Thursday, July 19, 2012

Resupply Madness

I slunk through the grocery store, hoping to see nobody I knew. Of course, this never works. It's always when I've just come from the gym, or a long hike, or in this case, when I am loading up my cart with JMT goodies that I would never purchase in such bulk ordinarily, that a whole cast of characters appears.

There I was, with a cart full of Goldfish crackers, M&Ms, yogurt pretzels and the like. Naturally there's an attempt at healthy stuff too: almond butter packets, cheese, salmon, tuna, jerky. But 1) I live in a small town with no other options but Safeway; and 2) what is important when hiking 220 miles is calories. You don't want to bonk on Muir Pass. Likewise it is not feasible to cart along a lot of heavy fruit and veggies when you are already carrying everything else you need to survive for three weeks.

Each pink sticky note is for one resupply.

We have a lot of resupply points on this trip. One of my hiking companions has parents in the area who will be at a place to resupply us three days in. We are hitting the other two main spots and also arranging for a packer to meet us on Day 16. Most people suck it up and carry ten days of food from Muir Trail Ranch, but      we are not. Necessary? Probably not. It is more a function of fitting everything in our bear cans and that we are mostly carrying all of our own food, no sharing due to some differences in appetites.

I flounder through my choices. One granola bar a day? How many Wheat Thins and cheese will I eat at one given lunch? Will I want more for breakfast than the tortilla/peanut butter/raisin combo? Wait a minute, is peanut butter too heavy? How much Emergen-C will I really drink? My typical MO is to get up, throw stuff in my pack and start to hike. Will it be different after a few days of stringing 14 mile, high pass days together? Will I be ravenously hungry? Will I steal food from my companions and pretend it was a marmot?

Just kidding. But all this prep reminded me of a long-ago hike in New Zealand, three of us on the Routeburn Track, a high elevation, windswept dream of a place that in November was still emerging from winter. Hailed and snowed on, we descended to the communal huts where Germans were preparing elaborate meals. Victims of poor planning, we devoured most of our food the first three days and were facing some foodless hikes to civilization. We were very young then and it was possible to hike starving, but our stomachs growled as we noted the pasta and chocolate bar dinners of our hut-mates. We resigned ourselves to the last day of no food.

Then at bedtime Laura rustled our empty food bag. We stared at each other. Half a loaf of bread lay inside. It was a miracle!
Routeburn Track, New Zealand, 1988. I'm on the right. Note the unfortunate perm. Ha. Ha.

To this day I don't know if someone mistook our bag for theirs or in an act of kindness, placed their extra food there. In a fit of independence, we hadn't told anyone of our plight, although the strangers around us probably overheard our earnest discussions about how we knew we could make it out several kilometers without food. I guess I don't want to know what happened--it is one of those lovely mysteries.

So now I obsessively plan, because you never know when a random loaf of bread can save you. I sort things into ziplock bags. I make lists. Only a week and a half to go.


  1. So exciting! The idea of missing a meal is rather scary, even though it's definitely not a really dangerous problem. :p

  2. Here's my version of that picture: (One of those resupplies never got to me, but that's a story in itself.) Note that there's a small jar of PB per drop, which was for 4 or 5 days. That turned out to be about right, as I remember.

  3. What Danni said. How many more days until your trip? I'm duly jealous of all of the fun backpacking trips taking place in the coming weeks. I really should have made more of an effort to plan one this year.

  4. Oh but Jill, how would you fit it in between ultras and bike touring? I wonder if you would find 3 mph boring too.

    So I closed the buckets. What is in there stays, for better or worse! One more week to go!

  5. One things I haven't been good about since I have to walk now is eating. I paid way more attention to calories when I ran ~Nora


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