Summer is fast upon us. Many hikers will be heading for the hills in search for solace, scenery and some sort of adventure. Whether it’s an afternoon outing or a three-week river trip, one common denominator rings true for countless mountaineers, wanderers, and explorers: the hot drink.
Long before tents and tarps, the only creature comfort of the backcountry was a fire and water. Then, some intrepid genius decided to combine the two and we got hot water. In 2737 BC, tea was made in China during the Shang Dynasty for medicinal purposes. And Coffee has been around since the 10th century where it was first concocted for religious practices in Ethiopia. Since then the hot drink has taken on several forms for myriad appetites and applications: cider, cocoa, mate, the hot toddy, grog—the list goes on ad infinitum.
Brewing is a ritual in backcountry travel. It’s as old as camping itself. And it doesn’t matter where you pitch your tent. From Alaskan glaciers to the Arizona desert, brewing is a time for sharing, for bonding, and a good excuse to stop and embrace a moment. At its heart is survival; at its best, a hot drink causes us to pause, allowing us to sit—either alone or together—and reflect on why we make the effort in the first place. There’s a sublime value in that. Whether it’s to rally on cold mornings, nestle in for bed or simply enjoy on a long day, the hot drink continues to exist as a backcountry staple for campers of every stripe.
There are countless opinions regarding what makes a suitable if not delicious backcountry hot drink—way beyond the scope of this post. But there is a couple worth mentioning: Alcohol is a welcoming addition to just about any hot drink, and most adults of average intelligence recognize coffee as the human race’s single greatest achievement, an élan vital that fuels the dreams of thousands of champions every day.
Brooks-Range knows the hot drink doesn’t just warm the body on chilly mornings; it’s the calming reassurance of Morgan Freeman telling you everything’s going to be all right. However you spend time in the woods, wherever you decide to roam, the hot drink is always a contributing member of your camping party, sharing in the history of communion in the vast outdoors.
Want to liven up your hot drink routine? Try these recipes next time you head into the woods:
Spiced Mexican Hot Cocoa
1 serving hot cocoa mix (with water)
2 pinches ground chipotle chili pepper
2 pinches ground cinnamon
3 toasted marshmallows to top it off
Hot Toddies with a Twist
4 cups fresh apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise, plus some for garnish
1 lemon (juiced)
1 cup whiskey