Good foods etc to give to AT hikers?
June 16, 2018 5:20 PM   Subscribe

So I find myself near Blue Ridge Parkway, which crosses the Appalachian Trail. In "A Walk in the Woods", Bryson mentions that some people bring gifts of food to the thru-hikers; treats different than camping grub. I'd love to do this; what good things can I offer the hikers? What would be most appreciated? I don't have a place to cook, but I'd be happy to buy fresh pizza or fast food or groceries.
posted by The otter lady to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: I was with a small group on a short hike along part of the AT when some through hikers came along. We had just stopped to eat our lunch and offered to share what we had with them. They really wanted the fruit, so we gave them our apples, oranges and bananas. They told us they couldnt pack fruit as easily as granola bars, nuts or dehydrated foods, etc. So I think maybe apples, oranges, maybe some grapes (for thirst). If you have a way to keep popsicles frozen, I would think they’d like those as well. Just a thought. Good for you to try to encourage the hikers along!
posted by lovemylabs at 6:13 PM on June 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Best answer: a cooler full of ice cold generic soda is the best trail magic
and rides into town
posted by wearyaswater at 6:26 PM on June 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Thru hikers I've met on the trail don't want meals but do want snacks. Lightweight, high calorie, highly palatable snacks. Since you're operating out of a car though, you also have the ability to offer fresh fruit, which is always a treat on the trail. Think things that are delicious but highly perishable, or things that are best served cold.

Also, most thru hikers I've met would not turn down a joint if offered, or so I'm told.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:40 PM on June 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Peanut butter cups. And nips.
posted by Toddles at 7:09 PM on June 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Also, most thru hikers I've met would not turn down a joint if offered, or so I'm told.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The


While you are not wrong, I would not carry or offer to strangers. All kinds of people hike the AT, including church missionaries and law enforcement officers. You should stick to food, hygiene items and taxi service.

Source: I live in the Smoky Mountains and work in the Camp/Climb department at REI. I fit all these people for backpacks.
posted by workerant at 8:06 PM on June 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Anything fresh such as salads, fresh vegetables, and fruits since you can't get that on the trail. Desserts are also really nice.
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 8:09 PM on June 16, 2018


Best answer: The things I hallucinated about while backpacking were pizza so hot it burns the roof of your mouth
and fresh, warm apple pie ala mode!
posted by chrisamiller at 8:14 PM on June 16, 2018


Best answer: Ice cream is cheap, tasty, calorie-dense, and impractical for them to carry.

Ditto fresh fruit. I had one person assure me that if he were to drop an apple into the dirt half-eaten, he would pick it up, brush or rinse it off, and finish it. That's how much he craved fresh fruit.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:18 PM on June 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Peaches in a cooler will make you a legend.
posted by cirgue at 8:26 PM on June 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Jars of peanut butter or PB2 or powdered peanut butter.

Jerky or jerky sticks or other dried meats.

Mixed nuts, GORP or trail mix. Easy on the peanuts, they get boring and farty. Better quality mixed nuts with no/low peanut counts were godsend on my bike/camping tour and were a major part of my diet.

Good, crisp apples. They store and eat well out of hand.

An avocado ready to eat right now, not too mushy or firm, with salt/pepper packets from McD's or something for seasoning.

Emergen-C, Nuun, or other flavored electrolyte water add-ins.

Instant coffee packs.

Candy bars - cheap: Peanut M&Ms, snickers, baby ruth, etc. Choco+nuts+salt is always a win.

Chocolate - good quality. Real dark choc + sea salt is also a major win.

Something I always crave on the trail or road is a simple bowl of cold cereal, which can be easy with a pint of milk and cereal packs or a big bag of cereal and some bowls.

Ready to eat sandwich with fresh greens and veggies. It's a huge pain in the ass to make a full sandwich on the trail with, say more than one veggie in it. You either have to make sandwiches for 5-10 people or carry around half cut produce or throw it away. Not to mention even trying to do all of this without a cutting board or sink.

Also, you'd make a lot of friends just doling out from a giant bowl of salad.

Also seconding hot pizza. I've encountered hot pizza after eating out of hand for weeks on end and it's nearly a life-changing religious experience. And yes, it's apparently best cramming it into your face so fast you get mouth burns.

Otter pops or popsicles or other frozen treats if it's hot out. Get dry ice for longer storage.

