Hiking for up to twelve hours a day, with an approximately 30-lb pack requires a lot of calories. A typical day could require around 6,000 and 8,000 calories for each person. Most hikers rely on restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and other such food depository’s to supply these calories. Jacob and I bought bulk food, organized it into boxes, and rely on Pyrite’s mom to mail the boxes to us at resupply stops along the way. This is a blessing, and we are lucky to have resupply support. Thank you, Rosalie.

Our major food considerations were/are based on the following criteria:

  • Vegan: We don’t eat animal products. We also don’t proselytize. This may be why our hiking buddies, the French Team, started calling us the birds and the food we eat bird seed.
  • High calorie-dense foods. We stick with good calorie to weight ratios, which is why a great majority of our daily calories came from a custom-designed trail mix.  We add olive oil to our dinners to add fat and flavor. Hard Tack was our most calorically dense source of food, and worked for about the first 4 months, after which it became rancid. I didn’t do the best job of getting all the moisture out of the bars, and so they started to go bad in some of the trail stops with high humidity. 
  • Choosing foods we really like to eat: Unlike some, the prospect of eating refried beans and couscous (aka Bachelor Chow-dubbed by Jacob) every day for 5 months sounded reasonable. We did not get sick of Bachelor Chow. I still salivate when thinking about it.
  • Supplementing with vitamins: We had Vitamin C tablets and Vitamin B12 supplements. We supplemented with Clif Bars and Builder Bars towards the end of our hike.
  • Catching up on fruits and veggies in town: We relied on those small moments of joy when we could get an apple or greens in towns, or a wrap with hummus, avocado, spinach and carrots. Sometimes we ate whole bags of chips, or an entire bag of Oreos. Then we felt sick for a few days. Binging is a hard thing to resist in towns.

Post-trail lessons

In 2011, our food strategy worked well for the first 4 months with the exception of one time in the Sierra when we mis-calculated our mileage and had to get off at Bishop Pass because we were going to run out of food. We ended up resupplying at a grocery store for that small stretch, but otherwise we depended on the oatmeal, trail mix, hard tack, and couscous and refried beans.

For the CDT this year, instead of Hard Tack we are supplementing with energy bars.


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