It's hard to walk more than 20-30 miles without having at least a relatively easy hitch into a town, and bythe time you're into Virginia, you're usually less than a 1/2 mile to a country store at every other road crossing. The NY/Connecticutt/Massachusetts section is sometimes called the "deli hike".
The flip side of carrying a big pack on the AT is that you're carrying it straight up and straight down mountains on the southern and northern segments. Unlike the relatively gentle grades of PCT switchbacks (which are packstock friendly), the AT is full of gut-churning, knee-wrenching, semi-vertical climbs and descents. This seems like a poor choice of places to test out a super-heavy pack and I would offer the idea that it is a major reason for the 10% or less thru-hiker completion rate of the 80's and 90's. With the advent of lighter gear and better knowledge of how easy it is to resupply, pack weights have been easily cut in half or less, and completion rates of thru-hikes have more than doubled.
But I suppose this isn't that different from folks who seek to "hike" the John Muir Trail in under 5 days. It may hurt while they're out, but it genuinely makes those people happy. Folks who know me think I'm a nut because I hike several hundred miles on my summers off, instead of chilling out by the pool. I don't figure folks who push themselves are any crazier or "wronger" than I am. (But then, I'm accused of being "just wrong" fairly often <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />. This, BTW, is completely different from the southernism in which I "just ain't right". <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />)
And ibuprofen. LOTS of ibuprofen. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Out of curiosity, does Vitamin-I make your ears ring?
A couple of years ago my ex-dentist advised me to take what amounted to massive doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen after my wisdom teeth came out, and my ears haven't stopped ringing since.... what a quack.
Was re-reading this thread and began to wonder what is the longest time any uf you folks have actually done without resupply? Just curious to see what actaul experiences have been. My longest have been about 14 days for summer. 8 days for snow camping.
My daughter and I carried 21 days food on a trip in the Wind Rivers about 12 years ago. We ended up catching so many fish that we had tons of food left over. We also were able to "hitch" a ride out with fishermen on a boat rather than walk 12 miles of rattlesnake infested sagebrush so our actual trip was 18 days. I think all we brought less than a liter of white gas - we were able to cook on fires a lot.
However, we did not cover a lot of distance but rather did an almost entirely off-trail route. At one point we went 1 mile in 8 hours - had to build a raft of driftwood to get our packs around a cliff!
So I guess the question is meaningless unless you specify exact trail conditions - elevation gain, weather (weight of other gear needed), off trail conditions, etc.
I have never done a long "all trail" route. Most of my 60% off trail routes I average about 8-9 miles per day and go out for 10-13 days.
Paul, I think about ten days is the longest cross country Sierra BP I've done. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> I would often go for a "week" <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> but frankly I generally have the most fun on the third day and am ready to come home on the fourth. On the ten day trip I was carrying the food for 2 people, probably 25 pounds of honey, peanut butter, Ramen, Bisquick for baking bread, granola, powdered milk, jello (it sets up overnight eat for breakfast yum), pinto beans (cooked over a campfire) and jerky. Its an art to keep the beans from falling into the fire when you cook em... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Your scenario calls for 40 days out; starting with a 90 pound pack and a "survival" mode for the last 10 days.
I think you are being too pessimistic. Say you go UL and have a base weight of 15 pounds. I can pack a nutritinally balanced 2,600 calories per day in 1.5 pounds. That makes 60 pounds food. Now you have a 75 pound pack. I can pack 3,000 calories in 1.5 pounds per day if I go way heavy on fats, nuts, cheese, etc.
I personally regularly go on a nutrionally balanced 2,200 calories per day and 1.2 pounds per day. You could nudge this up to 2,500+ calories with more fat. This pack would be 63 pounds.
If you do not cook, no gas is needed. If you cooked one meal a day, built some fires when you could, I can see taking 3 large cannisters of gas or about 5 pounds. This would be an 80-pound pack at 1.5# food per day or 68 pounds at 1.2 pounds per day. Still heavy but better than 90 pounds.
I admit confining food to the lowest weights would result in boring meals and a VERY high fat diet. But this is still far from 40 days on trail bars alone!
The stragegy of eating a lot at first to reduce weight and starving at the end does not seem like a very good (or safe) plan. My body works a lot better over the long term on a steady diet, albeit reduced calories, rather than a variable caloric intake. However I think it is OK to go without food the last 2 days.
Were I to plan on being out 40 days, I would bite the bullet and pay a horsepacker to bring in a re-supply and break this into two 20-day rations.