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Thread: Best Mail Drops

  1. #1
    Registered User Wildfang's Avatar
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    Default Best Mail Drops

    What are the best places to do a mail drop? How many mail drops should I use?

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    As few as possible. Obviously it makes sense to use towns right on the trail or very close to.

    Hot Springs, Erwin, Damascus, Harpers Ferry, Boiling Springs, North Adams, etc.

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    There is a list online of the best places to send yourself food and such. I am not sure where the link is though
    I recommend
    The N.O.C. - happers ferry - monson.
    Everywhere else i had no problems.

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    My blogs on maildrops. I did them successfully north and south.







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    I'm curious. With the possible exception of a bounce box with batteries, meds, etc., why bother?

    Wayne
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    I'm curious. With the possible exception of a bounce box with batteries, meds, etc., why bother?

    Wayne
    So you can get more traffic on your blog?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    I'm curious. With the possible exception of a bounce box with batteries, meds, etc., why bother?

    Wayne
    off season Fontana is bad for resupply - and I like to go into the smokies with freeze dry food to make it all the way as the road may be closed -

    shoes is my other common mail drop, so I do a resupply with them

    glenclif would be another place for freeze dry as it is likely the food will be carried without using it if you can eat off the huts(as well as a good place for fresh shoes)

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    In 2013 I used the following:

    Hiawassee Budget Inn
    Nantahala OC NOC Outfitters
    Hartford Standing Bear Farm
    Hot Springs Laughing Heart Hostel
    Roan Mountain Mountain Harbour Hostel
    Damascus Mt. Rogers Outfitters
    Atkins Relax Inn
    Pearisburg Post Office
    Daleville/Troutville Super 8
    Duncannon Doyle Hotel
    DWG Pocono Inn
    Kent Post Office
    Dalton Shamrock Village Inn
    Killington Mountain Meadows Lodge
    Glencliff Hikers Welcome Hostel
    Gorham White Mountains Lodge and Hostel
    Stratton Stratton Motel
    Monson Shaw's Lodging

    In 2016 I'm planning the following:

    Nantahala OC NOC Outfitters
    Hartford Standing Bear Farm
    Erwin Uncle Johnny's
    Damascus Post Office
    Atkins Relax Inn
    Pearisburg Post Office
    Daleville/Troutville Super 8
    Duncannon Doyle Hotel
    DWG Pocono Inn
    Kent Backcountry Outfitters
    Dalton Shamrock Village Inn
    Killington Mountain Meadows Lodge
    Glencliff Hikers Welcome Hostel
    Gorham White Mountains Lodge and Hostel
    Caratunk The Sterling Inn

    I want to hitch as little as possible. Most of these places are very close to the trail.

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    Wow that's a lot of postage! Some of these places have major grocery chains and many have smaller grocery venues or a Dollar General which is doable for resupply....unless you have specific dietary or medicinal needs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    I'm curious. With the possible exception of a bounce box with batteries, meds, etc., why bother?

    Wayne
    Easy answer, and we can debate this until the cows come home: Save money, and save time. My 5-6 day resupply boxes were loaded with foods bought in bulk (Costco, mostly) at anywhere from 50% to 70% of grocery store prices (30-50% discount). This saved me about $30/5-days on average, perhaps more on my food, more than making up for the $12-$18 postage. Plus, I didn't have to find, walk to and spend time in unfamiliar grocery stores while on the trail. No brainer for me to mail resupply boxes. This assumes you have someone who will do this for you after the first few boxes (which you can do yourself).

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    woops, I forgot to mention maybe the best reason to do mail drops: you can eat what you want, vs. what's available. For example, I carry and use freeze dried dinners. Availability of those on the trail is limited, and wher you can find them they are expensive. I pre-buy in bulk, at least 50% off regular meal prices. Plus, I'm a coffee snob, I like what I like, so that's all pre-bought. Plus, I pre-package everything efficiently at home before, saving trail weight and bulk.

    Again, absolutely a no-brainer for me and my hiking food preferences, plus I'm Scottish and tight (AKA Frugal) with money.

    HYOH!

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    Fontana & Standing Bearing we're the only 2 places in the south that didn't have easy access to a Dollar or grocery store that I can remember, especially Fontana, their general store prices are a joke.
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    I completed my drop box packaging yesterday. I marked my guidebook into six sections, then flipped back and forth a few pages until I found a convenient business close to the trail or a neat little hostel that I wanted to visit. Then I added in a couple of the recommended food desert places.

