What I Ate on The PCT – A Horror Story

Food. Thoughts of it will consume your mind on a long hike. When will you eat next? What will you eat next? How soon is it acceptable to stop for lunch after stopping for breakfast? How can I fit as many calories as possible into my body during one sitting? How can I make the instant mashed potatoes that I have for dinner tonight somewhat bearable?

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A fairly typical resupply.

When I was researching and preparing for my thru-hike, I really enjoyed and found it very helpful to read posts where people laid out the kinds of things they ate on their own hikes. This year’s class of thru-hikers are currently feverishly preparing to set off on their journeys, so I decided to try and be semi-helpful and write a food post of my own. Plus, I just really like talking about food. Below, I’ll write a blurb about what I typically ate for each meal, as well as my final thoughts on my food strategy and if I would eat the same shit on my next hike.

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A taste of the horrors that lie ahead: this is a tortilla with peanut butter and mayonnaise. 

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Let’s Talk About Food, Baby

Food. There are few things long-distance hikers think or talk about more. It is what fuels our bodies and allows us to complete these insane feats of endurance, and therefore it is all important. Many hours on the trail are spent dreaming about when you’ll next stop to eat, and what you’ll eat when you do. When you burn off five to six thousand calories a day, you’re rarely not hungry. This is a phenomenon known as ‘hiker hunger’, a term used to describe the insatiable hunger that allows hikers to consume massive amounts of food while rarely getting full.

So what do hikers actually eat on the trail? This is one of the more common questions I receive when I explain to someone what a thru-hike is. ‘What are you going to eat, and how are you going to get it?’ While the topic of obtaining food (or resupplying) needs its own post, this post will be dedicated to the glory and horror that is trail food.

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One of my favourite trail breakfasts. Instant oatmeal, instant coffee, eaten while sitting in the dirt. (Eating while sitting down is a real luxury).

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