The nuts and bolts of our PCT preparations: Food!

Undoubtedly this has been the most time consuming and logistically challenging part of our PCT preparations.

I must give huge credit and many thanks to Gabriel for taking on the lion’s share of work to put together the food for our resupply boxes from Campo to South Lake Tahoe. Over the past two weeks we’ve had our living room floor literally covered in piles of food and other PCT sundries. (And many thanks to Gracie too for not interfering with said piles of food and gear. Good kitty!)

In calculating our food needs, we’ve gone with the suggested “rule of thumb” to carry 1.5 pounds of food per day (per person) for the first three weeks. Around week four, in anticipation of our metabolisms ramping up and mileage increasing, we’ll start to carry 2.0 pounds of food per day (per person). Gabriel has painstakingly weighed 24 boxes of food, making sure that the ratio of food weight to days on the trail matches our anticipated itinerary.  He’s carefully compacted and compressed all these precious calories into the resupply boxes. Many, MANY, many thank you’s Gabriel, I owe you more than just one or two milkshakes and pints of ice cream for all of your work!

As far as food and planning go, we made the decision back in the winter that we didn’t want to be making decisions in February about what we’d be eating in August. As much as we both love peanut butter, peanut butter stuffed pretzels and Nutella* these are foods we may have strong aversion to after 1,000+ miles and 13 weeks on the trail. Hence, we’ve packed food and resupply boxes thru South Lake Tahoe. In Tahoe we’ll take a few days to make boxes thru to Ashland. In Ashland, we’ll make boxes up to Portland/Vancouver. And in Vancouver, we’ll prepare food for the homestretch to Manning Provincial Park.

This approach has spared us having to make 15 more resupply boxes in the immediate future and it’s allowed us to retain claim to most of our living room floor. But most importantly this will let us determine what we really want to eat for the next section of the hike while we are in trail towns where we’re confident that the grocery stores will carry food we desire to eat.

As for what we’re packing, we’ve tried to put together tasty, calorie-dense, mostly nutritious foods. Dinners primarily consist of Taste Adventures mixes of black beans, curried lentils, split pea soup and corn chowder. We’ll be adding cheese, olive oil, spices, corn chips and the occasional trail town fresh veggies or foraged greens to enhance these dinners.

Our breakfast options include cereals with nuts and dried fruit, granola and chia seed puddings**. The chia seed pudding was inspired by a recipe we tried at Whole Foods back in January that was prepared by Sukie Baxter on a day we we’re seeking nutritional supplements for the hike. It’s since become one of our favorite breakfast foods. While we like nutmilk variations of chia pudding when we’re at home, Gabriel has concocted a delicious recipe that combines chia seeds, powdered milk, cacoa nibs, cocoa and currants for breakfast and dessert on the trail.

Our snacks consist of Nutella, peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter, pumpkin butter, pretzels, peanut butter pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, chips, powdered humus, fig bars, date rolls, an assortment of trail bars and random tasty treats that caught our eyes as we roamed grocery stores over the last few months. As of this writing, I’m particularly excited about the Caveman Bars we picked up at the Ballard Farmers Market. Trying to create a sense of variety and surprises in the food boxes has been a goal, we’ll see what we think of this plan as our hike gets underway.

Throughout the winter we experimented with many different nutritional supplements to figure out what worked best for us. We’ve opted to pack at least one Emergen-C packet per day and will also be mixing up “super food” green supplements each day. These green juices include Vitamineral Green***, Amazing Grass Green Superfood in chocolate, berry and lemon-lime flavorings, and Paradise Herbs green protein mix. Originally, we weren’t sure what to think of these powders and supplements, but recognizing that our bodies are going to need a lot more veggie power than they do in a typical day and for a sustained amount of time; we figured we’d try for vegetable goodness in powder form. Never fear, we’ll still be looking forward to balancing our nutritional needs with milkshakes, ice cream, French fries, pancakes and salads when we stop in towns along the way.

*I also have a ridiculous appreciation for “all natural instant mashed potatoes”. We’ll see if this love lasts for long.
**Chia seed pudding recipe: .25 C chia seeds, 2 tbs powdered milk, 1 tbs cocoa nibs, 1 tsp cocoa, .25 C currants, and 1.5 C of water. Let all these ingredients soak for 30-40 minutes and shake well. When the chia seeds look “jellyfied”, stir in a spoonful of almond butter and enjoy
***Vitamineral Green was recommended to us by Doug Walsh, a representative for the product who we met at the Interbay Whole Foods. Doug used Vitamineral Green while thru-hiking the PCT and the CDT to supplement his raw food diet. He highly recommended the product.

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