Barbara Hodgin, who was once president of the Pacific Crest Trail Association, is old enough to remember a time when, if you asked a backpacker what was for dinner, the standard answer was either “brown in a cup” or “green in a cup.” A clever hack for trail pad thai was an envelope of unsweetened lime Kool-Aid.
Now, distance backpackers pour French-press coffee into $60 double-walled titanium cups and make beer on the trail from concentrate fizzed up with citric acid and potassium bicarbonate. Car campers tuck chorizo, kale and sweet potatoes into custom hobo packs, and simmer cumin-scented breakfast shakshuka in camp kitchens that come assembled with sinks and paper-towel holders.
And if your phone dies while you are enjoying the wilderness, a tiny stove fed with twigs can convert that heat to electricity and charge it.
With visits to national parks setting records for three years in a row, and the rise of both culinary skills and the drive to document every meal on social media, the nation’s campsite cooking has taken a quantum leap