First, let's talk about why 56. Remember, this is going to be a mostly supported hike, which means I won't have to prep and carry dehydrated food most of the time. When I first made out a master plan for the hike, I tried to maximize the number of nights I could backpack (finding legal places to camp that were the right distance apart). That number was 92. But, realistically, I'm sure I'll let the support person pick me up whenever there is a convenient road crossing.
That said, there are portions of the trail where there aren't many road crossings. So, without a lot of agonizing over every potential pickup spot, I cut the number of likely backpacking days to 56. 56 out of 365 doesn't seem like too much. But, it's a lot of food preparation- about as much as the two-week hike for 4 people back in 2009. (See 77 Pounds of Food).
And, why am I doing all this work? Because I've become quite a food snob. I can't stand most of the purchased backpacker meals, and they are quite expensive.
If you've been following me a while, you know that I'm usually very picky about weighing and labeling everything. For this trip, I've hugely relaxed my standards. I am fixing meals only for myself. I don't have to impress or please anyone else. Also, the 56 days will not be continuous. Mostly they are 4-6 day stretches at a time and then with a trailer break for a while.
Here are the 56 main meals, lined up in two tubs.
One other major change from my norm. These meals are all "cold soak" meals. That means I won't carry a stove. None of my food will require heat (yeah, that means cold instant coffee for breakfast- I'll live).
And I'm not going for variety. I picked four menus that will rehydrate with no heat. I packaged up 14 of each. I'm not even weighing them. I've had so much experience at this, I know they are one serving each. When I do load up the backpack... say for four days on the trail without seeing the support person, I'll take one of each of the four main meals, and ditto with the necessary light meals, breakfasts, and snacks. No muss, no fuss.
Here is one of each of the four main menus- Each packet has a main dish and a dessert or other treat included. Clockwise from top left: spaghetti, cous cous, Southwestern salad, and "All Tuckered In."
The spaghetti is straightforward. I rationed angel hair pasta; I dried bottled sauce; I dried hamburger. Packaged the three together. Rehydrates in about 3 hours, so I'll need to put water on it at lunchtime or at the latest mid-afternoon.
The Southwestern salad is a brand new recipe for my backpacking collection. I saw it on line, and thought it would be really good. So I made a couple of servings. Yummers and very filling. Then I dehydrated a serving, and rehydrated it without heating. It came back nearly perfectly with very little loss of texture. Only took a couple of hours to rehydrate. Winner and winner! Here's the tub of 14 servings ready to go in the dehydrator. Carbohydrate is barley.
"All Tuckered In" is my made up name for a recipe we've used for years that is really good. It got itself on my list for this trip sort of as an afterthought. I was going to do flavored instant mashed potatoes. These are really easy, and lightweight. I tried making these cold. Meh... they were edible, but the texture was nasty and I thought there had to be something better. Then I remembered this menu and thought it would all rehydrate cold. It's just apple slices, sweet potato slices, onion, dried ground sausage, and seasonings. So, again, I had to make up a couple of servings, dehydrate them, and then make sure they would rehydrate without heat. Well! This one works very nicely and tastes quite yummy cold. Rehydrates in about two hours.
The fourth one is an old standard of ours that we usually eat as a lunch salad. I just made the portion larger, and it became a main meal. This is cous cous, with vegetables and dried salami. The real hassle with this menu is packing the oil and spices dressing. I have a couple of small bottles that actually don't leak (believe me, we've tried many kinds), but I don't have 14 of them. So, I know this works, but it's a pain to package. I put the dressing in a small ziplock and then sealed each one in a vacuum pack. These will not leak. The biggest drawback is that you have to get out your sharp knife to puncture the vacuum bags to open them. Rehydrates in 15 minutes.
Here are all the things that go in the cous cous just as they went in the dehydrator. Top to bottom are: mushrooms, cucumber, salami, green onion, black olives.
Packaged with each main dish is some other treat. Tootsie rolls, a granola bar, trail mix, fruit mix, gorp, etc. I mixed these up so I don't always get the same treat with the same main dish.
If we are getting close to the end of the hike and I have backpacking meals left over, we can just eat them in the trailer. I think this hike might get the need to backpack out of my system for a while. I told Marie this, and she said, "ha!" But anyway... I don't want to bring a lot of food packets home.
And I'm well into other food prep. Actually, except for a little bit of accounting bookwork this morning, I concentrated hard on food today. I got all the meals and snacks planned. I did another major shopping trip for food ingredients. The dehydrator is loaded up for overnight.
28 BIG ITEMS to do (34 done) and 24 small ones to do (14 done). 30 days to go. And, just like that... tomorrow I'll be into the final month. Gotta keep up the level of productivity!
|See Hike Food Knobstone Trail|