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  • Kathy Schrenk

JMT prep

This week my 12-year-old and I embark on our longest backpacking trip: 38 miles on the John Muir Trail. We plan to be out three or four nights, depending on how fast we hike and how we feel. I'm not anxious about our ability to hike the miles and I'm not worried about our gear. I'm worried about food. My research online says that we each need about 3,000 calories per day for a hike of this length and elevation. That's about 24,000 calories. That's a lot of protein bars, freeze dried meals and peanut M&Ms (this last one is non-negotiable).

This was me today at the outdoor goods store in Truckee

"I'm looking for a bear canister."

Very friendly employee: "We only have these smaller ones."

Me: "Will this be big enough?"

VFE: "How long is your trip?"

Me: "Four nights."

VFE: "Aww, this'll be plenty big. If you pack right."

Me: "That remains to be seen."

Welp, we have seen, and we see that only two-thirds of the food I want to bring fits in the bear canister. Maybe I'm nuts and we won't eat nearly as much food as we bring. But we've never hiked more than a few miles a day at elevation and we will probably murder each other if we run out of food. So, I will err on the side of too much food. If half our food is left over, we'll know for next time that we can pack fewer calories. For now, I'll be heading back into town to buy another bear canister.

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