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Pedaling Fool
02-06-2010, 11:20
There is no shortage of posts and threads asking if maildrops are needed. I've seen many say "No" to maildrops and I get it, you don't need maps (but I do) and you don't need food, just resupply in towns.

However, how do you do the gear change-out when it gets warm and then gets cold again?

Just curious to hear how people do this.

Spirit Walker
02-06-2010, 11:26
I use a Drift box, sent 3 to 4 weeks ahead. Contains maps, meds, and any gear I don't think I'll need for a while. On the AT I kept the same sleeping bag the whole way (20 deg) and my fleece jacket. Overkill perhaps, but it worked for me.

On the PCT we asked a family member to send a box with our winter gear when we got to Cascade Locks. On the CDT we just bought a winter bag that we had shipped to us in mid-September.

white_russian
02-06-2010, 11:31
I think you have taken things out of context. The general argument against mail drops is in the food category. You see some folks out there sending a box of food to every town when there is a supermarket just down the street from PO.

I don't consider gear to be a regular drop and seasonal swaps happen twice at most. Maps can be sent with media mail so they are pretty cheap to send as well.

Spokes
02-06-2010, 12:58
Bounce Box

Jack Tarlin
02-06-2010, 15:54
White Russian is correct.

Just about everyone gets mail from home, whether it's maps, or mail, or bills/papers that need to be addressed. Maybe it's prescriptions, or new eyeglasses, or a new credit card or whatever. Or maybe it's just a letter from home and some homemade treats. And then of course, there's replacement or swap-out gear that gets sent along, too.

But just about everyone gets mail from home, at some point, and nobody questions THAT. What is frequnetly debated and discussed is whether or not it is prudent to mail yourself food while en route, and more and more folks have come around to the feeling that unless one is on a specialized or restricted diet, or unless you're REALLY into dehydrating and preparing your meals ahead of time, except in a very few cases and locations, most of today's thru-hikers, for any number of resons, prefer to buy nearly all of their food while en route, as opposed to buying it in bulk and boxing it up months before.

As to JG's specific question regarding clothing/gear swap outs, most Northbounders (if they're smart) wait until after they're past Damascus to
swap out for lighterweight gear and clothing, i.e. Bland or Pearisburg.

And most of them switch back in Hanover.

Never having Southbounded, I'm not sure where SOBO's do this, tho I suspect they ditch some of their heavier clothing/gear once they're past new Hampshire, and may get some of it back again come September as the nights get chillier.

-SEEKER-
02-06-2010, 16:27
I'm not a Thru-Hiker but on my section hikes, which have been long sections at times (300 plus mi.), I do almost 100% mail drops. I agree with Jack's timing for weather related gear change outs. Luckily I have someone at home who sends my boxes when I need them. I have everything packaged with labels made out. I also have items of clothing, medications, pages from Thru-Hikers Companion, etc. labeled and arranged so that when I'm on the phone with him he can go down the line and add the things I need. It has worked great for me since I am a very picky person when it comes to food. Also, with doing mail drops you know how much weight and volume you will be adding at each re-supply and all the work is done at home so you don't have to worry about it on the trail.

garlic08
02-06-2010, 23:46
Ditto the above. I did three maildrops, to seven-day-a-week business, for shoes, socks, guidebook sections, and birthday cards and treats. Not one for groceries.

Ox97GaMe
02-07-2010, 01:31
Russian is right on regarding food supply. almost all the towns that you would pick have grocery stores that supply adequate hiker friendly foods. If you have specific diet needs or desires, then there may be reason to ship your own food. There are two things that I see with hikers that ship to themselves.
a) when at home planning, you cant easily determine how many miles per day you will be hiking, therefore it is difficult to accurately determine how many meals are needed or size of those meals between town stops. Hikers are either rushing to get to the next town because they arent staying on their planned food pace, or they have extra food left when they get into town to pick up the next box. Extra food goes in a hiker box or distributed to another hiker that is planning to buy food in town. You dont save all that much on food when you consider postage vs. buying in town and the over/shortage from your 'plan'.
b) your diet preferences may change as you are hiking, as does quantity of food needed. You might get tired of peanut butter every other day, or you want Mars bars instead of Snickers. You see what other hikers are carrying and want to try the different variations. I see hikers ditching items in their maildrop and still going to the store to get other items that they are craving/preferring at the time.

