GDT Food and Meal Planning

We have finally finalized our meal plans (as much as we can anyways), so I can stop teasing with posts about us buying food and give more details on what we actually plan on eating.

Calories and Nutrition

Natasha and I don’t need a lot of calories hiking usually. We have planned for 3600 calories per day each, on average.

We are planning on shipping most of our food to trail as part of our resupply. We choose to buy cheese and fresh sausage (or whatever we can find) in each town as needed. We also plan on supplementing our planned food as needed. Major revisions to our food plan or resupply boxes will be handled by our friend who is shipping our resupply boxes (you know who you are!). On zero days and/ or resupply days we will eat what we can in town. I’m hoping for ice cream!

Nutrition is simple. We try to be balanced, and to get plenty of protein. We do eat lots of chocolate but we also have baby food pouches that we will share every day – we will be relying on those for some key vitamins. We will eat veggies and fruit in town when available. Our breakfast choices are bars and instant breakfast, but varied enough to balance what we can out. We are keeping track of our tuna intake – and I supplement with smoked salmon instead at times to keep mercury consumption in check.

Recipes

We have a few recipes we have used with success in the past but we are always refining them and mixing them up!

In my experience the most important thing to focus on with food when hiking is making sure you actually want to eat it and will get some enjoyment from it! I find that some food (cough, trail mix, cough) is fine on day one and I want to eat it but quickly lose my appetite for it. When that happens I struggle to get calories down and end up carrying food weight that I’m not consuming. If I enjoy the meal then it is easier to stomach (or straight up tasty) when I’m exhausted, hot, and frustrated. This is a nice feedback loop!

On the GDT we will be typically eating the following:

  • Tuna salad for lunch
  • Peanut butter
  • Snickers
  • Hershey’s milk chocolate and almond Bars
  • Reeses peanut butter cups
  • Sausage
  • Cheese
  • Pesto noodles
  • Skurka’s beans and rice
  • Sjurka’s peanut noodles (simplified)
  • Tuna or salmon mac n cheese casserole

Our specific meal lists are shown below. We both rotate between some set “days” but that’s really just used for planning. We eat what we feel like and don’t worry about what we specifically planned for that day.

Pesto Noodles

This is a pretty simple recipe, and is super easy to make.

Pesto Noodle Recipe

It’s a pretty “easy to eat” meal that sticks with you. Most of all the leftover broth isn’t a chore to drink – it’s just a nice, hot meal.

You can add to it if you want but we usually keep it as is. If we have leftover sausage we sometimes will add it, or bacon bits.

Tuna Salad

This one is new for us. We are no stranger to taking tuna hiking but we used to use it as an ingredient in dinner. Recently we started eating it straight from the bag for lunch and add some mayonnaise. This gets some protein mid day and also makes it so we don’t have to clean fish residue from our pots and cookware. I drink my greywater when washing my cookware with water; drinking soup of cold fish residue from our cookware isn’t my favourite so avoiding that but still eating tuna on trail is a huge plus for me.

We bought a lot of individual packaged mayonnaise – this is working great. I think three packs of mayonnaise are about perfect for a good mix. The foil packages of tuna we get in Canada do not have olive oil in them – just a small amount of vegetable broth – so the tuna itself is fairly dry. The mayonnaise really helps and doesn’t make it too liquidy.

Beans and Rice

This is my new favorite!

Beans and rice recipe

Basically, I like everything about this. A big part of what I like of it is just how consistent the texture and cooking time is across all ingredients. They cook together perfectly – no over or under cooked parts.

We bring sausage and cheese already usually so this is a good excuse to eat more cheese. It just works with food we already bring on trail as snacks (cheese, corn chips) so I don’t have to be precise about how many chips I use… I’ll eat them eventually anyways.

It can be a bit spicy, so that is a nice kick in a world otherwise dominated by chocolate bars.

In general I love tacos and nachos (the taco shop across the street from our apartment is my jam!) so this appeals to me even off trail!

Peanut Noodles

I’m not a fan of peanut sauce. I’ll eat a spoonful of peanut butter on trail… but a peanut sauce isn’t my favourite. So I haven’t planned on bringing this meal, but Natasha is planning on eating this meal on the GDT. She has tried the recipe while hiking on the SCT this year and has given it her seal of approval!

Peanut noodles recipe

Salmon mac n cheese casserole

This is only for me. But it’s tried and true. I supplement this with what I can, including fresh cheese to mix it up. The trick is to ensure not to use too much water or it becomes cheese soup! On the SCT I also added corn chips (leftover from the bean and rice) and the added texture of the corn chips was nice – almost like bread crumbs in mac and cheese.

salmon mac and cheese recipe

Note that using fish in a cooked meal leaves an aftertaste in my cookware but in limited amounts it is manageable and worth it.

