With just days left before I leave my beloved Portland, Oregon I am deep in the throes of the final countdown. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of sorting and packing gear, making resupply boxes and wrapping up the list of things that needed to be done at the home before I leave.
Food is one of the biggest needs of the long distance hiker and one I have always struggled to find the right balance of weight to nutrition. On my first thru-hike in 1996 and for years I have lived primarily on the gas station snack type variety. While eating pop tarts, candy bars, hamburger helper without the hamburger and other off the shelf crap provides high calories those items often left me out of gas throughout the day as I would crash from the sugar. In 2012 I hiked the Wonderland Trail with my good friend “Sasquatch”, on this trip I made a conscious effort to eat better wholesome foods like dried coconut, whole grains, quinoa, granola, etc…. On that hike I felt stronger and had more energy than ever before on trail, so for this hike I decided to use a similar approach.
I am a very fortunate hiker, my years of attending the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City have given me some great connections, and the result is for the CDT I have some great food sponsors who are making my meal planning much easier and much healthier. Here are some for the staple items in every single resupply box I have packed and ready to go:
- UGO Bars– I met Tracy the founder of UGO bars back in January at a happy hour event at OR. We started chatting about my plans and she asked if I needed a bar sponsor, which I did. We exchanged info and in 10 minutes time I was on the phone with Wes who runs their program. Every month while on trail UGO is supplying me their bars, unlike other companies these bars are 100% hand crafted in IN, the bars are Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, and Vegan. The bars are packaged in clear plastic because as the label says the have nothing to hide. I look forward to eating one of these little nuggets every morning while packing up my gear.
- Salazon Chocolate– Anyone who knows me, will tell you I Love me some Dark Chocolate more than most people. On the Sierra High Route last year my partners laughed at the number of bars I had in my resupply, however when I was brewing up mochas on trail they all seemed to appreciate that the fat kids loves the dark stuff. To make any good chocolate into a backcountry mocha take a Starbucks Via packet, add a ¼ of a dark chocolate bar, add boiling water and stir like hell, this little treat will give the right buzz to get up the hardest climb. Salazon is a really cool company they have a 3 “trail bars” one for the Appalachian Trail, The Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, proceeds from each bar sold go to trail organizations to help protect these national treasures. The awesomeness does not end there, each of the flavors they make have Sea Salt and what can be better than a chocolate buzz while replenishing the salts I’ll be losing while sweating all day.
- Backpacker’s Pantry– For over 20 years I have indulged myself on shorter trips and bought commercially available freeze-dried meals, however, the cost can add up on a longer hike. Of all the meals I have ever eaten Backpackers Pantry has risen to the top for their variety of meals, and the quality of their ingredients. I was lucky enough to tour their factory in Boulder, CO last month and I learned there that all their meals are chef inspired and created, they source the best ingredients possible, and every meal is hand packed and inspected by real live people. The company has recently expanded their meals selection with new ethnic meals, last summer I ate a lot of their Beef Pho and Kathmandu Curry while on trail. These meals are awesome, and they decided to sponsor me and hook me up with enough meals to fill my resupply boxes, thanks again!
So now that we have the food covered what else am I doing? Some call me a bit anal, I just like to think of it as being organized better than most folks. Yogi’s CDT Planner had a great piece of advice to prepare for the hike. Take all your extra gear and clothing at home that you might want and number it, then make a spread sheet and leave a copy at home and take one with you. This way when I need a new shirt instead of having to drive Suzy nuts looking for the right shirt she can open the extra clothes bin, find bag number 7 and send me a new shirt. This one piece of advice is very helpful and I am sure Suzy and I will both appreciate it while I am gone.
Besides all the prep work I am doing, I have also been trying to say my final goodbyes to friends and old coworkers. It’s been a busy couple of weeks going out for happy hours, eating burgers, drinking beer and saying bye to folks. It’s weird to think that everything I have known since college is about to be left behind to chase a dream, but I know that life will be here when I get back and life is too short to wait any longer.