Saturday, November 21, 2015

Behind the Scenes with Justin 'Trauma' Litcher

Last winter Justin 'Trauma' Lichter and his partner Shawn 'Pepper' Forry completed the first winter thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.  For those unfamiliar with the "PCT" it is a 2650 mile trail from Canada to Mexico that cuts through 3 US states including Washington, Oregon and California.  This diverse trail crosses deserts, mountain ranges, deep forrest, glaciers and volcanic peaks, and is considered one of the most difficult hikes in the the summer!

For the western US states the winter of 2014-15 was very mild compared to normal winters.  Many areas reported record low snowpack, which might lead one to believe that this would be a great year to attempt a winter thru hike.  However, turns out the lack of snowfall and unpredictable weather patterns were a major challenge that almost forced Trauma and Pepper to abandon their expedition.  Not too long after starting in Washington, Trauma and Pepper found themselves caught in an unexpected storm that left them debilitated with frostbite.  Later on the trail they had to ditch their ski touring setup (due to lack of snowpack) and rely on snowshoe travel, which takes more time and burns more calories.  Thru hiking in the winter is filled with challenges, especially when it comes to food.

For many long stretches, the PCT is a desolate trail that cuts through uninhabited wilderness.  Trauma and Pepper often went weeks without seeing another person.  Many small towns with re-supply stations along the PCT close for the winter, which meant Trauma and Pepper had to be meticulous with their meal planning.  Cold weather and minimal pack space greatly limited the types of food Trauma and Pepper could eat.  According to Trauma, "our breaks were centered around eating. Any time we stopped we would spend that time ingesting calories. And if we took a break we couldn't sit still very long because of the cold, so we had to keep moving."  The most efficient calories came from conveniently stored nutrition bars.  The guys rotated between Lara Bar, Pro Bar and Kind Bar and ate 10 bars each per day, receiving 1/3 of their daily calories from bars.

Cooking at night proved to be another serious challenge.  Often times Trauma and Pepper had to melt snow for the next days water supply, since they frequently did not have a running water supply available.  Due to the terrible snowpack there was often "sugary" snow, which does not hold much water content and takes up to 2 hours to boil down for the next days needed water supply.  After a long day of hard work, the guys were often hungry, tired and ready to sleep, but had to commit an extra two hours of work to melt water.  This left little time for cooking dinner.  Trauma and Pepper relied on quick one-pot calorie dense-meals such as, Top Ramen, Knorr Sides, angel hair pasta, cheese, beef jerky, instant mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, or any combination of these.  Trauma was especially a fan of the instant mashed potatoes because they can be made without brining the water to a boil, which saved time and fuel.

Snacks were another essential in their backcountry pantry.  While dinner was cooking or snow was melting, Trauma would often snack on chocolate chips, Justin's Hazelnut Butter, and Justin's single serving almond butters.  The single serving packets were especially handy because they were easy to ingest and provided quick calories to his tired body.

In addition to making food, getting supplies was often another daunting task.  Trauma and Pepper had to hike miles off the trail to find open grocery stores or to access post offices with re-supply boxes that they had mailed to themselves before they embarked on their journey.  One much appreciated surprise came from a 'trail angel' who hiked miles to leave an anonymous supply box at a remote location.  Even though they were often isolated, the support from the PCT trail community was received throughout Trauma and Pepper's trip.

After an astonishingly fast 132 days Trauma and Pepper reached the US/Mexico boarder to complete the first successful winter thru hike of the PCT.  As they signed the book at the end they were greeted by friends an family, and a champagne celebration to their historic journey.

Watch Trauma's Adventure Dining Guide PCT episode at:

Trauma and Pepper did all their trail cooking with a Trail Designs Sidewinder Stove with Caldera Cone, available at:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Peanut Curry Noodle Bowl with Picked Slaw

This meal is pack friendly, lightweight and full of great ingredients that will support your tired body in the backcountry. And, this recipe is very easy to personalize to your liking. Feeds 1 person.

