Lucky enough for us, we rationed ourselves pretty well and I was able to make a yummy breakfast containing eggs (made from egg powder and milk), cheese, and summer sausage. We then used the rest of our brownie mix and Perks to make the infamous Brownie Slurry, which is exaclty what it sounds like: a slurry, goopy, sugary brownie. Now that is something I wouldn't mind having for breakfast again (once again, no hate intended towards mashed potatoes. Just not for breakfast)
We had to hike about a mile and a half from our campsite to a beach on the Thorofare River, which is where our re-ration would take place. Before getting our food, however, we had to thoroughly clean our pots and pans. No big deal. By this point I was used to cleaning a pot for 10 minutes, then scrubbing it with warm water and my hands. Kinda fun actually, you get a sense of accomplishment from a totally clean pan that you cleaned all by yourself. The ITeam told us in the first couple days that you want to make your pan so clean that "your grandmother would lick it". A big checkmark on that for today!
As I was finishing pot cleaning, the horses came! Oh what a nice site: 4-5 horses carrying whole boatloads (technically, I suppose they were carrying 'horseloads'. Oh well.) of food for us. Over the next 2 hours, we spent our time dividing food up between groups, refilling our fuel canisters, refilling our spice kits (I don't think I've delved into this yet. Basically, we had a kit with a ton of Salt, Pepper, Spike, Kumen, Curry, Hot Sauce, Oregano, Chili Powder, Cayenne, and other stuff. Mac and Cheese with a little bit of all of those mixed together is another meal entirely :)). I also had the opportunity to send a letter out on horseback, which is something I wasn't aware that we could do until the 2nd day of our trip. I was able to get an extra envelope and stamp that one of the instructors didn't need. That was a pretty sweet treat.
Speaking of sweet treats, as we were preparing for the horses to leave, the nice horsepacker lady named Sherrie came out and gave us each an apple and an orange. When you haven't had fresh fruit for 10 days, you realize just how good and sugary it is! And, Annemarie came out with a box of Oreos. Treat Heaven was upon us, it might as well have been Halloween! I savored my two oreos as much as I could, which amounted to about 2 quick bites before completely consuming them, tasting them for about a half second. Figures :).
Another thing that happens on re-ration day is for everyone to get a new tent/cook group. My new one consisted of Eric, Avery, and Asante. I hadn't interacted too much with Eric and Avery, but they seemed like good people. I had been talking to Asante regularly and was quite excited to be in his group. We divided up our group gear and I got to carry a frybake instead of a tent body, which was awesome because my pack was not as bulky. But good Lord was the pack was heavy again. A small price to pay for a 9-day plethora of food at our disposal once more. We then crossed the Thorofare to our desired campsite, not even a half mile away.
Even though we hadn't done much hiking, I was still tired from being out in the sun all day. All was well as I was sitting down and taking my boots off when Asante said he couldn't find the tent stakes. He searched and searched for 15 minutes to no avail. I assured him it was no biggie and we were only 15 minutes from where we did the re-ration, so they would have to be there if nothing else. At least we hadn't done a day's hike from somewhere. Eric and I went with Annemarie to cross the river and sure enough, once we got all the way across the river, we see Asante screaming from the other side of the river: "Guys, I found em! I found em!" Hilarious. He had put them in his shoe so he wouldn't forget them. He took a page right out of my book of gaffes :)!
For our first meal as a tent group, we made Mac and Cheese with summer sausage. We threw in about 3/4 pound of cheese, which led to an absolutely decadent and filling meal. I've resolved never to make Mac and Cheese with that silly powdered stuff anymore. Bring on a whole block of cheese. And butter too. I intended it to be my first meal upon getting back to Maryland, before delving into some really fun cooking stuff, like pizza!
While walking to get water with Noah during dinner, we both commented that we couldn't believe 10 days had gone by. It was true, though the days seemed to go by very slowly one-by-one, the net result of the last 10 days was one of sheer and unadulterated speed. One comment we both shared was that we hoped the hiking would increase. We really only had 1 long day in the last 10, and 2 layover days in the last 5. Little did we know how true this wish would become, but more on that in the coming days.
After dinner, we met up and did a tent group debrief, where Max, Andy, Tommy, and I got together with Nan to provide positives and negatives on one another. NOLS does tackle the issue of self-discovery really well. There is always a debrief, be it of a hike or for a particular set of people who have spent a particular amount of time with one another, where people are encouraged to give their honest opinions on one another's skills and expedition behavior. Our debrief went very well. It was a very good group, and I was looking forward to my next group with the same zest.
All in all, it was a good day. Plus, you can't really complain when you get two oreos in the middle of nowhere :).
Re-ration days are a total blast. The food bag you have been carrying was completely empty at the beginning of the day and magically becomes full with all sorts of goodies by the end of the night. Sure, it adds 10 pounds to your bag, but you can start making good, interesting meals again instead of things like mashed potatoes for breakfast. Note: I mean no offense to all the lovely mashed potatoes out in the world. You taste good, don't worry. But not for breakfast.