By: Tommy Alexander


The High Sierra Trail runs roughly 62 miles across the Sierra-Nevada Mountains, from the wooded western slopes of Sequoia National Park to the barren and snowbound summit of 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney on the eastern end. The trail navigates some of the highest passes in the contiguous 48 US states, and in August the alpine meadows blaze with summer heat. Chris Prendergast and Vicki Alexander planned to hike roughly 125 miles from Sequoia to Mt. Whitney and back, and they needed fuel.

The two spent several months preparing, drying, and freezing backpacking meals– it took about 24 hours for each meal, including cooking and dehydrating time. They packed their food into plastic bags, carefully measured out the portions, and then went into the mountains.

For breakfast, they ate home-dried oatmeal with ground nuts, dried milk powder, and sugar. For lunch, crackers and rock-hard double-baked zwieback bread, along with a selection of spreads including hummus, pesto, and white bean paté. For dinner, Middle Eastern-inspired vegetable stews with couscous and other grains. They grew most of the herbs and vegetables themselves. They prepared the meals, and they carried their food on their backs for eleven days. They made it home in one piece with considerably lighter packs.

“It’s a balance between weight you have to carry and what you’d like to eat,” noted Chris.