A big part of any Bibbulmun hike is food and there are a few ways to go about it. Many like to buy their food in towns along the way and are happy to do this for the whole hike. Personally I’ll be doing this for most sections when it’s only a three or four days between towns, but the majority of my food is pre-organized, pre-packed and dropped into visitor centres, accommodation in towns or in buckets along the track.
As I’m local to the track my resupplying will be an easy drive up through the track towns dropping off my boxes along the way as well as stashing some buckets near the track where needed.
Anyway, onto some of my daily food bags, here are a few random ones.
Porridge for breakfast, salted mixed nuts, dried fruit, some bars and crackers during the day, then for dinner there’s a big 100g pack of jerky, with mushrooms, peas and onions, mash potato and a cup a soup for extra flavour if need.
Muesli for breakfast, crackers, peanuts, dried fruit and bars during the day then tuna vegetables and noodles for dinner. Milk for the muesli will be powdered, in each resupply box I have powdered milk, tea, coffee, and a few other bits and pieces like wet wipes, toilet paper and perhaps a little bottle of medicinal scotch as well as packets of deb potato. Most days you may notice there’s a cup-a-soup packet, usually at the end of a cold wet day when I get to camp I boil enough water for a cup of tea and then make a cup a soup with mash potato. Flavoured mash, one of my daily treats.
Porridge for breakfast, dried fruit salted nuts, bars, crackers and cheese during the day, then Jerky, noodles and veggies for dinner.
Bars for breakfast, nuts dried fruit, crackers and tuna during the day, then for dinner it’s pasta with vegetables and salami, cook them up and at the last minute stir in two tomato cup-a-soup packets. I had this the other night as a test and it was surprisingly nice.
Porridge for breakfast, then nuts and bars during the day and I can either have tuna or salami with naan bread. Then for dinner it’s either tuna or salami with veggies and noodles.
Some days food supplies may look bigger than others but they all weigh out around 800g for the day it’s just that some items are heavier than others, like dried fruit and nuts which are fairly heavy, while crackers are very light. After making a days food supply I weigh each one and if it’s a little light I’ll slip in an extra muesli bar or pack of crackers or perhaps some chocolate.
I also have some split days where I share items over 2 days, these ones above have scrambled eggs shared for 2 breakfasts, you can’t eat porridge every day. Lunch snacks are shared as well, naan bread, 250g block of cheese, salamis, nuts, fruit and bars, then jerky, potato and veggies one night, jerky, noddles and veggies the next night.
I don’t have too many days when things are split because it’s harder to keep track, but with some bulkier items it makes sense, I don’t want to eat 250g of cheese on one day, nor 5 servings of scrambled eggs on another day. Well, they say 5 servings. On the track over the long stretches you often find that there are things left over from previous days that you didn’t eat, maybe some nuts, some dried fruit or muesli bars, or perhaps a bag of veggies, or maybe you didn’t feel like tuna one night so you just had veggie noodles. This means that by the end of say a 5-7 day section you begin mixing up who knows what, all the left overs. On my previous hike I sometimes had main meals for breakfast, or I’d find an extra pack of 2 minute noodles someone had left in the box at camp and you might eat that with the tuna sachet you didn’t feel like eating 2 days ago.
Last time around I had similar daily ration packs and I generally found them enough, though I now wish I’d gone into more detail in my old blog posts about what I did and didn’t like. I remember not liking dried fruit so much and I’d often find I had a couple of dried fruit packs left the day before hitting a town, yet I seem to have packed a lot of dried fruits again this time. Personally I prefer salty/savoury stuff to sweet, so I’ve got crackers and salted nuts almost every day. I’m not so concerned about excess salt because you are sweating quite a lot every day.
One of my favourite additions to my veggie mixes is seaweed, you may wonder about the taste but the one that I found has been great just a slight ocean smell when reconstituted that you don’t notice in a meal, it’s exceptionally light weight, reconstitutes easily into nice bite size pieces, adds a nice texture in the meal and according to most literature I read it contains a wide variety of minerals. Oh and sushi seaweed sheets don’t work very well they just disintegrate, which may be ok for you but I like the texture of pieces. Check out the way this seaweed reconstitutes.
Another food I’m reminded of is fried onions, now there’s fried onions and then there’s fried onions, I’ve tried 4 or 5 different brands but there’s only one I really like.
Most might be ok as a garnish on your meal to add crunch and flavour, but when you want your onions to absorb water and reconstitute back into something like normal cooked onion the ones on the left are the only ones I’ve found that do it well. Most I’ve bought are like the ones on the right, they have chunks in them that never reconstitute and stay as hard lumps in your meal. The ones on the left reconstitute beautifully in your meal with good flavour and a texture that’s just like nicely cooked onion.
