Backpacking food prep

I’ve never been one to count calories. I believe our bodies treat calories differently depending on where they come from. It’s more than just the calories that count. The 680 calories from a Costco muffin is much different for your body than the 680 calories from an 8oz steak. So, I’m one to look at the carb count long before I even glance at the largest print number on the nutritional panel (the calories).

But in its simplest terms, calories are what your body burns for energy. So lately, as I’m starting to wrap my head around three weeks of meal planning for the Tahoe Rim Trail, I’ve been paying more attention to the calories in the foods I may (or may not) be consuming on the trail. Specifically, their weight to calorie ratio.

According to www.backcountryfoodie.com a good goal is around 130-150 calories per ounce for ultralight food (calculated at approximately 2lbs of food at roughly 4000 calories per day for a thru hiker). Basically, the higher the calories per ounce, the lower the weight can be, or the more calories you can have for the same amount of weight.

My personal goal is about 3000 calories per day. No real scientific reason, just that I put together what I thought was a good menu for my upcoming trip to Havasu Falls, then started adding up the calories. A high mileage thru hiker may need upwards of 5000 calories to fuel them in a day. But I won’t be hiking that far or that fast. I usually eat 1500-2000 calories per day in my normal life, so I figured 3000 calories per day would be a good starting point. I added up the calories in the foods I had laid out and realized I needed to add more calories someway, somewhere. So I added cream powder to the oatmeal, and cheese powder to the fajita bowl, and an oil packet to the scrambled eggs, etc. I also added in a few more snacks, and voila, my calorie count is up around 3000 each day. And then I weighed each day. My heaviest day’s worth of food is 1.75 lbs. The rest are under 1.5lbs. Winning!

Another consideration is how much protein is in the food. Protein is needed to build and repair muscles. My personal goal is about 100g of protein per day. I’m happy to say I met that goal, too!

Recipe creation and testing. Hard work, but someone’s gotta do it!

Since I’m trying to keep my pack as light as possible, I want to get as big of a bang for my buck (pound?) as I can. It’s a lot of calculations, but in the end, I think it will be worth it to get the nutrition and energy I need for as little weight as possible.

How about you? How do you determine what kind of food you’ll need on the trail?

Oh, and that bear canister? No, there are no bears in the Grand Canyon, but there are raccoons, squirels, mice, etc. There are other options to use at Havasu Falls to keep your food away from the critters, but the official recommendation is a bear canister, and I will need one for the Tahoe Rim Trail anyway, so figured I’d give it a trial run.

I fit 4 days worth of food in it, with room to spare – enough for another day of food I think.

I will need to package the food differently for my Tahoe Rim Trail thru hike this summer in order to be able to fit more days of food. I wouldn’t use the bags to separate the individual days (seen in the first pic) since they create pockets of unused space. But Havasu Falls is only 4 days, so no problem. And for the TRT, I think I’ll be able to fit all my food in there for the stretches between resupplies (6ish days – I think – more research needed.)

Gear failure

When training for a big upcoming backpacking trip, it’s a good idea to test out your gear ahead of time.

That way when things go afowl, you’re not in a pickle out on the trail.

Now, my gear failure does not pertain to backpacking per se, but I am glad I found out that my snowboots are utterly not waterproof before I tried to use them in a situation where wet feet would be a serious problem.

On my daily walk, I wanted to wear my hiking boots, which are supposedly waterproof, along with my gaiters for the deep snow.

However, I hadn’t gotten more than a few dozen yards from my house when I realized the rain had turned the snow to slush.

It was like walking through a slurpee.

So I went and changed into my snow boots.

And I took off.

The gap in the trees on the horizon behind me is my destination.

The final push.

By the time I had made it to my turn-around point, my feet were pretty darn wet.

Wet, wet, wet footprints in the snow

I saw a cool snow formation on the way back down. A snowball had formed and rolled down the hill. But it had rolled into a doughnut shape.

Doughnut shaped snowball

Slushy, slushy, slushy

By the time I got home, there were literally puddles inside my boots. But don’t take my word for it, look at the stream of water I am wringing out of just one of my socks after I got home!

My boots were so heavy by the time I got home.

Wet: 5lbs 6oz

Dry: 4lbs 1oz That means that there was 1lb 5oz of water!

It took 4 full days for the liners to dry out!

Boot liners hanging above our propane heater in our trailer.

So what’s the take away from this experience?

Check your gear! Test it. Put it through it’s paces. Before you take it out in the back country.

Especially if it’s been a while since you’ve used it.

Did I mention that these boots are at least 15 years old? Yeah, they obviously need some work.

As the boots were drying, I decided to see if I could diagnose the problem. Sure enough, it became obvious when I looked inside without the liners.

See those white “scrapes” near the bottom? That is where the water was getting through.The waterproofing layer was being worn off.

You can see where the waterproofing layer is delaminating from the uppers.

Now that I know what the issue is, I’m hoping a layer of waterproofing and some seam seal will do the trick. We’ll see I guess.

I am not upset that the waterproofing on uppers is failing. As I said, these boots are at least 15 years old. I thinks it’s to be expected, and it is repairable, so no worries.

When I inspected the rubber bottom part of the boots, I was truly impressed. They are in perfect condition. Unlike my Bogs boots. (See below.)

NOT my Sorrel snowboots. These Bogs boots are only 3 years old and already cracking!

In the mean time, I have no waterproof shoes to hike in, so I’ll have to wait till all the slush freezes, or it snows an appreciable amount (new fluffy snow is fine for these boots), or things dry out some before I can get back up into the canyon. So today, I took my daily walk in my parents’ neighborhood since we’re housesitting for them. At least it’s exercise.

1st major purchase

I did a thing!

Or should I say I bought a thing!?

My first major, and hopefully most expensive piece, of gear needed for my thru hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail in 2020.

I replaced my old (1996!), heavy (over 7lbs!) North Face pack with a Gregory Jade 53.

Coming in at 3lbs 9oz, it is not considered an ultra light pack, but it is almost half the weight of my old one. It’s somewhat smaller (55 vs 65 liters), which will force me to pack less. And, it’s PURPLE! Oh, and I got it on sale. Win-win.

And to make things even better, I found a slightly smaller size one for my 13 year old daughter for even cheaper than mine (only the gray one was steeply discounted for whatever reason and I REALLY wanted purple 😕). I bought both through REI’s website.

I’m still going to need a few more pieces of essential equipment (shelter, stove, sleeping bag, etc). All of my old gear is OLD and HEAVY. But until I can afford more, I can still be training. At least I can throw a bunch of water bottles in my new pack and go hike the hills.

Happy Hiking!

-MammaBear

PS isn’t it so pretty? (Yes, I freely admit that I like my gear to match and if I have a choice, I will almost always pick purple or the closest thing to it. Purple makes me happy. 😊)

TRT pre-planning

I love maps. So as I start planning for next year’s thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail, I’m loving the opportunity to dive into studying the section maps provided by the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

Some may think I’m starting a bit early. But I know how my life goes. I had a break from building our house since I broke my rib, so I used it to do some planning and dreaming for NEXT summer. Now that I am somewhat recovered and we are started back on our house, I won’t have much of an opportunity to think that much about it. And then it will be spring and the summer and the busyness that comes from those seasons here on the homestead. And then fall and the holidays. And then it’s finally next winter when I’ll have time to get to the planning again.
And I’m too excited to wait that long. 😄

-MammaBear