food for 2 weeks on the appalachian trail

9:54 p.m. on June 22, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm planning a solo two weeks of hiking the Appalachian Trail through the state of Vermont and would like to carry all the food I'll need without need for a mail drop or restocking in a town. On shorter trips I have carried several freeze dried meals for evening meals and caloric intake but these are too bulky to carry two weeks worth. I would like to maintain at least 2,000 calories/day. Can any one provide me with recommendations for low bulk/high calorie foods/meal plan that can last for a two week backpacking trip? Thanks.

11:51 a.m. on June 23, 2009 (EDT)
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You could ask Governor Sanford of South Carolina ;). He just returned after 4 or 5 days on the AT!

Two weeks is short enough that you don't need to worry too much about vitamin deficiencies, but you could take multivitamin tablets. The main thing is high caloric density. One thing to consider is Italian dry sausage. This is very dense in calories (due to the fat content), and has a fair amount of protein in it. Freeze dry food is low density, hence low weight for the bulk you will be carrying. I wouldn't worry about the bulk, therefore. Your main concern should be the weight. The big problem with freeze dry meals is the salt content - way more than you really need. They do have a lot of calories, though. Pastas (which many freeze dry meals have) are pretty high caloric density, and you can add those in the form of instant rice, angel-hair pasta, and similar quick-cooking starches. The problem with pastas is that, being simple starches, they burn fairly quickly. Hence, adding protein and fats (like the Italian dry sausage) will give more sustained energy through the day. It is important to have proteins and fats at breakfast. Nuts are another good source of the fat and protein calories, and are lower bulk (but higher weight) in the form of nut butters (peanut butter, for example, but consider cashew and walnut butters).

Dried fruits add a sweet taste and a short-term boost, so are good for snacks along the trail. A way to make the snacks more sustaining is to make your own Gorp - a mix of nuts, raisins and/or other dried fruits, and M&Ms or similar coated chocolate (prevent the typical melted mess of chocolate that you get with candy bars). Tropical chocolate (hard to find, unfortunately) stands up to the heat. You can substitute bars of dark chocolate - these are unsweetened and basically just the cacao part of chocolate bars. Again high fat content and some protein.

For a 2-week trip, I wouldn't worry about the variety too much - you will get hungry enough to eat anything.

When on extended expeditions, we typically use freezedry for the center of the meals, supplemented with energy bars. But then, we are shooting for 5000-6000 cal/day. Depending on your hiking style, I would consider 2000 cal/day to be a bit tiny. I suspect you will drop several pounds a day. Also, on the month-long expeditions that I am more used to, nutrition deficiencies are of concern. So I include foods high in Vitamin C and the B-complex (plus multivitamin tablets). The high protein and high fat foods are also an important component. I still typically drop 5-10 pounds in a month on those trips (used to drop 20 pounds before I started loading up on the fatty foods more - and no, I do not eat such things at home, and my cholesterol level is in the 160 range, since the exercise makes the difference).

And, for about a month after each expedition, I can't face Clif bars and other energy bars - eating several daily in addition to other food for more than a couple weeks may be necessary to get the calories, but they really do not taste that good when at home.

9:46 a.m. on July 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Olive oil (or Mazola) drizzled over meals is a good supplemental boost in overall calories. Make sure the cap is on tight.

9:16 a.m. on August 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Two weeks of food is going to weigh 18-24 lbs. I just did a hike where I carried 14.5 lbs for 9 days and it was unpleasant to carry this much extra weight. The area of the AT that you are hiking has easy pretty access to towns - can I suggest you do a resupply. You'll be a lot happier if it rains a lot.

I hiked the Long Trail end-to-end last year and have finished all of the AT VT miles.

10:21 a.m. on August 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Here is a link to another post on this forum that you may get some ideas from if your still looking for input.

8:27 p.m. on August 14, 2009 (EDT)
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If you know a itinerary of where you will be at town area, you could send your food ahead to yourself and be able to pick it up. Thats what I did when I did the Pacific Crest Trail about 30 years ago. And at least on the AT most towns orPost Offices are close to the trail. On the PCT it was as much as 30 mile to the closest towns, making going to the P.O. easier than having to shop. I usually could hitch a ride to the closest P.O. and back to the PCT in a day or less.

When I do long multi-week hikes now and can do so, I cache my food/water along the route so I dont have to carry it all, usually on 2-3 week hikes or longer.

7:36 a.m. on September 11, 2009 (EDT)
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You do know that you can ride a chair lift down Stratton Mt. to pick up a mail food drop at the Ski Patrol office and then ride back up to the trail? Or you could re-supply at the grocery store.
The AT also passes right through downtown Hanover, NH So, unless you are on some sort of mission to carry 2 weeks of food, why not re-supply at some very convenient places near the trail.
A copy of the End-to Enders Guide for the Long Trail which is the first 100 miles of the AT in VT from the MA border. The quide is in lightweight pamphlet form meant to be carried with you and can be purchased from the Green Mountain

January 30, 2015
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