(This blog entry is from my Patreon blog, where you can see my PCT prep blogs before anywhere else, as well as support me financially on this grand adventure. Later on these posts will be more in sync with each other, with Patreon backers having access to my trail comics, drawings, and videos.)
Hello, Patrons! I hope you’re doing well. I’m here to distract you from the perils of politics for just one moment; a little bit of digital escapism.
Did you know that trying to make a galaxy pattern with markers is damn near impossible?
Just the other day I passed the 90-day mark until I start my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike; I know this because I have a nifty app on my phone! If I hadn’t set this countdown widget up I doubt I would have this very appropriate feeling of impending doom, and I’d be way behind on getting ready for this absolutely crazy adventure.
The logistics of what to do when I’m on the trail regarding you lovely folks and Patreon is still up in the air. There’s a lot you can’t plan for, and I really don’t know what I’m going to be able to do or share. I also don’t know if what I want now is what I’m going to want then. I want this experience to be a very freeing one, and I don’t want to be tied down with too many obligations I made in the real world. Not saying that I want to abandon anyone, I just don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe I’m thinking about this too hard and coming up with too many worst-case-scenarios.
Just a few problems.
In the meantime, I’ll take this as an opportunity to talk about the preparation I HAVE been able to do: FOOD!
I love food. I love to prepare it, I love to cook it, I absolutely love eating it. Food is great. My waistline proves that. The greatest part about hiking is that you get to eat whatever you want and however much you want. You’re burning so many calories every day that you can never eat enough to gain weight. It’s a dream come true!
I get bananas from work for free… so of course I’m going to make as many banana chips as possible to take along. Free food is the best food!
But food is also heavy, and balancing weight vs. calories is important. If you’re carrying 1lb of food that only gives you 1000 calories, you’re not only wasting space in your pack, but you’re also burning more calories by carrying that extra weight that you can’t make up now because you made a poor choice. The rule of thumb is generally 100 calories or more per 1 ounce of food (or 28 grams). The higher the better! Some foods do this extremely well: Oreos are 130 calories per ounce. Brown rice is only 30 calories per ounce. A cake of ramen noodles is only 60 calories. 1 tbsp of peanut butter is 90 calories. I’ll probably end up eating a lot of Oreos and peanut butter.
Nutrition is key here. From what I’ve seen and heard among other thru-hikers, the most common diet is high-calorie junk. Pop-Tarts, candy bars, chips, instant oatmeal… etc… I know a lot of things change for people on the trail, especially food priorities… but I honestly CANNOT see myself resorting to a diet of crap. If I eat too much crappy food I end up feeling crappy. I’ll already be destroying my body by walking two and a half thousand miles, why should I fuel my body with crap too?
Thankfully, being vegan prevents me from eating Pop-Tarts anyways (they contain gelatin), and most other junk foods. So what’s my plan to combat this frantic grab-and-go trail food culture? Making it myself of course.
The bin of food… with at least half removed for inventory purposes. The big bag on the right is full of finished meals, ready to go.
Since last fall I’ve been dehydrating and preparing meals to mail to myself (and Evan!) at various stopping points along the trail. The plan is to make 15 different meals–10 each–separate them into boxes and have a dedicated correspondence mail them to post offices along the trail where we can pick them up. In between mail drops, we will be visiting grocery stores in trail towns to get the rest of our food (see above: junk), but with these meals, we’re guaranteed at least one healthy meal a day.
We’ll be mailing 14 boxes altogether; around 200 miles/7-10 days apart with a few exceptions. Some areas there is no local resupply so we’ll have to send more boxes, and these will have junk from home in them.
Just this morning I went through our big tub of dehydrated food and meals and did inventory. I made a list of what meals I still need to make, and then a list of the various ingredients I need to acquire and dehydrate to make these meals. It’s a big list!
Lists upon lists upon lists upon lists!!
I still have a lot to get done food-wise, but now I know exactly how to finish this task, and I think I can have it done by mid-February if I keep up on it. I currently have cabbage and broccoli in my dehydrator. Ironically, these are astounding low-calorie… but they’re full of vitamins and minerals and will complement the high-calorie meals they’ll end up in. The cabbage will likely be part of Thai curry ramen; packed with curry paste, coconut milk powder, and mushrooms. The broccoli will end up in a few different dishes; alpine spaghetti, rice & veggies, a different ramen variation, etc etc etc. Every meal is going to have olive oil added to it in the end.
And yes, I’ve tested all of these recipes! Several of them I ate on my section hike in September, as well as my OTHER section hike last June! My favorite? The Thai curry ramen, and the enchilada soup. I love soup. It’s problematic because it’s more filling (broth) with fewer calories. The solution is to add more fat to the broth, or my secret weapon: chia seeds!
This is what 8 days worth of food for two people looks like. We ended up buying more on the trail.
Anyways, that’s enough babbling about dried up food I’m putting in a box to forget about for four months and then eat it on the side of an effing MOUNTAIN. What does this have to do with COMICS? I’m going to be making a comic book about this entire adventure, silly! A big comic book. So these little behind the scenes things will make the final product all that more special for all of you lovely people in the end.
Enough about me, what about you guys! What’s the most delicious food you’ve ever eaten on a trip into nature? Hot dogs around a lakeside campfire? A double-cheeseburger at the Grand Canyon? I want to know!