Friday, March 13, 2009

Making Your Stomach Crawl

As I'm getting some of the menu items together for my thru-hike the subject of trail snacks is on my mind. Normally beef jerky, trail-mix, and just plain ol' Power Bars are what I'm munching on as I hike down the trail. Some of the things that are not typically on my snack menu are Mopani Worms, Thai Curry Crickets, Reindeer Pate and BBQ Worm Crisps. A United Kingdom company called Edible is trying to change that though. They offer all of the above plus a few other things that are sure to make your stomach crawl. Check out their product line and if your brave enough to try any let me know how it goes.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Getting It Together

Well, things are falling into place. I got the official OK to take 13 days off in a row and I've started working on a few of the details. The biggest one being where to cache water. I've got one spot in each of the sections in Tim Ernst's Ouachita Trail Guide. I'm not sure of the distance between each water cache, but I don't think it'll be more than 20 miles.

I've started planning the menu as well. Since the majority of my trips are weekend trips I didn't really have 13 different breakfasts, lunches, or dinners in my backpacking food repertoire. I do have a few backpacking food cookbooks that I've dog eared pages in over the years with recipes that sound good. I'm going to start trying some of these at home to see what I really like.

I tried a cinnamon sugar couscous this morning, but didn't really like it. It has potential though so I'll make some adjustments on it tomorrow maybe. I'm doing a chicken and stuffing for lunch, Seems pretty straightforward, but I'm going to try it in a freezer bag which I've never done.

On the subject of food I've got a buddy who may be able to bring a food re-supply on day 8 which beats carrying 13 days worth of food from the start. If he's not able to do it I'll probably ship a re-supply box to the Story, AR post office. I don't really want to hike the five miles into town though so I thought about maybe hanging a bag somewhere near the trail. I would hate to be expecting the food to be there and something happen to the bag. Another option would be to hang a bag and ship a box just in case.

I've started to mentally go through my head what gear I'm going to take as well. Just about the only thing I'm unsure of at this point is the stove. I know I'm not taking the Whipserlite or the Dragonfly, but I'm undecided on whether or not I should take the Jetboil or get a Snow Peak Lite Max stove. If I buy the Lite Max I can use my MSR titanium cook set which would drop the weight a little.

Right now I'm planning on carrying the Osprey Atmos 50 pack, the big kicker being how much space the food takes up. If the food takes up a whole bunch of space or I don't do a re-supply I can always carry the Gregory Baltoro.

I'm going to do some more logistics planning this weekend. I'll try to figure out where I'll be when and try to get a rough idea of the complete menu. Does nybody know where I can get individual packets of peanut butter?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Let the process begin

Camping, or more specifically backpacking is something that I've been doing since I was a kid. Early on it was just carrying my gear in a bag out behind a friends house. Now it's evolved into lots more gear and I'm not sleeping in the woods behind my friends house any more. Instead I'm traveling around to the various trails in the area.

Time constraints with work and two kids have really kept me from doing any long trips even though there are a couple of options in my area. To the south is the Lone Star Hiking Trail. The LST is a 129-mile National Recreation Trail that travels through the Sam Houston National Forrest. For the most part it's flat and sandy. or in other words not very exciting.

To the north is the Ouachita Trail which is ranked third in the long trails for solitude according to this article on Backpacker magazines website.

So how long does a trail have to be to be considered a long trail? Well the Ouachita trail is 223 miles long and stretches from Talihina, OK to Little Rock, AR. Two things that differentiate this trail from the Lone Star trail, 1. It is not flat. 2. You will probably see a couple of rocks on the trail.

So which one do you think I'm going to pick to be my first foray into long distance backpacking. The harder of the two of course. Actually the opportunity just kind of fell into my lap. I was talking with my wife about taking a summer trip to see some family in Alabama. I mentioned going up ahead of her and the kids and spending four or five days on the Appalachian trail.

The thought of driving all the way to Alabama without another driver available didn't appeal to her so she suggested meeting me in Little Rock. I'm not sure where she got little Rock because we've never really discussed details about the Ouachita Trail which if you remember just happens to end in Little Rock. I'm not going to sweat the details though. At this point it was her idea and I'm going to run with it.

That's it for know. I've started thinking about the menu so I can start stockpiling food for 13 days on the trail. You'll find the menu as a work in progress in the links on the right. If you have any suggestions feel free to chime in.

In the meantime here's some video from my trip with my son at the end of 2008. We spent four days in the Ouachita trail area and really had lots of fun.