We went hiking this summer on the Appalachian Trail, and we brought our homemade maple syrup with us! Both maple syrup and maple candy made the trip with us to see which faired better on the long journey. We used it both to sweeten our oats in the morning, as a sweet treat for a mid-day crash and to add to our hot tea in the evenings! Here are our takeaways, and why maple will be a staple in our future trips!
Hiking the Appalachian Trail with Maple
Our trip was a short thru-hike for a long weekend in August in upstate New York. After spending ages pouring over what gear to bring, what we’d need to be comfortable, and what we could leave behind, we were ready to go. Preparing for a hiking trip is a critical balance of comfort and weight. The more comforts you bring, the heavier your pack, and the harder and slower your hike goes. Trail comforts I opted for were a backpacking pillow and some maple to sweeten up my days.
Why Maple Syrup?
I chose to bring maple syrup and maple candy on our hiking trip because there are a ton of health benefits of maple syrup. While maple syrup contains sucrose, just like table sugar, it also contains Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, and Manganese. I have seen some runners and other athletes come out with recipes for making their own GU, using maple syrup as one of the ingredients! Heck, even Untapped sells their maple syrup as an athletic fuel! So I decided to try out using the maple syrup I made in my own backyard on the Sapling Evaporator on the trail!
Hiking with Maple Syrup
I brought some of my homemade maple syrup in a Gu pouch for the hike. It was easy to transport, didn’t leak or spill in my bear canister, and held up great on the trip. Actually, the pouch held a LOT of maple syrup! I didn’t even get to it all while I was hiking. It was easy to hold and easy to eat, and I was able to add maple syrup to my morning tea and oats. Some runners favor GU while running because it’s an easy way to get calories, electrolytes, and nutrients while on the move. But for hiking, maple syrup was perfect!
After hiking for a few days with a large heavy bag, I was ready to figure out any way to lose a few ounces of weight. This would make my daily hiking easier. The GU pouch worked great, but in the end was a bit heavy. A lighter way to transport my maple would be preferable. Enter maple candy!
Hiking with Maple Candy
Maple candy is easy to make. All you need to do is heat your maple syrup to 246°F instead of 219°F and stir for a few minutes before putting it into a mold. Read more of the details of how to make maple candy in our other blog post! You can use this Homemade Maple Sugar Making Kit to easily make your own maple candy at home. It comes with all you need, including maple syrup, to make maple taffy, cream, candy, and sugar at home.
If you’ve never had maple candy before, you should try it! It is a hard-ish candy that begins to melt as soon as it hits your tongue. You are then met with the sugary maple sweetness we all know and love. The candies can come in all shapes and sizes. For my trip, I opted for a flower shape!
They are easy to pack, take up a small amount of space, are lighter than syrup, and hold up well. Mine were stuck in my snack pouch, shoved in my bear box, and jammed in my food bag. They held up great without gentleness! Maple candy melts quickly in oatmeal, and can be broken into pieces to sweeten your tea or coffee just the way you like it!
The Winner – Maple Candy
Maple candy was the clear highlight and winner on this backpacking trip. It was easy to give to someone who needed a sweet pick-me-up. It was quick and easy to pop in my mouth while hiking. It sweetened up the trip without the extra weight in my backpack. I encourage everyone going on a multi-night backpacking trip to throw a few maple candies in their bag!
Next Time on the Trail
Next time on the trail, we’ve all agreed that we will bring less weight! We all brought things that we didn’t need, and you only really know what you’ll need once you get to the trail. I’ll be sure to bring some homemade maple candy for my next trip. It’s easy to make at home, and stores for a while. So you can make it in the springtime when you’re finishing your maple syrup. Or you can bust out your maple syrup any time of year, and reheat to follow the same simple steps. It makes for a great hiking snack, a great gift for a special day, and a yummy treat any time of year. Maple for the win!
Making maple syrup in the backyard is easy, but you can make even more than maple syrup! Check out how to make maple cream, candy, and sugar from our other blogs below!