Gourmet Paleo Camping

Sara and I decided to go backpacking in Land Between the Lakes (LBL) for Fall Break. Let me preface that this was our first on-our-own backpacking trip, so we’re still learning about packing light, what is necessary, everything that isn’t, how many miles per day is feasible with a load, etc.

If you know me, you know that I will pack three days worth of food in a cooler or choose to fast instead of eating harmful neolithic foods on purpose – a.k.a. gluten, wheat, bread, any processed foods, etc.

As such, I figured for our original idea of a three day, two night trip, we would need the following:

  • MEAT: 2 #’s ground beef, 4 pork chops, 1 dozen eggs + 6 hard boiled eggs, pasture finished round steak (probably 1.5-2 #’s) [from M4d-Ranch], 1 pckg. pre-cooked peppered bacon (from our CSA box from Avalon Acres 🙂 )
  • VEGGIES: bag of green chard, 3 green peppers, 1 onion, 1 cucumber, 1 zucchini & 2 small yellow squashes (All local from our CSA box!)
  • FAT: 6 avocados & grass-fed ghee (Whole Foods in Memphis)
  • FRUIT: dried blueberries (made by yours truly; blueberries from Ulderich Blueberry Farm) & goji berries (from Better Living Natural Foods in Camden)
  • SNACK: roasted pumpkin seeds (from CSA box), Oooey Gooey Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies (www.elanaspantry.com), 2 90% Dark Chocolate Lindt bars, almond butter (Better Living Natural Foods)

I put all the raw meat in a “Keep Cool Freezer Bag” thing. The steak was frozen, so that helped keep everything else cold. All the veggies were in a separate “Cold Bag”. They worked okay, but some adjustments would have to be made for the meat on a longer trip.

We arrived at LBL a bit before 10 AM & checked in at the South Welcome Station. After a friendly greeting and some great news – backpackers hiking/camping on the trail camp for free and no longer need a backcountry permit – we were on our way.

One major set-back: it’s bone dry right now… in other words, no water for 18 miles up the trail.

This did not deter us as we had about 4 L each and thought we could make it. We planned to hike the South end of the N/S Trail, up to the Golden Pond Visitor’s Center and return by Friday. We learned it was actually about 31 miles of trail up and the same back, totaling 62 miles. Yay. I knew we had plenty of food!

 

5 miles in - break for lunch

 

Our packs weighed approximately 25-35 #’s each. Sara carried the tent while I carried the food + spice bag. Fortunately, I was able to leave some gear in the truck when I learned it would only be 45ÂşF at night instead of nearly freezing.

Our first lunch consisted of 1 avocado, 2 hard boiled eggs each & some blueberries/goji berries. *I’m not a huge fan of the goji berries. They were the only ones without added sugar and such, but they taste like Twizzlers with salt. They’re great in cookies, though!

We stopped for the evening in a clearing at around 3:30 pm. We were approximately 13 miles in and ready for the break. After spreading out and resting for a bit, I set to cooking some pork chops in ghee. They were a great snack before a much-needed nap.

We began dinner around 5:30 pm. Sara sauteed two sliced peppers in ghee while I left camp to cut up the very-bloody round steak. Here is a lovely photo of our meal:

 

pasture-finished strip steak + ghee + sauteed green peppers = yum

 

It was dark by the time I finished slicing and dicing the steak. I learned the round steak is a great one for jerky-making. I’ll try that when I pick up my whole cow this weekend! 🙂 We ate all the peppers and saved the leftover steak for the morning.

Breakfast in the morning consisted of: 1 avocado, steak, peppered bacon. It was a great combination!

After taking in the morning for a bit, we decided to make the executive decision to hike out Thursday instead of Friday. After all, this was our Fall Break and we wanted to rest! Plus, we ran out of water and only had enough for one day for each of us. Even if we had refilled everything on Thursday morning, we would have had to ration to make it comfortably on Friday. As it was, I had some headaches/nausea from not drinking enough.

Ulimately, we overestimated our hiking ability with packs, I overestimated our food needs, and we underestimated how much water we should carry. *As an added bonus, I experienced being the “weak link” in the trip. I ran an adventure race fundraiser in my Vibram FiveFingers last weekend and did not anticipate my calves STILL burning extensively on Wednesday/Thursday of the next week. Nice to know.

I think we made the smart decision of ending while we were still ahead, instead of accruing a host of possible injuries through an inflexibility of plans. Injuries are ALWAYS more difficult to heal than the preventative work. My next few days will consist of lots of rest, foam rolling, and stretching through painful range of motion (ROM) work. It will hurt a bit now, but pay off well in the end.

A decision rest instead of exercise is just as important as eating & sleeping well!

All in all, we had a great time and plan on going again. Although I brought too much food, eating paleo while camping is possible, fun, delicious, and nutritious!

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