Posts Tagged With: food

Momentary panics

At least once every day or two, I have a minute of near panic—the “what the HELL am I doing” moment.

Today it was food. I went to the grocery store and had a careful look around, and did a test shopping: basically four days or so of food. I need to check the general weight of food, I need to figure out the bear bag situation… and basically, it’s all adding up to getting an actual load into the new pack to check the fit and feel. Yes, I could throw five pounds of birdseed in there and pretend it’s food, but before I do that, I’d like to get a sense of the actual weight, in the actual pack, with the actual gear.

And panic. Grocery panic! It’s overwhelming. Who knew that buying four days’ worth of food could be downright terrifying? But it was. Now the dining room is littered with starch and receipts.

Takeaway: On the Trail, don’t go into the grocery store without a list. Not necessarily a specific list, but I have to retrain myself not to overbuy. I’ll be super hungry, too, which is just a nightmare. I don’t want to drop $200 on food that my stomach is shouting for, when I can only really carry about $50 worth.

Lists. Which means general baseline. Which means I need to do what I did today.

It’s still scary, though.

Also, I’m starting to work on quads for the 640 steps of the Approach Trail. I loaded up my old Gregory pack with 30 pounds of books (or actually, the total pack weight including the books is 30 pounds). I’m going to just go up and down my single staircase with the pack on. I did it eight times today. I’ll work up to 50. I was thinking I’d go train at the local parking garage (five stories), but I think they’d look at me funny, what with the pack and all. And honestly, just using my staircase is probably fine. I’m likely to stop and take a few breaths after every flight anyway.

I’ll do this fake stairmaster on Fridays. Saturday will be my zero. Sunday, Monday, and Thursday I’ll do nine miles in the park. Wednesday, I’ll go to Valley Forge and actually do a full day of walking, six hours and gradually increasing to eight. I’m targeting the Horseshoe Trail, but we’ll see how that goes. I don’t want to have to dodge horseshit for eight hours. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

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Bacon bacon bacon

OK, so the Hormel (I think it was Hormel) precooked bacon is yum. Yum, I tell you!

That’ll be a great staple. High-fat, high-protein, shelf-stable, and not outrageously expensive. By serving size, I’ll probably do a box in a day, at a cost of about $4.00. That’s the equivalent of about three Spam single serves in this neck of the woods. So not the cheapest, but within budget.

Plus, jeez. It’s bacon.

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Food

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.

See? Experimenting!

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.

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