Thursday, March 31, 2011

Appalachian Trail: Food Planning for 10-Day Hike

We have already begun buying and building our meal packets for our upcoming 10-day section hike of the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey and New York. Our menu last year was largely successful, but we learned a few lessons which we are applying this year.

Food Resupply Along Trail

We are starting from Delaware Water Gap, PA. Our planned resupply is on day five in Unionville, NY. So, we'll be carrying five days of food with an estimated weight of 8-10 pounds. We have a digital scale this year and will actually know the weight of each days food before departure. Last year our five days food lasted seven and we had uneaten food to boot. Excess food equals excess weight.

We have also decided to test re-supplying with a drop box on this section hike for the experience. Future sections will eventually require a drop box. If High Point State Park HQ is still accepting drop boxes, we'll pick up our drop box there on day four.


2 packets instant oatmeal
1/2 packet freeze dried apples
1 packet hot chocolate
1 packet Fig Newtons

Trail mix
Chocolate chip granola bars
Beef sticks
Freeze dried bananas & strawberries

Flour tortilla with Genoa salami
Lunches from delis and farms along trail

1 packet Pork ramen soup with crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup tea
1 entree

Tuna in sunflower oil with mayonnaise, salt and pepper
Vegetarian chili tacos
Chipotle bean dip burritos
Instant mashed potatoes (garlic, fully loaded)

The above selection provides enough choices for sudden changes of appetite. We have eaten mashed potatoes for breakfast along with salami or enjoyed a packet of extra oily tuna at mid-day.


Each days meal is packed in a gallon ziplock bag. Each bag is labeled with "Day 1", etc.

A days meal bag contains one quart freezer bag with all breakfast components, one quart freezer bag with all dinner components, 2-3 packets of Propel, two granola bars, 2-3 beef sticks, salami packet, and trail mix.

The breakfast and dinner freezer bags also contain a wet wipe (toilet or bath), 1/4th paper towel (napkin). Hot water amounts are marked on outside of freezer bags.

Trail Food Lessons Learned

We discovered that most distance hikers lose their appetites for the first 2-3 days. You will probably not eat as much as you think.

Food tastes change on the trail. We couldn't stand Snickers bars last year and gave most away to thru-hikers. Eventually, we couldn't tolerate Fig Newtons.

Drink Propel during active hiking. One tube per liter is diluted just right.

Eat something when you drink, it helps you tolerate the water.

Take three drinks every 20 minutes.

Leftovers are consolidated into an empty day's gallon ziplock bag. We consume most of the leftovers on the long bus ride home.

Update 2011

We had good appetite the first 2-3 days, but had trouble eating days 4-5. We scored some hot oily meatloaf and orange juice in Unionville, NY and our appetite returned to normal. Extra protein or fats?

Double check your hiking schedule and meal plan. We miscounted our hiking days (11 vs. 10) and were short food. We compensated by buying pizza slices for that evenings dinner and the next day's breakfast.

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