After 71 days of trail food, our thoughts start to wander towards a few small novelties we’d love to taste. For me, a simple mango would suffice. Elizabeth reports that a peach would be just lovely. Each of us is starting to crave a little something more than the rice, pasta, and oatmeal that have become the staples of our diet. Tonight it is cheesy rice, a trail classic and a favorite of John Stetson’s (who seems to make it every night). Boil a little rice, add butter, a few chunks of cheese, mushroom soup mix and – presto! – you’re done. Mmmmm good.
Lately, since the days have gotten warmer, we have adapted our cheesy rice recipe to meet our waning appetites. At the start of the trip I added at least three large chunks of buttery goodness to my rice (and heaped three more onto a toasted piece of bread which I ate before hand). Honestly, I was often tempted, when the temps got down to -40, to eat a few extra chunks plain, just waiting for the rice to boil. These days butter has lost some of its luster. While I still add a bit to my oatmeal, it’s just not as tempting as it used to be.
The reason, of course, is that our bodies crave the nutrients we need. We burned a lot of calories during the first half of the trip, just staying warm. ‘Food is fuel’, I’ve heard it said, and couldn’t agree more! As the temperatures warm it takes less energy to warm our bodies and thus we crave less of the high calorie foods.
We’re not the only ones, traveling through the Arctic and adapting our diet to the changing environment. The Arctic fox, whose tracks we’ve seen weaving back across our own, has adapted in a particularly useful way. With their thick winter coats and slow metabolism, the Arctic Fox rarely has to change its summer eating habits at all in the winter months. Fox are able to feed as normal, hunting lemmings and voles, until the temperature drops below -40, at which point they need to consume more food than normal to stay warm.
We are all a little leaner than we began, thanks to the cold weather and constant exercise. Butter is still on the menu as we have 5 more days until we reach Iglulik, and are averaging 30 miles a day. And have I mentioned chocolate? We’re still quite happy with our chocolate, at 30 above or 30 below.