Every week, Zion visitors bound for adventure on the trails and in the canyons ask me the same question: “What should I take with me to eat?” It seems these visitors are trying to sort through the matrix of what friends, outdoor enthusiasts, the media, and mom have told them about trail food, and how any of it applies to what they are about to do in Zion. They ask: “Do I need bars? Can I take a sandwich? Can I bring fresh fruit, or does it need to be dehydrated?” This is what I tell them…
I like eating. And because I like eating, I like to enjoy the food I eat. The degree to which I enjoy food enhances the entirety of my day, in this specific case, my day in the outdoors. For this reason, my advice to departing adventurers is simple, but important: Bring food you will enjoy eating. If you are not enthused with the PB&J your mom would have insisted upon, I say save yourself the disappointment and leave it at home. The same holds true for food bars or energy bars; if you don’t like ‘em, leave ‘em.
So what do I bring on my own adventures? On canyoneering trips in Zion, I often bring a burger from Springdale’s finest burger joint, Oscar’s Cafe. I routinely pack fresh fruit, vegetables with hummus, and cookies stored in Snapware containers. My second Heaps trip coincided with my tenth wedding anniversary; I brought Chocolate Silk Pie for the group to celebrate.
I bet some readers are getting excited and others are saying “not so fast!” – literally. Yes, there is a definite efficiency disadvantage to bringing burgers, pizza, and chocolate silk pie. They weigh more per unit of volume than many “traditional trail food items” like GORP, energy bars, and PB&J. Sometimes a happy middle ground for less weight, but great taste, are the Tasty Bite boil-and-eat meals. As for me, I generally don’t mind the weight… the payoff at snack time is well worth my trouble.
The deciding factor for many will come down to quality of life. Is that container of Sausage Pesto Rotini worth the extra few ounces of weight? Or would you rather save the strain on your shoulders and back and bring dehydrated Chicken Noodle Soup? The decision is yours – good luck!