Thru-hiker Trail Mix

3 weeks from now, Lucas and I will be camped somewhere along the trail! I look forward to the end of the planning process–I can’t wait until we stand atop Springer Mountain, prepared and ready for 5 months in the woods. It’s kind of stressful balancing calories per gram…and my checking account.

As of now, we plan on resupplying from 18-20 mail-drops (and buying the rest from grocery stores). There are plenty of outfitters, hostels, and post offices along the Appalachian Trail that will hold our packages until we make it to town. We have chosen to mail food to ourselves when resupply stores are inconvenient. Also, we want to eat clean food during our thru-hike, and buying ahead of time has allowed us to stock-up for cheap from Sam’s Club and Trader Joe’s (amazing deals for organic/natural options).

Below are pics of our current food endeavor: preparing homemade trail mix! 

  

There are three easy steps to making simple, semi-raw mixes.

Step 1: 

Buy nuts, dried fruits, and whatever looks delicious/high in calories. Chow Mein noodles are a surprisingly good touch to trail mix. And dark chocolate is always a good idea.

Step 2: 

Get a brown paper bag, pour the above into the bag, and then shake it. If you want, you can measure out each ingredient to the right amount, or just eyeball it like I did (I added nuts and what not until the mix looked like the stuff you’d see at a store).

Step 3: 

Measure out servings and then package it in ziplocks or vaccum seal bags.

Lucas will have approximately 3/4 to 1 cup of trail mix a day and I’ll have 1/2 to 3/4 cup. We’re not sure how many calories are in each serving, however, most of the ingredients are 5+ calories per gram…so that’s about 750-950 calories a cup. 

EASY PEASY and cheaper than buying premade mixes!

Advertisements

How to Make a Camp Stove for Under $5

Instead of dropping 50+ dollars on a camp stove, Lucas and I decided to make our own from two aluminum cans. We will use denatured alcohol for fuel during our Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Alcohol burning stoves are cheap, ultralight weight, and just as reliable as a store-bought stove. Our stove will be used primarily for boiling water to rehydrate dehydrated food. From our tests, we have concluded that it takes less than five minutes to boil 500 mL of lukewarm water.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create your own!

Materials you will need:

  • two aluminum cans 
  • books for a steady line
  • permanent marker
  • small nail, thumb tack, or push pin
  • sandpaper
  • razor blades
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • pliers

materials

Step 1:

Use a book (or something sturdy) for a constant height to score the can with a razor blade. Once you have scored the bottom, you puncture the can along the score line and then press along the edge of the line until the bottom separates. If the can does not tear apart easily, use the sharp edge of the razor to CAREFULLY cut along the score line. This will dull the blade greatly, so make sure you have backup razors if you choose this method (I used one blade for each can).

Do this with both cans, use whatever height you feel necessary, but keep in mind that the final stove will be a little taller than your cut lines.

step 1

step 2

Step 2:

When the cuts are done, sand the sharp edges for safety (newly cut aluminum is VERY sharp). If you want your stove to have none of the can’s labels, sand the sides of the two cans.

step 3

Step 3:

Choose one can to be the top of the stove, and set the bottom portion aside. Score the top portion of the stove along the concave part of the can. This sounds difficult, but if you score at an almost horizontal angle, it makes the cut a lot easier than you would expect. Now use the point of the scissors to press the score line until the top pops out.

photo (2)

Step 4:

Take the remnants of one of the cut cans, and cut a wide strip of the aluminum off. This will be the inner lining of the stove.

step 4

Step 5:

Measure and trim the strip of aluminum so it will fit into the grooves of both the top and bottom portion of the stove, and staple the strip into a ring. After the ring is measured and stapled, cut small “windows” on the bottom of the ring so the fuel will be able to move throughout the stove once it is completed.

step 5

Step 6:

Take your pliers and make slight twists on the edge of one portion of the stove so that it will fit into the other portion.

step 6

Step 7:

Here comes the hard part–try to fit the ring made earlier into the grooves on both portions of the stove while slowly pushing one section into the other.  You may need to use your pliers to bend little bits out of the way so the ring will fit right. If done correctly, the lip of the top portion of the stove will cover the edge of the ring.

step 7

Step 8:

Use a small nail (or push pin, thumb tack, etc.) to puncture holes into the top portion of the stove. You can use a piece of tape to measure the circumference of the stove and make tick marks at constant intervals along the tape to have holes that are equal distances apart from one another. I didn’t do this, just eyeballed the holes and punched away.

step 8

And that’s our final product!

