Fortunately we will not need to carry five months of food on our backs as we hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Instead we will resupply every few days at a town, post office, or small business which holds packages for hikers. This approach required a great deal of planning and preparation, which was by turns exciting and monotonous.
On the advice of many previous thru hikers, we are striving for variety in our trail diet. Thus, while planning, we taste tested numerous meal options. Drawing on our knowledge of thru hike nutrition, and in conjunction with our food planning math spreadsheets, we created a massive grocery list. We have just updated our Food page with many details about our food choices. You can access the page by clicking the “Food” link at the top of our blog.
Although we were organized before heading to the grocery store, we still spent several hours in the bulk food section. Shopping for variety while purchasing a large quantity of food takes time. It was exhilarating to see our extensive planning turn into piles of food in a shopping cart. We were surprised to realize how much food we will eat over the next five months. That really hit home when we saw all the food in one place.
The next step was to repackage what we’d bought. We created four varieties of homemade trail mix, then divided each mix into smaller portions. We also grouped ingredients to form two-person dinner packages. Next, we added the appropriate quantity of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to each of our 17 food resupply boxes. Finally, we added the correct map sets to each box.
You can see a photo of all the repackaged dinners on our Food page. Also, check out the Food page for the specifics of what we will consume on our five-month PCT thru hike.
Where are those photos of the grocery carts at Rainbow? How many did we have by the end? And how many boxes of mac and cheese did you finally end up with?
Ah, I think you have the grocery cart photos. We only had one photo from the store, which didn’t turn out well.
We had two and a half grocery carts at Rainbow, plus one at Sports Basement and one at Whole Foods. Thanks for givings us rides between all those stops! And thanks for the organic mac & cheese Christmas gift. We ended up with 24 boxes!
Not that I wish this on you, but do hikers ever report a box not showing up & needing to create a back up plan?
I’m sure it happens occasionally, and there are a couple ways to handle it. First, in the place you pick up the box, there is often some kind of convenience store, gas station, etc. nearby where you can buy extra food. You can’t necessarily get a big selection of food, but you can get enough to make it to the next resupply stop. Another aid is that towns near the PCT often have a hiker box where hikers discard extra food and other items they don’t need. If you are lucky, you can find things there.
From a third-hand account: beware, that if you start getting severe stomach pain, it is probably just gas, and you should probably lay off of the bars for a while :-) Not sure if you’ve heard of this happening to other people. I’ve only heard of it happening to one person, and he was eating only Clif bars, literally nothing else, while on a bike tour.
Thanks for passing that along. It sounds painful to eat only Clif bars for an entire trip. And I guess it was painful!
We made a great effort in planning our food to get a good amount of variety in our meals, so hopefully we can avoid that problem. We will be eating plenty of bars, but we have a good variety there too, which should help. In addition to possible stomach problems, we figured we’d get bored quickly if we ate the same thing every day.
sadly, you are probably going to eat healthier than me during your hike. i guess it helps to not have many (any?) taquerias on the trail to temp you.
Ha! We will eat pretty healthy on the trail but when we get to town we are planning on eating plenty of ice cream and pizza! As for taquerias, we’re getting our fill now as we check out New Mexico and Arizona. :-P