Now that the weather is beautiful and my boyfriend is done with school for the summer, I’ve been getting back into hiking. In fact, I’ve gone backpacking over the past two weekends.

For the first trip, we went on a two-night trip to Slickrock Wilderness, one of the most beautiful areas in North Carolina that I’ve been to. It was an incredibly difficult hike (probably because it was my first real backpacking trip, and carrying a full pack is something you have to get used to), but I’m glad we did it. There’s one special spot where you hike to the top of a mountain and can see far into the horizon. The first time I was there and I emerged onto the meadow on top of the mountain, I was almost moved to tears.

There’s such a wonderful sense of freedom that comes with backpacking and camping. You’re away from the stress and drama that comes with our busy day-to-day lives. You’re free to be alone with yourself and someone you love. And it’s humbling to know that you’re exposed to the elements and that you have no control. One of the most frightening and simultaneously exhilarating experiences I’ve had was when we did a twelve-mile day hike to Table Rock in Linville Gorge, and got stuck on top of a ridge in a thunderstorm.

On the second night we camped at the top of Wildcat Falls. I fell asleep to the sound of the rushing water – it was incredible. Of course, it would have been better if someone wouldn’t have dumped their trash in the fire pit and left it, but that’s pretty common. Sadly.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to ramble on about how awesome (and challenging) the trip was – as usual, I want to talk about food.

I’ve had some trouble with food backpacking/hiking/camping. So far, it’s been like this:

  • Breakfast: Granola, instant coffee (only if car camping)
  • Lunch: Hummus and pita
  • Dinner: Rehydrated homemade meal
  • Snacks: Granola, granola bars, pita

It’s easy to see how that could get boring if you venture into the wilderness often enough. This past weekend, I realized how much I am starting to loathe hummus – not necessarily because it tastes bad, but just because I’m so tired of eating it.

I have made an incredible discovery though – Wayfare’s We Can’t Say It’s Cheese holds up very well unrefrigerated! I took a tub of the hickory smoked flavor and looked forward to snacking on it. In the future I’m going to be replacing my hummus with cheese. It’s really difficult for me to think of other lunch options that don’t have to be cooked, are fairly light, and hold up well in a backpack.

Dinners are usually pretty fun. Sexy biology man (my boyfriend) dehydrates things like pasta or curry, and then when we’re on the trail all we have to do is add boiling water and wait. There is an endless variety of things that dehydrate well.

Currently, I’m also exploring lightweight vegan backpacking gear. Since I won’t use down sleeping bags, I’m stuck with heavy synthetic bags. I’ve heard that there are a few vegan lightweight options, but until I’m unbroke, I’ll have to carry a few extra pounds. I’m also thinking about buying a hammock to sleep in – I grew up with a hammock in my backyard and I miss how relaxing it can be. I tried one out at REI and wanted to fall asleep right in the store!

I suppose that’s all I’ve got for now. If anyone cares to share any backpacking stories in the comments I’d be happy to read them!