And it begins.. the endless conversation about food. The circular thoughts regarding how much food is in your pack, how much it weighs, when the last time you ate was, and when you can eat again. Also, but on a completely different tip – TOWN FOOD. (See HARPO & GROUCHO’S ETERNAL PIZZA PARTY)
As we start preparing for the southbound PCT Harpo and I are reassesing our food system. As any backpacker knows, part of the fun in this adventure is the endless tinkering…
As vegans, we were concerned with eating well in the rural south, so we insisted on mailing ourselves almost all of our snacks on the AT. We ate well – I even gained 5lbs towards the end of the hike, while hiking 20+ miles a day in 20-30 degree weather, which is virtually unheard of. We did quite a bit of food prep for out AT thru-hike (check the details here) and we were overall happy with how we ate… however shipping was one of our primary expenses on trail. And, once we were locked into the food system, it was difficult to make impulsive/intuitive decisions during our stops in town…
Some things we plan to change for the PCT:
- Our first resupplys we’ll pack and either ship from home, or have them delivered. As we live in the Seattle area, we hope to see some of the homies in Snoqualmie… for these we’ll depend on all homemade dehydrated super hippy organic food.
- We’ll rely primarily on in town resupply, which means more ramen and flavored oatmeal packets when we’re resupplying in towns with conventional grocery stores. It’s fine, and leads us to our next point…
- We’ll send ourselves hard to find items, like powdered miso and dehydrated vegan coconut cream. This allows us to save mailing costs and only ship an envelope, rather than a medium size flat rate box.
- In towns with a co-op or natural food store, we’ll shop for the next several weeks and then take some specialty items (like powdered beans, hummus, nutritional yeast and soup mixes) to the post office and mail packages ahead. This allows us the flexibility to decide on the fly what we’ll eat for the next couple of weeks.
- For the AT we bought all our trail mix and dehydrated fruit from Trader Joes, which was great for variety but expensive considering shipping. We should be able to build GORP from whatever Planter nuts or random bulk sections we can find, mix in some Craisins and Rice Dream chocolate chips and call it good. If we’re lucky and we can find an Asian grocery, we can make some Grouchy Mix.
- Bars are always the same. Basic Clif bars are always vegan. And though we don’t love them, we’ll eat them for 4 months and then forget it ever happened.
- We found some of our most rewarding meals were simply PB or powdered or real hummus with tortillas, so we’ll continue using those as staples. And they’re available anywhere. In fact our homie 3D finished a PCT northbound last year eating almost exclusively PB&J – perhaps we’ll try that for a week…
We also used an alcohol stove for the entire AT trip. For the PCT we plan on cooking for the first month as we make it through Washington – it should still be cold in May/June, and it’ll be nice to have hot meals. Once we get into the hot weather the stove will go home and we’ll cold hydrate until the Sierras. We’ve found that cold-hydrated ramen with powdered miso is super tasty. And ultimately, unless you need the emotional boost from hot food, cooking is a drag… it’s way more efficient to cold-hydrate and you can be more flexible about your eating habits. Not to mention you get to ditch the weight of the stove and fuel…
We’ll definitely continue with the trail spouting though. It makes us feel like real hippies – and the hemp sprouting bag we got from Outdoor Herbivore is still going strong after almost 3000 miles. And no matter what, it’s a pleasure to have fresh food on trail. Usually we start the sprouts in town and take a 1lb bag of shredded kale for the first day out. By the third day the sprouts are ready and can be added to morning savory oats, evening cold-hydrated noodles, or lunch hummus and sprout burritos.
Northwest School of Mystical Hikers Trip Report
Lake 22 (Mountain Loop Highway, WA)
March 29, 2015
6 miles (including lake loop), 1350 ft elevation gain
Hikers: Harpo, dk, 3D
It’s been so beautiful in the NW with very little chill and even littler precipitation this winter. Thus we decided to take an early trip up to the Mountain Loop Highway and check out this old favorite – Lake 22.
This trail is delightful. Beautiful and well maintained. Little streams are running steady throughout the trip, and there are several little creeks crossing the trail at time, providing gentle obstacles to jump over or hop through. The path is nicely graded and even though it was a Sunday and the parking lot is full, the trail rarely seemed congested.
After about 2.7 miles of mild climbing we came to the lake and there was zero snow. Expected, but sadly, still a little shocking.
We easily traversed the boardwalk all the way around the lake, stopping for a coffee break next to the boulder garden where there is typically snow and mud.
The way back was super breezy and fun loving with these beautiful people…
FOR COMPARISON’S SAKE… here are a few photos from my archive. This is what Lake 22 looks like in winter. Often some of this snow stays until even May or June… but not this year.
It’s amazing what you can do with a light pack. Baseweight under 9lbs (with winter gear) helped offset the 2.7 lb bear canister required by the Olympic National Park… and we could still play some games with beach garbage! Fortunately with only 1.5 PPPPD of food, we could fit everything for two hikers for 3 nights / 4 days in a single Bear Vault so only the halfback had to suffer…
The nice thing about having ready access to Uwajimaya is the availability of all kinds of asian flavored snacks, and also some of the harder to find anglo flavored ones (garlic deep fried peanuts, for example). The Uwaj also has an entire ramen isle, which we’ll get into later…