The first time I did a section hike on the AT my biggest worry was about water. Where to find it, how much to carry and how to best filter or sterilize it. After a four day hike on the AT that time, I learned to put that fear away and have no worry about water on this section hike we are about to embark on in May. In point of fact, if I have any worry about water on this trip it is about carrying too much water. Water as many know weighs…a lot….well, weight is weight. A liter of water is equal to almost 34 ounces of weight. That is nearly two pounds per liter of weight. Trust me friend, when you are trying to stay reasonably light, two pounds is a huge deal.
So what is the big worry this trip. Perhaps worry is the wrong term to use. Headache may be a more apt phraseology to wield. I have fretted over what food and how to pack that food on this trip more than any other I have ever taken. I suppose the main reason for that is the presence of my boy. The only male child I have. The continuance of the family line. Lord that was more grandiose than the law should allow. Truth is I love my son deeply and I want this to be an exceptional experience for him. I’m trying to walk a fine line between minimalist packing skills and he shall want for nothing. We have spent a tremendous amount of time on this very topic.
This is a group photo of the goodies we will share on the trail. Let me start, as most days do for most people, with breakfast. We wanted something light. Both in weight and in intestinal volume, shall we say. We don’t want to be spending an inordinate amount of time getting going. We wanted to be able to partake as we walked or broke camp or both. So we experimented with and put together this little concoction. What you see here is a custom mix of super chocolate whey protein powder and instant decaf coffee. What we get from this is a big protein boost to start the day. Energy that should release more slowly through the course of the early morning hours and frankly approximates one of our favorites from Baskin Robbins…a Mocha Cappuccino Blast. We both love the flavor and literally can do this for four days straight and not get burned out on the flavor profile.
Next are my supplements. Yes, I am old. Yes I have worked hard to lose weight, Yes, I have joints that tell the tale of a misspent youth. Way too many bike jumps into trees, ravens, and falling off the house doing a myriad of things both functional and foolhardy. Therefore, supplements to keep the engine running smooth and the joints properly greased.
I won’t go into details but suffice it to say there is a spark for the morning to get going and items to keep the metabolic engine firing and the joints less stressed. That with my normal water intake, on average a gallon + of water a day and I’m sure more while on the trail. All should be better able to handle the stresses of the physical trials of the trail.
I’ll skip lunch as frankly we are still working that out. Truth is, there are many times where we just aren’t that hungry at the noon hour. We eat to live more so than live to eat. Moderation in all things.
Snacks has been an especially interesting subject for us so here is a shot of the snack mix we threw together custom just for us.
A blend of two different types of puffed snow peas, salted roasted edamame, salted shelled pistachios, vanilla and strawberry yogurt covered raisins, dried pineapple, dried mango, and dried blueberries. We are loving this mix and can change this format at a whim when we make another batch. Super simple and fun to make.
Lastly, the evening meal. This has been pretty basic in that we simply put together a box meal of our choice at home and then dehydrate that and package anew.
I use a manila envelope inserted for the dehydrated meal to rest in. All of these have a noodle or pasta of some type in the mix. These, when dehydrated, have a tendency to poke holes in the vacuum bags when sealed. The envelope keeps that from happening and if we want a camp fire that night we have fresh fire start ready to rock if needed.
There are other bits that we will take along. Some cheese crackers, some dehydrated spinach, carrots and mushrooms to add evening meal mixes as the whim strikes. Jelly beans for the sweet tooth not satisfied at the end of the day.
Each day’s mix will be sealed in its own bag to be pulled out each morning to start and work from through the course of the day. All in an odor proof sealed bag to keep the issues with toothy critters to a minimum. It’s really not the bear I fear as much as the raccoon, possum, armadillo and of course the mighty mouse. They are less likely to bother what they can’t or don’t smell. Still, hole can and may well be had.
I still have a multitude of things to clear from the prep list. Every day is an exercise in despair, followed by hope and a feeling of “we got this” only to be dragged kicking and screaming back to the perceived reality “wait, there’s more” and despair once more. The psychology of hikers preparation is an interesting thing to behold. Valid or not, perceived or real, the challenges will be addressed, adapted and overcome, and marked off the list. Now, where did I put that peanut butter packet?