To get a feel for the actual cost of food per day I convinced Scamper to accompany me to Publix to shop for a 3-day hike in Roosevelt State Park. In addition to getting a cost estimate, I wanted to see if I could get the full resupply at one grocery. As it turned out, everything on the list was available except for a low count of Fig Newton cookies. I didn’t want to skew the cost estimate with 48-packets to fill a need for three so I’ll pull some out of my storeroom! You should see my shelf in the outside storeroom where I have begun to accumulate the items that will go in drop-boxes.
I compared my trail-mix condiment purchases with the Publix 14 oz. bag at $4.49. I can put mine together for $0.20/ounce vice their $0.30. But – they had mixed nuts instead of my salted peanuts. I also got almost 36 ounces vice their 14 ounce bag. What I need are calories – irrespective of cost so I have opted to have snacks of 3.5 ounces rather 1.4 ounces. Which is also why I bought the 400-calorie fruit pies!
Kind bars were a late substitute for Odwalla bars which we could not find in Publix. While Kind bars cost more than most similar options, they do taste great and have hit the spot on long cycling rides.
Water does not factor into the listed weights; water and fuel are counted separately. In addition to adding a quotient of electrolytes, SmartWater purchases also serve to provide clean bottles. Need to find acceptable, and available, powdered drink mixes to add to my water on days after the SmartWater bottles are being refilled with filtered water. Weights of peanut butter & tortillas lunches and trail mix snacks are not included in the pictured daily ration packages.
My Nephew Dylan and I had a conversation earlier in the year about the cost of a thru-hike so a I sent him a note:
“Many folks are offering up $1,000 per month. Others offer $1/mile which I find low. I went to Publix today and bought food for three days. The cost was $45. Nothing fancy except maybe the Kind bars that I probably will not get often. Publix is not the best place to get a deal – many suggest Dollar General. If that is the only example, it would cost me just at $1,800. I find that low because I know I am having some Mountain Home meals mailed out and I will be eating pizza…and burgers, and some beer which is more expensive than mountain spring water.”
“I saw an estimate that a 25 year old male weighting 155 pounds will burn of 5,000 calories a day. The worksheets add menus that have appeared online suggest that 4,000 calories is a good start point so the above 4000 count is a good place to start.”
I will know more about calorie counts after the weekend on the Pine Mountain trail; particularly if I arrive home with a case of the munchies. Anecdotally, after my previous hikes on the PMT I felt I needed to snack more regularly than I had been. And certainty, a 120 calorie lunch was nowhere near adequate. At the end of each of those hikes I felt like I did when I failed to snack regularly while cycling between 40 & 100 miles – comparable to 3-6 hours of hiking.
Edit: I just looked back on my note to Dylan and realized the fallacy of the per/mile estimation. If the $45 I spent for a 41-mile weekend hike, that certainly approximates a $1 per mile. On the other hand, if I opt to hike 60 miles on those three days instead of 42, the cost would be reduced to $0.75/mile. That suggests to me that the per-mile cost is a poor means of estimating total cost. Phrased differently, I purchased food for a day’s hike, not for a specific distance. The $1,800 estimate I gave to Dylan above is not helpful in many respects. The estimate does not factor zero-days, stays in lodging of any sort for the express purpose of getting a shower, replacement equipment, and the cost of returning home. If all I had to do was hike and eat – $1,800 might work. But it is clear it will not suffice over the long haul. And a post on WhiteBlaze.net suggesting $4/day is just plain nuts. That last remark was made by a man who has yet to step on the trail!