Fresh, good quality but affordable socks. (Think costco smartwool.)
posted by loquacious at 8:33 PM on June 16, 2018


Best answer: When we day hike in AT territory we always bring extra fresh, ripe berries and other summer fruit for some ephemeral trail magic for through hikers (nobody in their right mind would carry/protect them for anything but a day hike). They are always extremely appreciated.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:39 PM on June 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I've done a couple through hikes. CT and Arizona Trail. I've done parts of the CDT and some others.

The one thing I love more than anything else - Fresh apples. Ice cold, crunchy as fuck, apples.

Quesadillas are also awesome. But those require cooking. And anyway, Apples.

As a grown, hairy, middle aged, gen-x, man - and a Marine - I haven't openly wept very many times. Once, I had a particularly hard day on the trail and I found some trail magic - a cooler full of ice and apples - and.... Maybe it was the fatigue. Maybe it was all the female leads in Star Wars movies robbing me of my man essence. Anyway, I bawled like a little baby and ate more than I probably should have. It was one of the best 15 minutes of my life. I'm not even a little bit sorry.

Maybe everyone else that summer just grabbed an apple and moved on. It's called Trail Magic because that one time, for me, right there, it was FUCKING MAGIC.

Fresh anything is difficult to do on a trail. It's heavy and doesn't keep. Fresh fruit has sugars - delicious sugars. And anything cold - no fridges on the trail - is also a treat. And if you can grab it, and eat it as you go - because miles are miles and miles need miles for the miles god - the better it is. Trash is weight and/or bear bait.

But honestly - even a high five will do. We are out there for our own reasons, chasing our own ghosts. But that someone cared, even for an instant, is often a lot.

Go forth and be magic.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:41 PM on June 16, 2018 [21 favorites]


Best answer: We gave trail magic to hikers on the blue ridge too just last month. My boyfriend is a thru hiker and wanted to deliver some treats. Hikers loved fresh fruit, so we brought clementines and apples. We also brought beer in a cooler which was well received.
posted by buttonedup at 1:33 AM on June 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Here are some more suggestions in this previous AskMe: "Lightweight, luxury, consumables for a hiker?"
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:37 AM on June 17, 2018


Best answer: The best piece of trail magic I ever saw was a couple summers ago on the Tahoe Rim Trail. Along some random jeep road on a hot, dry, dusty day, a couple of folks had set up a portable shower, complete with a huge stack of clean fluffy white towels. It was glorious.

More practically: when I hike I crave things that are cold and wet: beer, soda, popsicles, ice cream, grapes, watermelon, pineapple, and so forth. I also really fucking love carrots, but that might be less common than the other stuff.
posted by jacobian at 5:12 AM on June 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Ice cold dill pickles.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:10 AM on June 17, 2018


Best answer: FRUIT. ALL THE FRUIT.
posted by Kwine at 10:56 AM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Cold Coca-Cola. And/or La Croix.
posted by witchen at 11:06 AM on June 17, 2018


Best answer: From my brother, who hiked the AT and the PCT: hot dogs, beer, hamburgers, soda, stuff with caffeine, homemade anything, cold water, anything with ice, fresh fruit and veg.

This is really nice of you! Trail magic is wonderful.
posted by punchtothehead at 2:13 PM on June 17, 2018


Best answer: Fresh fruits/veg for the reasons described above are the best choice, anything cold (yogurts, any salad, cheese sticks, soda) is great, or fresh sandwiches filled with egg salad, cold cuts, or hummus and veg. Also think of anything that's fragile - I never carry chips or pretzels when I hike because they are guaranteed to get smashed to bits in the bag, same with cake or muffins. Chips also have a lot of salt which is great to help with the electrolyte loss. If you are serving food other than fruit, bring an assortment of condiments for whatever you're serving. A different flavor profile than standard trail food does wonders for my motivation (hot sauce, siracha, guac, curry, cheese, mustard, pickles, herbs, olives, peppers). In short, anything that isn't standard hiker fare (nuts, bars, dehydrated food, tuna) will be most appreciated. Trail magix are amazing!
posted by perrouno at 5:51 AM on June 18, 2018


Response by poster: Thanks you guys! It has been amazing fun meeting the hikers and providing drinks and fruit; Baby Bird, Green Bean, Fourstar, Diamond Blue Eyes, Spitfire, Billygoat, Mountie, Bearbox and many others thank you as well! :)
posted by The otter lady at 3:13 PM on June 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


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