do you much good. Generally, this sort of behavior makes you a fattie. Be sure to go out dancing or get in a little exercise of some sort before passing out. Use your imagination... just keep your pants on in public.
BACKCOUNTRY DELIGHTS! (aka LUNCH!)
The real pseudoscience of backcountry nutrition comes into play when deciding what foods to pack.
Obviously sporty outdoorsy food is great... but expensive. So-called junk food does the trick equally well. Candy. Cookies. Bulk berries and nuts. Cheapo granola-bar-type-stuff. You're not going to live forever, so there's no reason to eat like it.
Stopping at the gas station or bagel shop en route to the mountains is equally pricey. A better bet is buying in bulk and stockpiling goodies. Buy discounted Halloween candy through December. Christmas treats until February 14th. Valentine's closeouts should keep you satisfied through Easter... and my bet is Cinco de Mayo will blow up this year and keep you fed through summer skiing.
These three simple guidelines should keep you satisfied out there.
1) Calories: more is better.
2) Fluids: more is better.
3) Performance Enhancers: more is better.
But seriously, after devoting five years of my life to backcountry skiing, I have a few actual, non-nonsensical suggestions:
If you've never eaten an Almond Joy in the mountains, you have not truly lived. Good fresh, better smashed... cottonmouth-friendly... perfect ratios of carbs/proteins/fats... chewable at temps where any other candy bar shatters teeth... the entire taste-experience reminiscent of a tropical beach... they come in pairs so you can share with your buddy... the little white cardboard support is perfect for firestarting, exchanging digits with backcountry beauties, and emergency wiping. Buy em' by the case. You'll never find anything better.
Swedish Fish were specially formulated for Nordic Ski Commandos during WWII. Entire battalions of Swedes subsisted on nothing but Swedish Fish for months on end. Since Sweden didn't choose a side in WWII, those Nordic Ski Commandos just fucked around out in the mountains... just like you and I. Pay homage to their legacy and eat the Fish. Additionally, unlike mere gummies, the hearty Swedish Fish can live unprotected in your pocket or at the bottom of a pack for months on end. Wipe off the lint and enjoy.
Mmmmmmmm... Tubed Meats, Heaven. 10,000,000 Ice Fishermen can't be wrong.
Performance Enhancers? Check.
A Meal in a Can. In Ireland young mothers call this "Formula".
If you can afford nothing else, make an entire loaf of bread into PBandJs. You can do a multi-day tour on this alone. The more smashed up they get, the easier they slide down.
Go to the bulk bins at the store. Fill a bag with everything that looks good. Remember the ID# for the cheapest bulk food and self-checkout. Enjoy.
Nothing beats a hot drink on a cold mountaintop. Get the nicest thermal bottle you can find and remember to fill it daily. Tea with Scobs of Honey. Emergen-C Hot. Irish Coffee. Mexican coffee. THC-Infused Hot Buttered Rums. The sky's the limit.
Better cold than hot. Cheap, filling, and depressingly-shocking to those uber-health nuts you just passed on the boot pack. Properly-torqued, the lid doubles as a spoon.
If you've got the hookup, sushi is the ultimate backcountry snack. A recycled single shot bottle makes the perfect soy/wasabi receptacle. Speaking of which...
Then again, the flask is a cheaper option for liquid courage, spirits, and libations.
Gatorade is weak Kool-Aid with a little salt and potassium in it. Buy Kool-aid powder, sprinkle a little salt into it, crush up a Centrum or two, and presto! If you want an Energy Drink smash some NO-DOZ into the mix. You've just saved yourself a grip of money.
Cold pizza is always a welcome addition to any backcountry calorie stash.
The best thing you can possibly eat in the backcountry is a root beer float. Make one in your Nalgene just before leaving home. Even the hateriest hater on the hill will crack a satisfied smile if you can convince them to take a swig.
Variety is the spice of life. Mix it up. Enhance your backcountry ski experience with dank eats.