    Here are my pre-planned stops/drops:
    1. NOC Outfitters - Just food.
    2. Fontana - Hike Inn - Just food.
    3. Hot Springs - Elmer's - 2nd Guidebook section.
    4. Troutville/Daleville - Ho Jo's - 3rd Guidebook section.
    5. Harper's Ferry - Teahorse Hostel - 4th Guidebook section.
    6. Ft. Montgomery - Bear Mt. Bridge Motel - 5th Guidebook section.
    7. Hanover - I live in the area, will meet up with family and grab the last Guidebook section.
    8. Monson - Lakeshore House

    Under $90 for 1 small, 4 medium, and 1 large priority mail box. 30 days of self dehydrated/varied/tested/vac sealed food. Various energy/nutrient bars bought cheaply in bulk. Dehydrated fruit and vegetables to supplement an additional 30 days of meals. Small portions of olive oil, sunscreen, sportslick, neosporin, ibuprofen, vitamin C, dehydrated toothpaste, sunscreen, the occasional button battery, soap, non alcohol sanitizer, etc.

    The savings on the Clif/Kind bars alone amount for most of the postage cost. The overall healthier/lightweight food and savings on all the little portions shipped will more than make up for the remaining cost.

    I'm only stopping at places that are close or shuttle convenient to the trail, that I'd very likely stop at anyway. Only 8 commitments over 2,100 miles, that doesn't seem overly limiting to me. I'll probably toss a few extra items into hiker boxes, and will have to buy some duplicate items because I got the timing wrong. I'm just going to keep the mindset that these drops are bonus gifts, that I don't have to rely on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Easy answer, and we can debate this until the cows come home: Save money, and save time. My 5-6 day resupply boxes were loaded with foods bought in bulk (Costco, mostly) at anywhere from 50% to 70% of grocery store prices (30-50% discount). This saved me about $30/5-days on average, perhaps more on my food, more than making up for the $12-$18 postage. Plus, I didn't have to find, walk to and spend time in unfamiliar grocery stores while on the trail. No brainer for me to mail resupply boxes. This assumes you have someone who will do this for you after the first few boxes (which you can do yourself).
    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    woops, I forgot to mention maybe the best reason to do mail drops: you can eat what you want, vs. what's available. For example, I carry and use freeze dried dinners. Availability of those on the trail is limited, and wher you can find them they are expensive. I pre-buy in bulk, at least 50% off regular meal prices. Plus, I'm a coffee snob, I like what I like, so that's all pre-bought. Plus, I pre-package everything efficiently at home before, saving trail weight and bulk.

    Again, absolutely a no-brainer for me and my hiking food preferences, plus I'm Scottish and tight (AKA Frugal) with money.

    HYOH!
    You have mentioned this in several threads. So, I went to Costco.com and searched the Mountain House products. All I find is a rather limited (perhaps a half dozen flavors) of #10 cans. When you say that you repackage everything, you must be opeing the #10 cans and putting a serving size portion in Ziploc or some other type of bag. Is this approximately what you are doing? I have a Food Saver machine to make vacuum sealed bags for food. I'm thinking that might be the way to for space saving and durability.
    On the other hand, living in Denver, perhaps your local Costco stocks cases of single or double servings of various meals.
    Please elaborate. Thank you.

    Wayne
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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Here is the current listing at Costco.com. I would have to buy individual dinners in each of the flavors to know which ones I could tolerate and which to avoid.

    http://www.costco.com/CatalogSearch?...y=PriceMin%7C0

    Wayne
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    You have mentioned this in several threads. So, I went to Costco.com and searched the Mountain House products. All I find is a rather limited (perhaps a half dozen flavors) of #10 cans. When you say that you repackage everything, you must be opeing the #10 cans and putting a serving size portion in Ziploc or some other type of bag. Is this approximately what you are doing? I have a Food Saver machine to make vacuum sealed bags for food. I'm thinking that might be the way to for space saving and durability.
    On the other hand, living in Denver, perhaps your local Costco stocks cases of single or double servings of various meals.
    Please elaborate. Thank you.

