Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Some Nude Camping Basics: Food

Camping au'natural takes several forms such as:
  • Car Camping which can be as involved as setting up camp right beside an RV Motor Home or loading up the car with camping supplies. You are usually restricted to wherever you can park your vehicle and setting up camp nearby in established campsites or road accessible locations. The advantages to car camping is the freedom to bring along the elaborate equipment . . . from huge multi-person family tents, coleman stoves, chairs . . . to all the comforts of home. The disadvantages are that you often must set up camp in areas where there are multitudes of other maybe not-as-like-minded people throwing privacy and any thought of relaxing in that camp chair naked, out the window (or tent flap as it is).

  • Canoe Camping is one step closer to a purer form of camping in that you can paddle your canoe to more remote areas that often are not accessible by car. The equipment you can take is only limited by the space available in the canoes and a bonus is that canoeing can be a relaxing endevoir with lots of opportunities to enjoy it in the nude once the car-bound enthusiasts are left behind. You can relaxed and enjoy the scenery at an easy pace and pick a spot to camp far away from the crowded campgrounds.

  • Food, shelter and comfort. All must be carried in on your shoulders.

  • The third form of nude camping, Nude Backpacking (or NudeBacking) is what I like to do. It takes reasonable fitness to carry a 40-50 pound backpack miles into the wilderness, often negotiating narrow trails and changes in elevation but the pay-off is some of the most spectacular vistas around and a sense of achievment to go where few people ever attempt. Solitude is the byword of the backpacker on the more remote trails and the freedom to hike as nature calls . . . nude. The disadvantage, of course, is that you have to carry shelter, food, and everything else you might need, on your back.

The Basics

Regardless of the type of nude camping you like to enjoy, you need to address the following:
  • Food and water,
  • Shelter,
  • and Sanitation

Your food and shelter you bring with you. Your sanitation may be provided (as with a commercial campground), may be brought with you in the form of a chemical toilet, solar shower, etc., or properly improvised on site.

Food may be as elaborate as you want it. Only your cooking abilities, the method and the ability to bring it along and safely store it determine what is on the menu. Car or RV Campers may bring lots of items and they often have the refrigeration or ice chests to preserve perishable foods. Or you may camp near prime fishing grounds and enjoy the sizzle of freshly-caught trout in the fry pan. Many of the fish-barren alpine lakes high in the wilderness of the Cascades are helicopter-seeded with non-native trout species for the benefit of campers. One of my favorites is Joan Lake at the end of the Johnson Ridge Trail.

If you have to backpack all your food in with you, perishability and weight become important considerations. All camping outfitting stores carry the freeze-dried, complete meal in a bag and if you are flush with cash it is one way to go. But I find that I can put together a well-balanced meal out of cheaper alternative rights off the supermarket shelf . . . and keep the weight and volumn off my back as well.

Backpacking is a strenuous activity and requires a large caloric intake as opposed to relaxing in a lawn chair at a organized campground. My resting caloric intake is right around 1,500 calories a day yet when I backpack I find that I'm burning 2,500 to 3,000 calories easily. Most of that is exertion but an appreciable portion is due to the nudity as I hike and the need to replace body heat. You may not feel it but perspiration will quickly lower your body temperature and that is when you'll appreciate the reserves of energy required to prevent hypothermia.

Food intake has to be balanced between sugars, carbohydrates, protein and salts.

  • Sugars are the instant energy sources, quickly absorbed into the blood stream and providing the energy to move your muscles in the short run. Most of our sugar needs can be provided by snacks such as trail mix, energy bars or a simple Snickers bar. Sugar is used rapidly when you are exerting yourself and it is important that you have reserves to take over as your blood sugar levels drop or you'll experience the nasty symptoms of hypoglycemia and a dangerous drop into severe exhaustion. For a quick boost of sugar levels, I carry a small packets of runner's gel, which is a mixture of fast-absorbing glucose, longer-lasting carbs and essential electrolytes in a variety of flavors (try the banana-strawberry. Runner's gel can be purchased at most sports and nutrition shops. They are easy to suck down as you hike and quickly restore alertness and energy until you can properly eat a carbohydrate-loaded meal.

  • Carbohydrates are our longer-term energy reserves and are more slowly absorbed and then released into the bloodstream as we need them. We've all heard of carbohydrate-loading by marathon runners and the ilk before a big competition. It works. Carbohydrates are stored in our liver and released as glucose (sugar) in response to our changing blood sugar levels as we need them. Pastas, breads and cheeses are excellent sources of carbohydrates.