Final Words

While many of these recipes are tried and true we have tried to add enough variation to not only keep things interesting but keep our diet balanced.

Overall, I think this is a good baseline, but I am sure we will have to supplement, remove or add food as the hike progresses. We will be sure to let you know what we think of it while on trail!

Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux – Trip Summary

Background

We are planning to do the Great Divide Trail this summer and wanted to take advantage of the long weekend to do a quick shakedown trip. The main things we were testing out on this hike were: (1) a new sleep system (MYOG double quilt and Exped Synmat HL Duo); (2) Andrew Skurka’s recipes as dinner options; (3) using my pack (GG Crown) without the hipbelt.

We decided on doing the Lower Stein Valley in Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Park since it was accessible from Vancouver and should be mostly snow free unlike most of the other trails closer to home.

Logistics

It’s possible to do the trip as a traverse (Dan Durston has outlined several trip options), but this early in the year there is still significant snow at higher elevations, so we stuck to the lower valley and just did this as an in and out. Getting to the trailhead is super straightforward – just follow Hwy 1 to Lytton, turn onto Hwy 12, then immediately after turn onto the ferry road and take a cool two car ferry across the river. Once you are across, the trailhead is about 15 minutes down the road – the road is gravel, but very well maintained so you don’t need 4WD or even a vehicle with clearance.

Itinerary

Our initial plan was to do an easy 3 nights/4 days: 13km to Suspension Bridge Camp, 16km to Cottonwood Creek Camp, 22km to Teepee Camp, 7km to the trailhead.

What we ended up doing was 2 nights/3 days and hiked the whole way out to the trailhead on the third day (29km). Up until Ponderosa Camp (at about 21km), the trail is in great condition; after Ponderosa Camp though there are quite a few blowdowns on the trail which slowed our pace quite a bit on the second day.

Most people seemed to stick to the first half of the lower valley – despite the parking lot being relatively full when we started, there was only one other group camped at the Suspension Bridge Camp with us and we were the only ones at the Cottonwood Creek Camp.

More detailed daily reports have been posted previously on our blog.

Shakedown Results

Gear Reviews

MYOG Double Quilt – My partner has a down allergy and there aren’t really any synthetic double quilts or lighter sleeping bag options than what we already have (Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15’s), so after a bit of research I purchased a kit from Ray Jardine to sew our own quilt.

We hadn’t used quilts before, so the first night (which got to be at least 0C as water froze in our bladder hoses) my partner was cold and couldn’t sleep until he figured out to tuck the quilt under himself; I was a bit on the cool side, but was warm enough to sleep. The second night was above freezing and both of us were nice and toasty.

Overall I think the quilt will serve us well on the GDT. I’d rate it to be comfy to 0C with normal base layers and good even lower with more layers.

Exped Synmat HL Duo – Previously we’ve used Neoair XLites with coupling straps. The Synmat Duo is so much nicer as there is actually no gap – if you are on the fence, I would definitely recommend it.

A few minor downsides to the Synmat Duo – (1) It seems to slide around more than the XLites (our tent is a ZPacks Duplex). Our sites both nights were quite flat, but each morning we found the pad moved significantly. (2) Since there is no gap, it is easy for your sleeping partner to invade your space and not realize it. (3) The pad takes up a lot more space in the tent than our XLites (183cm long vs 166cm long).

Dinner Recipes

We tried out the Pesto Noodles and Beans and Rice and would highly recommend both! For Canadians looking for a source of instant beans, we used Alpineaire Spicy Cheddar Bean Dip and it worked perfectly.

No Hipbelt

My pack was at 10kg including 3 days of food and 2L of water. Overall I was fine not using a hipbelt but definitely found that my shoulders were sore at the end of the first 2 days. Do I just need to build up my shoulders’ tolerance? I didn’t really notice any advantages for not having a hipbelt though in terms of how I was walking or anything else, so I think I’ll return to using it.

Photos

Day 1: Trailhead to Suspension Bridge Camp

Day 2: Suspension Bridge to Cottonwood Creek Camp

Day 3: Cottonwood Creek to Trailhead

GDT Food Haul + Long Weekend Food Shopping

We are heading out this weekend to go hiking for a few days. Since we have all of our food earmarked for the GDT, we needed to pick up food.

We are using the weekend to test out some new recipes.

Some items are just for the weekend, but we bought extra for the GDT when it made sense. Stocking up on rice, more Snickers and Almond Bars on sale.

More on the weekend hike later!

Weekly GDT food inventory haul

We made off a bit better than last weekend..

  • 88 Snickers bars
  • 60 Hershey’s almond bars
  • Various baby food pouches

All either on sale or for the best deal we can find.

We are learning! Combine Superstore flyer sales, order online and riding our bikes to the “click and collect” pickup. The only way to shop at superstore and feel relaxed when we are done!