Appalachian Trail Prep Part III: The Food

When you decide to undertake a summer activity that burns an extra 4,000 calories a day and you plan on doing it for 160 days, food becomes a major concern. The standard approach to food on the AT is to carry as little as possible between towns and when you go into town to resupply you binge eat as many calories as possible. This process repeats every five or six days until you reach Katahdin. Well if you know Lindsay and I, we’ve never done anything the “standard way” so why would we start now?

Sarcasm aside, we actually have a good reason to plan our food out a little bit more than most. Lindsay has a moderate allergy to Gluten and since wheat is the one constant staple of the long-distance hiker it presents a bit of a problem. Also, Lindsay doesn’t eat Pork or Beef for personal/health reasons, and considering that Burgers, Hot Dogs, Beef Jerky and Pepperoni are the major protein sources in town and on the trail, we have another hurdle to get over. I, on the other hand, have been well conditioned by the Army and I just eat whatever I can get my grubby hands on. She is much more disciplined than I and Hunter is pretty picky too, following in his mom’s footsteps! Nonetheless, vegans, vegetarians, paleos, stubborn dogs and the lactose intolerant have all successfully hiked the AT, it’s just a matter of solving the problem!

My 5-in-1 cooking setup. Pasta, fresh veggies, pasta sauce all cooking at the same time!

My 4-in-1 cooking setup. Pasta, boiled veggies, steamed veggies, pasta sauce all cooking at the same time!

How we plan on solving the problem: Our goal is to take in at least 3,500 calories/day for Clay and 3,000 calories/day for Lindsay and approximately 1lbs/day of dried kibble for Hunter. Even though she is 90lbs lighter than me, Lindsay has a much higher metabolism and will need almost as much food. When Lindsay gets “hangry” the tummy monster comes out which is not good for anyone so I’m going to make sure she has plenty of food, even if I have to carry it! When I am doing a long hike my metabolism just shuts down, like at Ranger School I dropped 2lbs in 4 months (real rangers recycle). This is the same place where most of my peers lost 30lbs-40lbs and looked like they just escaped a prison camp. Anyway, we planned what will be a “normal day” (see below) and then did our best to supplement and have healthy additions to our diet.

For instance, we made a high calorie homemade granola with protein powder, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc. and a homemade trail mix that has a higher concentration of the “good nuts” and less filler like peanuts. We also have gluten free pasta, quinoa, buffalo jerky, smoked salmon, salmon jerky (we caught in Alaska!), powdered eggs and milk and even some small multi-vitamin packs in our mail drops.  We also spent the last week in Maine running up the electricity bill by dehydrating vegetables day and night for us and deli turkey meet for Hunter.

Clay dehydrating blueberries!

Clay dehydrating blueberries!


What we expect to be a “Normal Day”

Wake-up & Break Camp: 1x Power Bar each

30min-90min into the day: Breakfast; Oatmeal or Homemade Granola, supplemented with peanut butter, powdered milk and powdered breakfast shakes and the all important camp coffee. Hunter eats 1 cup of food, plus peanut butter and some olive oil.

3hrs-5hrs into the day: Lunch; PB&J, Cheese, Dried Soups, basically anything that can be made without turning the stove on.

Throughout the morning and afternoon: Snacks; 1x High Calorie Pro Bar (shared), Beef/Buffalo Jerky, Pop-Tarts, Homemade Trail Mix and any other quick snack that can be purchased in town.

6pm-8pm(ish): Evening Meal; Rice, Pasta or Quinoa Base, Canned Meat (Chicken or Tuna), Dehydrated Veggies and a sauce or random spice packets to flavor it and give some variety. Hunter gets the canned meat draining and another cup of food before bed.

The aftermath of putting 450 Powerbars, 300 poptarts and many more into individual boxes

The aftermath of putting 450 Powerbars, 300 poptarts and many more into individual boxes

We’ll let you know how everything is working as we go through the hike and then at the end we are planning on writing a reflection and a bit of “lessons learned” from our hike so we can help out others as they do their AT planning research with our blog.

2 thoughts on “Appalachian Trail Prep Part III: The Food

  1. Pingback: Appalachian Trail Prep Part IV: The Gear (sans Clothes) | Boots to Birks

  2. Pingback: Ramen Embargo and Trail Nutrition | Boots to Birks

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