Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here…but if you were, you’d be really tired. That’s because this vacation is all about hiking…and lots of it. Even the trails the friendly natives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming tell us are “moderate” feel like climbing Kilamanjaro. The payoff for aching muscles and blistered feet is the privilege of being in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. The Grand Tetons are awe inspiring and magic abounds around every bend of the trails we’ve traversed over the last few days. Glacial lakes, alpine meadows with thousands of wild flowers, waterfalls, roaring streams tumbling over boulders set in place by the ice age some 500 million years ago. When your heart is filled with reverence, awe and gratitude a blister or two can be easily overlooked.
Our hikes are normally six to eight miles and last anywhere from four to five hours so what to do for food is always at the top of our list. Hiking on a full stomach is a really bad idea and packing food on the trail is a big no-no since grizzly bears can smell from 30 miles away. Warnings of bear sightings are posted on several trails we’ve hiked and we found a couple of trails closed all together because of bear activity. Although we came equipped with bear bells and bear spray as a last resort, my hiking buddy Connie and I make it a practice of never unnecessarily tempting a hungry people-eating bear. There’s good reason that trail mix tucked away in a zip-lock bag is a hiker’s best friend.
A good mix should provide lots of calories, a steady energy source and be easy to eat on the move. This is not the time to go low fat, low carb, low calorie…low anything. Connie is a master at creating the perfect trail mix, blending just the right ingredients to make it tasty AND interesting. Her variations are as diverse as the trails we’ve hiked but always hit the perfect note.
Do you remember hearing people referring to “GORP”? I used that term for trail mix for years thinking it was a name one of my crazy college hiking friends made up. It simply means “Good Old Raisins and Peanuts” which are the foundation for many a trail mix. You can start from there, like Connie, and then make it interesting. Salted nuts are important because your body loses salt as it perspires. Nuts are packed with nutrition – especially protein – which aids in building and repairing muscle. She likes to use a variety of nuts to add flavor and texture along with high energy sunflower kernels (not in the shells!). Raisins round out the flavor by adding sweetness and whether you choose light raisins or dark, I can’t imagine a trail mix without them or other dried fruits. Pretzels and cereals like Chex and Cheerios can add texture, crunch and flavor but don’t overdo it as they don’t provide the energy kick you need. The variations are endless…but the important thing is to have it YOUR way – power packed with flavors and textures that make you happy. And being happy and healthy is what its all about. Happy Trails! Carol
Connie’s Grand Teton Trail Mix
Connie Gibbons is executive director of the Nicolaysen Museum in Casper, WY, a very cool museum dedicated to contemporary art. We became friends when she headed up the famous B.B. King Museum in Indianola, MS. Her eclectic resume also includes a stint at the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock, TX so you can see that she is a multi-faceted woman who enjoys geographic and cultural diversity as well as some really fine music. An avid sportswoman – long distance runner, hiker, and cyclist - Connie knows how to keep herself fueled and fed for her active lifestyle.
Makes about 5 cups
3 cups dried fruit (I like raisins, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, dried cranberries)
1 cup mixed nuts (I like raw almonds, cashews and walnuts– but any old nut will do)
Handful of pumpkin seed kernels (no shells!)
1 cup good granola
Combine all in a large bowl. To store trail mix, place in an airtight container – preferably glass. Keep container in a cool dry place for up to a month.