The thing about hiking the Appalachian Trail is that you’re pretty much hungry all time. Although this wasn’t anything new to me, carrying 6 days worth of food on my back definitely was. People hike the trail in many different directions and sections, and you often pass others coming from where you are headed. They will sometimes tell you about the trail ahead, about some good camping spots or tough climbs, but most of all they will tell you about the food. About the milkshakes at the next hostel or the blueberry pancakes in the town 3 days away or the man making free omelets for hikers at the upcoming road crossing. So then, for 3 days I would dream about coffee milkshakes and hot breakfasts and meals with real vegetables.
I woke up really early one morning to hike the 7 miles into town, which actually only ended up being closer to 6 because someone offered me a lift about half a mile out. Cheating? Maybe, but I had blueberry pancakes on the mind. I sat my pack down in front of the bakery and walked in and ordered breakfast. I found a shady spot out on the back deck overlooking the lake with a hot cup of coffee in hand and I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I had hiked 450 miles with 100 more to go. I had walked through torrential rain and thunder storms and mud and mosquitoes. I had walked off the initial blisters, aches and pains and I had found my own rhythm. I had pitched my tent in the dark and slept in it all by myself. I had been scared, lonely, happy and proud. I had nothing but a backpack on my back and I felt more whole and complete than I ever have. I had a hot shower to look forward to and blueberry pancakes on the way. I was enough.
I didn’t take many pictures during my hike and I’m not really planning on writing a post about it. It was a month just for me and I now that I’m home I’d like to keep it that way. I’d like my stories to come out here and there, rather than trying to put it all into words at once. Most of it was just an indescribable feeling that is now a memory. It was at times the most rewarding and at other times the most horrible experience of my life. But I did it and I’m still here and I’m here with more pancakes.
VEGAN ALMOND BUTTER PANCAKES (GLUTEN FREE)
1/2 cup buckwheat groats, soaked overnight
3/4 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup all natural almond butter
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Coconut oil for cooking
The night before, place buckwheat groats in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for 8-12 hours. If you forget to do this, the morning you want to make pancakes place the groats in a bowl and cover with boiled water, then let sit for 10 minutes or longer. Strain and rinse the groats, then place them into the bowl of a food processor or high speed blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk if the batter is really thick, you want a pourable consistency. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a non-stick or cast iron skillet or pan over medium heat. Add in a small amount of coconut oil to coat the pan. When you think the pan is hot enough, drop a few drops of water into the center of the pan, if the water sizzles upon contact – you’re ready to make pancakes.
Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup (or 1/4 for smaller pancakes) scoop out the batter and pour it into the center of the pan. Use a spatula to help spread if needed. Let the pancake cook for a minute or two on one side, or until the edges of the pancake are dry and there are visible holes coming through the middle. Flip the pancake and cook for another minute. Repeat the process for the rest of the batter.
Serve warm and top with almond butter, maple syrup, fresh berries and hemp seeds.
Let me in on your kitchen creations – tag your photos #happyheartedkitchen and share the love!