Pretty much the only things we think about while hiking are: where is the water, where should we camp tonight, and food.
We are always thinking about food. One reason is we need to eat so much to hike like this every day. We’re not just hiking 11 to 15 miles a day; we’re hiking over mountains. We’ve hiked over 24 mountains so far and that doesn’t even include the peaks called knobs or tops – some of them are pretty darn close to as high as the mountains.
We need about 3000 to 5000 calories a day to keep our energy up. Whenever we are in a town we load up on big meals, but that’s only every 3-5 days. We keep protein bars, dried fruit, and high sugar high fat snacks easily accessible during the day, and generally cook breakfast and dinner in our backpacker stoves.
Food is heavy. We carry about 2 pounds per day. Today I picked up my mail drop, which had what I thought was 4-5 days food and I swear to goodness it weighed more than 10 pounds. It probably did. I started eating dried fruit and beef jerky while rearranging my pack to hold it all. Thankfully, Blue Jay received a new bear bag today which can hold some of my food too, because mine far overflowed the bear canister and stuff sack I usually use.
Everyone else felt the weight of their mail drops too. We all sat in the sun by the laundromat waiting our turn to do laundry while sitting and packing food. Finally I had all mine in my backpack, and could almost close the cover over it.
Then we hiked a mile uphill to our campsite. I fantasized about eating the heaviest items first all the way up that hill.
It’s good to be loaded down with food though, especially as we head into the Smoky Mountains tomorrow. It will be 41.9 miles before we cross a road and can hitch a ride to Gatlinburg or Cherokee for resupply. By then, my pack will be at least 6 pounds lighter.
If you are planning on sending us a little treat for the trail, don’t worry about weight. There are plenty of hungry hikers willing to help lighten our loads and we all love treats!