Before you hit the trail, prep your ingredients at home.  All of my spices and seasonings are in powdered form to keep this meal lightweight (8 oz) and to ensure long shelf-life.  In a Ziploc or sealable container combine:

Curry Noodle Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp PBfit (peanut powder)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Coconut Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Minced Garlic
  • 1/8 tsp White Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Wasabi Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp vegetable, beef, chicken, shrimp powder flavoring or Miso Powder
  • 2 oz Whole Grain Rice Noodles (can substitute with any thin rice noodles)
That’s it for the noodles and sauce!  Simple.  These ingredients are versatile, keep them on hand so you can quickly prepare for any backcountry excursion.  Next prepare your Pickled Slaw. Substitute your own vegetables to personalize to your liking.

Pickled Slaw Ingredients:
  • 1/8 Julienned Carrot (washed and peeled)
  • 1/8 cup Chopped Cabbage
  • 1 Tbs Sliced Ginger
  • 2 Tbs Vinegar (rice/apple cider….make sure it has 5% acidity)
  • 1 Tbs Water
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Heavy Duty Ziplock Bags or lightweight sealable containers
The fun part about this dish is the pickled vegetables.  I use Ziplock bags to pickle vegetables without refrigeration while I'm out on the trail.  Pickling is a method of preserving foods by the addition of acid, for this dish I’m using Apple Cider vinegar.  There are many different flavors of vinegar that you can use for pickling, but make sure you choose a vinegar with 5% acidity. In addition to adding crunch and freshness to your noodle bowl, the picking juice replenishes, rehydrates and revitalizes your sore when you're done with the veggies add the pickling juice to your water or drink  the pickling juice straight. 

Trail Pickled Slaw directions to prepare at home:
  1. Mix vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a Ziplock bag until salt and sugar dissolve
  2. Add carrots, cabbage and ginger to Ziploc, and gently shake ingredients until fully immersed in liquid.
  3. Remove all air from Ziploc and seal.
  4. Double check seal to make sure its tight.
  5. Double bag Ziploc with 2nd bag
                                                                 ON THE TRAIL DIRECTIONS:
  1. Pour dry ingredients into cooking pot and add 2 cups water (for soupier noodles, add more water).
  2. Let noodles and sauce soak in water for 10-15 minutes.
  3. *For cold noodles soak 20+ minutes until desired noodle consistency is reached.
  4. — For warm noodles turn on stove, heat pot with soaked noodles.
  5. — When water begins to boil turn off stove.
  6. Add vegetable slaw to the top of your noodles, but save the pickled juice!
  7. Drink pickling juice, eat your noodles, and enjoy!

Filming with the Subaru Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers

This summer I had the pleasure of working with two wonderful individuals who are outdoor enthusiasts and Leave No Trace experts.  Sam Ovett and Jenna Hanger were selected by the Leave No Trace organization to be ambassadors who live, work and travel out of a brand new Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid.  Sam and Jenna came to Lake Tahoe in August to work several local events, and they were kind enough to sneak in an afternoon of hanging out on the beach, stand up paddle boarding, and Paleo car cooking with the Adventure Dining Guide team. 

Spending time with the Leave No Trace experts taught us how important it is to make a conscious effort to take care of all the little details when cooking outdoors.  By planning ahead and paying attention to what we might be leaving behind, we can all do our part to keep the wilderness pristine.  I hope that this episode of Adventure Dining Guide encourages you to always be responsible and to always Leave No Trace! 

This is an episode you don’t want to miss! 

For more important Leave No Trace tips and to get Sam and Jenna's recipe visit:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Backcountry Nutrition Overview

Nutrition in the backcountry means supplementing your body with the right foods to support speed, dexterity, mental clarity, strength and endurance.  This is an overview of several great resources to help you prepare for you next trip in the wilderness.