Bottom line, it is pretty difficult to exactly identify types and quantities of food items that will be needed in each box prior to the start of your hike, and there is litle if any cost benefit to shipping mail drops.

As for maps or other 'sectional' items; most of the town stops have an outfitter or hostel that carry those items for sale as well. You have the option of purchse if you want/need it. Or, check a hiker box at a hostel. There are usually extra maps from hikers that have the maps and decide they dont really need/want to carry them. Northbounders transport the items in the spring, and the Southbounders transport them back in the fall.

As for seasonal gear swap. Most NOBO hikers plan to change out gear at Pearisburg and Hanover. But, it depends on your start date and the weather as you get to those locations. You will probably know 1-2 weeks ahead when it is time to change out gear and you can then have someone ship it to an upcoming town stop.

That is not to say I am for or against mail drops. Either works. You just need to measure the pros and cons of each against your particular hiking situation.

Blissful
02-07-2010, 15:04
The truth about mail drops (food, meds etc) is that they worked just fine for me, esp in certain areas with limited food choices. Except when I sent them surface in Maine and they got lost. And then I dropped a bunch of weight (with added pain and fatigue) in one week trying to make it on the limited food offered at the tiny store in Monson.

mweinstone
02-07-2010, 15:20
when you send yourself a drop from the trail instead of from home, you get these advantages.
your judgement is better as to what to send.
boxes are found free at all places and are the right type.
there are no phone calls or scheduals to make.
you save money on what you do put in your pack cause you mail extra.
bounceing a box forward with no charge is more likely for you.
baltimore jack is allways around to help and is better than mom or dad.
trail angel mary too.
and a score of exsperienced droppers abound to help mail crap.
and hikers helping hikers and shareing boxes as ive done with friends.
and finaly folks. when you send crap to yourself and cut mom and dad and sis and bro and home out of it,... you feel alive. useing the post is a powerful weapon at the disposal of hikers in their arsenal and should be a part of any hike. as important as carrying the right sword.

emerald
02-07-2010, 15:31
Some posts to this thread might serve to create the impression hikers can expect to find a supermarket near every road crossing. How many places actually have a supermarket one could walk to (round trip) in less than an hour?

Before someone chimes in to tell us it's invariably easy to get rides, maybe we should consider how much time might be spent hiking instead or could potentially be lost in the process. The farther hikers hitch rides off of the A.T., the farther they might end up walking back and there's the time lost shopping to consider too.

I wouldn't even want to chance walking back to Port Clinton, where the nearest supermarkets are in Hamburg. Unless someone offerred to transport me in both directions and would wait for me while I shop, it would strike me as an unnecessary excursion best avoided. I'd feel awkward about asking people I don't know to inconvenience themselves. Sure, someone might volunteer for the assignment, but I wouldn't want to count on it.

I've provided transportation to Hamburg for a few hikers over the years, but it's not something I do often. Port Clinton's post office is less than a 5-minute walk from the A.T., hikers can get there whatever can be mailed legally and don't need to worry about their packs.

traildust
02-07-2010, 15:48
Well said.



Some posts to this thread might serve to create the impression hikers can expect to find a supermarket near every road crossing. How many places actually have a supermarket one could walk to (round trip) in less than an hour?

Before someone chimes in to tell us it's invariably easy to get rides, maybe we should consider how much time might be spent hiking instead or could potentially be lost in the process. The farther hikers hitch rides off of the A.T., the farther they might end up walking back and there's the time lost shopping to consider too.

I wouldn't even want to take that chance at Port Clinton, where the nearest supermarkets are in Hamburg, unless I chanced upon someone who would be willing to transport me in both directions and who would wait for me while I shop.

