PCT Eat Your Heart Out

What are you going to eat?

I shrugged my shoulders as I hesitantly explained my ultralight weight goal and how I do not plan on bringing a stove to achieve that poundage. Can I just have gummy fruit slices and butterscotch candy? Not nutritionally sound, you say? I suppose another bit of research is required.

Have you heard of cold-soaking? I once again raised my shoulders, now building muscles from all my shrugging of ignorance. His eyes lit up as he began to explain to me the nuances of cold-soaking and how it’s a popular alternative for ultralight hikers who opt out of hot meals. Cold-soaking, my friends, is where you fully rehydrate dehydrated meals with cold water. Nutritious with no need for a propane canister, a burner, or pot. 

According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association the most popular cold soaking meals are: 

  • Beans and rice (instant white rice rehydrates better than brown)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Lentil soup and corn chowder from bulk bins
  • Hummus
  • Homecooked and dehydrated meals – our favorite
  • Instant ramen noodles

As delicious as those babies sound here are some backpacking recipes my family and I have had on the trail. Some of them do require heat. 

Cinnamon Hot Ham and Pineapple Sammies 


 Cinnamon English muffins 

 Deli sliced ham

 Pineapple rings

 Slices of cheese

 Honey mustard


Tear four pieces of aluminum foil that are large enough to encircle each sandwich. Place on a flat work surface.

On top of each foil piece, stack a bottom muffin, lather with honey mustard, add ham, a pineapple ring, and a slice of cheese. Place the top muffin on top. Wrap the sandwich completely with foil. To cook, place the sandwiches on a hot stone near the fire, or over hot coals or a grill rack until hot, about 20 minutes depending upon the temperature of your fire. I have even cooked these directly on the burner. 

Macadamia Nut and Apricots Couscous


1/3 cup whole wheat couscous

1/3 cup chopped dried apricots

1/3 coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

1-1/2 cups water


Add all ingredients except water to a quart freezer Ziploc bag. Seal bag and store until ready to use. 

Bring water to boil. With opened bag resting on a plate or bowl, pour in boiling water. Seal bag and let soak for nine minutes, turning bag upside down after 3-4 minutes to redistribute and mix ingredients. Open bag and eat directly from bag, if desired. Or transfer to a bowl or mug for eating.

Instant Butter Noodles and Spam


Instant butter noodles 


Minced garlic 

1-1/2 cups water


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cubes spam and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Mix in garlic to taste. 

For the PCT I believe I will stick to cold-soaking meals. I am, however, terribly excited for that notorious McDonald’s stop. And breakfast buffets of epic delight.
What are you munching on? Any trail favorites I should try? 

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