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[pct-l] Re: pct-l-digest V1 #333

Sasha --

The cool thing I have found about long-distance hiking (and hikers) is that
there ISN"T a "right" way to do things.  

Your potential energy approach to daily cals is certainly innovative, but
basically, cals are an individual thing.  When I thru-hiked the Appalachian
Trail last year, I was eating about 2500 cals/day in warm weather, and
3000+cals/day in colder weather.  I plan to eat a bit more on the PCT in
'98, since you generally do more miles/day on the PCT.  As far as running
out of food, throwing in a few extra bags of plain pasta, instant rice, and
instant potatoes can stretch a maildrop a LONG way for literally pennies
(although postage increases with weight).

There was a good, hiking-specific calorie chart posted on this list about a
week and a half ago by Jeffrey Olson (jjolson@u.washington.edu).  I didn't
save it, but if you email him, he might forward you a copy.   Also, I found
a great chart in The Thru-Hiker's Planning Guide (about the AT) by Dan Bruce.

A word of warning: people have mixed reactions to corn pasta.  Yes, it has
quite a reputation, due in no small part to Ray Jardine's Pacific Crest
Trail Hiker's Handbook, about which you have no doubt heard much already.
(My 2 cents: READ THIS BOOK)  I can't say enough good about it, but one of
the several big turkeys in the book is corn pasta.  Cook a few meals of it
at home (or better yet, on a weekend backpacking trip) before you buy 50 lbs
of it.  Basically, it cooks up to a soggy mush that is unappetizing.  There
are several brands -- the commonly-available Mrs. Leepers is pretty bad, in
my experience.  Supposedly, there are better ones.  I didn't notice huge
performance benefits eating it occasionally on the AT.  Like most things
(and Jardine things especially) it has its fans; it has its detractors.

From what I have seen, my trail diet is pretty typical:
On long-distance hikes (and shorter ones, for that matter) I carry a lot of
basic components and mix and match any and all of the following at dinner:
mac-n-cheese mixes (cheap, tasty, versatile, no MSG)
plain pasta in any spoon-friendly size (wicked cheap, versatile, good energy)
flavored rice or pasta mixes (alfredo, etc.  Can get expensive, tasty, lots
of MSG)
instant mashed potato powder (very cheap, excellent thickener of the daily glop)
instant rice (versatile)
instant black and refried bean mix (find these in almost any bulk-food or
natural foods store - my second-favorite trail dinner component to mac-n-cheese)
any instant soup mixes (dump in with the rice/plain pasta/etc/etc for flavor)
salt, garlic powder, home-mixed curry, mexi seasoning (makes chili out of
any mush)

Breakfast is granola/oatmeal/energy bars.
Lunch is gorp/energy bars/granola bars/peanut butter/snickers/dried
fruit/snacks picked up in town (bagels, brownies, bread, cheese, etc).

I avoid Ramen noodles, but do eat a few packs for variety.  The flavoring
packets are gross, but the noodles are an okay meal component, for variety.
They are cheap, too.  (And you can actually eat them without cooking -- like
a cracker.)

Few if any distance hikers eat many of the commercial freeze-dried food (the
foil-packed, $5+ meals at outdoor stores).  The stuff is incredibly
expensive, and doesn't provide many calories.  A typical package has 2
"servings" of 300-400 calories each.  This is great at 25,000 ft. when you
don't have any appetite anyway, but this is WAY TOO LITTLE FOOD for a
distance hiker.  I have found that they don't really taste great either.    

Basically, to start with, I would suggest that you get Jardine's book (he
has a lot of maildrop scheduling information) and the 2 PCT guidebooks (all
available from the PCTA).  There are many other books that I have found
useful, but these are good starters.  

Also, check out some of the very cool and useful websites available.  Some
of my favorites that might be useful include:


There are many more great sites, and I wish people would post to the list
about them more often <HINT>.

As with any advice from the internet, YMMV (but at least it's not legal or
medical advice).  Basically, long-distance hiking tends to be a refreshingly
indivualistic pursuit, and as long as you minimize your impact on the land,
respect other folks, and take responsibility for your own safety (both in
planning and during the hike), things will be great.  I sweat gear and food
as much as anyone, but they become very small components of a long-term
wilderness experience.  Sweat them now so you will sweat them less later.

Hope this helps!

At 12:00 AM 12/22/97 -0600, you wrote:
>Date: Sun, 21 Dec 1997 17:00:03 PST
>From: "sasha z" <z_sasha@hotmail.com>
>Subject: [pct-l] more questions!?!
>Thanks to the people who answered my first message. I guess I was too 
>general. It's just that I'm getting way overwhelmed with all the stuff 
>that I need to do with the planning - I don't know where to start.
>I guess food and where to mail it to is confusing me the most, so lets 
>start there.
>How do I decide how much food I am going to need? I could do a calorie 
>thing, but the freeze dried stuff I looked at didn't have nutritional 
>information on the package (I thought they had to do that...) so I can't 
>figure out how many calories are in the meals. If I make my own stuff, I 
>don't have a clue how to figure it out either. I am planning on taking a 
>lot of corn pasta, since that is supposed to be the best food for long 
>distance hiking, but the store here that sells it in bulk doesn't have 
>any labels on the bins. How many cals in corn pasta?
>I read in a diet book that walking one mile takes 100cal. But what about 
>with a pack on? What do hills do? From physics I figured out the 
>potential energy required to go up 1000 feet, but it doesn't seem nearly 
>enough, so I must be making a mistake.
>If I can't figure out how many cals in the food, and how many cals I'll 
>need on the trail, how am I supposed to figure this out?
>Am totally on the wrong track? Is there an easier way to figure out how 
>much food to pack?!?!
>I just don't want to run out of food in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I 
>should just put too much in the boxes and throw away what I don't use, 
>but I can't really afford that either.
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