Calculate your calories
Knowing the amount of energy your body needs to participate in any outdoor activity is the first step in planning your meals.  Don't forget to factor in weather, because cold weather means your body is burning extra calories to stay warm.  There are many resources available to you online, but these are a few of my favorites:

Caloric Density
Figuring out the caloric density of foods will help you choose what foods work best for your pack and your caloric needs.  Caloric density can be found by dividing a food's calories by it's weight.  
For example:  Olive Oil has 119 calories in 0.5 oz; which means 119/0.5= 238  

On the other hand:  An Orange has 45 calories and weighs 4.6 oz; 45/4.6= 9.8
These examples show us that lighter, calorie packed foods are going to have more use to a person carrying their food in the wilderness, than a heavy piece of fruit that doesn't provide as much fuel to the body.  Try vitamins or powdered drinks to make up for the orange's vitamins.

Food Pounds Per Person
Prezi put together a fantastic tutorial to help you figure out the amount of food weight each person needs to carry:

Backcountry Nutrition
There are many ways to personalize your nutrition, and there is no one right way that works for everyone.  However, this is a general guideline of how many people supplement their diet in the backcountry:  50% Carbohydrates (simple & complex), 30% Fat, 20% Protein, 10% vitamins/minerals

    Simple Carbohydrates - They are the quickest source of energy. Simple carbs digest very quickly and rapidly increase blood sugar. Eat them when you need a boost of energy.  They can be found in: Chocolate, fruits, vegetables, 100 percent fruit juice, honey, sugar, cane juice, milk and yogurt, refined foods (white flour)
    Complex Carbohydrates - Slow-burning, high-fiber carbs are digested gradually, supplying you with a steady stream of energy.  Eat all day for steady, sustained energy.  They can be found in:  Whole grain oats, quinoa, granola, powdered soy milk, pasta, brown rice, cereals, starchy vegetables
    Fat - The body uses fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.  Fat also supplies energy to our body, cushions organs, insulates us, and is used to build cell membranes.  Anti-inflammatories inhibit the enzymes that cause inflammation (help sore muscles).  Eat throughout the day.  They can be found in:  Nuts, seeds, coconut chips, oils, peanut butter, healthy unsaturated fat (fish), butter, avocado
    Protein - The amino acids in proteins create the enzymes that regulate metabolism, repairing tired muscles, and boosting the immune system.  Eat early morning, post-workout, between meals, before bed.  They can be found in: Legumes, cheese, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, dairy, (light amt. from carbs)
    Vitamins/Minerals – Don’t overdue it in the backcountry.  Stick to your normal routine and try and find foods that work with your backcountry diet, but also have needed vitamins and minerals. You can also take a multi-vitamin or try powdered drinks. If you're a vegetarian, remember to pack food with iron. 

Don't Forget!
Listed below are items that are easy to forget or overlook but can help make a big difference to your camp kitchen:
           Foods that keep up with you….quick snacks for when you’re moving, meals when you relax.
           Interchangeable ingredients (ex: coconut oil, hemp seeds, jerky)
           Spices, oils and condiments
           Utensils, cutting board, towel, clean-up supplies, ziplock bag, trash bag, knife
           Spare food for In Case Of Emergency/back-up meals
           Powdered drinks with vitamins, calories, & flavor for treated water
           Indulge with rewards

Shelf Life
If you're planning on bringing fresh foods with you in the backcountry, use these resources to figure out how long your food will last without refrigeration:

Check out these helpful unrefrigerated shelf-life reference charts from


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Season One is Alive!

Welcome to Adventure Dining Guide, the series about eating civilized, miles from civilization.  My name is Michelle Shea and I am the host/creator of this exciting series.

I realized that food does not get the recognition it deserves when people talk about their backcountry expeditions.  So I started this series to help make your next adventure more gourmet.  Each episode I venture into the wilderness, often with a guest, to prepare a meal without a traditional kitchen.

This show is for everyone who enjoys spending time outdoors and can appreciate the work that goes into cooking away from home.  I hope you enjoy this series and pick up a few tips that you can use on your next adventure.  If you have any suggestions or would like to be featured in an episode, email me at

Happy trails!

Adventure Dining Guide Trailer