by Sue Markovitch
Ever since I started hiking, I’ve been experimenting with food out on the trail.
For long hikes, refueling along the way is crucial to a happy hiking experience. However, I struggled to find what worked for me. Here’s how I came to the conclusion that Nutter Butter Bites are my trail food.
On several long hikes I took in the Grand Canyon, I tried protein bars, trail mix, gels and electrolyte blocks, lemonade. When you end up puking by a Ponderosa Pine on the North Kaibab Trail, you know you got your nutrition wrong.
I can’t remember what exactly led me to purchase my first package of Nutter Butters. I look for little, sweet bites to have around the house that don’t trigger me to eat the whole package. For example, Peppermint Patties – yes. I can eat one. Thin Mints – no. I’ll eat them all. I thought peanut butter might be a good choice.
I had them in the cupboard when I planned a quick getaway to the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail at the beginning of summer. I wanted to hike to Indian Garden campground and back, a total of nine miles. It was starting to get hot in Arizona, and I knew the further down into the canyon you go, the hotter it gets.
So I put a bunch of Nutter Butter Bites in a baggie with some kettle cooked potato chips.
Well, it turned out to be record heat that day, and most of this year. At the two mile mark of my descent, I encountered a ranger who was set up in the shade, checking to make sure hikers that ventured beyond that point were prepared for the heat. He asked me how much water I’d brought with me. I said I had filled up my pack with three liters, and still had most of it left.
Then he asked what kind of snacks I had. I had the baggie in hand, so I showed him my mix of cookies and chips. “Perfect combination!”, he said.
Oh! Wow. I felt better about my choice. You know, as a recovering compulsive dieter, bringing a bag of cookies and chips seems like sacrilege. But I didn’t want to be a dieter, I wanted to be a hiker. I figured the ranger knew what he was talking about, so I decided to embrace the cookies and enjoy my hike.
Here’s the cool thing. These little bites have 2 g protein, 45 mg potassium and 115 mg sodium in a serving, plus sugar for energy. But the most important thing for me is I can still eat them even when I’ve crossed that line. Do you know that line you cross when you are hiking or running long distance and you can no longer fathom the idea of food? It sounds awful. Awful.
That’s not the greatest place to find yourself when you are trying to hike out of the Grand Canyon because, well, you know, UP is mandatory. You gotta get yourself out of the canyon so you gotta eat.
Turns out I can eat my Nutter Butter Bites no matter what level of exertion I find myself in. They are bite sized. They aren’t super dry like trail mix – yuck. And they are delish, especially mixed in with kettle chips.
For ME, the trail is not the time to worry about calories, sugar grams, or the like. That’s an old script left over from a diet mentality that never got me to the top of any mountains or the bottom of the Grand Canyon. So I let go of rules and found what works for me.
It was a tough, hot hike out, but that day I met the ranger, I got to Indian Garden and back and I didn’t puke. I was able to stay fueled and feel strong, taking one step after the other. Down is optional, but UP is mandatory.
Find what works for you. There’s adventure to be had and mountains to climb. See you on the trail – and if you need a cookie, I’ll have plenty.
You can stock up here:
As an Amazon Associate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases, which helps support my adventures. Thank you!