MENU OH MY GOD MENU
On Monday the 25th of June I realized that I had only 7 days before the deadline to mail our first resupply bucket, so I put my work on hold and devoted – I’m not kidding – seven full brain-awake hours to planning and buying food. First I had to fill out forms for and pay the two outfits that will be receiving and holding our buckets for us: Red’s Meadow and Muir Trail Ranch. And then came the pain of writing the 15-day menu template (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, treat), figuring out what trail meals we’d bought, indexing that information against what homemade meals we usually make/take, remembering a roster of our favorite snacks and desserts (desserts are the hardest!). I made a schedule with three parts: one for our first segment, the food for which we will bring in our car and carry in with us on the first day; one for the second, which we’ll pick up at Red’s Meadow and needs to last us five full days; and one for the third, which we’ll pick up at Muir Trail Ranch and needs to last us six and a half days. And then, with not a little confusion and cross-referencing, I assigned meals to each day, rotating through the options to minimize repetition. I had to figure out (Oh. My. God.) how many times we’d have each “homemade” meal, snack, or treat, and to remember how many tortillas the four of us eat per lunch, how many Oreos count as a day’s snack, how many bags of gummi bears the four of us would eat in a day, how much peanut butter we consume in one lunch, how much cheese. Portions calculated, I then had to determine how many tortillas, jars of peanut butter, sleeves of Oreos, chocolate bars, bags of gummi bears, blocks of cheese, tubes of tomato paste, cups of oatmeal, protein bars, packets of instant oatmeal, cups of powdered milk, packets of vegan protein meal, cups of dried fruit and cups of nuts we’d need. OH MY GOD. It sucked. I frequently consulted the JMT Facebook group and various other blogs about distance hiking to figure out, for example, whether or not tortillas would mold in a resupply bucket (buy the ones with preservatives and they won’t), or cheese would go rancid (hard, dry cheese are best), or what other little treats we might throw in to make the resupply day extra special (shampoo for a shower at the ranch, Snickers bars, a whole jar of Nutella, beef jerky). Then I made a Massive Tripartite List (TJ’s, Gelson’s, Rite Aid) and I went shopping. I spend almost $200 at Gelson’s on huge chocolate bars, bags of candy, packs of tortillas, cookies…such an assortment of junk food that I blushed as the checker scanned my haul. Rite Aid was a modest stop – travel-sized shampoo, soap, lotion, and toothpaste. And Trader Joe’s, where I got the nuts, cheese, oatmeal, and dried fruit, punched in only at about $120. Our shelves are bursting with camping food! Now I have to prepare, organized and pack the stuff!!
I wanted to put the first bucket in the mail on Saturday the 30th: the outfitters say they need to be in the mail three weeks plus a day or so before you actually intend to pick them up and OH MY GOD we’ll be making our first resupply stop in three weeks! I began around 12:30 pm. First I opened all the backpacker meals and dumped them into Ziploc bags, transcribing the cooking directions onto the label of each bag. I laid out the energy bars, Jolly Ranchers, and gummi bears, I filled a gallon-size Ziploc bag with Oreos, another with Ritz crackers. I laid out the hunks of cheese, the packages of tortillas, the tube of tomato paste. I filled more Ziplocs with granola, others with some stuff called “turbo-charged oatmeal” (instant oatmeal mixed with powdered milk, protein powder, nuts, and fruit). I prepared a meal of cheesy pasta with toasted pine nuts, another of mushroom risotto.
I set out the nuts, fruits, and M&M’s and had everyone make two servings of personal gorp. I stacked up chocolate bars. And then it was 2:30! The post office closes at 3 on Saturdays! The pine nuts were still cooling in the freezer! The Husband rapidly packed the bucket: the food went all the way to the top and the Oreos and Ritz crackers barely made it in. I threw in the pine nuts right before he began taping and then wrote out shipping labels. I drove to the La Canada post office and slung my bucket up to the counter with elan. “I need to send this Priority Mail.” The postal worker didn’t bat an eyelash: “Anything hazardous, liquid, perishable?” “No,” I said, crestfallen. “It’s camping food.” Still no reaction, but even at priority mail rates it only cost $23, so I’m not complaining.