As you know, I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail southbound starting some time in June or July…. I still don’t know exactly when I’ll be able to head out on this big adventure, because winter is still here and my start date depends largely on the amount of snow in Washington and how fast it melts off. I am hoping to start mid-June, but that seems rather optimistic.
As of today, the snow levels at Hart’s Pass are 130% of average…..which sucks. I can only hope for a VERY hot spring so it melts off quickly enough. The rule of thumb is that 2 weeks after the snow at Hart’s Pass reaches a level of 0, it’s safe to get going. Not completely snow-free for most of Washington….but safe-ish.
So I can’t really estimate on when I’ll be able to start….but what I CAN do is start planning for food.
Unlike California, where it is possible to get by with resupplying in most trail towns along the way (with a few notable exceptions; read: Warner Springs/ Kennedy Meadows), the rugged terrain of Washington (and partly, Oregon) is an entirely different story.
Since Washington is very remote and most trail ‘towns’ consist of only a few houses (and in some cases can only be reached by trail, lake or water airplane), sending yourself a few food boxes is essential.
So I spent most of today figuring out where I’ll send boxes, how much food should go in each box, as well as separating my printed maps into the sections that need to go in each box.
Going SOBO, this process is kind of giving me a headache, because most of the information out there deals with how to resupply going north. So to figure out the boxes going south you have to look at everything backwards. Count miles backwards, look at guides backwards, order maps backwards. Which gets confusing for a while. Example:
Box #3 that I’ll be sending myself will cover the miles between Snoqualmie Pass and White Pass, meaning trail miles 2402 to 2303. That’s a total of 99 miles with a total elevation gain and loss of around 19000ft each (or about 160km with ~5500m elevation up AND down each).
For that section I am planning for 5 days of food with a half day extra, planning on about 20 miles per day. At that point I’ll have been on the trail for almost 3 weeks, which makes 20 mile days realistic.
So….5 and a half days of food, maps, and maybe some last-minute additional stuff, which needs to fit in a flat rate Priority Mail box, courtesy of the United States Postal Service. And that then needs to be sent ‘General Delivery’ to the Chevron Gas Station at Snoqualmie Pass.
Why a gas station? Because it’s only a few hundred feet off the PCT and they are kind enough to hold hiker packages for a few days/ weeks. If I had to go to the actual post office in North Bend, the closest town with a full-service PO, it would mean trying to hitch a ride and taking unncessary time off.
Why am I telling you all this? Well….to illustrate just how annoying and time-consuming this process of planning is. You need to figure out mileages, addresses, if you can ship with the US Postal Service or need to use UPS, figure out how much food actually needs to go in each box……and all that before ever even buying the actual selection of food.
That comes later.
So…. after a full morning of research I now have completed my plan for Washington, which looks like this:
Hart’s Pass to the border and then southbound until Stehekin
Trail Mile 2630 to 2660 to 2580 – 110 miles total
I’ll take it easy-ish the first few days, also accounting for some snow travel, so I budgeted at around 15 miles a day. This means 7 days of food. I’ll take a half day extra just in case.
Since this is the starting point there is no mailing address, since I’ll be carrying this from Hart’s Pass. And 7 days is about the limit I want or can carry.
FOOD IS HEAVY.
Stehekin to Skykomish (via Steven’s Pass)
Trail Mile 2580 to 2476 – 104 miles total
This and the next section are some of the hardest hiking along the entire PCT, with more elevation gain and loss than even the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. So this is the first real test. I again budgeted only 15 miles a day, meaning just as the initial resupply I’ll take a total of 7 and a half days of food.
And of course….some snacks from the Stehekin Bakery ^^
Skykomish to Snoqualmie Pass
Trail Mile 2476 to 2402 – 74 miles total
This is the hardest section along the entire trail. Although I’ll have been on the trail for 2 weeks now, I’ll only plan for 15 miles a day, meaning this box will contain 5 days of food. This box needs to be sent by UPS, there is some great information here. Steven’s Pass is directly on trail, the closest trail town is Skykomish, about 15 miles away.
Snoqualmie Pass to White Pass
Trail Mile 2402 to 2303 – 99 miles total
By this point I should already have my “trail llegs”, meaning I am aiming to push 20 miles each day, budgeting 5 days of food for this box. If I think I need more, I can pick up some additional snacks at the Chevron when I pick up my box.
White Pass to Trout Lake via Forest Road 23
Trail Mile 2303 to 2237.5 – 65.5 miles total
The Kracker Barrel Store is located only half a mile off the PCT and not only do they accept packages, they also offer REAL FOOD. Which starting at this point will be one of the top priorities at each stop.
3 and a half to 4 days of food planned for this one. I could skip Trout Lake and go directly to Cascade Locks (finishing Washington, yay), but I don’t think I want to carry food for almost 150 miles in one GO. Way too heavy.
Trout Lake to Cascade Locks
Trail Mile 2237.5 to 2155 – 82.5 miles total
The last box for Washington o.o, containing 4 days of food. Only 4 days because I plan on dinner on the last day in Cascade Locks, where I’ll definitely take at least one day off to rest and also to plan my resupply for Oregon.
Some great information, which I also used for this plan can be found here:
PCT Southbound General Information
Popular PCT Resupply Locations
List of all resupply points – great overview
Now….what I’ll actually be eating and what goes in the boxes will be a whole different story. So stay tuned, and let me know what you think.
Until next time….keeping you posted.
2 Replies to “Food planning is much less fun than food eating…”
Think positive 🙂 The upside is that you don’t have to worry about carrying 5 days worth of _water_
😂 true…. although I don’t think you could anyway…
Still… I am much more excited about actually eating the food than I am about planning for it…or shop for it and assemble it 🙄