Being bored of food with no way of acquiring anything different just plain sucks. Reminds me of college.

We needed a large variety of consumables.

We thought about dehydrating food and putting together little recipes like we’ve done for smaller trips. We have three dehydrators, after all. Time to put them bad boys to work! I drove to Costco, purchased giant gleaming crates of all-organic delicious strawberries, drove home, sliced them up, plugged in the dehydrators, put all the little strawberry slices in there, waited however long it took until they dried, pulled them off the drying rack things one piece at a time, and put them into…two tiny little Ziploc bags. Really? How many pounds of food did we decide we needed for this trip?

That was as far as I got. My math skills were sufficient enough to realize the time to kill this idea was upon us.

So we bent our heads over the laptop. Spreadsheets enumerated, and acquisition from Amazon began. Over several months, food claimed its own corner of the garage. We got quite the stack going. We chose lots of Backpacker Pantry food because it’s affordable, comes in giant cans with fun expiration dates like June 21, 2035, and is free from wheat, meat, and chemicals. These were made from real food, and I didn’t have to do any prep work! Yay! Curried lentils, black beans, white rice, Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, Katmandu Curry, Chana Masala. Crazy. We also found powdered butter which provided valuable calories so we had no need to pack oil. We found powdered cheese and gluten-free toaster pastries. Lots of different kinds of bars to eat… The research for non-dehydrated cheese, though, proved fascinating. Aidan found that soft cheeses would last longer and fare better than other cheeses. We ended up with soft cheese rounds from Costco and giant blocks of Gouda.

Additional math put us around 125 to 150 calories per ounce of food.  4,500 calories per day for me, a little more for Aidan = 2 pounds of food per day for me, and 2.3 for Aidan.

We may lose a little weight, but whatever. We’re Americans. We probably need it.

We got a bright blue 5-gallon bucket from Lowe’s and sat down in the garage to put together a resupply for ourselves. See, in order to do this trip, we have to leave ourselves food along the way that we can pick up. We’re only going to be in a real town one time in the entire three weeks.

Today I’ll just deal with this monster – we had to gather enough food to fuel the two of us during one continuous stretch of seven days of hiking. All of it had to be crammed into this five gallon bucket to be mailed to the Muir Trail Ranch (“MTR”). MTR is a ranch in the middle of nowhere which has been accepting resupply buckets for hikers since the 1950’s. It will take us six days of hiking from Red’s Meadow (the one actual town we will be in) to MTR, and then we pick up our resupply there for the next seven day stretch. It is only about a mile off the trail to MTR, so it’s pretty convenient for hikers. The resupply needed to be in a plastic bucket to protect it from water, mice, and from generally being banged around during its trip there. The buckets are taken from the post office across a lake and often by horseback to MTR. MTR charges $65.00 to hold a 25 pound bucket for a hiker. They charge extra if it is overweight. BUT! They will also let us charge our electronics, and they’ll let us leave our trash there. It seems expensive at first glance, but it’s really a pretty good deal since the other option is schlepping that seven days of food around for even one solitary minute.

So we went for it.

I made a bunch of labels, then we took a box of Ziploc bags and marched out to park ourselves in the garage. We sat there for hours with only a handful of beer breaks, pouring dehydrated this and that into a Ziploc, labeling it, and setting it aside. Conversation highlights included, “Actually, that one is 1 1/4 cups water to 1 cup dry. Sorry.”, and “We need thirteen days of snacks, not fourteen. I counted wrong. How many days to you have in that stack?” Fascinating stuff. We were completely absorbed and thoroughly engaged.

Satisfied, we remanded the giant pile of Ziploc bags, seemingly filled with dust, to the house.

7 days

There, we spent three solid hours packing the bucket, emptying the bucket, repacking the bucket. Repeat.

It wouldn’t fit. It couldn’t fit. We looked up MTR info and found that they sold canisters for our stove, so we left ours out of the bucket, resolving to just buy one there. It still wouldn’t fit. Grrr.

Concessions were made. I watched as Aidan removed his shoes and slowly stepped on the Ziploc of Frito’s corn chips and Trader Joe’s  “Joe Joe’s” cookies.  I actually felt sad that my cookies were getting smashed.  Technically the cookies will taste the same, right?  …but it just feels wrong to eat pulverized cookies.  The shape and texture is important, you know?

We left ourselves with one bag of wet wipes instead of two, and left out my little notebook.  I can make it three weeks on just one.  And then…VOILA!  On Aidan’s turn, he did it!  He sat on it while we taped it down, then there was much high five-ing.  We spray painted orange stripes on it to make it easier to spot among the umpteen buckets we expect will be waiting for hikers just like us, headed to MTR.   27.5 pounds of gorgeousness…

The Bucket

One resupply down, a few more to go!

At the Post Office in Reno at 2 pm on a Tuesday, I saw a guy mailing out two Home Depot buckets wrapped with snakeskin duct tape.

“Doing’ the JMT?”

“Yeah.  You?”


Code Talk = Initiation.  I love the secret club we’re in.




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