Filling a long line of resupply boxes
On our Appalachian Trail thru hike, we’ll sometimes buy food at stores near the trail, and other times pick up a food box which we prepared prior to the hike. Organizing and creating food resupply boxes is time consuming, but we love the result: better tasting and more nutritious trail food. For vegetarians like us this is especially true, since vegetarian food is harder to find in tiny trail towns. Mailing food boxes also enables us to stay away from larger towns and remain in the wilderness. There’s nothing like the calm that extended time in the wild brings.
The first step in preparing food boxes is to create a meal plan. This has been an iterative process for us over the years. Incredibly, after hiking 2600 miles in 2012, we still love most of our backpacking food menu. We made a few small changes for the Appalachian Trail and have updated our list of favorite backpacking foods accordingly. You can view the list at any time by clicking the “Food” tab above.
The first shipment of our book Pacific Crest Trail: A Journey in Photographs arrived! We opened the first box, pulled out a book, flipped slowly through the pages, and took a mental trip through the wilderness from Mexico to Canada. We were overjoyed to see our vision for the book realized. Order a beautiful book for yourself here:
We’re hard at work assembling boxes, signing and wrapping books, and printing mailing labels. If you pre-ordered a signed book, it will ship on Monday. When you receive your book, drop us a comment on the blog and let us know your thoughts.
Our PCT thru hike was an amazing adventure. Creating this book turned out to be an equally challenging and rewarding journey.
We’ve finalized our Appalachian Trail thru hike gear! It’s similar to our PCT gear but even lighter. Check out our full AT gear list at:
Here are some of the new items we’ll be carrying on the Appalachian Trail:
Northstar twirls in her new rain jacket and kilt.
Northstar will wear a Marmot Crystalline women’s rain jacket on the AT. This minimalist jacket weighs just 6.2 ounces. It’s durable and protective, yet small enough to pack into its own pocket.
She’ll trade rain pants for a well-ventilated ULA rain kilt (2.9 oz). In addition to providing rain protection, this will allow some modesty when washing all our clothing in town.
Shutterbug will be sporting a 7.1 oz Rab Pulse rain jacket. Rab has managed to keep this jacket light while integrating a very functional and adjustable hood.
Montbell’s Dynamo wind pants will provide Shutterbug with basic wind and rain protection. They’re very breathable, and at 2.6 oz, they’re lighter than his shorts!
We created our Appalachian Trail food resupply plan with two priorities in mind:
- Stay close to the trail. We prefer to remain in the wilderness away from city noises and distractions. We’ll walk to our resupply points and avoid cars and shuttles wherever possible.
- Keep it strictly vegetarian and mostly organic. We’ll buy from grocery stores where feasible and ship food boxes to areas with slim vegetarian pickings.
We used a similar resupply strategy on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and it worked very well. On our Appalachian Trail (AT) thru hike we plan to buy food at 16 stores and pick up 20 maildrops. Some sections of the AT run close to convenience stores and restaurants. In those sections we will carry less food than normal.
Our thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail taught us many things. Here are five of the most important lessons we learned on the trail.
Marmot on the alert
Senses awaken in nature. After years of living in a city, our minds subconsciously created filters to deal with the contant jumble of sensory information. It was thrilling to remove those mental filters and reawaken our senses in the great outdoors. The crack of a distant twig alerted us to an elk, almost hidden in the forest. We could smell day hikers’ deodorant and laundry detergent from several feet away. Our eyes tracked the subtle movements of a soaring hawk adjusting to shifting air currents. The longer we lived in the wild, the sharper our senses became.
People are good. On the trail, day hikers and trail angels gave us encouragement, kudos, and tasty food. Other thru hikers shared our joy during good times, and cheered us up during harder moments. Crews of volunteers labored to maintain the trail. The people we met in the small towns along the PCT were incredibly friendly and accommodating. Strangers went out of their way to give us rides, find us rooms, and some even offered us their homes for a night. The kindness and generosity we received went beyond anything we could have expected. We saw the fundamental goodness of people during our thru hike.
In the past year, we used three different lightweight backcountry water filters: the SteriPEN, the Sawyer 3-Way Inline Water Filter, and the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter. Here we share our experiences with each of these water treatment methods.
Completing the Pacific Crest Trail strengthened our desire to venture into the wild again. We love the simple lifestyle, beautiful landscapes, and daily surprises of life on the trail. After much research, we have determined our next adventures!
Big Bear Lake viewed from the Pacific Crest Trail
On the morning of Day 26 we walked 8.5 miles to the Silverwood Lake picnic area. There Anna’s brother Jim and his wife Cindy gave us big welcoming hugs despite the grime and stink we’d acquired on the trail. Jim and Cindy then drove us to a nice rental house in Big Bear where Anna’s family had planned their annual family vacation. We had a great time relaxing and catching up with everyone.
Canoeing with Jim and Cindy
Jim and Cindy are being wonderfully helpful by shipping us food boxes during our PCT hike. We’d like to give back a bit by sharing a project Jim has been working on for the past year: the Get In Front dance performance in San Francisco. Jim is a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and the June 6 show will feature dancers from 11 top Bay Area dance companies including San Francisco Ballet, LINES Ballet, and ODC/Dance. The evening will be a major fundraiser for the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, whose mission is to Get in Front of cancer. You can learn more about this amazing night and buy tickets at getinfront.org.
The timing of our Big Bear break worked out well because Shutterbug’s (Chris’s) feet have grown larger from all the walking we’ve been doing, and his toes were starting to rub. Luckily he found the same model, just half a size larger than his old shoes, and his feet are happy again.
Mexican border (mile 0) to mile 11.25
Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way.
- Dr. Seuss
We experienced our first trail magic before we even reached the trail. Scout and Frodo, who hiked the PCT in 2007 were super helpful hosting us and arranging rides to the trailhead. They hosted many other hikers too, and had a BBQ with various of their PCT friends. It was great to chat maps and photography with Half Mile, whose maps we are using on this trip. And we met a number of other hikers like us crazy enough to try to thru hike the PCT.
This morning Tristan drove us to the trailhead at 6 AM. We touched the Mexican border fence, signed the trail register, and then we were on our way.
When you picture a desert, you might imagine a barren expanse of land, but the desert here is anything but barren. We saw lots of wildflowers and a variety of trees, grasses, and animals.