The Hell of Logistics
It is officially March and start of hiking season for the early birds of the PCT. Most of us are probably frantically working out the last prep details of your upcoming thru-hike, I know I am. As an international hiker and a generally picky eater, I have felt this to be one of the greatest monsters of the whole PCT: Logistics.
How the heck I am going to pull this off?
It is a whole world on it’s own. Weeks and weeks I have been occupied (obsessed.) with coming up with a plan to satisfy my nutritional needs. Reading every blogpost, article and Facebook post I can find about it. Searching for slivers of information in YouTube video’s of experienced hikers. Luckily I stopped myself before going into creating whole Excel spreadsheets, to save myself from more headaches. Every time I dive further into the rabbit hole of resupply boxes, bounce boxes, post office hours and how much I should pack for myself… my head starts spinning and the feeling of discouragement dawns on me. How the heck am I going to pull this off?
Endless streams of cookies
And yes, I can hear everyone’s advice (which rings very very true, I know) “Don’t make it too complicated for yourself and just resupply in towns along the way.” For months I have weighed this decision. But the thought of nibbling on just cookies, candy and ramen noodles for weeks at a time (big YES to chocolate though) when there is nothing available but a small town shop, brought me a very clear conclusion: I can’t.
As someone who studied nutrition and eats a healthy plant-based diet normally, I need my fuel. The proper fuel for my body. Not to say at all, that I am judging people who do choose to fuel themselves with a diet resembling a college student on a budget. I have been there too, years ago. But now that I have matured and have become somewhat wiser, I know my body needs a little bit more than just empty calories. I will be asking a LOT of my body during the upcoming six months. Carrying it up mountains with a heavy pack for hours. To be a little kind to my body, I want to give it at least the good fuel in return.
Sanity is returning
Now, a few weeks prior now to my starting date, I feel I am past the mania and into a somewhat comprehensive state about the logistics of resupplying boxes. The outlines of my ‘food plan’ have been carved out. Now it is just a matter of physical prep which I will be doing in Los Angeles.
Not just the food, but also resupplying gear, contact lenses (yes I am very blind otherwise) and supplements. Man, it is a pain in the ass. However, I know my future self will thank me when I indulge in healthy tasty snacks after a day of hard work.
How are you resupplying during your thru-hike and can you give any smart tricks to make the job a little easier? Leave it in the comments!
Happy hikings 🙂
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The people saying resupply as you go are right. Doing so does not have to limit you to the worst diet imaginable. Regularly, you will have access to grocery stores that are every bit the size needed to get a variety of options. And where you don’t have such access, you can ship yourself (from the trail) food from places where you do have such variety.
And, sure – ramen alone isn’t great. Which is why you add stuff to it like tuna or chicken or whatever. Or cheeses or sausages, or tortillas or sturdy vegetables. Or do Knorr sides, or Idahoan potatoes, in a variety of flavors. Your resupply options on the go do not have to be the staple-est of backpacker staples, unless you let them be.
Do a massive amount of preplanning, if that’s really what you want to do, if that’s your thing. But when the great majority of people say you don’t have to, they will still be right.
I eat whole food plant based too, and also avoid gluten and any added salt, oil or sugar. It sounds extreme, but I love it, how it makes me feel and how it has made me so much healthier. I dehydrated all my own food for the summers that I did the AT. The first 3 summers I ate Paleo, so meat, oil, dairy were included. In 2021, I was happily plant-based, and I again dehydrated everything. I planned my itinerary (just 260 miles that year, to finish the trail), and gave my husband all the names and addresses of hostels and hotels where I’d be staying. There is absolutely no way that I could buy the appropriate food at any store along the way, despite what the writer of the previous comment said. In all four summers on the trail, every single priority mail box full of my food arrived on time. Sometimes I had to adjust the schedule/location, but my husband only needed a week’s advance notice before packing up and mailing the boxes.
It’s a heck of a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. I pack each meal into a freezer grade pint ziplock (which I later cold soak) and then all 3 meals and the day’s snacks into a gallon ziplock. These are stored in a deep freezer and can keep for years. I eat like a queen on the trail, have plenty of energy and and didn’t lose any weight last year on the trail (didn’’t want or need to).
You can do this if you deeply want to. I’m planning on the Colorado Trail this coming summer, Tahoe Rim Trail after that and many others in the future. And just so you know, I’ll turn 70 this year. The only way this matters is that I rarely go over 15 miles per day, take a zero day every 5 days or so and very happily chose to hike solo.
Go for it!