It feels like we're getting down to the business end of this journey… and we haven't put a foot on the trail yet…
I've prevously detailed how the Spreadsheet, which you know I love, is used to create the shopping lists and generate the Food Drop Packing List. Once it all looks good, we can pull the credit card out and start spending money.
We did have a major issue at this stage though… which bumped the version up to 9.
Backcountry Supply Issues
I'd thought I was pretty much ahead of the game: back in early December last year, I'd sent a 'feeler' out to various of my well-used suppliers to flag that we were going to be purchasing some bulk product in June / July, and they may like to offer me a discount (I'm still shocked how expensive this thing is).
Backcountry, who we've used extensively for our previous hikes, going so far as to rate the Backcountry meals over the 2 months on the Bibbulmun Track (tabulated here). Backcountry were enthusiastic in their response, so I'd locked them in… way back last year. The main things on my wish list were:
- Supply in bulk bags. This is because we decant all our food anyway.
- Supply all our freeze dried requirements. One thing I hate… no that's too strong… one thing that makes the process much more complex is having multiple suppliers for the one product.
- A discount would be wonderful.
Fast Forward to this month, where we'd finalised our menu, the allocation, generated shopping lists and finalised the bulk size of the bags we could order in, and was just clarifying how much and how we were going to transfer the money to their accounts when Backcountry finally came back and said they could just not export that quantity of food without the Export / Import process being set up fully (which was going to cost everyone a lot of money).
Backcounty's final suggestion was to purchase from camping stores in-country. It was a bit of a shock, but we weren't knocked for six and just knuckled down to sort it out… which may just mean that we'd be spending more money as we wouldn't be getting a discount. All good.
Advent of Camper's Pantry
When we did the Australian Alps Walking Track Backcountry did a special supply of Freeze Dried Yoghurt, which they normally only did for the New Zealand America's Cup Team. Sandi loves her yoghurt. I was just about to go off searching through the internet for what we needed, when I wondered about Camper's Pantry, as I had a vague memory of Camper's Pantry doing yoghurt, so I thought I'd check their site first. And low and behold, not only yoghurt, but a page that talked about bulk school orders: exactly what we wanted!
I'd originally emailed both Camper's Pantry and Backcountry in December, but Camper's Pantry never responded; so I decided I'd call them on the phone (seeing they'd put their personal number on the website), and that was the start of a very satisfactory relationship. Camper's Pantry were every bit as much as enthusiastic as Backcountry, and Australian, which I was very happy about.
The first step in converting from Backcountry to Camper's Pantry was to re-do the menu completely. I didn't think I'd be confident about just swapping Camper's Pantry packs for Backcountry packs: they were different sizes, different nutrient values and different weights… just plain different. It was not difficult, but did involve a lot of tweaking to get our kilojoules to where they needed to be.
One Domino after Another…
As it turns out, probably because of the worldwide insanity, that Backcountry were having difficulties getting their product into Australia. This had, and is having, a knock-on effect on Camper's Pantry, who apparently were only just keeping up with their increased orders.
After re-doing the Spreadsheet and generating a new Shopping List, I opened up Camper's Pantry web-shop only to find half of the required products were out of stock. Camper's Pantry had some more stock in the container and shortly to be added to the shop, so on I plodded and after 5 orders and simplifying the menu, all the Freeze Dried Food is now purchased and sitting in our back room waiting to be decanted. It did involve scouring the internet for other web-shops with product, but the 4 other shops I found had the same stock restrictions.
The biggest shame was because of the run on orders, Camper's Pantry couldn't do the bulk amounts, so we're back to individual double servings, which we have to decant and repackage in light-weight bags.
Other Major Suppliers
The requirements from the other major suppliers didn't have any issues, thankfully.
Various Camping Stores
I've used these stores multiple times in the past, and they helped supply not only our food requirements but all the other hiking incidentals.
The components that we use to make various 'speciality' meals or dishes were supplied by:
- NutraDry: NutraDry supplied the powdered Bone Broth and vegetables that is an integral component of my daily soup.
- Forest Super Foods: Forest Super Foods were also enthusiastic supporters, and their products are important components of breakfast.
Full Shopping List
Next TaskFood Repackaging
where we'll put everything into our own light bags.
The Friends of The Heysen Trail have a huge amount of resources available, which we have obviously availed ourselves of quite liberally. I'll be updating this as required…