Hiker hunger is a phenomenon hikers encounter when our appetite becomes insatiable, and we crave some of the weirdest things. Some hikers will say that they’re starving. But having known starvation, the word hunger is suitable.
On the PCT, hiker hunger kicked in for me around mile 43ish. Here, on the SHT, the insatiable craving for cheese, funnel cakes (which I’ve only eaten four times in my life), fries, and sushi hit on day three, and I’d run out of food by day five.
Knowing that the SHT is a lesser-known trail, I’d prepared meals prior and shipped them accordingly. I packed food for six days at the start of each resupply. Unfortunately, my calculations were off, and I’ve been running out of food!
Amid a severe hiker hunger spell, I started listing all the things I wish I had: ice cream, mushrooms, pizza, Sprite, Reese’s, cheese, sushi, and fries. I also started calculating the miles to the next town.
Then the reality of my situation set it—I have money. I’m not restricted to the trail. I can buy whatever I want except sushi. I’m very hesitant to eat sushi in small-town Minnesota. Not everyone has the luxury to purchase food in general.
I received sample boxes of Patagonia Provisions meals for this trip. And while tasty, what seems to keep the hiker hunger at bay are Pop-Tarts, peanut butter, noodles, and tuna fish—cheaply priced items that I seldom eat off-trail. They aren’t the healthiest. Yet these are items that nourished me as a child (government cheese and syrup sandwiches are also on that list).
Hiker hunger is legitimate and (currently) fierce. It’s 2 a.m. as I write this post in my orange tent, lying on an orange sleeping pad, debating if I’m desperate enough to walk the five miles into town and wait until noon for the store to open in the off chance they sale orange American cheese.
Alternatively, I could untie my bear bag and cook some ramen noodles, or I could just go to sleep.