I'd never had cream of wheat before, but it was pretty much what I expected: Bland but filling, like oatmeal. We had virtually no brown sugar left, and what little we had went into the mix. Brilliantly, I decided to flavor up the meal by dumping a ridiculously large of cinnamon into my bowl. Because, clearly, it would mix well with the cream of wheat and make it more delicious. As you might imagine, the hypothesis of my little wilderness science experiment was wholeheartedly disproven. I still shudder when thinking about my Cinnamon Cream of Wheat concoction. I ended up eating bits of the dreadful stuff throughout the day out of sheer hunger, but have since vowed to use every faculty necessary to prevent that horrid scourge from finding its way into my belly ever again.
Nasty as the breakfast was, it did power me on the 3.5 mile hike to our re-ration site, which was in the Bliss Creek Meadow. The fresh green grass marvelously blended into the trees and willows into a cozy flat valley surrounded on the East and West by large mountains. Just as we broke out the group gear and began to clean, the horses appeared in the distance! Food was within our grasp!
As soon as the caravan parked, we began our re-ration jobs, which were the same as the jobs we had on the first re-ration for the sake of efficiency. I worked on the spice kit, and my clumsy self managed to eek its way into the mix by spilling about half of the soap with which we were to refill our bottles. Luckily, we still had just enough to fully refill everyone. I am in awe sometimes at my ability to blunder.
Because we only had 3 stoves instead of 4 for 15 people, we had to adjust ourselves to cooking for 5 people instead of 3 or 4. This definitely threw a kink into our habits, especially since we still tented in groups of 3-4, meaning that everyone in our cook group wouldn't also be in the same tent group. Just another new thing to figure out :)
Upon finishing my spice kit duties, I picked up the bag of food that I'd re-rationed myself and dug in with reckless abandon. I ate about 2/3 of the granola bag I'd sent in for myself and 2 fruit snacks. I didn't know how great it could feel without a constant worry of lack of food, the next few days be damned. I don't mean to go on and on about hunger, nor do I wish to give the impression that I was in any physical danger from hunger pangs as some people in this world truly are. It's just that many days of hiking and calorie expenditure without adequate replacement can get to a man, that's all.
The feast, to my stomach's raucous delight, continued. Shari, the lady who brought our food in on the horses, brought everyone an apple and an orange as she did last time. I recall eating both in about a minute flat, combined. And, she once again brought a box of Oreos, of which I devoured three. The tummy's tigerlike growl abated and if anything, was reduced to a that of a kitten's purr for the time being. I found a quiet place under towering tree and read for a few minutes, taking advantage of little bit of rare free time that popped up. But soon after, we were migrating to our campsite a 1/4 mile away.
Dinner consisted of that delightful camping staple, Mac and Cheese, and it hit the spot more accurately than William Tell ever could have. We also treated ourselves to a frybake full of gingerbread. I didn't realize how tasty that was. In this ration, we split up all of our snack food into "personal bags", meaning that I ended up with 2 big bags of trail mix, sesame sticks, yogurt covered raisins, fritos, and all kinds of delicious but completely non-filling snack food. How I would save this over the next 10 days, I had no idea, and did myself no favors by digging in immediately upon getting the bags into my grubby fingers. Some things are better when reasoned tomorrow :).
The day ended in quite a lovely way, relaxing with full bellies in anticipation of a layover day filled with classes on the next day. As we were walking to the tents, the cool wind wafting with wanton regularity through the night air was at times supplanted with a climate defying, life-instilling warm breeze. It was quite spectacular, feeling a warm 75 degree breeze cut into the 50 degree night air. I don't know if there was anything special to be inferred from it, but it was kind of the wilderness to send us off into the night with a simple pleasantry like that.
Re-ration Day #2 came into being with a 6AM wake up call. The thought of cream of wheat for breakfast provided no motivation for extricating myself from the warmth of the sleeping bag, but the promise of a glorious refill of our food supplies certainly did. So, arise I did. After helping take the tent down, Asante and I went to the kitchen and found Eric cooking up the cream of wheat on another team's stove. Our stove had been on the fritz since a couple nights ago, when I made the Lentil Rice Cakes. Despite Nan's efforts to fix it, the stove was finally declared "busted" after it so gallantly cooked our Lunch Lady Mush the night before.