This past Friday, my friend Annie and I ventured to Len Foote Hike Inn, a backcountry lodge accessed via Amicalola Falls State Park. Getting to the inn required a 5-mile hike both in and out, and I had the grand idea of making it a 6-mile hike, as Annie had never seen Amicalola Falls. This plan added a one-mile climb up the stairs alongside the falls on the way in (with backpacks) and a one-mile descent on the way out (with backpacks). Translation = sore calves.
Hiking deep into the woods in January felt like a soul bath. My goals for the year ahead include lots of outdoor adventures after spending a small percentage of last year in bed recovering from surgeries, so this outing was right on time. Body temperatures warmed by exertion, sprawling mountain views made possible by the bare trees, and a beautiful piece of time to hang with a favorite friend after not seeing her in way too long. Mind, body, and spirit restored.
I will probably spend some additional time at a future date writing about the inn, the beautiful architecture, their conservation efforts and education, the views, the bat houses, the laughs and camaraderie shared with Annie, etc., but this post is about … the food. Surprised?
Dining at The Hike Inn reminded me of a great meal camping under the stars around a fire, yet we were indoors in a rustically beautiful dining hall. Our hike, climbs, stumbles, laughs, sweat and shivers culminated in a softly lit room with savory smells, passed plates, and the lull of conversation. Around a table (or campfire or wherever) and communing is equivalent to a divine gathering. Whether it’s my family of four at our familiar kitchen table or a backcountry inn where strangers arrive from an array of backgrounds, sitting down, passing plates and sharing a meal brings people together and creates a bond.
Dinner on Friday was sliced pork loin, salad, corn, broccoli, and rolls followed by a chocolate banana crumble. After a long hike, nothing could have been more perfect.
In alignment with all of their eco-friendly practices, The Hike Inn strives for practically zero food waste. They actually weigh food scraps at the end of each meal with the goal of coming in under two ounces. Then guests receive a score of a smiley or frowny face on a chalkboard, depending on how “well” they ate, or how well their hunger and desire for food matched up with the portions on their plates. Cherishing the importance of each morsel and keeping leftovers from ending up in the landfills– help yourself to what will nourish you yet be conscious of food waste — is something I hope to implement more at home, along with upping my composting game.
Sitting down together at the end of a hike, or at the end of a busy day, brings people together. It’s a ritual to celebrate the end of a day and all of the events and miracles it holds. Reflecting on highs and lows over conversation, laughter, and a good meal is perhaps one life’s greatest gifts.
Here is a delicious new recipe I tried last night — nasi goreng — an Indonesian fried rice dish meant to use up leftovers (fitting). Use any vegetables you have on hand. Shoot me a message if you’d like the recipe in written form.
Gather ’round your table and soak up your loved ones,