From Belly to Brain, Cognitive Shifts in the Backcountry

By Office Admin August 15, 2016

Wilderness Cooking

During our latest Instructor Candidate (IC) course, I had the opportunity to witness one of the most beautiful shifts in group dynamics I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Our instructor candidates had just finished two days of challenging climbs — made all the more difficult by torrential rains, equipment challenges and late — very, very late — dinners. Empty bellies, low energy levels and mercurial weather makes for some pretty unhappy people.

Backcountry Dough

On the third day we set off on even steeper climbs and larger elevation gains. By lunchtime, the entire group was getting the “hangries.” After the noontime meal, one of the instructor candidates (Jessica) said we needed to get a head start on dinner. Now.

And before we know it, she began leading us all through a dough-making lesson. As we began kneading the dough, everyone began chatting about a range of topics, with a little laughter and horseplay thrown in. What we were not talking about was smelly wet clothes, tired legs and aching bodies.

As we set off for our second half of the day, each of us had a ziplocked bag of rising dough tucked into our shirts, giving us the appearance of a large group of big-bellied backcountry enthusiasts.

By the time we found a suitable campsite, we were exhausted, the water was further away than we thought and a lot of work faced us before we could eat. You could slice the tension in the air with a pizza cutter — which was ironic because (more…)

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