I know it is late in the trail to finally be talking about food, but people still ask me all the time: what do you eat out there?? Usually I make my food before I leave home, dehydrating and measuring and preparing every meal with nutrition, calorie content and weight in mind. I sort all of my food into resupply boxes and label them for post office drops along the way.
Sometimes, however, things get messy. A box gets lost in the mail. I arrive on a holiday weekend and would have to wait 3 days for the post office to open. A box doesn't get sent soon enough and I arrive well before it does. I take a last-minute alternate and don't even go to the town that has my box. All of these scenarios have happened on this trail and I have had to do a number of store-bought resupplies.
Sometimes there is a grocery store, sometimes only a gas station or convenience store. Since I try to avoid animal products, gas station resupplies are the WORST but I've made it work!
Large grocery stores (especially places like Walmart) tend to be overwhelming when coming from the trail. Bright lights, lots of people, so many aisles and colors and logos all begging for your attention- I have had to walk out and go to smaller stores because it is all just too much. Unfortunately, the bigger stores usually have the best selection so it benefits me to suck it up and push through the overstimulation. Here is an example of one day's menu from a good grocery store resupply:
Muesli with peanut butter for breakfast, 2 tortillas with peanut butter and granola for lunch, mac & cheeze for dinner and a bunch of snacks throughout the day. This totals 3665 calories and comes in at just under 2 lbs. While I could have eaten more calories throughout the day, this is what I was able to get from this particular store that I could fit in my pack that was also relatively healthy (not just ramen or sugar- it's a low bar out here). I had this menu for about 4 days, using up the peanut butter, muesli, tortillas and granola.
Not every store resupply is as filled out as this, and sometimes I end up with a jumbled mess of nutritionless junk. When a box from home shows up after those poor resupplies, my taste buds and my body rejoice! As true hikertrash however, I will always be up for a good ramen bomb 😄
When I resupply, I look at how many miles I need to hike until my next stop and what the terrain is like to determine how many days' worth of food I will need. The more I hike, the better I get at this calculus, but sometimes I still get it wrong. On this last stretch through the Gila River Wilderness, I definitely got it wrong and my hiking partner and I ended up a bit at odds, having some severe food anxiety for days and being VERY hungry. How did it go so wrong?
Honestly though, this hike has been worlds apart from my thru hike of the PCT. The trail itself has a very different feel, the people are different, and I am a different hiker than I was on my last journey. This hike has been such a unique experience from any of my other hikes and I am so grateful for it.
Water is becoming scarce and carries are getting longer and longer as the days continue to get shorter. Getting to camp with enough daylight to set up is becoming difficult! The upcoming landscape is favorable for big miles, but the long water carries and hot sun may prove to be challenging. I can't believe that I'm entering my fifth month on trail and have less than 600 miles to go!!