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How much food can you pack?

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How much food can you pack?

Postby hikerduane » Mon Dec 05, 2005 4:32 am

I was talking to my neighbor yesterday a little, the last time he had been bping was in '95. He has done thousands of miles in the Sierra. He got to talking about the food he brought and what he got by on. He told me on one trip out of Tuolomne Meadow that he didn't have to resupply until Lone Pine. Except for a "meal" at Reds Meadow, he was out for 25 days without a resupply. I told him wow!. Definitely an old style bper. Real tent, heavy pack and load. I told him what is happening with tarps and tent weight, other gear. He was a little skeptical about ultralight gear. People like him, I wish they had the time to sit down and talk with you a little, more often. He does wood work and stays busy, so I only get to chat every once in awhile. He knees give him problems, I wonder why?

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Postby copeg » Mon Dec 05, 2005 8:07 am

I met a fellow this last summer that backpacks 3-4 weeks on end, bringing with him about <1 cliff bar/day and 3-4 freeze dried meals (no resupply). He mostly lives off of fish and berries. Very nice fellow to talk to and we hiked together for a few hours. Personally, I've never managed to fit (although I haven't had too many opportunities either) more than 8 days (in my single bear canister) and wouldn't want to carry more than that.
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Postby airrj » Mon Dec 05, 2005 8:21 am

My wife and I carried 6 days of food with us on our last trip. And we had a little left over at the end. So our first day food was not in the bear can, and the next 5 days worth was in the can. The key is to not carry more than you can eat on the first day.

It consisted of one dried meal per day, cliff bars for each of us, and oatmeal for the mornings. Also pepperoni and some candy. It went pretty well for our first 6 day trip.

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Postby quentinc » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:30 am

Well, based on these posts, it clearly depends on how much you eat! Although I've carried 7 days of food with me, the idea of getting all that into a bear cannister astounds me. I've never been able to fit more than 2-1/2 days worth in (and that includes having eaten a day's worth of the food before the need first arises). I guess that just makes me a glutton.

On the other hand I plan most of my trips so that a bear cannister isn't necessary. That's a whole different topic, as has been discussed on the board in the past.
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Postby markskor » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:18 pm

Reminds me of another solo backpacking story… Peanuts and Raisins
Pardon my ramblings but I have a different twist on this topic. Many years ago in the Yosemite backcountry, I would regularly go out solo, usually for 14 day stints, supplied with only 6 -8 days of food, my flute, and my fishing gear – ( usually Panther Martin lures and fly and bubbles.) Amazingly, I would come down, often 16 days later, usually with a day or two of food still in reserve. After you get accustom to this way of life, the barter value of a stringer of trout and/or the presence of a fellow musician usually grants access to most, if not all, friendly campfires. Maybe it is confidence in a lifestyle, the benevolence of the Sierra climes, or the general generosity and good nature of fellow backcountry packers, but I never went wanting. All it took was a few trout, the promise of more, a smile, some music, and the fact that we all were all fellow backpackers and more than a few miles in, and people generally freely opened up and usually shared whatever they had. This is the way of the Sierra.
That is where this story begins…Once again I was over 20 miles in from the nearest trailhead, the name of the lake really does not matter, suffice only to say it was high in Yosemite’s backcountry – sort of near Red’s Peak - solo. (As you can probably tell, I spent a great deal of time in all parts of Yosemite.)
Anyway, I was in my 11th or 12th day in, getting down to the very last of the food in my pack, time to go back and re-stock, when I met them- 2 younger, hippie-type campers- also on their way out, almost out of food too. Conveniently, they had still saved a big bag of raisins and peanuts- sort of a trail mix thing.
Anyway, at this lake, I fished, was successful, and provided most of that night’s communal dinner, while they contributed Wyler’s lemonade, instant mashed potatoes, and – you guessed it - peanuts and raisins for dessert. The general intention was to follow the Merced down the next day – maybe 15 miles- fish again that next night for that dinner – and do the last 8 miles or so the final day after that.
That night it rained. It was not one of those 2-hour sprinkles, which we all know and love in the Sierra. It might have initially started out that way, but after 12 hours, it turned into a steady downpour, complete with high winds, lightning, thunder…the whole enchilada. These two young campers had only a torn tube tent for shelter, and the driving gusts soon made rags out of it. I had this little two-man tent- one of those cheap, single-walled, but light, pup tents- that surprisingly, was able to fit all three of us inside – sleeping bags and all. So, we all three guys stayed in this cramped tent for the entire next day – telling jokes – smoking whatever – and trying our best to stay as dry as possible under the conditions. We did eat the peanuts and raisins.
Now, I do not know what dehydrated food does to you guys, but to me …well, let us say that there is more than one reason that I usually carry a one-man tent and sleep alone on the trail. Now, as a bonus, add into this the effects of peanuts and raisins to a Freeze-dried diet, and all I can say was that there was plenty of wind to go around that night. As my stomach gurgled and spoke to me, the pressures mounted, and my cheeks started clapping furiously. All three of us, cramped in this little tent…for 2 days, nothing to eat but peanuts and raisins, my god!... well it is enough to bring tears to your eyes – and it did. Finally, when we could no longer take it, they ceremoniously held a vote, and democratically voted me – (me!) - out of my own tent. The funny part was that I was really glad to leave it, as it was getting plenty foul in there anyway. I never saw that tent again. The next morning was the start of a long 20+ miler.
Last edited by markskor on Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Snow Nymph » Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:06 pm

