View Full Version : drops (mail, food, equipment)

11-30-2006, 11:39
i'm leaving springer the second week of march. i really don't want the hassle of d;)rops. i can see myself bumping ahead, dropping cloyhing and boots.
where do i really need food drops? do i need them? i want to keep my pack as light as i can. i'm 50+ years old. thanks.

11-30-2006, 11:46
i'm leaving springer the second week of march. i really don't want the hassle of d;)rops. i can see myself bumping ahead, dropping cloyhing and boots.
where do i really need food drops? do i need them? i want to keep my pack as light as i can. i'm 50+ years old. thanks.

Well ...the word "need" makes your question pretty hard to answer. In 2003 I based my food mail drops on relative ease/difficulty in re-supplying. That is to say ...if access to some sort of market/grocery store was not readily available where I planned to or needed to re-supply then I shipped myself a food box.

With this "availability" changing somewhat from year to year (stores openning and closing) it is best to consult something like Baltimore Jack's latest re-supply list here on Whiteblaze.

That said ...I ended up sending myself 3 actual food mail drops:

Harpers Ferry
Bear Mountain

In retrospect that was a good plan and I was able to "buy as I went" everywhere else and maintain a 4 - 6 day re-supply interval.


11-30-2006, 11:50
thanks, i more i learn, the less I know

11-30-2006, 12:14
Hey dsg, I'll be doing the same as you. Starting March 12 and not doing any maildrops or bounce boxes. News/information travels the trail pretty quickly from what I hear, so I plan on finding out (while I'm out there) if I need to mail some food ahead to my next planned stop, but I'll more than likely buy what I need in a town, and mail ahead from there if it's needed. I will not be making any pre-made drops at home. I'm doing this because I don't know what/how much I'll be eating at a given point. I feel pretty confident that this is a feasible approach. See you out there!!!

John Scott
11-30-2006, 12:30
It's perfectly possible to do the entire Trail without any food drops, boxes or whatever. It needs some careful planning where stores are few and far between; and it can get a little boring. But in my experience it's a whole lot easier than organising boxes, waiting for deliveries, re-packing etc.

I had no choice - I live in London, England and so it would have been impossible to organise boxes in advance. In the end, I was glad I had no choice.

This apart, I mailed my thermals home after Damascus and had them returned to me in Hanover.

11-30-2006, 14:07
I agree with the no drops strategy. I've done it both ways, and have found hiking with few mail drops to be liberating. I get prescription medications mailed from home now and then, but not food boxes, except for love food that comes with the meds.

On my first thru I started out with beautifully planned drops containing carefully calculated meals and supplied. First off, the mail was often late even when mailed well ahead of time. I spent a long weekend at Neels Gap and ended up resupplying in town. My food box arrived right as I started through the arch at Walasi-Yi on a Monday. I took it to the hiker box at the hostel. This happened several times.

Second, the PO is closed 20 percent of the time - Saturday afternoon and Sunday. That gives you 4 chances in 5 of getting there in time. And don't forget holidays. If you miss it, you're SOL. I did call from above Gorham and caught the postmaster at 11 a.m on a Saturday. He said he would be in the office at 2:30 and would give me my box if I showed up and knocked on the door. I did, he did, and I got that box OK. But that was the exception. Too often I had to take an extra zero day.

Third, my dietary needs and preferences changed. I got tired of what I had packed. And besides, it was a pleasant break to shop in a grocery store. I had no trouble putting together good meals, tailored to my current needs and appropriate to the next section of trail. And in the mid sections, from Harpers Ferry to Vermont, you will be walking past stores and restaurants with some regularity.

Fourth, mailing was expensive - at least from Texas.

Fifth, if you mail fuel and some other things, you run the risk of getting caught. The penalties are steep. And whoever is actually doing the mailing from home is running that risk. Think about it. That means you have to shop for fuel anyway. Banned items include fuel, batteries, lighters, and matches. You will have to do some shopping anyway for supplies you didn't anticipate or did not include in the mailer: insect repellant, OTC medications, and so on. Might as well get food while you are at it.

There are a few places where food drops are a good idea, but it is not hard to make up a box and mail it ahead. So you can plan as you wander the grocery story, sit outside repackaging, go to the PO and buy one of their boxes and mail it. An hour or two is all it usually takes. I make loud notes in my Companion about where to make up boxes to mail ahead - just so I don't forget.

Hannover is a good long-term resupply point, and you can mail ahead to Glencliff and Monson. But if you stay at the hostel at Glencliff, you can get a ride to a small store that is usually adequate, so maybe only Monson. Monson is at the start of the 100 Mile Wilderness, so the two little stores there may not be adequate for your needs, unless something has changed. Fontana, the Nantahala Outdoor Center, Harpers Ferry, and Bear Mountain SP are good places to send drops to as well, although there are work-arounds for Fontana and Harpers Ferry. For example, if you stay at the Hike Inn, a few miles before the Fontana dam, you could get a ride into Robbinsville from Jeff or Nancy Hoch. You can bus to a grocery from Harpers Ferry, and hitch 13 miles to a store from NOC. Some of these options are easier than others.

Jack Tarlin
11-30-2006, 14:19

If you check out the "Articles" section of Whiteblaze, you'll see lots of info on re-supply/maildrops, etc. This includes info on the best places to purchase food.

Most folks these days buy most of what they need while en route; except in a very few places where the food selection is limited, lousy, or way off the Trail, in most cases, you won't have to send yourself food.

12-01-2006, 09:47
I've been reading alot on the subject in preparation for my thru and I started a thread to the same effect. I've come to the conclusion that the only time you need maildrops is if you have special dietary needs or if you have an extremely limited budget and need to have a strict plan. I'm not an experienced hiker so I don't know yet how much I will need/want to eat each day so I'm buying as I go. Now I just have to learn to get my inner shopaholic on a leash :)

12-01-2006, 12:28
Give your inner shopaholic a break! Don't keep her bottled up for weeks on the trail with no relief. Shopping for food in town will be a treat for her. You will wander around the grocery store like some backwoods hick on a holiday because...well...that's what you will be after a while on the trail. It's sort of fun. The "Eat Here, Get Gas" convenience store in Buzzard Crotch Gap will seem like Neiman Marcus.

12-01-2006, 12:39
If you intend on carrying maps you'll most likely find a bounce box useful. You can also add extras like batteries, socks, etc. along with food in places where re-supply is limited.