Preparation: Food

When preparing for this hike, food resupplies were always the most daunting to me—how can you possibly plan out, buy, and ship that much food? 

For eating during a long hike, the basic idea is to do some combination of buying food in towns as you go and shipping food to places along the trail where you can pick it up and then keep walking. You resupply a few days’ to maybe a week’s worth of food at a time in order to keep your pack weight down. Because we’re wary of getting stuck eating pop-tarts and slim-jims from gas stations for days at a time, we’re leaning heavily towards the ship-ahead plan: 36 mail-drops and only 3 stops where we’ll be buying all our food locally. 

Our food strategy has evolved over the past few years from hit-or-miss prepackaged freeze-dried dinners and super-bulky granola to some reliable freezer bag dinner recipes and no-cook breakfasts. A lot of credit goes to our friend Kalia, who hiked the JMT with us and went all-in on the freezer bag meals—which we’ve totally copied since then.

But the most we’d ever planned for was a month. How do you scale that up to six times the granola bars, and how do you possibly manage to get enough calories—roughly half a million each over the course of six months? 

This is when it’s (extra) nice to have Andrew around, because the boy sure does love his spreadsheets. He took over and owned our food resupplies. He calculated calories per ounce and calories per dollar, ordered freeze-dries supplies literally by the bucket, and then counted out, assembled, and divided 136 days worth of food into 36 resupply drops. Just go read about it on his blog—I’m not even going to attempt to do justice to all that work here. (Also: photos.) 

My favorite parts: a kitty-litter-sized bin filled with 222 servings of freeze-dried broccoli; ordering a month’s worth of Soylent, which we’ll be eating for breakfast approximately every third morning on the trail; and the radical mind-shift from always choosing the “low fat” version of foods to intentionally seeking out the most calorie-dense. 

Will we get sick of our mail-drop food a month into hiking? Perhaps. But we’ve got tasty dinners and enough Annie’s bunny snacks to survive nuclear winter: we’re not going to go hungry. 

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