Tales From the Trail
|A sampler of trail food for humans. Can you pick out the beef stew, orange slices, grapes, and creamy soup? (Photo: Courtsey of Hannah Moderow)|
You have already heard about the dog food, but don’t forget we need human food, too. Like the dogs, I will need to consume a lot of calories each day to stay warm and have the energy needed to travel long miles. There’s an old saying that you must take care of yourself so you can best take care of the dogs. If I don’t eat well, I will end up cold and grumpy—and that is not beneficial for the dogs.
Spaghetti and beef stew are two of my favorite trail meals. You may wonder how these meals can be heated when it is below zero outside. This is the way it works: In my dog sled, I carry a cooker, which is a big pot used to heat water. First you pour two bottles of Heet into the bottom pan of the cooker, and light a match to start the flames. Then you fill up the pot with either water (if available) or snow to melt. You place the pot on top of the flames, and within minutes you get boiling water. This water will be used to feed the dogs, but before pouring over raw meat, I toss a vacuum-sealed serving of spaghetti in the pot. Within minutes it is piping hot and all I have to do is cut open the bag to have a warm, homemade meal ready to eat. Some mushers carry a bowl to eat out of. I prefer to just bring a spoon, and eat my food right out of the bag. It is quicker—and doesn’t make a mess.
My Mom made most of the main meals for our trip. My job is the baking! So far, I have made 100 breakfast biscuits. More than 200 cookies will also be sent on the trail. That sounds like a lot of cookies, but keep in mind these will feed four people. (My mom and I are the mushers, and my Dad and our friend Hal are the snow-machine support partners.) Heaven forbid we have to ration the cookies. They are definitely a favorite snack while mushing down the trail.
Orange slices are another tasty trail snack. If they are peeled beforehand, and frozen in single slices, they are like tangy popsicles. Since we will be far from fresh foods for our expedition, the oranges are like a slice of summer—a snack to sweeten the journey.
To give you an idea of what types of food we eat while mushing, below is the list of food for one day on the trail. Keep in mind, when it is cold outside, you need to eat much more food than usual. It is important to always have extra in case of getting lost, or stranded in a storm.
|Trail mix is an essential mushing snack. We have special trail mix bottles that we will refill every few days on the trail to Nome. (Photo: Courtsey of Hannah Moderow)|
Human Food- Day 1:
Oatmeal / Muesli cereal
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
3 chocolate chip cookies
trail mix (almonds, M & M’s, dried cranberries)
Gummi bears or Peanut M & M’s
Drink options: hot chocolate, tang, herb tea, coffee.
Perhaps more important than food is hydration. Iditarod champion Jeff King developed a thermos system that allows for hot drinks all the way to Nome. It’s a simple invention. All you do is drill a hole in the top of a large thermos so you can fit a piece of thick piping in to use as a straw. Then, you secure a rope to the thermos and tie it to the sled. That way, if you tip over, you don’t lose your drink. Each day before mushing, I will fill up one or two thermoses with hot water, and add tea, coffee, tang or hot cocoa.
Food tastes great out in the wild. We try to send out some of our favorite treats. A chocolate chip cookie might taste good at home, but I guarantee it tastes even better on the trail!
Hannah Moderow is a musher and writer for Scholastic News Online.