Your feet are sore. Your calves and quads are aching. The pain in your shoulders has you wondering which of your companions added half their pack’s load to yours! Hey, we’ve all been there…weary from the trail.
Your 10 mile day on the 100 Mile Wilderness section of Maine’s Appalachian Trail is over…and you’re hungry as a hound dog! Time for some friendly socializing at the shelter, a good night of sleep, and most importantly, the HOT and HEALTHY dinner your body is craving! Eat right and you’ll be raring to go 10 more miles by morning.
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How Much Food to Bring in the 100 Mile Wilderness
The 100 Mile Wilderness is a rugged hike, arguably one of the most challenging in the Lower 48 and certainly along the Appalachian Trail. You’ll want to eat for energy and good health. Keep in mind you’re packing food for 10 days, around 1.5 to 2 pounds per day, so count on 15 to 20 pounds.
Packing it in
Where will you put this food? In your pack, nearest to the middle as possible, while ensuring it’s above the other large items. Also, don’t be that person who chooses to carry cans and an hour into the trek complains and falls off the pace. Here’s how to avoid it…
Lightweight, High Calorie, and Tasty
Pull yourself together and count on the typical backpacker’s diet of dehydrated camping meals. They are lightweight, healthy, and are ‘great’ for the trail. Just don’t expect them to taste like filet mignon. Their ‘greatness’ derives from being high calorie and lightweight – not tasteful. When taste is important, chocolate is an ideal dessert. Why Chocolate? Here’s why…
Priorities and Formulas
Chocolate follows a ‘protocol of priorities’ – helpful to remember in sequence when selecting your entire menu of foods:
1) High calories, 2) Lightweight, and 3) Tasty as you can find or afford
Also, regarding calories, a good rule of thumb is to source calories from protein over carbs, and carbs over fat. It’s also better not to have more than one third of overall calories derived from fat (that’s why they put “calories from fat” on the label).
Finally, when picking your daily meals, remember to try and exceed 100 calories per ounce of food weight.
Example daily food checklist for the 100 Mile Wilderness:
Breakfast (7 A.M.)
- Instant oatmeal: (2) individual 1.5 oz. packs, 300 cal.
- Raisins: (1) small .05 oz. box, 50 cal.
- Mixed nuts: (1) small .05 oz. bag, around 100 cal.
- Dessert cake: (1) individually 2 oz. pack, 250 cal.
- Instant Coffee / hot chocolate: (1) individual 0.1 oz. pack – 0 cal.
Calories = 700 / Weight = 6.1 oz.
Morning Snacks (9 A.M. and 11 A.M.)
- Beef jerky: (1) 2 oz. serving*, 200 cal.
- Candy bar (like Payday or Milky Way): (1) 2 oz. serving, 250 cal.
Calories = 450 / Weight = 4 oz.
Lunch (12:30 P.M.)
- Crackers: (1 x 10) = 2 oz. serving*, 200 cal.
- Salami: (1) 2 oz. serving*, 200 cal.
- Dehydrated fruit: (1) 2 oz. serving*, 200 cal.
- Instant drink mix: (1) 0.5 oz. serving, 50 cal.
Calories = 650 / Weight = 6.5 oz.
Afternoon Snacks (2 P.M. and 4 P.M.)
- Granola bar (1) 2 oz. portion, 220 cal. – Clif Bars are great afternoon pick-me-ups to climb that last hill.
- Trail mix: (1) 1.5 oz. serving*, 200 cal.
Calories = 420 / Weight = 3.5 oz.
Dinner (6 P.M.)
- Dehydrated Chili Mac: (1) 4 oz. portion, 500 cal.
- Dehydrated apple crisp dessert: (1) 1.25 oz. portion, 130 cal.
- Instant Hot Cocoa: (2) 1.25 oz. portion, 300 cal.
Calories = 930 / Weight 7.75
Daily Calories = 3150
Daily Weight = 1 pound, 12 oz.
As I mentioned, don’t expect filet. However, I do recommend that if you have the space and weight to spare, carry along one great tasting Mountain House meal. These freeze dried meals are expensive and tend to be high in sodium, but they can go a long way towards lifting morale on a day when the 100 Mile Wilderness beats you down.