Trail Chef: Post-Peak Pig-Outs

What's your favorite celebratory feast?

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One June day, after a long snow climb up Taylor Glacier, Rocky Mountain National Park, my friends and I were slogging down the trail, exhausted. We still had several miles to go before the car when suddenly one friend, Brian, asked, “Do you hear that?” We listened. Nothing.

“That weird noise. It’s coming from over there,” he insisted, moving off the trail toward the stream. We followed him, eyebrows raised.

Our mystification increased as he crouched over the water. “Aha, I found it!” he cried, standing up and raising a six-pack of PBR into the air victoriously.

From under a shady tree and with opened cans in hand, we learned that sometime during the ascent, Brian had snuck off and hidden the beer (which he had schlepped for miles) in the stream, as a surprise reward for everyone later. It was sort-of his post-hike ritual.

Which got me to thinking about my own post-hike feasts. After long summit days, I typically wolf down deep-dish pizza with honey drizzled on the crust. After a weeklong backpack, however, my vegetable-deprived body craves salad, and I gorge on crisp lettuce, tomatoes, and red peppers. My partners have their own spectacular binges, including one friend who, no joke, hoovers four Burger King Whoppers. For others, it’s a DQ Blizzard with Oreos and fudge.

Of course, after a day of grueling exertion or weeks of deprivation, these feasts taste exponentially better than they would if you just ate them any old day. It’s all about the contrast. So what’s your favorite post-hike fare? I want some ideas for next weekend!

—Trail Chef, Kristin Bjornsen