I've provided transportation to Hamburg for a few hikers over the years, but it's not something I do often. Port Clinton's post office is less than a 5-minute walk from the A.T., you can get whatever you want there and don't need to worry about your pack.

mweinstone
02-07-2010, 15:54
wrong hamburg iga hater! you have never walked the most wonderful 2 mile road from port to ham and back o so obviously. its the frickkin shennendoha roadwalk of the north. simply my favorite place on a road near the at in the north. or is 4 mi round trip with a cool church pavillion and a bar for the night wrong? and hitching the road to hamburg aint all that yo. at pocohauntass spring a blue trail takes you even closer to the iga supermrkt. speak agin port or burg, and you die.lol.

Pedaling Fool
02-07-2010, 15:54
This thread is no surprise.

The only reason I posted it was because I’ve seen many posts where people are adamant against using the postal system. And I understand that most were blindly focused on the issue of food drops, but the posts were posted in such absolute terms overtime it kind of irked me.

However, what’s interesting (at least to me) is that this points out that 100% of all thru-hikers use the postal system or equivalent, i.e. UPS...

white_russian
02-07-2010, 16:07
The truth about mail drops (food, meds etc) is that they worked just fine for me, esp in certain areas with limited food choices. Except when I sent them surface in Maine and they got lost. And then I dropped a bunch of weight (with added pain and fatigue) in one week trying to make it on the limited food offered at the tiny store in Monson.
Shaw's will take folks to the Greenville supermarket for just a little more than the price of gas and if you get a bunch of people to share the ride, the individual cost is very little.

Personally I have had no problems with the selection at the Monson General Store.

mweinstone
02-07-2010, 16:07
i got 7000at miles but i aint a thru hiker.

white_russian
02-07-2010, 16:12
This thread is no surprise.

The only reason I posted it was because Iíve seen many posts where people are adamant against using the postal system. And I understand that most were blindly focused on the issue of food drops, but the posts were posted in such absolute terms overtime it kind of irked me.

However, whatís interesting (at least to me) is that this points out that 100% of all thru-hikers use the postal system or equivalent, i.e. UPS...

You needed this thread to point out that everyone at one time or another uses the PO? You are reading way too far into things.

Pedaling Fool
02-07-2010, 16:17
You are reading way too far into things.
You're probably right; I probably just need a break from all this;)

emerald
02-07-2010, 16:23
Wrong, Hamburg IGA hater!

Whatever gave you the impression I have anything against King's? Surely you realize the business generated by hikers is a drop in a bucket.

I've provided hikers transportion to King's Plaza. The last time I patronized King's, there was still a laundromat next door which I've always thought would work out nice for at least a pair of hikers who wanted to just resupply, do laundry and hike on.

Jester2000
02-07-2010, 16:23
However, whatís interesting (at least to me) is that this points out that 100% of all thru-hikers use the postal system or equivalent, i.e. UPS...

'Course, you gotta be careful with your absolutes. Screamer in 2000 didn't use the PO at all, or any kind of delivery service.

Then again, he was a homeless person.

Pedaling Fool
02-07-2010, 16:26
'Course, you gotta be careful with your absolutes. Screamer in 2000 didn't use the PO at all, or any kind of delivery service.

Then again, he was a homeless person.
I was wondering if someone would pick up on that:D

emerald
02-07-2010, 16:38
This thread is no surprise.

Nor is my solution to the recurring arguments which rarely raise many of the more important or finer points which might be addressed once and for all times.

Shadowman
02-08-2010, 00:03
I did not change out anygear because of season or any other reason. I did send my water filter home during my first hike. Had five mail drops the first time and three the second. I included some food but mainly small portion things. Say, you want 6 bandaids but don't want to buy a box, same with q-tips, same with vitamins, one cigarette lighter, roll of toilet paper, a couple of hundred dollars worth of travelers checks, a couple of razors, small toothpaste, etc. and you are good for another 700 miles (factoring in town resources). If it looks like you will hit that town on a holiday or weekend when the PO is closed you can call ahead or later and have the package forward free to a new PO up ahead.

