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Well, another holiday has arrived...I'm on-call at the hospital all weekend long, which means I can't stray far from my pager. Guess it gives me some time to get some info on the journal.
The emphasis in planning at this point is deciding on food. For those of you new to long-distance hiking, there are basically 2 ways to supply yourself with food for the trail. You can package and ship food to towns you will be going by on the trail; you can try and purchase what you need in those towns. Both have pluses and minuses. If you package all your food, you may over or under estimate what you need; you may get tired of the food you package and yearn for some diversity; it costs alot to mail boxes and you have to make sure that the post office, store, etc. will be open when you come through town. If you buy as you hike, you are at the mercy of local businesses. Do they stock what you need? Do they run out of supplies (remember, there are alot of other hikers going through each town at about the same time)? Small convenience stores often charge more for items than large grocery stores, so food may end up costing alot more than one might think. During these economic hard times, some small businesses may go out of business and not be there when a hiker arrives. Buying food in town also means that a rest day is spent walking around finding the supplies you need.
It's hard to find the perfect solution to this. Since Larry and I are older, I'm hesitant to rely only on towns to find the nourishment we need. On a long hike, I'd like to get the nutrition to maximize our recovery chances. I also believe that the lightest food (dried) is harder to find as you hike. So, at this point, I'm developing a strategy that relies on boxes for many items that would be hard to find, and town shopping for the things we should be able to find almost anywhere. Here are some examples.
Town Supplies: energy/candy bars, crackers, breads, peanut butter, cereals, packaged pasta/potato/rice/couscous sides.
Mailed Supplies: dried meats, dried veggies, dried friuts, vitamins/glucosamine. Some of the dried food (especially the meats) will be bought from on-line sites; I'll dehydrate what I can (a friend donated their dehydrator to us last year), my special superb trail mix.
Over the last few months, I've experimented with dehydrated recipes (thanks to Day-Late for his suggestions!), some from "Lip-Smacking Backpacking", some from Dicentra's site. I want to sketch out about a week's worth of meal ideas (for the sake of variety), then use those items to guestimate the quantities for the resupply boxes.
Fortunately, neither Larry nor I are fussy eaters. Larry can eat the same meals every day for years (not kidding! I don't know when he has changed what he eats for breakfast and lunch!).
I've pretty much nailed down the places to resupply. I figured if the trail was roughly 2700 miles long, and we resupplied every 100 miles, we'd need about 27 boxes. I roughed out the itinerary with this in mind. Of course, it doesn't exactly match the ideal. And it's tempting to do the resupply boxes for OR/WA when we reach OR (saves time/money/effort now, in case we don't make it that far; also gives our resupply mail person a bit of a break). Don't know if I'll make boxes for OR/WA yet...
OK, I'm, overplanning again! All plans are subject to change--or just tossing out the window! Planning is something that keeps me happily connected to the upcoming hike, something to think about everyday. And in its own way, the planning is its own challenge...how does one plan to be reasonably comfortable and fed for 6 months on the trail?
Since I'm still working a regular job, and Larry is retired, I've encouraged him to start checking the resupply places...oh, yes, one must confirm that the info (mailing addresses, hours of operation, limits on package size, etc) are all correct before sending a package. He really doesn't need the extra chore, but it may help orient him to the route the trail takes along the way from Mexico to Canada!