The Final Stretch is All About Food
With only 12 days until take off, our household is focused on food.
I can’t say its the most nutritious-looking food, but nutrition seems to be taking a backseat to caloric value. Rumor has it Snickers leads the pack as most popular thru-hiker food. It’s amazing that by adding a nut or two, a candy bar moves into the protein source column.
Michael decided to purchase the bulk of his food in advance and prepare carefully-calculated boxes of rations for us to ship to him as he walks. (This is really great, because it gives me something concrete to fixate on, rather than existing in my normal state of free-floating anxiety.) There’s some argument among the Pacific Crest Trail community as to whether its better to buy/ship, as Michael is doing, or simply to tank up on stuff at the little hiker towns encountered every five to ten days or so. Any way you slice it, it’s expensive and requires far more consideration than I put into meal planning. For example:
- How much does it weigh to carry this food item? (Everything is about keeping that pack light.)
- How much water does it take to cook it/heat it/prepare it? (Water is the ultimate resource to be conserved and used wisely. It’s heavy and absolutely mandatory and sometimes scarce.)
- How many calories does this food item give me? (Mike is a relatively lightweight guy, at 6ft and about 175 pounds. Thru-hikers lose weight, obviously, walking some 2,800 miles in five months. He needs all the restorative calorie he can get.)
- How much waste does this food item generate? (Hikers have a mantra: “Leave No Trace”. It means whatever you take onto the trail has to be removed from the trail. So packaging for every food item has to be carried in a trash bag, attached to the backpack, and thrown away in town.)
Last week, the real work of box preparation began. For months, Mike has been ordering bulk food stuffs and crafting a day-by-day meal plan. He’s put together a spreadsheet that lists each town along the trail where he’ll stop, how many days between towns, how many calories he needs to cover the number of days between towns, and the address of the post office in each location. After making friends with the guy at the USPS on Oaklawn Ave in Dallas, he came home with a carton of large flat-rate boxes and shipping labels. Today, he’s shipping out the first box.
My husband and I get to be our very own sort of “trail angels”, managing a precise plan of which box to ship when to where–and hopefully, like threading a needle, he’ll arrive in each town as scheduled, where he’ll collect his shipment of new supplies, do laundry, maybe sleep in a bed and get back on the road without losing more than a day. I think these are called Zero Days. (Time seems to be the other most valuable resource. Finishing this walk before the weather turns too severe in Washington/Canada is always driving Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers forward.)
I think he has the first 10 boxes ready to go. There will be another nine stops after that, and I’ll put those boxes together once he’s is on the road. After a few weeks, he may be really tired of Snickers and mashed potatoes and rice, so he thought he’d wait and reassess then. I’m hoping to come up with some interesting, useful, not-heavy-to-carry “We love you, Mike” items to slip into each box, too. Suggestions are appreciated. My mind is becoming increasingly frozen in the “OK, so this is really happening” mode, and its a serious impediment to creative thinking. And to sleep.
This is what my office looks like this morning:
That’s Beau, Foster Failure #1, on the chair. He never leaves my side. Thank God.
I hope everyone enjoyed a peaceful, uplifting and however-you-define-it holy week last week. I know that I did. I’m shored up and ready for the journey ahead. I’ll put together a list of Mike’s foods to share with you, in case you’ve got a hiker in the making. Or just if you fancy a day trip somewhere yourself this summer. As my husband would say, you might just get a wild hair. (You know, I always thought that meant wild hare, like a bunny. Apparently, not. The things you learn, doing this.)