Preparing for the PCT: Resupply boxes FTW

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I leave in three days. Three days. On Saturday morning I get on a plane to LA, hang out with Finn for the day, and then Sunday I start the hike, in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the desert, way down at the bottom of California, which is unfathomable. I won’t be back in Oregon until I reach it on foot.

For the last few days I have been doing everything. Every single thing. My list is two miles long and it never ends; it only grows larger. I packed seventeen resupply boxes full of $1200 worth of food. Seventeen resupply boxes, one for each 100 miles or so, for the first three months. Plus a box for Ashland, which is where I’ll make my boxes for Oregon. Then, when I get to the Oregon-Washington border, I’ll hitch to Portland, go to my friend Madeline’s wedding in the country, and make my boxes for Washington.

Making resupply boxes for the entire trail is something that no-one recommends that you do. Thru-hikers would rather eat nothing but gas station pop-tarts for weeks than stale almonds that they sent themselves two months ago. But I do not want to eat pop-tarts ever. So I poured every ounce of my organizational strength into this resupply project, and it very nearly broke my brain. It was definitely the most complex organizational task that I have ever undertaken. But now I have emerged triumphant, which seventeen packed boxes waiting only for extra socks, and filled with things that I’m about fifty percent certain I’ll want to eat in six weeks. But compared to my 100% certainty that I don’t want to live off of ramen and instant mashed potatoes, those odds are pretty good.

In case you’re as obsessive about your food as I am and you’re curious, here are some things that I did.

I ordered two big cans of freeze dried ground beef off of amazon. They were expensive. I was worried that the meat would taste horrible. The cans arrived and I cooked up some of the beef according to the instructions on the can. I put a spoonful in my mouth. It was more foul tasting than anything I could have ever imagined, and I fed it to my dogs. But still I sectioned the dried beef into little baggies and packed them in my resupply boxes. It was expensive, you know?

I also ordered two big cans of Mountain House entrees from amazon, a curry and a masala. Mountain House meals are really expensive individually, so I figured I’d buy the big cans and portion them into baggies myself. They were still kind of expensive, and when I opened the cans I was pretty disappointed. It just looked like instant rice and dried garbanzo beans, with a bunch of seasoning powder that made me sneeze. I could’ve made this shit myself. I guess with a name like “Katmandu Curry” I expected some sort of magic.

I ordered a really large amount of beef jerky from this awesome site that sells hippy beef jerky (no msg or nitrates). It was a good deal, as far as beef jerky goes, since I ordered so much. When it arrived, I noticed that the seals were broken on a quarter of the packages, and the jerky had spoiled. I emailed the company and they said that they freeze the jerky and the plastic gets brittle and then when they shuffle the jerky to pack it the plastic breaks. This made no sense to me. The company mailed me replacement jerky and I tucked in carefully in my boxes, frightened for my investment. I don’t think I’ll order from them again.

I ordered a bunch of dried vegetables from North Bay Trading Co. This, it turns out, was an AWESOME decision. The dried spinach, carrots and cabbage are all really cheap when you buy the big bags. Like, really cheap. I also ordered a package of those do-not-eat oxygen absorber packet things, and I portioned the dried vegetables into little ziploc bags and put a do-not-eat packet in each bag. I am going to have vegetables each night to put into my little one-pot dinners and it is going to be wonderful.

I broke the bank at Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s has the cheapest nuts and non-sulfate dried fruit that I’ve seen. And their gluten-free oatmeal is the same price as regular oatmeal. And brown rice pasta too! And hippy fritos! And shelf-stable salami that’s not crazy expensive! I spent $500 there. And they have all of those weird snacks that you have no idea how they’re going to taste. It turns out Thai lemongrass cashews are actually one of the worst tasting things ever.

Grocery outlet! So much cheap coconut oil. And some dusty bags of freeze dried fruit that I think are marketed for babies?

Fred meyer has affordable dried cherries. Precious, precious dried cherries. I put a tiny little baggie in each resupply box.

Something else exciting happened at Fred meyer- I found this hat. It’s like a cheaper version of the Tilly hat, which I kind of wanted in a surreal way. Now this hat is mine, and I can return the weird floppy Columbia sun-hat I got at Ross Dress for Less in the mall, and instead of looking like a fool I’ll look kind of a like a canadian mounty, and that will be awesome.

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At the co-op I bought giant bags of dried split pea soup and dried refried beans. And my favorite chocolate was on sale so I bought 20 bars, feeling like a hoarder at the checkout.

The refried beans and dried split pea soup are two of my dinners, cooked with dried veggies and eaten with corn chips and coconut or olive oil. Then I have the two mountain house dinners, which I’m sure will be anti-climactic, but maybe not? My other dinner is rice pasta with dried vegetables and that horrible freeze-dried ground beef. I’m hoping that when I’m on a windy pinnacle somewhere, looking out over all the land and hungry as hell, that beef will taste like salvation.

I spaced my four dinners out over the first three months. I hope I only get a little bit sick of each of them.

I’m so close you guys. So close. Tonight I listened to my audiobook and packed my trailer to make space for my dog sitter, laughing at the futility of trying to pack things in a space so small there is nowhere to put the finished boxes. Last night I ate pizza and filmed Seamus making out with Kinnikinnick, who loves him more than cat turds, so that I can watch it on my phone on the trail when I miss them.

Look at these cute sleepy dogs being cute.

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Three days!

7 thoughts on “Preparing for the PCT: Resupply boxes FTW

  1. So much fun to hear all these updates, Carrot. Can’t wait until you’re all grumpy and snarky on the trail, like Paul Theroux gets in his travel books.

  2. I cannot believe how organised you are, it’s truly incredible. not sure we’ve got enough non-stop wilderness in the UK to need this. When I walked 380 miles in Wales there was a town with a health food shop every 3 days at least.

    Can’t wait to read more!

  3. A thru hike of the PCT is quite a challenge for anyone, it will get tough at times. But the rewards are so great. I met a group of thru hikers on top of Mt Whitney 20 years ago, they were just electric, shooting out sparks of energy and joy. And fantastically lean, like a race of super people. It clearly changed their lives, a walking meditation of months.

    I’m stoked for you! Nice save with the hat too!

  4. I’m right there with you. home stretch, seriously, how did this happen!!? I have a feeling I wont sleep until I board the plane on Friday morning….

    THAT HAT! YES!

  5. Just found your blog and so peeved I missed your kick starter. I would have definitely helped had I known. Please email me and let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I’ve read all your books and am a HUGE fan. Have fun and stay safe! Look forward to buying the new book!

  6. K. Donahue
    PO Box 1485
    Port Townsend, WA 98368
    the hat looks great and liked the funny description of your food supplies, good luck Kate

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