This seems like a logical weekend to think of getting into the mountains. With such high temperatures this summer, heading to the mountains is looking better and better.
Last year, over 45 million Americans set out to go camping for an average of 15 days.
Whether it’s for the day or week, planning an excursion involves thinking about meals and snacks away from home as well as food safety and nutritional challenges. Most important is constant hydration – at high elevations and with this heat, fluids in any form are critical.
Road Trips Road travel often overlaps with meal times, requiring you to stop for food or pack your own. Along the highway, there tends to be few options for acquiring a nutritious meal or snack. Packing your own can be a better bet. For any trip lasting longer than two hours, pack foods requiring refrigeration in a small cooler with ice. Freeze water bottles to help keep the cooler cold, and enjoy the cold water as they thaw.
Pre-portion the foods into snack packs or small plastic containers. Pinterest has examples of snack boxes as an interesting approach.
Portable silverware, paper towels and pre-moist wipes make for easier cleanup. Keep plenty of fluids handy in leak-proof water bottles. Plan for breaks to get out of the car to stretch or take a short walk. In our area, there is so much to see – stop and enjoy.
Air travelHealthy, affordable options can be hard to find in airports. Snack items can be packed in a small lunchbox with a frozen ice pack to keep foods cold.
Drinking lots of liquid when traveling prevents dehydration and altitude sickness. Bring an empty reusable water bottle and fill it after going through security to stay hydrated during the flight and after you arrive at your destination.
Camping The world is yours if car camping. Bring a large cooler to store the perishable goods. Plan ahead for meals, including snacks. Plan to eat the most perishable items first. Planning helps prevent food waste. Many things can be made at home and frozen to thaw in the cooler as you travel. Quick-cook brown rice packets and pre-cut vegetables wrapped in foil are a great dinner combination, both of which can be cooked over the fire.
If you are planning a backpacking trip, it may require more thought ahead of time. Pack each meal in a separate bag for easy access from your backpack. Making your own snacks and dehydrated meal mixes help save money and extra weight in your backpack. Avoid perishable foods, but items such as apples, oranges, grapes and jicama hold up for several days. Dehydrating foods in advance can be helpful as well as vacuum-sealing individual meals in a pouch.
Water safety in the woodsWhen camping and hiking, water is needed for drinking, preparing meals and washing dishes. Typically, we can’t bring enough, so we resort to the mountain waters. Streams, lakes and other water sources are commonly contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, viruses or protozoa, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
Giardiasis is a common gastrointestinal illness usually caused by the introduction of Giardia cysts from human or animal wastes into water sources. Humans are the primary reservoir, but beavers and other wild animals can be infected.
From 2010-2014, Colorado averaged 447 reported cases of giardiasis and 111 cases of cryptosporidiosis. Past epidemiologic studies indicate higher percentages of Giardia exposure within Colorado than outside the state.
Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts are the “resting stage” of these parasites, which are resistant to environmental conditions and can survive in cold mountain streams. Water treatment methods to reduce the risk of infection include boiling, filtration, disinfection or a combination of filtration and disinfection. Boiling water for a minimum of one minute is the most effective pathogen- reduction method, but if that is not feasible, a combination treatment using appropriate filtration and disinfection methods is recommended.
A fact sheet is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlining specific water treatment methods and their effectiveness against various pathogens. Using iodine for water disinfection is not recommended for pregnant women, people with thyroid problems or for long-term use.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.