“Hi. My name’s Sisu and I’m a chocoholic.”
An introduction at a Hikers Anonymous meeting? Not really. But, I do have a problem. On the trail I am obsessed with chocolate.
It started innocently enough when tossing some pro forma hiker fare into my food bag. You know, Swiss Miss, granola bars with chocolate covered nuts, the German Ritter Sport dark chocolate and hazel nut bars I used to like as a kid when my dad was stationed in West Germany. Then the Snickers and some Starbucks Via mocha instant coffee packets and before you knew it, I was schlepping more cocoa power per square inch than a stick of dynamite.
In other words, a bag full of high octane chocolate treats with visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head.
For the record, in real life I don’t eat candy. Period. I find the sugary stuff revolting. I don’t munch chocolate either. I especially don’t like “fru fru” flavored coffee. “Give it to me straight, Mack.” I like my coffee hot, black and thick enough to pave pot holes thanks to way it was brewed by Army mess sergeants from a bygone era.
It didn’t start this way. Over time, the chocolate started replacing the jerky, oatmeal and grits. I’m not sure where or when I got my first taste on the trail. But, I do know that the gateway indulgence that hooked me was the dark chocolate, cherry and nut granola bars. After that, chocolate was all I could think about. I was almost ready to throw my life away for it.
This is how low it goes. I bought some brand name amaretto flavored chocolate covered almonds at a gas station convenience store in Erwin, Tennessee. That’s when I knew I had a serious problem. “I’m really buying this for the nuts,” I rationalized as I traipsed through the check out. They were so good that I bought more at the next stop. It was getting ugly.
I should have asked myself why gas stations in the middle of the sticks could even sell such highly branded empty calories at a premium price, but I wasn’t very analytical at the time. Instead, hiker hunger was knocking as my body fat reserves diminished.
Hiker hunger is real. It raps on the door to your soul. You have to eat. The food formula becomes calories per pound. Taste, texture and presentation fly out the window along with your pride.
Could it be that I’m just hungry? Maybe I’m just a situational chocoholic? Even so, I need to own up to my chocolate affliction and treat it with the best medicine – more nourishing chow.