Here are a couple of different vegetable bags, these are in “snack” size snap lock bags to give you an idea of quantity.
On the left there’s a mix of dried mushrooms, fried onions, roasted edamame soy beans and dried peas while the right bag contains a freeze dried mix of peas corn and carrots with some normal dried peas and seaweed. Each veggie bag weighs under 50g so an average meal of vegetables, noodles and jerky comes in just under 200g, comparable in weight to a commercial hiking 2 serve meal and a lot cheaper, and most people like to eat a 2 serve commercial meal as the single serves are pretty small. Your average double serve back country meal is about $15 while my meals almost always come in around $5 or less. I bought most of my jerky on sale for $3.50 a pack, noodles were about 50c a pack in bulk and the vegetable mixes probably cost around $1 each. So that’s $5 for a meal that packs a punch with lots of veggies, carbs and protein and it’s damn tasty.
Another meal I’ll be eating along the way is a tomato pasta with salami, this also has a small handful of dehydrated peas because I feel like I need something green in every meal, some fried onion and fried garlic these are both from the Asian section of the supermarket, long lasting and light weight, 1 cup of pasta and twin salami sticks. I bought the salami on sale for $1.50 a pack, packets of tomato cup a soup are about 50c a serve and I use 2. A cup of pasta is perhaps only 20c and the vegetables would be well under $1 so this meal comes in well under $5 and is really tasty.
I’d love to throw a few olives in with this and it’s easy to carry some parmesan, even if it’s just the powdered stuff, also sun dried tomatoes would add a nice kick.
Another meal I like is Beef stroganoff, I bought some freeze dried beef mince produced by Back Country, a large packet costs $15 and I’ll get about 5 meals from the pack, this is precooked so you only need it to reconstitute. I use one cup of pasta, the mice meat, a stack of dehydrated mushrooms as well as fried onions, then in a separate bag I have powdered milk in lieu of sour cream and half a packet of beef stroganoff seasoning mix, standard off the shelf supermarket stuff, I think it was Maggi brand. Soak the pasta, mushrooms, mince and onions for a few minutes before bringing to the boil, then add the milk and seasoning mix give it a good stir and leave to sit in the pot cosy for 5 minutes. Really tasty, and once again around $5 and 200g for a meal.
Ok it’s only got mince in it rather than big chunks of meat but the mushrooms reconstitute into nice big meaty pieces, and yes, that’s peas again, peas in just about everything, they are cheap, easy to get and a green vegetable that’s easy to add.
“Ok, I haven’t taken a pic of this, might do one before I leave on the hike”
Cheesy tuna pasta, one cup of pasta, one sachet of tuna, a mix of freeze dried peas, corn and carrots and some fried onion thrown in then half a pack of a cheesy meal flavour sachet. There are many to choose from in the supermarket “cheesy cauliflower” or “three cheese potato bake” are a couple I’ve used. Along with half a pack of this flavour base I also add a tablespoon of powdered milk and some parmesan cheese, the powdered version. Same method of cooking, soak the pasta and veggies for a while, bring to the boil, add tuna stir well, just before pasta is done add the powdered milk cheese flavour mix and give it a good stir, then on with the lid and leave for 5 minutes again..
You may have noticed that any of these meals with a creamy or milky sauce component to them have the milk side added at the last minute as the pot is about to come off the stove. The titanium pot I have, along with all titanium pots are terrible for sticking, they transfer heat well and milky things stick and burn very quickly. When I cook oats in the morning I add a spoonful of powdered milk at the end when it’s cooked, with all other meals you learn to adapt your cooking methods in a similar way.
“No veggo curry pic either as yet”
Veggo curry. You can’t eat meat every day and it’s easy to make a vegetarian curry on the trail. I use freeze dried precooked rice that I bought from a camping store so that I don’t have to waste gas cooking rice for ages. A nice mix of all the veggies peas, corn, carrots, edamame beans, mushrooms, fried onion and half a dozen dried curry leaves to add that extra flavour, along with a teaspoon of curry powder and a handful of cashew nuts and a cup of the rice. Then in a separate bag I have coconut milk powder. soak all the first ingredients for a while or just start them on a low flame, bring it to the boil, add the coconut milk powder at the end, stir it up and wait for a bit. Creamy coconut vegetable curry with cashews. Once again, under $5.
