So Much Food!

Tonight, I offloaded a few photos I took over the last couple of months, documenting all the food I packed into resupply boxes. The scale is insane.

Fun Facts Discovered When Buying Food For Six Months

  • You can buy Nutella in tiny individual foil-top containers, perfect for the trail.
    They come in boxes of 120. The boxes weigh a ton.
  • Freeze-dried ground beef is extremely calorie-rich and great for making backcountry dinners. Staring at an entire two-pound can of it is kind of disgusting. Staring at five two-pound cans of it is even worse.
    Also, its “use by” date is December…2039.
  • Freeze-dried broccoli comes in what can only be described as a giant bucket, which contains 222 servings. It costs over $100. We bought one. We used nearly all of it.

Read on for more

I’d Like 240 Granola Bars, Please…

(The photo above of the table full of food is maybe one-fifth of the total food we’re bringing on this trip.)

There are three big projects to tackle before a hike of this magnitude. In order of importance, you will need information, gear, and food.

The first two are complex, and the Internet is full of postings about them. The last, however, is impressive in its sheer scale. The statistics work out like this:

  • 2 people, each needing to eat
  • 4,000–4,500 calories each day, over
  • 6 months of hiking
  • …means…
  • 816 meals, and
  • > 1,000,000 calories.

Only on the PCT (or similar hikes) do you really have to pay attention to these numbers. As an example: say you just “eyeball it”, and bring 3,500 calories/day worth of food, while you’re burning 4,500. Over a one-week hike, this means you’ll lose two pounds — probably something you’ll appreciate! On the PCT, this would mean you’d lose fifty pounds, which is, perhaps needless to say, life-threatening for many people. (Realistically, you’d have to give up long before you got there.) Crunching the numbers and wrapping your head around what you need is important.

It’s really an astonishing

Aren’t You Afraid Of Bears?

Besides “you’re doing what?”, I’ve been asked quite a few interesting questions over the past couple of months as I talked about my plans to people.

How far do you hike each day? About 21 miles, on average. This is the pace you have to keep in order to do the whole trail in a season, between spring and fall snows. It’ll vary a lot, too: slower at the beginning and in the High Sierra, faster in the middle as we come out of the mountains and are in great shape.

What do you eat / how do you get food? The amount of food required is prodigious: over 4,500 calories per day just to maintain body weight. Between the two of us, over six months, that’s over one million calories. The food preparations alone deserve a separate post, but the short version is that we’ve packaged up 36 boxes full of freeze-dried food, and are having Clare’s parents ship them to us over the summer at various points along the trail.

Aren’t you afraid of bears? Not

About the Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from the Mexican border in southern California all the way to the Canadian border in northern Washington. En route, it covers more than 2,650 miles, from low deserts to the highest mountains.

The trail begins just outside Campo, California, on the Mexican border (yes, you can touch the border wall). Nearly everyone starts sometime between late March and early May: if you start too early, you run into deep snow in the High Sierra in California and can’t cross; if you start too late, you can’t make it to the finish before the big snows come in northern Washington. The trail ends at the Canadian border, in Manning Park, British Columbia.

You can divide the trail into roughly four stretches:

Why Hike?

Why hike?

Because it’s so easy to live intellectually day-to-day — to get caught up in what comes next, to always be thinking of the future and what “could be”, instead of what is.

Because when you hike, it’s sunny, or it’s raining, or it’s hot, or it’s cold, or there are mosquitoes, or it’s spectacularly beautiful and just perfect. No matter what, you simply have to be with it, adapt yourself to conditions, to recognize how small you are and how big the world is. There’s something humbling and breathtaking about that.

Because we only have so many days on this planet, and being outside, feeling the sun on my skin, I know I am here, vividly and completely.

Because out there I’m alive. I’m often alive inside, as well, and I love those times — but outside I am always alive.

Is there any better way to be?