Eating and Outdoor Pursuits
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but somehow food has become linked to my outdoor pursuits; it seems as though what makes some trips special is the requisite meal that accompanies the activity. Getting to and from the mountains is time consuming, and some days it feels like I spend more time doing that than I spend actually participating in the activity itself. In the name of saving a little time and energy, many days in the mountains end up being fueled on the road, through drive-thrus and in restaurants. One of the great things about time in the mountains is that you burn a lot of energy, and before and after a hard day you owe it to yourself to replace that energy. Furthermore, there is a special type of joy in eating something you know is terrible for you as a reward for a hard day’s work. So eat that doughnut, get an appetizer, make sure you get all the toppings, and have another beer.
There is something about the mountains and a hard effort that makes even bad food taste great. I’ve never had much of a taste for fast food, but there is something about a drive-thru hamburger and milkshake after skiing that makes my heart pitter-patter. More so, it hardly feels like a southern climbing trip if Ashley and I don’t stop at least once at Chik-fil-A, and more than one proud southern send has been the propelled by Waffle House. Most of this food I would never consider in my day-today life but is now subconsciously linked with a certain activity. (Honestly, I haven’t been to Stone Fort in almost six months but I’m pretty sure I could easily navigate to the closest Chik-fil-A from it without any assistance from the GPS.)
Being in the mountains even makes beer better. Ashley and I have long lauded Yuengling as the best budget beer you can buy. I think Yuengling is pretty damn good beer, but whenever we bring it home from a trip it just sits in the fridge until I need something to cook with or I run out of other beer. That being said, in the moment, at the crag, in the parking lot, and after a hard day, Yuengling is the nectar of the gods. Same can be said of PBR. After a hard day outside, anything tastes good; anything that resembles beer tastes fantastic. I love PBR and often stop to pick up a six pack to celebrate the end of a hard day, unwind for a moment in the parking lot, and relive the finer moments of the day…but rarely do I find myself drinking it at home.
Of course this on-the-go lifestyle is not without peril. Underneath my car seat is a veritable graveyard of french fries, chips, sprinkles, and god knows what else. The mess is the result of: eating while driving, being tired, and being a bit of a slob to begin with. The funny thing is that I am not sure if my car gets the worst of it or my clothes. While I often fear that brambles, a ski edge, or a misplaced kick with my crampon will be the demise of expensive outerwear, the truth is that my clothes are in more danger of being ruined in the car. Whether it be butter leaking out of a breakfast sandwich, jelly from a donut, coffee spilling from a cup, or a rogue drop of ketchup, the car ride can be far more perilous for my clothes than the activity itself. Eventually someone will create apres-approved outerwear: clothes that can withstand spilled drinks as well as driving rain, and ward off mustard as easily an misplaced strike of an ice ax.
I think one of the great things about all of these outdoor activities is the meal that goes along with them. One of my favorite things about getting information on a place is learning about where people stop when there. I love to find out about the hole in the wall diner, or the best burger you will ever have and when telling someone about a destination I hardly ever can go without a food recommendation for the activity. Like an outdoor sommelier, I love pairing the perfect meal with the perfect activity.