View Full Version : Maildrops

Former Admin
09-03-2002, 19:08
disscussions dealing with the topic of mail drops.

Hammock Hanger
09-04-2002, 18:05
My first year I had a maildrop every 5-10 days. It was great not to have to worry about shopping and knowing what to expect in the upcoming days. However, I found that I did not eat near as much as I had packed in the drop boxes. This meant that I spent time and money getting the box full and shipped only to leave 1/2 sometimes more in hiker boxes along the way. (I think some hikers actually live out the hiker boxes as there is so much free stuff. Especially in the south before people get the hang of things.)

My second time out I prepared boxes where there was something I needed like maps or where I had read that there was no store to resupply at. This worked out well. On one or two occasions the shopping was slim pickin's but usually there was plenty to get me to the next spot where there was a grocery store. I found I carried less yet ate more. Mainly because I was able to get fresh foods and a larger variety of foods. Shopping cost me less then prepacking, shipping and giving away.
NOTE: Do not go shopping in a town until AFTER you have eaten. I made that mistake once and bought so much food cuz I was hungry that I had to eat as I packed my pack and continued the feast for 2 days. Way too much food. But my tummy was happy.

Hammock Hanger :rolleyes:

SGT Rock
09-10-2002, 22:23
I've done a lot of listening to others and experimented on the trail with various re-supply methods. I have decided to do most of my re-supply by purchasing en-route. I figure with a changing appitite I would not end up eating most of the food I bought before the hike and the mail cost would become fairly high especially at the northern end of the hike. I also do not want to be tied to post office scheduels and re-suply ammounts based on distances between post offices.

I do plan to do 23 mail drops though. There will be three types:
1. Full mail drops that include food, toilet paper, stove fuel, paper, etc. I only plan on getting 4 of these at Fontana Dam, Harper's Ferry, Port Clinton, and Glencliff.

2. The second type will consist of just maps, guidebook sections, and some of my homemade beef jerky (which is the best). These locations will be set at places where I need to swap out maps. I think two sheets at a time is far enough apart.

3. The third type will be a gear drop. There will be three of these 1. Pearisburg for summer gear, 2. Glincliff for my winter gear that I will mail out in Pearisburg, and 3. Millinocket for some town clothes and a duffle bag for the trip home.

In addition to my scheduled mail drops, I intend to use a bounce box that will have toiletry supplies, duct tape, knife sharpener, etc. I will include this stuff in my first mail drop at Fontana Dam, and turn that box into a bounce box.

09-11-2002, 06:34
Overall, I'd say that your plan sounds like a good plan. However, 23 mail drops sounds a little excessive.

It's sound advice to resupply every 5 days or so. But, most of the time you don't need a post office. With the PO's limited hours of operation, why tie yourself to getting to the PO before it closes mid day Saturday, or waiting for it to open on Monday. That could happen more often than you think. Plus, in many places, could take you further off the trail.

I'd suggest reducing it to 12 to 15, and carry more maps with you.

What guidebook are you considering carrying? The trail guides are totally unneccesary. Sections of the Companion or Wingfoot are.

PS: definately agree with buying as much food as possible enroute.

09-11-2002, 09:25
I'm doing ground control for my son hiking the trail...I'd like to toss in a couple of things about mail drops I've learned from this end.

1. Use a mail drop, other than a post-office when possible. Hostels, inns, outfitters will hold packages -- see the ALDHA guide...Post-offices close at 5 and at noon on Saturday...Rolling into town on Saturday at 1:00 means a forced layover until Monday morning...

2. Check a planning guide to obtain distance the drop is from the trail...Some P.O.s listed as possible drops are 10 miles or more from the trail. Better to use the time doing something cool than trying to hitch into town to get a roll of toilet paper! Many post-offices and other drops are much closer...go close!

3. Plans and schedules change...have a reliable ground control officer (supplied with a Databook) who is willing to do some quick mailings or alter the maildrops as the hike unfolds..

4. Last minute mailings are very expensive...give the ground control guy 5 days or so to get things together and mail them out...

5. FED EX is an option, but they won't deliver to General Delivery at a Post-Office (found this out the hard way!).

As I said....some minor things I've learned from this end...

See the Journal I'm maintaining for my son at:
Mike and Kathryn's Appalachian Trail Adventure (http://ubmail.ubalt.edu/~dhaynes/at_hike/)

SGT Rock
09-11-2002, 12:09
I can agree with reducing mail drops. 3 maps can get me pretty dang far on the average. If I originally had 23, then I could reduce to about 15. I figured at 23 drops, I could go about 100 miles or so (one week average) between drops. If I went to 15, then that would get me about 150 miles per, or about 10 days.

As for guide books, I was planning to bring WF's book and the data book. I like WF's book because of the more detailed information about shelters and towns, and I like the straight up data book that just shows milage to all those little water sources, road crossings, etc that WF's book doesn't cover. I would divide both books into sections and mail them with the maps. I think a soft mailer envelope with some jerky, maps, and guidebook pages would be pretty easy to get set up before I left. I will make a tentative time scheduel for mailing them, then keep my ground control updated if I get behind or ahead of scheduel.

I definately do not want to tie to post offices times. I was looking through WF's book for hostels and the like that accept packages.

Thanks for the advice.