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520 Trail Sense
Holidays on the Trail

turkeys in the wild

My first Thanksgiving in Nashville was interesting. I had to work the day before and the day after the holiday and, therefore, was stuck in town. I thought of a few things to do but opted to go out for Thanksgiving dinner. It would not be as good of a holiday as visiting family but none of my family lived close by.

In the early afternoon on Thanksgiving, I decided to get dinner, so that I could watch football the rest of the day. To my surprise, nothing was open. After finding that a number of the familiar restaurants were closed, I returned home and tried the Yellow Pages (this was in the '80's). I could not find a single place that served Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, I drove to a nearby Waffle House and, yes, they were open. My Thanksgiving Dinner was eggs and waffles shared with a few other travelers.

That was bad, but on another occasion I decided to go backpacking over the holidays. Is there anything worse than freeze-dried spaghetti? Yes, freeze-dried spaghetti for Thanksgiving. : )

Most of us have grown up enjoying a taste of nostalgia over a bed of sentiment for Thanksgiving. We have family traditions and foods that bring back memories of Moms and Grandmoms. My grandma could make the best ...

But, when you decide to use that four day weekend to hit the trail, how do you keep from from getting all weepy eyed as you go back for seconds of the freeze-dried spaghetti?

A few Holiday on the Trail tips ...

If alone, push yourself very hard on the actual Holiday. Plan on a challenging hike. The full day of adventure will leave you tired and ready to crawl in the sleeping bag.

If the trail you are hiking, does not have shelters, carry a small silnet tarp or piece of plastic to make a covered cooking area. Thanksgiving is notorious for having cold, wet weather.

Don't forget to journal. It would also be a good time to write postcards to all your family. The photo stores will turn your pictures into postcards for a very reasonable fee - around a dollar a card.

Plan on doing volunteer trail maintenance on your trip. A few ideas: carrying an extra trash bag to pick up any trash, cleaning out the drainage to water bars, collecting and storing firewood at a shelter, or enlisting to work on an official project, depending on your skills.

Invite friends to join you on the trip. You can then back off on the big mileage day.

For dinner, whether hiking solo or with a group, the meal needs to be special. A meal my wife picked up from an Adventure Trek outing was:

Thanksgiving Dinner - In a sauce pan boil water. Add:

  • Instant (dehydrated) potatoes - Idahoan are simply the best!
  • Gravy Mix - mushroom instant gravy for vegetarians, and regular gravy for carnivores
  • Instant Stuffing or Croutons - mix into potatoes and gravy
  • Add non-cook Chicken (from pouch) or Veggies
  • Garnish with Craisins - for a little added flavor
  • Mix well, add more water or potatoes to get just the right consistency, mix again, and serve - yum

Don't forget dessert! The butt of many a holiday gift joke, the fruitcake makes a dandy dessert. It is hardy, dense, and packed with calories. If you are experiencing heavy winds, the leftovers can be used to help anchor the tent!

If you stay in town, don't forget to check on your friends and acquaintances. Make sure everyone has a place to eat dinner or they might have to have that Thanksgiving 'Egg and Waffle special' at the Waffle House.

Happy Holidays on the Trail

Trail Sense


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