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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    WMNF, New Hampshire

    Default 1 Day Presidential Traverse Food Plan

    Reaching out to the nutritional guru's for some advice putting together a food plan for a 1 day presidential traverse I plan on doing as soon as I got a solid forecast of weather.

    Plan on starting hiking at 0300 and it will probably take me all day to do the hike. I don't move fast, but I move steady.

    I'd really like to get my food for the day dialed in for this hike. It's a pretty large undertaking and I've never really dialed in my food for day hike before. I usually pack fresh foods a lot but more interested in keeping things light, easily eaten, and providing all day energy to get thru the day.

    So help me out! I don't have any dietary restrictions and would like to avoid lots of processed foods. I would like to do the "calorie drip" method where I'm continuously munching all day.

    ~23 miles, 9k of elevation.. it's a hard hike. I also plan on eating a light breakfast at the trailhead. Willing to take recommendations on what to eat the night before as well!

    I haven't gone grocery shopping this week so I can purchase anything when I go out. Walmart, Hannafords, Market Basket. I also have access to an Eastern Mountain Sports so I can get energy chews/gels etc. However.. I want to kinda avoid those "race" foods. I do like Cliff Blocks and have found they are a great lunchtime snack. Especially the ones with a little caffeine. So I will probably grab one of those.

    However, at my house right now I have:

    raw almonds
    raw pistachios
    freeze dried bananas
    freeze dried peaches
    homemade beef jerky
    Kind Bars

    I'm going to avoid fresh food for the most part due to weight. I'll prob pack a small bag of fresh strawberries. A favorite.

    I want to be able to eat a good amount all day though otherwise I know I'll feel it come afternoon. I'm gonna force myself to eat everything I have.

    Is there any method to the madness? For instance, is it better to eat nuts in the afternoon or morning? Are there certain foods to avoid at specific times of the day?

    Why does it seem like everyone just lives off energy chews and gels for things like this? Convenience I understand, but what's the science behind supporting an endurance event like a presi traverse? I understand it will do the thing, but is it really the thing?

    The goal is to avoid crashes, slumps, and deficiencies over the course of the day.

  2. #2


    Pregame your nutrition pre-hike. Bananas for the potassium to prevent cramps. Carb load, but only somewhat, on the night before. have some sugary creamy fruity oatmeal, slow releasing kind of stuff before setting out, which is a mix of fast and slow releasing energy. The nuts and jerky is probably less important for a single day hike, but eat the foods you're used to so as not to stress your digestion. It's not the time to get super creative. Fluids before, during and after. Juices are great for energy and hydration. A moderate amount of fiber, just to keep the process moving along. Carbs during the event. Dried fruit, energy bars, candies even. If you expend a lot more effort than normal, you might find you're not even hungry, and this is where the fluids really pay off.

    I enjoy some dark chocolate with almonds before steep ascents, it's like a pre-treat that helps me half way up.

    Don't build up with last minute training. If anything slow it down a bit the week before the traverse.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Wayne, New Jersey


    I did the traverse a few years ago in under 12 hours. I ate carbs the night before. Carried some hamburger buns with peanut butter, fritos, pro meal bar and some gatorade and water. Don't forget you can stop and eat a lot from the food place at the top of Mt. Washington...soup, burgers, hot dogs, drinks, snacks.

    No need to over-think it. You won't starve if you don't eat will just move slower than optimal.

    There is lots of science behind long distance aerobic events and what to eat. In general, your main source of calories should be carbs.

    Read some of this guy's stuff:

  4. #4


    Little Debbie's Lots of Little Debbie's

    PS- Don't get sucked into the Mt Washington cafeteria, you can waste a hour or two there if not careful...
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5


    Yes the summit is a black hole, I do a variation of the presi traverse which may skip all the summits or just skip Washington using the West Side trail which is quite a feat of trailbuilding. I stop by at Lake of the Crowds and tank up on water.

  6. #6


    Mostly these recommendations are for energy foods rather than nutrition. But that's probably OK for a one-day event. This is similar to a trail ultramarathon; the fueling for those is often little besides maltodextrin gels and a banana or two.

    If we were talking about real nutrition, I would concentrate more on nutritent dense protein and fat, than simple carbs which just turn into sugar.

  7. #7


    Sugar is not food, it has no nutrients; it's pure energy (if that's what you need).

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Sugar is not food, it has no nutrients; it's pure energy (if that's what you need).
    Energy IS nutrition. Not all of nutrition., but by far the most by mass. The rest of nutrition is far less important for a one day push. For this I would focus on palatability. Dried fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate for minimal processing. Otherwise, Snickers.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  9. #9


    Just bring a few nuts, a block of cheese and a block of chocolate. You can also eat at the three huts and on top of big george. Eat to live not live to eat.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Let me go

  10. #10


    You're over thinking this. It's important to eat what has worked for you in the past. We don't all have our bodies trained to use nutrients the same way, and you can't change that quickly.

    Three days ago I did a similar hike: Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch in a day. 28 miles with 9,100 feet of incline and about the same decline. My aging knees were far more of an issue than the food.

  11. #11


    FYI this weekend is prime presi traverse weather. I expect Appalachia will be busy around 4:15 AM tomorrow. Lake of the crowds will most likely be out of snacks for sale by the time N to S presi traverse crew makes it by.

    Remember no need to carry water up to the ridgeline in the AM from Appalachia, tank up at Madison Hut. The spring on the gulfside south of Sphinx Col is reliable but many folks add on the Clay loop and miss it.

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Northern Virginia


    I'd bring things to eat that you enjoy eating and that you can eat while walking. I'd be eating sandwiches, Cheetos, an apple, a banana, granola bars, Snickers bars, and some hard candy. I'd also have coffee or tea along.

  13. #13


    When finished attack the china buffett in North Conway.

  14. #14


    Quote Originally Posted by Puddlefish View Post
    I enjoy some dark chocolate with almonds before steep ascents, it's like a pre-treat that helps me half way up.
    A little chocolate before an ascent is a great idea. I really like FlavaBars for chocolate - super high in cocoa flavanols without the bitter taste of dark chocolate. Taste is outstanding (love the almond and salt) and with 500 mg of flavanols per bar maybe even some energy boost.

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