Now pour about a half-inch of denatured alcohol, light the fuel with a lighter or match, and there ya go… a fully functional stove.

step 9

Tips:

Use a pot-stand to make sure you don’t snuff the flame with your pot. We made our original one out of an aluminum grill screen, but it started to melt (whoops). Our next pot stand will be made out of good ole chicken wire.

How to train for hikes in Florida

Yesterday Lucas and I discovered the perfect tool for our training–the massive football stadium about a mile away! Around 9pm we got the idea to pack our backpacks with approximately 15-20 lbs of weight and make our way to the stadium. We walked up and down a series of steep ramps for 2 hours at 5 set intervals.

photo

The inclines were awesome for our calves!  Though, to everyone running up and down the steps in spandex,  we looked like confused homeless people.

13 - 1

With our bandannas drenched and shoulders sore, we flung our packs onto the floor of our home around midnight. We’re probably going to go back tomorrow night to get in one more intense walk before I leave for Washington (this Saturday! Can’t wait!!).

Planning the Planning Process

Yesterday I checked out a book from my university’s library, The Appalachian Trail: Celebrating America’s Hiking Trail. I admit, it was quite the adventure finding the books among endless shelves of dust and hardbound covers on the library floor I never explore. There’s a good deal on the Trail’s history in books circa the 1950s, but from reading things like ‘wool breeches’ and ‘tennis slippers’ I have decided to browse through them later out of curiosity and not now, while I’m in search of basic (up-to-date) information.

Anyway, three other A.T. books ordered through Amazon:

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail and The A.T. Guide 2013 by David Miller

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Billy Bryson

I have officially entered the obsession stage in my A.T. planning. This past week I’ve focused  on the blog, made lists of what I need to purchase and planned what I need to plan. At the end of July I am going on a ten day expedition in Washington. Luckily the program provided an outline of everything I need to do in order to train/pack. I figure a lot of the gear and prep work for the AT and that overlap so… here are my current training plans:

  • Go on longish (4-8 hour) hikes in hilly terrain with a 20+ pound pack.
  • (since I live in flatland Florida) Simulate hiking up steep terrain via hills, long flights of stairs, or stadium stairs for 1-1.5 hours with my pack. Making sure I climb AND descend.
  • Incorporate more cardio into my daily routine by bike rides, short hikes, or the elliptical.
  • 2-4 days of gym climbing a week with one of these days focusing on strength exercises with an emphasis on legs.

Gotta’ have beast legs to climb this beaut!

Mt. Baker via Wikipedia

And so it begins

Today I woke up inspired and ready to begin the planning process for my Appalachian Trail 2014 thru-hike. I am currently a senior in my university’s Creative Writing program and will begin my Northbound adventure next March.

I think it started with National Geographic documentaries and PBS specials back in 2010. Right away, I was inspired to explore the East portion of my country and become acquainted with terrain I had always overlooked. My boyfriend Lucas and I have set this goal together–the trail has been of interest to him for the past five years.  Summer/fall 2012 he backpacked through Israel, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, etc. for approximately four months. When he returned to his hometown after numerous nights of sleeping in a hammock, and our communication picked up, I told him about my vague plans of the hike. Long story short, AT partners turned into a relationship and here we are, at the beginning stages of preparation!

Rock climbing 3-4 years in a family-sized Florida community brought upon a growing passion in both of us;  to reconnect with nature and enjoy the mountains, the woods, boulders, trails, and lakes for what they are and in their natural form. I am energized by every exposure to the outdoors. As a Boy Scout (I used to be a part of the coed program called Venture Crew) I am also concerned with the preservation of the land and live by the principle Leave No Trace Behind. My goal is to become integrated into a natural environment opposed to inhabiting the land. I also want to help others experience this sense of connectedness as well.

I cannot promise you any deep insight into the meaning of life, or what we can do to change the world, but I can share with you my passion for nature and document our journey along the way.

479703_279043742228524_1230816766_n