    Wayne
    Sure Wayne, more details: The Costco in Lakewood (suburb of Denver, near our house) sells, a few times a year, not always, 10-packs of MH freeze dried double-meals for $40. We go to Costco for other stuff about once a month, and always look for these. I snag a couple boxes of those when they are in stock. the box holds 2-3 beef stroganoff, 2-3 beef stews, 2-3 lasagna, 2-3 chicken w/ rice (10 total, I forget which have 2 and which have 3). I divie these up into quart sized freezer bags for use on the trail; this cuts down on bulk and weight (those foil packs weigh 0.75 ounces, a freezer bag, 0.25 oz, so 1/2 ounce savings per meal, no huge deal, but it adds up). I've repackaged this stuff months and months ahead of actual use without any ill effects, but we live in a very dry climate, YMMV out east. I even take the desiccant pack out (a couple grams weight, but more importantly, if I don't take it out, I've been know to forget about it and eat the darn thing!).

    I haven't bought any MH #10 cans yet, but those look to be a very similar deal, I think, I need to check the math, but what they call 2 bucks a meal is really more like 2 bucks per half a meal.

    Recently, we've bought some freeze dried stuff online in bulk, specifically Mary Jane Farms bulk packs. I love their Mac & Cheese and Chili. I forget the prices, but I think right in there at 4 bucks for a solid meal.

    The larger REI stores also carry some #10 cans, haven't check those prices, not sure the brand, but I've seen them at the downtown and Lakewood REI's.

    To do all this, as you say, you have to figure out which meals you like. I personally like the beef stroganoff, beef stew, mac & cheese, and a new personal favorite, that "breakfast skillet" (but for dinner). Chicken & rice is OK, but I've grown tired of that Lasagna (but can eat it). As I said in some other thread, I'm nearly over the entire Mountain House brand, I've just eaten too much of it in recent years, looking at other brands/option right now for this year's long hikes. I'll still snag a couple boxes of MH next time I see them at Costco.

    Overall though the biggest bulk Costco savings comes from their bulk trail snacks.... Just about 50% off on average, sometimes more on everything from breakfast bars & granola to lara bars to cliff products to bulk GORP to nut mixes, you name it. they also carry Charbucks Via's for about 60 cents/per, vs a buck per at other locations.

    By the way, I think Sam's Club has pretty similar deals on this kind of thing, but we're not members there.

  17. #17

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    2 or 3 thoughts here:
    send one to Neels Gap (Mt Crossings) at mile 30 of the trail.
    That way you can start out light.

    Many people want more quality food on their hike than can be found in small (especially southern towns)
    So, they dry their own recipes, hamburger and veggies, use powdered coconut milk, Indian curries, pack dried mango, papaya, etc.
    Others rely on Mom and Pop stores and are happy to eat ramen and mac & cheese and ritz crackers all the way up the trail.
    I try not to judge their reasons for wanting to send themselves what they like.

    But a word of warning to those hiking a long distance trail for the first time: It's easy to get tired of the food you thought you'd eat all the way.
    So, be a bit flexible, experiment with some things as you go, and try some grits while you're down south.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    2 or 3 thoughts here:
    send one to Neels Gap (Mt Crossings) at mile 30 of the trail.
    That way you can start out light.

    Many people want more quality food on their hike than can be found in small (especially southern towns)
    So, they dry their own recipes, hamburger and veggies, use powdered coconut milk, Indian curries, pack dried mango, papaya, etc.
    Others rely on Mom and Pop stores and are happy to eat ramen and mac & cheese and ritz crackers all the way up the trail.
    I try not to judge their reasons for wanting to send themselves what they like.

    But a word of warning to those hiking a long distance trail for the first time: It's easy to get tired of the food you thought you'd eat all the way.
    So, be a bit flexible, experiment with some things as you go, and try some grits while you're down south.
    You had me, up until you mentioned grits. Grits are one of those things like cheering for your local baseball team. Either your parents indoctrinated you early, and you grew up a fan with warm and fuzzy memories, or there's just no way you can bring yourself to enjoy that stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blissful View Post
    My blogs on maildrops. I did them successfully north and south.
    I want to thank you for all the good info you have on your blog. The mail drop and food planning is where I am at in my prep stages. Thanks again!
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    Bliss, I do have one question, the boxes, what sizes can they be and do they need to be purchased at the PO?
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