Camping in the 1910s.Tea anyone? From: "How Girls Can Help Their Country," Adapted from Agnes Baden-Powell and Sir Robert Baden-Powell's Handbook, 1917. Tucked in among the ads for Jell-O, the snippets on when to wear fur, and stories of society women of interest to readers of the January 1914 issue of The American Club Woman is an article entitled “Hiking for Health”. In a single page the article covers the essentials of trip planning, coping with weather, clothing, the advantages of hiking over other activities, and the funny looks you get from people driving by along roads. So much of it still rings true.
When I found this article I was looking for information about hiker food in 1915, another essential element to my upcoming trip as a hiker from one hundred years ago. Hardtack and lard are not my thing, and although I know these would not be my only options, I thought I should check into just what I might have carried were I not planning on taking a huge bag of chocolate peanut butter LÄRABARs to tide me over between meals in huts.
The author of this article, Blanche Mac Donald, suggests a real feast for day hikes: tea or coffee and a pot in which to brew it, bacon and a frying pan, sandwiches, fruit, olives, and nuts. Her idea of the perfect hike is to stop for lunch, build a fire, and cook food, which seems to be the norm for this era of hiking. In other guides on “tramping” cacao is sometimes voted in over coffee or tea because it is more substantial. Things like dried meats, desiccated potatoes and canned sardines often come up, too.
If I wanted to be very fancy and bring canned goods I could go with a selection of baked beans, spaghetti, peanut butter, and cream soups all made by the Heinz Company, according to their ads appealing to “Experienced Campers.” Over and over I also came across lemons, not for the warding off of scurvy, but as a thirst quencher on the trail. No stream nearby in which to dip your cup? Apparently “go suck a lemon” wasn’t an insult or retort back then, just a friendly suggestion. According to many ads I saw chocolate was also a necessity. (Hurray!)
Overall it seems like not so very much has changed in the food department of hiking. Be it plentiful, calorie dense, bacon-laden, and able to withstand a day or more in a pack, it is good for hiking, although I think I will leave it to the huts croos to fix the bacon.
My hikes in the White Mountains have led to many paintings in the last few years. You can see the results of that side of my trips in the Hinterlands gallery of my website. Some of the original paintings are available through my online shop. You can follow along on my next adventures via Facebook and Instagram. Happy Trails!