Hiker Hunger: The Most American Thing I’ve Ever Put in My Mouth

I am so fucking hungry.

I haven’t been, not since I got back on trail on the 18th of June. In fact, I’ve been struggling to eat, especially in the afternoons.

Consequently, I didn’t pack enough food for the stretch from Sierra City to Quincy to accommodate my now returned appetite. From the first morning out, all I can think about is food, and how hungry I’m going to be for the next three days. I carefully ration my snacks and candy, mentally dividing my bag of m&ms into thirds and eyeing my diminishing number of dried apricots every time I open my food bag.

That afternoon I take a break near a family’s car camping set up on the ride overlooking Lake Tamarack. Before I leave, I stand and stare for a full minute at their cooler, forbidding myself from checking inside and glancing longingly at their empty coffee pot.

On the second day I eat breakfast and feel like I haven’t eaten at all.

I think about food, and then I think about food some more. Shortly after I start hiking, two south bound hikers appear on the trail and ask me if I’m hiking the PCT. Gold Trek and Mountain Goat are section hiking, and attached to Gold Trek’s pack is a literal Santa sack of snacks that they give out to PCT hikers. They offer me a choice of chips, Starbucks Via or candy. I choose doritos and practically skip down the trail as I wave them goodbye.

By mid-morning I’m starving and I’ve already eaten all my snack rations. I wolf down my bonus snack: the doritos. It’s at least two hours until I can eat lunch.

I sprawl in the dirt next to a barely visible dirt track to stretch and pine for food. Water sources are suddenly less frequent now and – not noticing the distance to the next source – I’m also a little low on water, but not dangerously so.

A dusty, beat up sedan appears on the dirt track out of nowhere.

They roll to a stop when they see me and two young guys ask me if I’m hiking the PCT. Instead of yelling ‘PLEASE FEED ME’ I ask politely if they might have a little water to spare. They cheerfully get out to open the trunk and I am faced with their huge cooler and multiple grocery bags fulll of snacks. Clearly I cannot contain the wild expression on my face and they ask me if I would like a snack.

‘YES!’ I say, far too loudly. They hand me two bananas and then ask if I’ve ever eaten an uncrustable. I have not. They hand me a cold plastic packet from the cooler, dripping in ice water. As they drive away, I stand there grinning, holding my snacks bundled in my arms like they’re first prize in a race.

It turns out an uncrustable is an individually packaged peanut butter & jelly sandwhich with the crusts cut off and shaped like a pie. It’s the most American thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, and I shagged a Baptist marine from Alabama in Vegas in 2013.

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Comments 2

  • Vrooom : Jul 19th

    It’s funny how much food dominates your thinking after about a week of hiking. I was doing the Alexander Makenzie Heritage Trail, and really only had one dehydrated meal per day, which I figured was sufficient since it’s supposed to be two servings. I was fishing in every single lake I encountered, practically eating trout raw, and would devour a full meal every time I resupplied, only to be short before the next supply stop. Great write up.

  • RALPH MCGREEVY : Aug 4th

    Regarding your comment about American food/lover, there is an old joke – Why don’t Baptists make love standing up? They are afraid that God will think they are dancing.


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