The freeze dried rice in the above meal is probably the most expensive thing at $6 a packet for around 4 or 5 servings but I’m chasing quick cooking where ever possible. When buying pasta I found there are a couple of brands with recommended cooking times of only 6 minutes while most are 8 to 10 minutes.
Another meal I make is pepper steak and veggies, succulent pepper steak served with sauted onion, mushrooms, peas and creamy mashed potato. Ok perhaps I’m embellishing things a little, but no more than the commercial hiking meals. “Roast lamb and vegetables, freeze dried lamb and mint gravy with vegetables and creamy mashed potato.” I mean lets face it it’s all just reconstituted stuff, you aren’t getting anything like a real roast lamb meal, all the bits are cut into little pieces and mixed in together, you add boiling water and it reconstitutes, how good can the roast meal be when it’s been soaked in boiling water to bring it back to life.
My version uses jerky and this time twice as much as in most meals, I go for a 100g pack or two smaller 50g packs, veggie bag is just peas, onion and mushrooms. Drop the lot into the pot with water and soak for a few minutes, bring it up to the boil then add deb mash potato and stir it up, enough deb to make it thick.
These make your own meals don’t use much more gas than the instant commercial freeze dried versions either because I tend to soak most meals in water for a while, then bring it to the boil before turning it off and dropping it into my pot cosy for 5 or 10 minutes to finish cooking. And it lets you be a bit inventive with your meals. Ok it means you need to do more preparation before your hike but you don’t need a dehydrator, it’s cheap, light. And making a pot cosy is an easy thing to do and highly recommended, there are plenty of videos on youtube about how to make one using a cheap car windscreen reflector, mine lasted the last trip well and hopefully it will last for this hike, if not, I have plenty of tape to repair it along the way.
Now onto the boxes and buckets and food drops.
It may not look like much perhaps because the boxes are reasonably deep but this is everything I need for 77 days. Ok scratch that, I’ve rearranged things a bit, take out 3 days, 74 days worth now, I’ve added another bucket and split 2 boxes. And scratch that again, I’ve decided to add another hidden bucket into the north section. And another bucket added.. This is where the logistics of everything become confusing. I now have 5 buckets that will be hidden in the bush along the track, the last bucket came about because I’d be leaving from here at William bay with 5 days food having a couple of long days with lots of soft sand hiking when it would be easy for me to drop a bucket near Peaceful bay so I’m only carrying 2 days food over the soft sand hiking. Plus I split 1 bucket into 2 for the top section of Dwellingup to Kalamunda, there are a couple of points where it’s easy to access the track and hide buckets.
The run down of all my food logistics, here we go!
Start with 4 days food in Albany walk to Denmark, buy 1 day food, walk to William bay (where I’m living at the moment), pick up 2 days food walk to bucket #1 pick up 3 days food walk to Walpole buy three days food, walk to hidden bucket #2, take out 4 days food then hide bucket again. Walk to Northcliffe buy 3 days food and walk to Pemberton, pick up box with 5 days food, walk to Donnely river, buy 3 days food walk to Balingup pick up 4 days food, walk to Collie pick up 7 days food walk to Dwellingup, pick up 4 days food walk to Gringer hut find bucket #3 pick up 4 days food walk to Brookton hwy pickup 3 days from bucket #4 walk to Kalamunda, pick up 3 days food walk back back bucket #4 pick up 4 days food walk to to gringer get bucket #5 pick up 4 days food. Walk to Dwellingup pick up 7 days food walk to collie, buy 4 days food walk to balingup, buy 3 days food walk to Donnely river, buy 5 days food walk to Pemberton, buy 3 days food walk to Northcliffe, pick up 4 days food walk to hidden bucket #2 take out last 3 days of food walk to Walpole, Pick up 6 days food walk to Denmark, pick up 4 days food walk to Albany…. Phew, done!!! Easy.
Then throw into this mix that along with the daily food bags you need to allow for gas canisters, toilet paper, wet wipes, powdered milk, coffee, tea, and any other extras like extra mash potato, medicinal beverages, multi vitamins, etc. making allowances for those sections where you are buying food resupplies in town, personally I don’t want to be buying small amounts of coffee and powdered milk, 1 roll of toilet paper etc so larger resupplies of these things are needed in the last drop box before these sections.. I ran out of tea bags a couple of times on my last hike and a cup of hot water in the evening isn’t very exciting.
Still waiting to set an actual departure date, I’m expecting it will probably be early to mid April, waiting for the weather to cool off a bit and for the march flies to leave, I’m reading reports about people quitting the track because the march flies in some areas are so thick. March flies are a horrible biting fly which can be in plague proportions but very seasonal.