Some use none and I ran into one guy who had something like 44!! Not giving advice but less is likely to be less complicating. Some people were really pressing it to hit town before the PO closed or waiting a day or so 'till it opened. Often you will find an open pack of some of the things I mentioned in the free hiker box at hostels. Happy Hiking.

weary
02-08-2010, 01:51
I don't do an awful lot of planning for long distance walks. But for the Appalachian Trail I do scan the data book, and a trail guide and figure out which is closest to the trail -- a sizeable supermarket, or a post office.

In 1993, post offices tended to be closer than places Wingfoot said were good resupply stores, so I had my wife send me quite a few mail drops. I'm sure that the number of supermarkets has increased over the past 17 years, but I can think of no reason for not following the same practice today.

Not that I would plan on sending all food items. Then and now, I know there are Mom and Pop stores and convenience stores available for miscelaneous items, like ice cream, Snickers, soda, beer, impulse purchases .... But I like to be able to count on the basic nutritional needs being easily available at a decent price.

Nor did I ever have serious difficulty with timing. I tended to run behind schedule most of the time, but my packages were always at the post office waiting when I needed them.

Best of all, the US postal service remains a political institution beholden to political pressures. That's probably why virtually every trail town had its post office. Quite a few towns didn't have decent resupply stores near the trail.

If you are into partying, none of this matters. You will head for the big towns and big stores, bars, and restaurants at every available stop. But I tried to maximize my time on the trail. Unless a store was virtually right on the trail, I limited my resupply to every six days, sometimes longer.

Weary

paradoxb3
02-08-2010, 12:17
Some posts to this thread might serve to create the impression hikers can expect to find a supermarket near every road crossing. How many places actually have a supermarket one could walk to (round trip) in less than an hour?

Before someone chimes in to tell us it's invariably easy to get rides, maybe we should consider how much time might be spent hiking instead or could potentially be lost in the process. The farther hikers hitch rides off of the A.T., the farther they might end up walking back and there's the time lost shopping to consider too.

I don't quite get this response... Doesn't it take time to walk/get rides to/from the PO the same as the grocery store? The PO's arent at the trailheads either... right?

garlic08
02-08-2010, 12:31
Who needs a supermarket, anyway? There are plenty of gas station/convenience stores within walking distance of the AT where you can at least buy a package of hot dog buns and a jar of peanut butter, enough to get you to the next "real" town. You don't really need special trail food every day.

For example: Instead of hitching into Atkins VA, I got breakfast at the Red Barn then resupplied at the Texaco station across the street and kept walking, never more than a few hundred feet from the AT. That was enough to get to Pearisburg and a real grocery.

Jester2000
02-08-2010, 13:43
I don't quite get this response... Doesn't it take time to walk/get rides to/from the PO the same as the grocery store? The PO's arent at the trailheads either... right?

For the most part, you're correct. On the other hand, there are a few places (like Port Clinton) where the PO is very close to the trail, but the nearest grocery store is not.

Which has no effect on locals, few of whom walk to the grocery store anyhow. Despite what Matty says, walking to Hamburg is not really a good idea, and unless you want to resupply at a store that mainly sells nuts and candy, a maildrop to Port Clinton isn't the worst idea in the world. But plenty of people hitch or get shuttles to Hamburg.

Similarly, the grocery store in Duncannon is up a curvy road with no shoulder that shouldn't be walked, but there is a shuttle there. Meanwhile, the PO is right on the main street in town.

Same with Damascus.

I suspect this has something to do with the fact that most POs were built in the center of towns when everyone lived in town and few people drove. Most large grocery stores were built more recently, and built where there was space -- outside of towns (which didn't matter, because everyone drives).

10-K
02-08-2010, 13:55
For the most part, you're correct. On the other hand, there are a few places (like Port Clinton) where the PO is very close to the trail, but the nearest grocery store is not.

Which has no effect on locals, few of whom walk to the grocery store anyhow. Despite what Matty says, walking to Hamburg is not really a good idea, and unless you want to resupply at a store that mainly sells nuts and candy, a maildrop to Port Clinton isn't the worst idea in the world. But plenty of people hitch or get shuttles to Hamburg.

