OK, so the food is almost a detail, but it’s something I need to work on. I know I’m going with the Jetboil Sol Ti, because I’m familiar with the Jetboil, it’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s one less element of culture shock that I’ll have to deal with. I might switch out to an alcohol stove later. (That’s an issue, isn’t it. I hate to just assume there’s going to be a ‘later’; it feels like hubris. But I don’t want to self-sabotage with any sort of verbal pussyfooting like “if there is a later.” I think I’ll just use ‘at some future minute.’)
Anyway, yeah. I don’t cook at home, so there’s no reason to think I’d be inspired to cook on the trail. And I’ve heard that the hunger’s going to start at about three weeks out, and after that you’re ready to chew your shoes. (A friend of mine who hiked in 2008 defined a thru-hike as a feeding frenzy.)
All that being said, there are still logistics. Even at feeding frenzy levels, I don’t want my hot chocolate to taste like ramen, so I’ll want a separate cup or pot for eating out of. I ordered a super lightweight one, which I’ll talk about when I’ve had a chance to play with it.
I’m trying various foods in various combinations now. I just got a pretty spicy noodle thing that was really good. Upscale ramen, I guess it was. Anyway, somebody somewhere said you can boil things in freezer bags and save cleanup. I can say from first-hand experience now that no, this doesn’t work very well. You still get some seepage, and you still end up with ramen in your bowl (or your lap if you’re particularly brave). Which made me realize that yeah, I do need the pot-mug to eat out of.
Also, I’ve been trying various brands of bars and things that are organic and not reformed entirely of chemicals. (I read that the protein in a protein bar is pretty much nutritionally unavailable anyway, so I’m looking for bars that have nuts in them, that kind of thing.) Some of them are pretty good! Good enough to get me moving in the morning, anyway. I figure breakfast will be a couple of bars of something and maybe something else… not sure what. Gatorade, instant juice? I don’t know. I’ll need to do about 700 calories per meal for about five meals per day (three meals, two grazing-type snacks) at a minimum, at my projected pace. Later on in the hike I’ll be adding olive oil and butter flakes and all manner of calorie-high crap, but I don’t know how much of that I’m willing to try at home. I’m trying to get my ass smaller for the hike, not larger.
So… food experiment. Fancy ramen noodles good. Homemade boil bag, not so good.
Also, did you know that Hormel makes precooked, shelf-stable bacon? Who knew? Magic! I bought some to try. It probably sucks.
Oh! Speaking of Hormel, they make these dinners that you can microwave. I thought I’d try one. Chicken and mashed potatoes. It was wrong on so many levels, I can’t even begin. No, I’m not planning on taking a microwave. But I thought a boiling water bath might do the trick. As it turns out, first of all, they smell like a cross between what goes into a cat at the front end and comes out at the back. Second, I don’t think the boiling water thing will work. Third, what in hell was I thinking? Powdered mashed potatoes are about seventy pounds lighter.
And so endeth the food lesson for the day.