  • Proteins are the structural elements of our bodies. Exertion conditions us and builds muscle and protein is a necessary component of that newly-bulked-up muscle as well as any celluar repair that needs to be done. Proteins are also a necessary component in the smooth functioning of our metabolism and adjustment to stress. Protein-rich foods such as tuna, peanut butter, beans and protein-rich energy bars also provide a source of additional sugars and carbohydrates as well as trace minerals our body requires. Don't go overboard of proteins though. Excessive intake of protein is difficult to digest and can commonly induce intestinal cramping when you are exerting yourself heavily on the trail. Proteins also breakdown in amonia-like waste products that have to be secreted in the urine. A craving for water beyond what you really need is often attributable to excessive protein intake.

  • When you backpack, you are going to sweat no matter what the temperature outside is. And when you sweat, you are dumping a lot of your essential salts along with the perspiration. If you were a football star you could simply go over to the sidelines and gulp down GatorAide. But on the trail you don't have that luxury. Salt is usually replaced in the foods you eat but that is not enough on the trail when you are sweating quarts of water a day (and more so if you have a heavy protein-load to remove). I approach salt-loss in several ways. My immediate water source on the trail is from bottles of GatorAide (or a similar electrolyte-replacement drink). I carry packets of salt-replacement powders to make up a fresh batch for the next day's use. In extreme exertion and very hot weather, I carry a small supply of salt tablets. Trust your body and when it craves salt, take that as a warning sign and replace the salt loss. The alternative is heat exhaustion and perhaps severe diarhea and that is serious on the trail away from emergency help. I carry one packet of rehydration therapy powder for such emergencies.
There is nothing like sitting by a campfire after a long day of hiking.
A campfire also dispels those things that go 'bump in the night'.

Plan your meals for the number of days you are going to be on the trail . . . plus one or two extra days just in case. Here is an example for a typical three day backpacking trip:

Day One
Breakfast: Prior to the hike, carbohydrate loading. A good breakfast of pancakes, syrup, hasbrowns, juice. Go easy on eggs if you are making extreme altitude changes as they can produce painful bloating and gas.

Lunch: A packed lunch. Eat the sandwich you made now as it is perishable. If I have time I will set up my stove and prepare some Top Ramen soup with noodles and a cup of coffee. I like to add chunks of Tillimook Beef Jerky chunks to my soup for protein and texture.

Dinner: After you've set up the tent and secured your water supplies, make yourself a protein-rich meal. I like the sealed mylar pouches of tuna you can buy in the store, mixed with a packet of mayo and relish (I stock up on these packets everytime I vist a McDonalds or Burger King) and spread over an unleavened flat bread like Biboli which stores well. A cup of hot chocolate (powder packets) and relax and enjoy the sun going down.

Day Two
Breakfast: Pancakes and Syrup; Coffee. I've preportioned instant pancake mix in baggies, I have a small plastic bottle of butter-flavored pancake syrup, and a small aerosol can of butter-flavored pan spray.

Lunch: I'm in my stride now, having filled a trail thermos with coffee, I sip as I hike and snack from the trail mix or the beef jerky. The trail bars I eat in mid afternoon to keep me going.

Dinner: Chilli. Staggs packages chilli in mylar pouches and I can simply drop one in boiling water. Some crackers and I eat it right out of the opened pouch. The boiling water goes to my cup of hot chocolate (or coffee).

Day Three
Breakfast: More pancakes and coffee, not forgetting to fill the thermos as well.

Lunch: Trail Mix and energy bars as I hike.

Dinner: Back at the trailhead and once I've cleaned up and massaged my sore feet back to normal I'm headed for Burger King for their largest bacon-cheese burger and a large order of fries. I've earned it.

So what did I have to carry in for three days and one backup emergency day? It breaks down to a couple of ounces each of instant coffee, sugar and creamer; six ounces of instant pancake mix in a baggie, 4 ounces of pancake syrup, a 4 ounce can of pan spray, one 4 ounce pounch of tuna with a couple of single-serve packets of mayo and relish, one Biboli bread, a four ounce packet of Tillimook Beek Jerky Chunks, a couple of Ramen Top Noodle Instant Soups, one 6 ounce packet of Staggs Chilli with a few crackers, an eight ounce bag of Trail Mix and four Energy Bar for snacking on the trail, and two packets of instant hot chocolate mix. An emergency reserve of one tuna pouch and a couple of extra hot chocolates rounds out the food I carry in. Total weight under four pounds.

A four-season tent like this MSR model packs
in at six pounds including all the hardware.

Next Installment: Setting up camp and staying nude and warm . . .

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