As the date of my Cape Wrath trail adventure is coming close, I have one big issue to deal with (besides missing my family) – food and supplies. In terms of gear I’m pretty much sorted (just a few tweaks left) and gear tends to be easy when it comes to longer trips as the difference between a long weekend to two weeks is minor. In terms of food however, it is all perishable and limited; resupply is unclear as stores in villages may or may not stock relevant supplies, so planing becomes crucial. My trip is planned to be 10 days/9 nights so I’m planning food for 11 days/11 nights. I’ve planned the route in a way that allows me to pick up a resupply box on the fifth day from Kinlochewe which has a few local services that I plan to check with about keeping a box for me to be picked up (may or may not have a charge on it). By allowing for a box to be picked up, I want to pack food for 6 days/6 nights with me when I leave home and send a box with food for 5 days/5 nights and another gas canister.
When planning my menu I originally wanted something that will comply with my diet and lifestyle: home made, mainly vegetable and meat, no gluten and high on fats; turns out this is impossible in the UK. There are no vendors that sell dehydrated ingredients like Harmony House in the USA and I have no room in our flat for a dehydrator, so a new plan was needed.
After searching and checking the ingredients of freeze dried meals by several companies, I came upon Expedition Foods – a British company that makes (among others) gluten free high energy freeze dried meals. I decided to go for their meals for dinners as they have roughly 800-850 calories per pack and I recognized all the ingredients, good enough for me. Also every night before going to sleep I intend on adding more protein to the mix with a SiS night protein drink. The idea is to help the body to recover every day even more.
For breakfast I’m sticking to my high energy breakfast recipe with semolina, chia seeds, nuts and dried fruit. They weigh about 150g each, pack loads of carbs and fibre and I can create a good enough variety of flavours. Each of those meals is packed in a resealable bag for breast milk (perfect size for a single serving) that can hold hot liquid if needed.
During the day I plan on continuing my proven method of many small meals through the day to keep my energy levels high for longer walking stretches. So far my daily menu has looked like this:
- Breakfast while breaking camp with a cup of coffee
- After 2 hours of walking, 2 crackers with 2 slices of cured meat (usually salami)
- After another 2 hours of walking, 2 crackers with 2 slices of cured meat (usually salami), a coffee and a chocolate biscuit
- 2 more hours of walking, 2 crackers with 2 slices of cured meat (usually salami)
- 2 hours more and starting to look for a camping spot, having green tea and a biscuit
- An hour or so later, dinner and a biscuit for desert
In between I munch on a trail mix that is dark chocolate, roasted natural nuts and banana chips; around 100-150g throughout the day. This kind of eating is a little all over the place and when trying to use Andrew Skurka’s menu planning method to calculate the quantities it became one big mess of packing and rationing. Also my calorie intake wasn’t high enough with that. So a new menu was set that has 3 protein bars, my trail mix and a small pack of dried meat (50g) per day. This kind of menu makes the calculation, rationing and packing much simpler while providing better protein and calorie intake.
For the day time food I picked:
- Protein bars by Battle Oats: fully natural, gluten free high energy bars with about 400 calories in each bar.
- Dried meat is a mix of meats from Raging Bull Meats that have billtong in all kind of flavours to mix up the day.
- Nuts are cashew nuts that we buy raw in bulk and I roast at home (tastes the best).
- Banana chips (for the crunch) are from Suma that we buy from the Ethical Superstore.
Last but not least, coffee. I love my coffee and I think that a good coffee when you wake up in a beautiful place enhances the whole experience, it also makes a coffee break amazing. At home we buy good whole beans from a specific roaster and grind for brewing (no stale coffee!), but doing so on the trail is a bit of a push for me. For the trip I’m planning on having only 2 coffees per day (unlike my 3-4 coffees usually): one in the morning with breakfast and one in the afternoon when a great place for a break will show itself. My coffee method is based on using an Aeropress and 2 spoons of grounded coffee, that means 4 spoons per day packed in a zip lock bag. In terms of cooking the method is simple and only requiring boiling around 300ml of water and it will be quick with the Reactor.
Calories and protein
My two main concerns when hiking is that I consume enough calories (mainly from fat) and that there is enough protein for me to recover each day. The menu above offers roughly 3400 calories per day (about 20% from fat) and 147 grams of protein, more than enough for what I need, but will probably still pick some extras along the way.
Besides the food, the only other perishable is gas. Based on my experience with the Reactor, I can get 3-5 days of cooking from a 250g canister and 2-3 days from a 100g canister. I plan on taking a 250g canister and a 100g canister as reserve with me and pack another 250g canister to send with the food for the resupply point. I will probably be able to find a few places that sell gas, but the inconvenience of being short on gas (from meals to my precious coffee) just doesn’t worth it, so I’m planning on being full self sufficient in this instance. Though it is a pretty bland menu at the end, the need for calories and a simple menu won. I would have loved to have the chance to make my own exciting meals and maybe even dehydrate on my own, but that is not practical for me.
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