The last post was water, without which in the desert you might last a few days. Now that I have some notion of where the water will come from, the next step is food. I like to break food down by distance. The easy math is simply divide the distance by how many miles you want to hike each day and pack for that many days. Say the next leg is 115 miles and I want to do 20 miles a day so we can round up to 6 says. You might think if I leave town in the morning for a 6 day stretch, that means I need 6 dinners, 6 lunches, 6 breakfasts' and 6 days of snacks. If you did, you'll wind up with an extra breakfast and dinner when you get to town! If I can do 15 miles out of town today (day 1) I need one lunch, dinner and day of snacks. The last day I won't need dinner since I'l be in town, and I ate day 1's breakfast in town. Viola! Over a pound of food saved! How's that for ultralight? (yes I know I just wrote the musical instrument, it's a joke, lighten up).
Of course, this only works when you are certain about your pace. If trail conditions are worse than expected, you were overly optimistic about your conditioning or you become injured and can't make your miles - you have to ration food, which is no fun. The PCT had incredibly wonderful trail conditions with lots of other hikers. On the two or so occasions where I did start to run low on food, I bummed food from other hikers - I also gave away plenty of extra food. The AZT is known for being more rugged and there likely won't be many other folks out to help out a hungry but foolish hiker low on food. So for the AZT, most of the time I'll just carry the extra dinner and breakfast. I can cut down on this by checking on the passage rating systems, so if a section is predominantly over easy passages I can just carry an extra lunch or snacks.
Notice the trend? Uncertainty about water - carry more water. Uncertainty about pace or trail - carry more food.
Here's my itinerary as of today. Keep in mind I'll start the AZT after hiking the Wonderland Trail and doing a week of trail maintenance in the Goat Rocks Wilderness (more on that later). Start off in Page, AZ with 4.5 days of food, hike south, then...
Mile 727.7 - Hitch (illegal in Nat. Parks) or walk 2 miles to North Rim County Store - Pick up a box, spend a few days exploring the Canyon and possible Canyon to Rim to Rim with a friend from AMC (or just canyon to Rim if I'm lazy)
Mile 702 - South Rim - Pick up a box from AMC friend - carry 5 days of food
Mile 589.1 - Hitch to flagstaff via Hwy 89 for a zero and some grocery shopping for 6 days +/-
Mile 537.6 - Pick up some snacks n such at Mormon Lake Lodge, probably a meal
Mile 463 - Walk 1 mile off trail to Pine to buy food for 4 days or pickup a box, not sure
Mile 388 - Hitch 30 miles on Hwy 87 to Payson to buy groceries for 5 days
Mile 301.6 - Walk or hitch 2 miles East on Hwy 60 to Superior to buy for 5 days
Mile 200.8 - Hitch or walk 4 miles west on American Flag Rd to Oracle to buy food for 4 days
Mile 119.6 - Hitch or walk 5 miles on Colossal Cave Road to Vail - pick up a box at the post office for 3 days
Mile 52.8 - Walk into Patagonia, right on trail pick up a box at Mariposa Books and More for the last 3 days on trail
I like this resupply strategy since the hike is essentially book-ended by high quality boxed food, with the typical grocery store choices in the middle ~450 miles. That means I won't get sick of either grocery store hiker food or boxed food, essential for the first leg of a year of backpacking. It also means I need a maximum of 4 boxes for the whole trip, which won't take long to prepare. The problem becomes maps - carrying 800 miles of paper maps kind of sucks - 45 pages in total - so 23 printed double sided. It's not so much the weight or volume but the wear and tear and risk of loss. That Brewery and Pub takes packages, so I may end up mailing 300 map miles there and including the last of them with my Vail box.
The next post will be navigation and how to get to/from the trail - stay tuned!