How to Fuel on the Continental Divide Trail

by Ethan and M.E., Tahoe Trail Bar Ambassadors



Tahoe Trail Bar Fuel of ChoiceHOW DO YOU SNACK? Tahoe Trail Bar ambassadors, Ethan and M.E. are on the Continental Divide Trail taking the journey of a lifetime. How do they fuel out in the wild? Well, they like to snack…a lot. They snack when they are hungry; they snack when they aren’t hungry. Even their Nutter Butter shaped shoe-prints invoke snacking hunger in those that follow their tracks. During their morning routine, they grab an array of fruit snacks, crackers, jerky, nut bars, candy bars, all of which serve the purpose of simply snacking throughout the day. Bags of chips are a must in their pack’s mesh. M.E. even started a trend of enjoying applesauce at the top of summits. This tradition has earned her applesauce the name Summit Sauce. Applesauce is not the most logical trail food, being heavy and low calories, but it sure is a morale booster!

Snacking allows Ethan and M.E. to add fuel variation to their packs, and when they tire of a particular snack it is easy to rotate a new snack into their snack artillery. What is your favorite snack off-trail? Ethan and M.E. are not afraid to incorporate their favorites while on trail. M.E. loves fruit, so fruit gummies and applesauce are a treat during tough climbs or long miles. Ethan loves fruit gummies for his morale boosts and they even have a hint of freshness after being on trail for so long.

Everyone snacks differently. Some people eat a few snacks to save weight and some hikers take too many snacks and never stop eating. It all depends on how much you want to carry. Ethan and M.E’s quick fix to not carry too much food weight is to simply eat more. Not a bad problem to run into while on the trail. The best way to determine what snacks work best for you is try them out on your next short adventure.

Ethan and M.E. are not necessarily eating the same snacks they ate the first week on the trail. Through trial and error, they learned quickly what worked and what did not work. There is no sense in forcing something. Be open. Enjoy what you eat.  Do not force yourself to eat something you do not like just because you read about it working well for someone else.

Want to do it the Ethan and M.E. way? Pack out cheese and hummus! Real food has a place on trail, too, you know!

CAN I HAVE EXTRA CALORIES WITH THAT? On the trail, calories are key, but it is also important to take into consideration the amount of calories per ounce of weight. A good rule of thumb is 100 calories per ounce. Ethan and M.E. love finding bars that pack the calorie punch without weighing down their packs. Scattered among their snacks are these high calorie options, and Tahoe Trail Bars have become a staple to their daily menu. Ethan and M.E. set their day up for success by starting their morning off with one of these high calorie, trail bars, and you can see them snacking on them throughout the day when they need an energy boost.

Lunch becomes more about carbohydrates for Ethan and M.E. since usually lunch is followed by the heat of the afternoon which leads to a focus on hydration. When dinner time rolls around and they pull their Jetboils from their packs, protein, good fats, and calories become the focus again. Dinner is crucial because this is when you set yourself up to recover for the next day. Not enjoying an adequate dinner can lead to a grumpy and tired Ethan and M.E. the following morning.

Dinner is their favorite meal. M.E. has become an on-trail mac & cheese expert, while Ethan prepares a mean red beans and rice. Their favorite meal that they make together is ramen noodles with sesame seed oil, but on those late nights when they are tired and feel like spoiling themselves they just add water to dehydrated meals. Olive Oil is an essential to everything they eat.  Adding olive oil to their dinners helps them get extra calories and good fats. Since olive oil is 120 calories per tablespoon, it also helps fill in the empty pit of burned calories from hiking all day. Ethan swears by olive oil and that enough olive oil would even help the Tin Man move with ease.

DON’T BONK. If you are hungry, it is too late. Ethan and M.E., learned very quickly how important it is to maintain and sustain energy. Coming back from letting your energy crash is tough especially when you have to keep moving. Snacking frequently definitely helps Ethan and M.E, stay energized as well mixing in high calorie trail bars into the day. However, electrolytes are their secret weapon to staying hydrated and energized. Whether they are in the desert, in the mountains, or wading through the Gila River two hundred times, they cannot just rely on water to keep them going.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Feed your body fuel that makes you proud! Ethan and M.E. definitely carry food that gives them something to look forward to and boost their morale, but they try not to rely on a diet of junk food when they are going the distance. They have a healthy balance of enriched foods and treat foods. M.E.’s favorite treat food after a long day is Oreos and peanut butter. Ethan enjoys whatever Little Debbie is baking. On trail, your body becomes a powerful machine, so treat it to good fuel and stay out longer.

Ethan and M.E. are currently on the hike of a lifetime on the CDT.

Follow them on Instagram

Follow their journey on their blog Trailing Thought