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.
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.
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!
We’ve decided to start hiking a bit earlier than we originally planned, for a few reasons. The early start will allow us to walk fewer miles in the beginning of the trip and more gradually increase our pace. It has been a very low snow year for California, so starting a week early shouldn’t cause any snow challenges. Also, we finished our tour of possible new cities (more thoughts on that below). Finally, as you might guess, we’re antsy to hit the trail. Our new plan is to start hiking north from the US/Mexican border on April 19th. That’s less than a week from now!
We had a great tour of potential cities to live in after we finish the hike. Each place had its own unique feel and culture, and we’re glad we took the time to explore them firsthand. The place that clicked with us best was Fort Collins, Colorado. The friendly, down to earth people, good bike lanes, lively walkable downtown, proximity to the mountains, and art scene were all major positives for us. We are very excited to call Fort Collins our new home after hiking the PCT!
Sunset in the Old Town area of Fort Collins
Although we just picked a new home city, the woods and mountains of the Pacific Crest Trail will be our home for the next five months. We received our permits from the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) allowing us to camp anywhere along the trail. We are very grateful to the PCTA for coordinating with the many National Park, State Park, and Forest Service organizations to make this permit process so simple.
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.
Chris tests out a powdered drink mix
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.
Planning food for five months is challenging. We don’t want to be hungry, but we don’t to lug around a lot of extra food either. Because we’ll be mailing ourselves food, we need to calculate ahead of time exactly how much food to put in each box. This could make for a difficult shopping trip. Luckily, math is on our side.