Our first day on the trail delivers us into the sandstone core of Big Bend National Park. The six-mile hike from the trailhead at Chisos Mountain Lodge to our camp at Laguna Meadow was neither long nor especially difficult. All the same, a group decision to skip lunch on the trail after a giant breakfast means we’re keenly focused on dinner preparations.
“No meat?” asks Dan as he hovers over Silberberg, who is busy mincing and dicing ingredients for supper.
“Nope. Meat doesn’t keep, and I haven’t found a dehydrated version that’s any good,” says Silberberg.
“So that’s the secret agenda?” Dan asks. “We’re veggie-packing?”
Potential mutiny evaporates when Silberberg dishes out a delicious stir-fry of tofu, carrots, snow peas, broccoli, and garlic over brown rice. Surprising ingredients, eye-opening flavors, yet small portions. With the guac and chips to start and hot tea to follow, I’m full. Not stuff-my-face gorged, as I usually aim for when backpacking, but content. We’ll see how long this lasts.
“I guess this means we aren’t getting dessert, huh?” Susan mutters.
After dinner, Hennes goes from tent to tent gathering everyone’s trail mix, ostensibly for safekeeping in a steel bear box. During the day, we’re encouraged to munch from our personalized stores of nuts, dried fruits, sesame sticks, and assorted goodies provided by Silberberg (“Keeps your energy level constant,” he says), but it looks like midnight snacking is out of the question.
“Do you lock that thing at night to keep us fatties out?” asks Dan.