The problem with enjoying our free subscription to Food & Wine while planning our food for the PCT is we are going way to gourmet. Whereas many thru-hikers survive off Ramen noodles, beef jerky and candy bars for 6 months we have a vast array of nutritious and delicious foods. Carbs include four different types of noodles, bulgher wheat, and quinoa flakes… flavoured with teriyaki, pad thai, marinara, or garam marsala, among others. We have a selection of 10 different dried vegetables and the most amazing assortment of 15 some dried fruits. When on a long backpacking trip you want light, non-bulky high calorie foods that don’t need refrigeration and won’t get crushed or bruised easily. And if you’re cooking, quick one pot meals are ideal. All our dinners are instant – just add boiling water and wait 5 or 10 minutes.
Some thru-hikers buy most of their food at towns along the way, others (like us) prepare their food ahead of time and mail it to locations along the trail (resupply points). We’ll be mailing 27 boxes during our journey. Many of the small “towns” the PCT passes by have nothing more than a tiny (and often overpriced) general store & post office, so we decided to post food so we could save money, have more variety & backpack-friendly foods, spend less time hitchhiking to far-away towns to shop at unfamiliar shops & just in general have one less thing to worry about when on the trail. Which of course means that right now we’re stressing PLENTY about food.
We’ve been dehydrating everything imaginable non-stop for months now (peanut butter smelled amazing but didn’t dry out, hummus looks like parched dessert earth before we pulverize it, but tastes amazing), we’ve scoured the internet for the best deals on freeze-dried veggies & butter powder (Honeyville), plus filled countless shopping carts with bulk purchases from Costco & our fave Korean supermarcado Grand Mart.
I cannot begin to convey to you the complications & calculations involved in buying, preparing & packaging food for breakfast, lunch & dinner for 2 for 208 days. We have numerous Excel spreadsheets detailing all the food we’ve bought, what we’ve packaged, how many servings we need of how many ounces… ahh! It’s really frying my brain. We could fill an entire math textbook with word problems about PCT food packaging.
The scariest part is, all of our food calculations are based on estimates and assumptions….
Estimating we’ll go at a certain pace so it will take us 6 days to get to the next town and we’ll need 6 days of food. Hoping that our 4000 calorie diet will be adequate. And that we’ll be able to fit all our food into our bear bags during a long wilderness stretch in the High Sierras. Or that enough snow will have melted for us to enter the High Sierras almost a month before the day set by ultra light weight thru-hike guru Ray Jardine. But for now, I’m not going to think about snow. I’m just going to focus on distributing the 200 little mayo packets we bought into our resupply boxes.