Love the peanuts and raisins story! LOL!

I carried 12 days of food in Wyoming (Wind River Range), but had to hang the first night. We each got 10 days of food in the Bearikade Expedition, and hung one (each) dinner/lunch and breakfast for the second morning. My pack was 40 lbs, SnowDudes was about 45. We repackage all our food which means less trash to carry out.

After carrying 49 lbs (me) and 57 lbs (SnowDude) for 8 days in '99 , we did some research on gear and lightened our packweight.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison

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Postby SSSdave » Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:54 pm

Little me is the worst offender weightwise but I have an excuse. And all that lifting does require energy. I never skimp on food and want food that I can enjoy. I snack all day, including lots of sweets, and lots of variety. I'll bring freeze dried dinners on longer trips and usually eat whole 2 person dinners. I usually target a pound and one-half each day on long trips and a couple pounds a day for short trips. Minimalist food backpacking will never happen here. The most I can fit in a Garcia is about 7 days worth. In my early years I would skimp on packaged dinners and instead relie on fishing since I pretty much was always able to catch trout if they were present with flies and nymphs.

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Postby Buck Forester » Mon Dec 05, 2005 4:31 pm

My packs are insanely heavy. I don't (not yet anyway) lug around medium format gear like Dave, but I do have two slr camera bodies and multiple lenses and lots of film and filters and a 4lb carbon tripod. I eat a lot when I'm backpacking and I can barely get a weekend's worth of food just for myself in a full-sized Garcia bear canister. When I take extended trips without resupply, like I used to do in the wilds of Montana and Wyoming and Idaho, I would supplement my food bag with trout dinners. Even for an overnight trip my backpack rarely weighs less than 55lbs. and I've often lugged 80+lbs around for days on end. But I'm in the 200lb range and pretty stout so I'm used to it. Instead of thinking lighter weight, I'm thinking my next bacpack will be a Gregory Denali since my Gregory Whitney and ArcTeryx Bora 95 fill up too quickly and I have to attach a day pack on the outside to fit all my schtuff. Soon I'd like to start hauling high-end video gear around along with my photo gear. Some of those high, off-trail passes take a long of grunt work! But if I didn't love it, I wouldn't be doing it. Yaaaa, baby.
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Postby sierranomad » Mon Dec 05, 2005 5:55 pm

Some people live to eat, I eat to live. My trail food tastes like cardboard, and I don't care much as long as it's filling, light and doesn't take much to prepare and clean-up. I can get 5 days worth in a garcia bear container.

When I'm out for longer than that I'll carry the excess in one of those bags made out of bullet-proof material. I've actually had more problems with raccoons and skunks than bears, but these bags have kept them at bay as well. Varmints that have gotten my food on a couple of occasions is mice - they can even chew through that bullet-proof material!

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Postby will_jrob » Mon Dec 05, 2005 6:06 pm

Back in '65, a friend and I spent a week backpacking in Yosemite, carrying our gear and food in Boy Scout Yucca packs. The dinner menu was , as I remember, Minute Rice with a choice of gravy mix, instant pudding, and lemonade; salami and cheese on rye crisp for lunch, breakfast ?.
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