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Hiking the Upper Peninsula
with Steve & Sue


Hiking Food and Drink


gathering food and water for hike

Bruno's Run

Days River Pathway

Escanaba NMV Pathway

Indian Lake Pathway

Little Presque Isle


North Country Trail

other trails

Presque Isle Park

Pine Martin Run

Rapid River Ski Trail


Valley Spur

Going hiking? Gather the gear, layer on the (appropriate) clothes, fill the water bottles. And above all, even for a short hike, don't forget the food. One must keep the body fueled! And the psyche happy. Good trail food, and drink, is a must.

We enjoy our trail food but it is usually simple fare - easy to prepare, quick to get in the packs, enjoyable to look forward to on the hike. It is also mostly food that is common in our kitchen and pantry, and in our everyday lives. Since most of our hiking is day hikes, lunch and snacks are usually all we have to take along. And we never head out without water even for a short near-to-home walk. 

Trail Mix

Easy-to-eat healthy snacks are at the top of our hiking food list. And the first is probably the simple "trail mix", sometimes known as GORP - good old raisins and peanuts - though our mixes are made up of any number of, and often experimental combinations of, ingredients that are easy to toss into one's mouth while on the move. There is no one recipe; we each make our own and probably the only constant for both of us is raisins. The other ingredients depend on personal preference and a great deal on what is on hand. Here is a typical mix:

Raisins, slivered almonds, chocolate chips, a few peanuts, cheerios, cheddar bunnies or fish crackers, sesame sticks (the skinny ones)

We both like a trail mix container that is an easy hand size and, particularly in the winter, one that travels comfortably in a jacket pocket. Many of the ingredients get hard to eat when frozen so an inner pocket helps. It's also nice to have the mix handy when stopping for a quick drink or layer change. 

Homestead Hiking Cookie

I’d been making my basic Homestead Cookies for over 40 years, the recipe that is in our "Homesteading Adventures" book, and they served us well all those years. They were sturdy, hearty, healthful (I think), and they suited. We liked them. But this past year I decided I wanted a less firm cookie, easier to eat, a cookie with a few more ingredients, one that would be good energy on the hiking thiking cookiesrail even when cold (thus far successfully tested down to the low teens). And, of course, be good eating every day on the homestead. This is what I came up with. They appear to be quite popular based on how fast they disappear. I’d like to blame this on LilliB but to be honest, I’ve never seen her eat a cookie, though she’ll give it a try and thoroughly lick one if it’s found un-attended, or the owner’s attention temporarily averted.

This is a highly adaptable and variable recipe. What I put in depends on what I have on hand and preferences at the time. No eggs? Leave the eggs out. Have some shredded coconut? Put some in. But this is my latest basic recipe:


1 egg
1/2 c vegetable oil or soft/melted butter or combination
1/2 c cooked winter squash or applesauce
1/2 c yoghurt (with squash) or fruit juice (with applesauce)
add water or other liquid to equal 2 cups
     mix/stir/beat together


2-3 c whole grain flour
3/4 c rolled oats
1/4 - 1/2 c sweetening (I use stevia and Sucanet, sometimes honey mixed with the liquid ingredients)

2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

1/4 c chocolate chips
1/4 - 1/2 c raisins
1/4 c roasted sunflower seeds
1/4 c slivered almonds
     Mix dry ingredients.

Then add liquid. It helps to let it set a bit unless your flour is very fine (mine isn’t).

Adjust by adding water or flour for a moderately soft & sticky but not too dry dough.

Put spoonfuls on cookie sheet. Flatten somewhat with a wet fork, more if you want a firmer cookie, less if softer. Bake till done.

Since I’m mostly using the wood cookstove I don’t have a temperature or time. It takes longer if the fire isn’t too hot, quick when it really gets going, and takes a really long time if you let the fire go out.

Sometimes I use an electric "toaster" oven in the summer, with a temperature of 350 - 400.hiking cookies in ziplock bag

The "Hiking Cookie" has proven itself on the trail, holding together quite well, unless they migrate to the bottom of the pack and you’ve vigorously stuffed a jacket or something on top of them. Leaving a little air in the ziplock bag they are in helps but mostly they are on top within easy reach for a quick snack. They are easy eating when it’s cold, especially appreciated when your trail mix has turned into hard cold bullets. In the heat of summer you may want to leave out the chocolate chips or substitute mm type candies. But overall they are suited for and welcome in any weather and at any time.

(note: the spoon in the photo is for lunch, not for eating the cookies!) 

Hot (or at least Warm) Food for Lunch

lunch in the snow trail-sideFor Christmas we bought ourselves small Thermous food containers - the 10 oz "Funtainer" (though we passed on the many fancy graphics versions available and went for plain silver/black (Steve) and teal (me). Last month we had taken warm food in a regular tupperware type container which was nice to have but it didn't stay warm very long, even buried in our packs. We thought we'd try the insulated option. This was our first trial [an early January hike] and they worked well with our simple meal of rice and tuna. Though certainly heavier than a sandwich it was real nice to have warm food on a cold day, and 10 oz was a good size - eat half now on the trail (it being a bit cold to sit very long to eat), then the rest later when back at the car, hungry but a ways from home and supper. I like that the Thermous Funtainer is simple and easy to clean. 

sue lunch in snowBased on our experience with our water bottles I plan to make neoprene cozies for them which should keep the food even warmer, especially in colder weather. I had put mine in a simple wool blanket pouch and my food was a bit warmer than Steve's at lunch. It also helps to pre-heat the containers with hot water before filling, and make sure the meal is hot to begin with. How important that is depends on how cold it is out on the trail. Neither of us are picky about having hot food but having a warm lunch has turned out to be an appreciated treat.

We take wooden spoons to eat with which are much more comfortable in mouth and hand in the cold weather. For us it is our normal "silver"-ware (as is wooden bowls and plates our every-day dishes) but it sure beats a cold metal spoon.

* * * * * *

Copyright 2021 by Susan Robishaw and Stephen Schmeck

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Have you read  "Frost Dancing - Tips from a Northern Gardener"? A fun short read.

or "Homesteading Adventures"    Creating our backwoods homestead--the first 20 years.

and "Growing Berries for Food and Fun"   A journey you can use in your own garden.

updated 10/06/2019


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