Preparing a College Style Menu for a 12 Day Bear Canister Trip

I have this trip coming up, in the Sequoia King Canyon National Park.  I am planning 10-12 days depending on the miles, over 250km (155 miles).  I need to carry a bear canister which is a whopping 41oz (1.16kg) and definitely not conducive to ultra light:

Use #3 for the bear can: Keeps the cat out of the basement…


This bear can has been the bane of my existence lately, see that small grocery bag, some of that also needs to fit in the can along with all my toiletries/smellies. Though the shopping bag powders are huge jars and I only need a fraction of it, it’s still going to be a royal pain in my butt.

To make matters worse, I need to drive to the United States from Canada before boarding a flight and flying to Fresno.  So I need to keep everything in it’s original packaging until the night before so I can cross the border appropriately and not look suspicious when my dehydrated potato flakes, fibre powder, protein powder, electrolyte powder all in zip locks show up at the border.  Then spend the evening looking like a weird drug dealer portioning out all my ziplock bags in the hotel room of Spokane!   I might bring a mallet to powderize everything as a last resort 😛

To make the most of my weight, I decided to channel my inner college student and go back to the days of eating very simply.  I can eat and prepare high end gourmet meals like pistachio encrusted frenched rack of lamb with truffle oil mashed potatoes *OR* I can eat ramen every day for a week!  Both are fantastic in their completely separate set of ways.

I calculated how many calories I burn a day.  I am 5’6 and when I am doing absolutely nothing and channel my inner sloth, I burn a whopping 1600 calories a day, which is basically one slice of chocolate cake.  I estimate I will be burning 3000-4000 calories a day, but can stand to lose a couple pounds (a pound is about 3500 calories).  I estimated I should bring around 3000 calories a day in food for a 10-12 day trip.

I broke down each of my food choices into calories per ounce/gram.  This ruled out a lot of things and kept me choosing higher fat items.  Of course we cannot eat a diet purely of fat (my poor digestive system isn’t as strong as college me).  So I decided to add in a daily ration of fibre powder to my breakfast to keep everything, in place…

To limit the amount of fuel for the trip, I am going with boil only meals (no cooking). Not included here are packets of different spices for different mashed potato nights (red pepper flakes, parsley, garlic, pepper, onion) and I did buy 3 different kinds of Idahoan mashed potatoes for variety. Also the pepperoni has different kinds including very spicy, honey garlic etc;  If I have room I will be carrying some baby bel cheeses as well (will cram them in the night of, if I can).

Everything from this photo will be repackaged into thin ziplocks.  I feel guilty with the all the plastic but I need to carry this for 12 days and it all needs to be inside that can.


Day 1 does not have to be in the bear can, I might treat myself to some fresh sandwiches, or splurge on a mountain house meal.

If you would like to see the full calorie break down and the weight, here is my spreadsheet:

I will do a follow-up post trip to see how much I never want to eat mashed potatos again. Though I have been eating these meals all summer on various weekend excursions and am still enjoying it.


Happy Hiking!

Well that is out – where to go next?

PCT Section, OCT, Timberline Trail, JMT, WHW, TCT, WCT – alphabet soup!  I have read so much information on each of these treks some of it starts to mix together.  They are all on my bucket list to complete.  I wanted to pick something that would be personally challenging, not too difficult to get a permit, and fairly safe/easy access.

Time of year.  I got two weeks to play with in September, this limits some of the hikes

Pacific Crest Trail section – I was looking at doing some of the sections in Washington.  One was to hike towards the Canadian border then start heading SOBO.  Two reasons this seemed like a good idea – 1) my husband could drop me off and pick me up  2) If I ever wanted to section the whole thing, that one is kind of a pain to start.  I chose against this route though as it would be later in the season, and I wanted a loop if possible.  I was also looking at Section J in WA but some logistics with rides was daunting and I knew my husband did not want to drive 8 hours just to drop me off.

Oregon Coast Trail  and West Coast Trail – I decided I felt I was more longing for a mountain trek and wanted to stay away from the coast.  September can bring more rain, and being on the coast was not what I had in mind.

West Highland Way – Is definitely on my short list of treks to do, but the urge to keep air fare low, and there is so much to do on this continent.  Adding it to the bucket list though!

Teton Crest Trail – This one is also on my short list!  I believe I passed on this one just purely due to accessibility and I will be honest I wouldn’t be able to tell you where Wyoming was without looking at a map.  I hope as I learn and grow as a backpacker that this is one I will be able to one day see!

John Muir Trail – After going through permit anxiety, I did not want to deal with that all over again.  Such a high snow year in the Sierra I knew that there would be more pressure on late season permits.  Yes there are always walkups however I don’t like the idea of buying a plane ticket and not knowing if I will be able to do the hike (see my post about permits :P).  While looking at options in this area around the JMT I stumbled on this beauty of hike:

Big Seki Loop – this trek is around 155 miles and is a full loop,  no need for pesky drop off/pick up shenanigans!  Permit system is easy, and a chunk of the route is on the JMT! I was sold!


The big trip v1.0

I initially attempted to get a 93 mile Wonderland Trail Permit this year for September however was unsuccessful.  Having lived in Washington for a couple years, and attempting to summit Rainier in 2016 (stupid altitude sickness around Ingram Flats got the better of me), I felt I could maybe conquer the mountain by circumnavigating it.  It was a very emotional time during the permit season for the Wonderland Trail, which only becomes available March 15th of every year.    You submit your application here, from there you wait two weeks of radio silence while everyone under the sun submits their permits, they have until April 1st.  After that, it is first come first serve if there are available spots.

Now, you would think despite it saying something to the effect of ‘all permits submitted during the March 15th two week window will be looked at in random order’, many of the ladies in the most amazing Facebook Group ever ‘Women of the Wonderland Trail’ submitted their permit the immediate morning that it went live.  I remember staying up until 1-2AM in the morning the night before, with my map spread across my desk trying to figure out how many miles a day and what camps I wanted to stay at.   This was the hardest thing I had done in some time, sitting around in my pajamas with a beer in hand after a winter of doing not much of anything, guestimating how many miles I would walk a day in September ;P

Huge shout out to this amazing trip planner and elevation guide here .  Spending weeks planning my trip it all came down to the night before.  Armed with my map, a beer, and literally 50 tabs open in Chrome with every blog, itinerary, Facebook group, site open, I set out to finalize my itinerary.  My better half knew most of the camp names by the time I was done and he isn’t even going!  After ho-ing and hum-ing til the bitter end, I literally closed my eyes and hit the button.  Submit, deep breath out, and a buzz from my phone stating the automatic email of “your permit has been received”.

Now you would think this would be the easiest part, waiting for the permit but it was far from it for me.  I don’t like to have my life planned to a T per se, but I don’t like unknowns.  If there is an unknown, my goal is to make it known, if that is left out of my hands I am a bit anxious and lost in thought.  By the end of the four weeks Brian probably consoled me and bantered back and forth “what ifs” and “hypotheticals” way more then is healthy!  Four weeks of watching the women’s Facebook group ups and downs of congratulations – I was just so through the moon not only for the women getting their permits but that glimmer of hope that I may be any minute, to impatient fretting.  Welp – I got the big fat “denied”.  I was grateful for closure from the emotional excitement but still bummed out.  Fortunately during that time, I started looking at alternatives…




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