Similarly, the grocery store in Duncannon is up a curvy road with no shoulder that shouldn't be walked, but there is a shuttle there. Meanwhile, the PO is right on the main street in town.

Same with Damascus.

I suspect this has something to do with the fact that most POs were built in the center of towns when everyone lived in town and few people drove. Most large grocery stores were built more recently, and built where there was space -- outside of towns (which didn't matter, because everyone drives).

I had a mail drop sent to Port Clinton and the outfitter sold probably 75% of the stuff I had in my package.

BTW, did you check out the market behind the Doyle? I grabbed enough there to carry me a few days.

Jester2000
02-08-2010, 14:24
I had a mail drop sent to Port Clinton and the outfitter sold probably 75% of the stuff I had in my package.

BTW, did you check out the market behind the Doyle? I grabbed enough there to carry me a few days.

Yeah, I'm not really a mail drop guy anymore. I was really just answering this question:

"Doesn't it take time to walk/get rides to/from the PO the same as the grocery store?"

And the answer, sometimes, is "no."

At this point in my hiking, I prefer to buy as I go (for a number of reasons) and I'm usually able to resupply out of convenience stores if need be, but I do prefer a good grocery store.

Johnny Swank
02-08-2010, 16:56
Never having Southbounded, I'm not sure where SOBO's do this, tho I suspect they ditch some of their heavier clothing/gear once they're past new Hampshire, and may get some of it back again come September as the nights get chillier.

That's pretty much what I did, but truth be told, there's not a whole lot of clothing that I ended up sending home for that middle stretch. Assuming a Mid-late June start, you MIGHT be able to get away with a 40 degree bag and plenty of clothes, then just switch out the bag say September 15ish instead of switching twice. With bags getting so light these days, I'd probably just carry a sub-2lb bag the whole way and be done with it.

Blissful
02-08-2010, 22:32
Shaw's will take folks to the Greenville supermarket for just a little more than the price of gas and if you get a bunch of people to share the ride, the individual cost is very little.

Personally I have had no problems with the selection at the Monson General Store.


Well that's nice to know though it was not an option when I was there, plus there were tons of hikers getting out of the rain and it was crazy.
But the store option stunk and even the guy there asked what he thought he should stock for hikers. Maybe the suggestions provided paved the way for yours and others' resupply. :cool:

white_russian
02-08-2010, 22:56
Well that's nice to know though it was not an option when I was there, plus there were tons of hikers getting out of the rain and it was crazy.
But the store option stunk and even the guy there asked what he thought he should stock for hikers. Maybe the suggestions provided paved the way for yours and others' resupply. :cool:
I've shopped at Monson General Store before you thru hiked. Ain't no paving going on.

emerald
02-08-2010, 23:15
Could it be you had different expectations? Much of the recurring discussion about shopping opportunities in towns near the A.T. overlooks the simple fact not all hikers seek the same items. Furthermore, comparing what was on shelves in past years isn't of much use to hikers who will be shopping in 2010.

Jack Tarlin
02-09-2010, 18:06
Doesn't matter what year he hiked. The Monson market/general store is not that well stocked. Most folks pack 6-7 days outta there and the prudent hiker sends themselves a box there to supplement what is available. This is one of the handful of places where it makes sense to send yourself some food/treats via mail.

Johnny Swank
02-10-2010, 11:25
I agree, and that box of food doesn't have to be sent from home either (unless you're planning on getting mail/maps in Monson anyway). Just buy staples for about 7 days in Stratton or Rangely and send the package from there. Saves on postage, and you'll at least know what kind of food you're into at that time instead of 6+ months out before you leave.

Trailbender
02-19-2010, 17:04
I use a 0 degree down bag year round. The sleeping bag ratings are never right for me. If it is a 20 degree bag, I am cold when it is 30. I don't ship anything, gear or food. I have a fleece zip up, light gloves and hat, and thermasilk long johns. I only carry a coat when it is dead of winter, haven't done the AT in winter though.