Fueling the Body

I totally geek out about food prep because I like to eat and want good nutrition on the trail. For my previous thru-hikes, I prepared all my food, but this one is much longer. Plus I want flexibility for meals out, changing tastes, and towns with long-term resupply options.

How much food to prep?

Assuming it takes 22 weeks to hike the trail, I decided prepping food for 11 weeks was feasible. That meant 77 each of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, as well as snacks and desserts. Snacks are a tough one for me, so I got scientific, multiplying metabolic rates for backpacking, resting, and sleeping by the hours of each activity and my weight. I came up with ~4,000 calories a day. Subtracting meals, I will need ~2,000 calories in snacks and dessert. That is a lot!


All my breakfasts have an oatmeal base, but I came up with eight flavor combinations. The lunches are all cold soak, either using home dehydrated quinoa or dehydrated refried beans. I was stumped for a while on quinoa meal ideas but ended up with five. My sister suggested cheesy broccoli and offered surplus freeze-dried vegetables, which I turned into cashew curry veggie. To vary the beans I packed differing chips for dipping. The dinners are either brown rice ramen based or fruit smoothies. The smoothies are a new idea I tried while backpacking the Cloud Peak Wilderness in Wyoming. I wanted something quick after a long day or easily prepped and consumed even in inclement weather.

Will, the guy I am dating, suggested a fun idea for snack creation. I gathered nuts, dried fruits, crackers, chips, GF pretzels, and candies. We sat surrounded by the various goodies and grabbed whatever appealed until a sandwich bag was half full. This resulted in 90+ unique bags that will keep me surprised until the end of the trail. It was also great entertainment for our friends’ cats. While we worked they leapt around and amongst our packaged item obstacle course.

I rounded out the snacks with purchased bars, mostly avoiding those that are easy to find in stores, such as Clif bars. I didn’t make many desserts, but there is at least one per box. Either a home packaged mix that takes cold water or brownie bite balls, which I stored in the freezer until shipment.

Town Resupply

I plan on using mail boxes for convenient hostels or small towns where it could be challenging to find GF, vegetarian options. For resupply stops, I came up with a list of ideas that focus on foods left out of my boxes: cold cereals, instant potatoes, instant rice, powdered hummus, GF tortillas or bread if available, fresh cheese. There will be some repetition, peanut butter and other foods that I can repeatedly eat.

The Boxes

I organized my resupplies into five-day and six-day boxes. This is a picture of six days worth of food. It includes olive oil for addition to breakfasts and lunches, plus daily vitamins and electrolytes.

Many thanks to my parents, who will be mailing the boxes as I progress along the trail!

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Comments 2

  • Robb : Apr 12th

    Really like the hints about food you were making – can you expand at some point about the Fruit Smoothies, Brown Rice Raman or what you are doing for a full meal concerning dehydrated refried beans? All of that sounds really interesting… Thanks and good luck!

    • Emily Rahn : May 3rd

      I will try to add this info at some point.


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