Saturday, May 2, 2009

How much food does a hiker eat?

Umm... a lot!!

But in an attempt to be only half-scientific, I thought I would try and figure it out.

You see, when Team Creason hits the grocery store - or more often the convenience store - Reason does a lot of math while Cruiser heads straight for the Oreos. I'm thinking of taking a note from my husband's page this time around and buying food based on logic rather than stomach.

Reason generally decides how many ounces of food he wants to carry each day, then multiplies that by the number of days we'll be out. He's really nerdy, and sometimes he does this in binary. Hee hee! But he's my nerd, and I love him.

After determining his food weight, Reason then looks for foods with the greatest number of calories per ounce (caloric density) and, more recently, the cost per ounce. The cost per ounce is a new development. I think it just makes the math more nerdy and therefore more fun. But it also keeps our cost per mile down. Which is just another algorithm Reason can process.

I'm not kidding about the Oreos. All I can think is, "wow, I need how many days of chocolate donuts and mint Newman O's!?!" In terms of cost, I go for the junk food that is pre-priced at the factory. Most often this includes Fritos and Cheetos. It is easy to pay too much at a remote convenience store. We once accidentally paid $7 for a half pound of Kraft cheddar. The barometer we use for fair pricing is Ramen noodles. Ten cents a pack is about as cheap as it comes. Thirty cents is decent. Eighty-five cents is highway robbery and you'd better start looking for the Cheetos.

The other day I tried to estimate how many calories I might need per day on the CDT. It's possible that I burned about 500 calories per hiking hour on the difficult AT. I think it more likely that I burned around 300 calories per hour on the well-graded PCT.

So I'm gonna pull a number out of thin air and say that I will burn about 350 calories per hiking hour on the CDT.

I'll give myself 1,000 calories per day just for living.

At Team Creason's famously not-fast pace of about 2.5 miles per hour, here are a few scenarios:

15 miles per day = 6 hiking hours = 2100 cals +1000 cals = 3100 calories
18 miles per day = 7+ hiking hours = 2450 cals + 1000 cals = 3450+ calories
20 miles per day = 8 hiking hours = 2800 cals + 1000 cals = 3800 calories
25 miles per day = 10 hiking hours = 3500 cals + 1000 cals = 4500 calories

Very good, very good.

Now for the weight. Let's assume that I can find foods with caloric densities of 100 calories per ounce. (I think Oreos surpass this metric!) There are 16 ounces in a pound.

15 miles per day = 3100 calories = 31 oz = 1.9+ lbs

Well, so far, that's a problem. Two pounds per day seems like too much, and 15 miles per day ain't gonna get us to Canada before the snow. But 25 miles a day will.

25 miles per day = 4500 calories = 45 oz = 2.8+ lbs.

Nope, no way I'm gonna carry three pounds of food per day.

Guess I'll go back to buying food by stomach. I'll just supplement in town with ice cream!


Anonymous said...

I think I'd be putting my faith in oreos, too.

Hope you guys are having fun! AJ and I are very impressed you're doing this.

Anonymous said...

It was great to hear from you and find you back on the trail. Loved your description of your latest pursuit of food. It is always interesting to try and balance pack weight and calories needed. We plan to hike another long section of the PCT beginning about mid-July. Hope all goes well for you on the CDT. It will be nice to know another Triple Crowner. Best, Indiana Red and SloJO

wm said...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Daily nutrition guide
women women men
ages 25 to 50 over 50 over 24
calories 2,000 2,000 or less 2,700
protein 50g 50g or less 63g
fat 65g or less 65g or less 88g or less
saturated fat 20g or less 20g or less 27g or less
carbohydrates 304g 304g 410g
fiber 25g to 35g 25g to 35g 25g to 35g
cholesterol 300mg or less 300mg or less 300mg or less
iron 18mg 8mg 8mg
sodium 2,300mg or less 1,500mg or less 2,300mg or less
calcium 1,000 1,200mg 1,000mg

sat saturated fat

mono monounsatruated fat

poly polyunsaturated fat

CARB carbohydrates

CHOL cholesterol

CALC calcium

g gram

mg millgram
Posted by wm at 2:08 PM

something more for reason's formula!


SloRide and Shake n' Bake said...

Team Creason - Good luck on the CDT! Food tip: Make sure you find Nita in Pie Town NM. Everyone in town knows her and she makes pies!! Tell her hello from Lori and SloRide in Tucson. Walk on, Shake 'N Bake & SloRide

Amelia Slawsby said...

too bad ben and jerry's won't make the hike :)