Friday, March 28, 2008

Beans, Rice and Granola, Oh My!

Just like on the trail, right now all idle thoughts are about food.  What will we want to eat for 4 months?  What will give us the most calories and nutrition in the lightest weight package?  How do you plan for 120 breakfasts and dinners?  Some of these questions are why many thru-hikers opt to purchase food along the way instead of planning it all out ahead of time.    I get a little particular about our food especially when I read the ingredients on some of the convenience foods of choice.  Don't get me wrong, we will indulge in many wonderful treats of modern science and love every minute of it.  Luckily, hiking twenty some miles a day will forgive many indulgences.  We like to take advantage of all the choices available to us at home and then make healthy satisfying meals out of those choices.  The food dehydrator is going 24 hours a day right now.  I have found that cooked rice and beans dehydrate really well.  Pre-cooking them allows for a quicker cooking time on the trail where time and fuel are not always copious.  We belong to a wonderful CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and Spring's offerings are beautiful.  We are finding ways to work them into our future trail meals.  So far we have added a beet and cannelini bean risotto, chana dal and basmati rice with dill and cilantro pesto rice with black beans.  We've also used pasta sauce from tomatoes we canned last season and tomatillo salsa also from last summer.  It's hard to find meals equal to these in the Lipton ready-made aisles!  Granola is the choice for our breakfast needs. Hopefully we will be able to change flavor combinations enough to make it a long term winner as neither of us can eat another spoonful of oatmeal.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


"What do you eat on the trail?" is one question we get asked often. It's a BIG topic both on- and off-trail. Once we have been hiking for a few weeks our "hiker hunger" kicks in. Because we are hiking 20 miles each day, day-in and day-out often at high elevation, we burn between 4000-6000 calories per day! It is nearly impossible to carry enough food on our backs to feed that fire. One aspect is to carry calorie-dense foods (most calories per ounce). Another aspect is diversity; even your favorite food will start to sound awful after eating it for two months! A typical breakfast will be granola with powdered milk. Dinners included bean burritos, pastas, lentils. We don't each lunch in the traditional sense - we basically snack all day. Bagels, cheese, nuts, dried fruits, energy bars. And we don't skip desert! Lori usually has peanut butter with M+Ms and I eat a king-size Snickers every night before bed. And we still come into town hungry! So what do we crave in town that we can't get on the trail? It's all about the PB+J (Pizza, Ben & Jerrys)! It's the world's best diet: Eat all you want and still lose weight! Watch for a future post about how Lori is preparing, dehydrating and packaging our meals.

Homemade Gear

This next month will be crazy with trail preparations.  Here are some are some pics of me making a rain cover for my pack.  I have heavily customized my gear for years but his is the first piece of gear I have made from scratch.  In the past we have used professionally-made pack covers but their designs always left something to be desired.  For the last few trails, Lori and I have used heavy-duty grabage bags with some strategic holes cut for pack straps.  These worked surprisingly well but their durability was minimal.  So I decided to build my custom design out of lightweight silicone-impregnated nylon.  Can't tell you how well they work until we put them to the test in some real-world conditions (hopefully we won't need them at all!) but they can't be any worse than the store bought models.  Almost all store-bought pack covers leave the pack exposed where the user's back touches the pack.  This is exactly where water is funneled when it rains!  The main advantage of my design is that the covers this area.  As you can see, there are still holes for the pack straps but I've always said that I'm happy if it keeps out 95% of the rain!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Welcome to our new weblog!  You may be wondering what "Throughhikers" means.  A throughhiker (or thru-hiker) is a long-distance backpacker who has hiked one or more long trails from end to end.  OK, so what is a long trail?  Generally, this means one of the Big 3:  the Appalachian Trail (AT), the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), or the Continental Divide Trail (CDT).  These are all 2000+ miles long and take many months to complete.  There are plenty of "shorter" long-distance trails (Arizona Trail = 700 miles, John Muir Trail = 240 miles) and you would have thru-hiked that trail if you walked it from end to end in one push.  Of course, there are as many opinions of what constitutes a throughhiker or long-distance backpacker as there are hikers.  MY opinion is that a long-distance hike is one of 500+ miles that takes a month or more to walk and a throughhiker is one who walks a long trail from end to end in one push.  Of course, most long trails begin and end at random poiltical boundaries (i.e. the Mexican border or stateline) rather than at logical topographic features so don't get to caught up in the syntax.

Now that we have some definitions out of the way, you're probably still wondering why we called this blog "Throughhikers."  Well, as you can probably guess, Lori and I are both throughhikers.  We have both hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (1996), the Arizona Trail (2001), the John Muir Trail (2002), and significant portions of the Continental Divide Trail (New Mexico in 1998, Colorado in 2003).  Together we have over 12,000 long-distance trail miles under our hipbelts!  And this summer we will be adding even more.  On May 3, we will be re-hiking the California section of the PCT.  In the upcoming weeks, we will attempt to keep you updated on our planning, packing and the general craziness of preparing for a hike of this magnitude.  Once we are on the trail, we will keep you posted as to our progress.  Hope you have enjoyed reading and check back often for updates.  Happy Trails!