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  1. #21

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    On the AT, food resupply is not an issue, and food is cheap, especially in the southern states. In the New England states, it is more expensive, but everything is more expensive here. Beside the shipping cost, you have to factor in the cost of shuttles from the trail to towns and back because your box will be waiting for you either in the PO or a hostel or a outfitter. Now days, most town have a local supermarket, and if not, you can always get a shuttle to the local walmart or whatever big box super market they have.

  2. #22
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    So shuttle costs can apply to both buying along the way or mailing a box to pick it up? It's my assumption under non COVID conditions most AT thru hikers/AT hikers do not pay for shuttles to pick up a box or buy. They mostly have hitched rides.

  3. #23

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    If you are a pretty young thing, I guess people will stop for you. I'm neither pretty, nor young and I always pay for a shuttle.

  4. #24
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    I only did two "food drops" on my thru-hike in 2018, and that was only because I was also having my family send me seasonal pieces of gear/replacement shoes, so I was getting a package anyway. It's really easy to just buy as you go, as long as you are thinking about it a few days ahead of time and you're flexible on your diet. I hiked with a vegan for a long section of the trail, and she never used mail drops and still managed. I imagine gluten-free would be a little harder, but if you plan ahead to resupply in towns with proper grocery stores and not just convenience stores/ Dollar General/etc, you can even accommodate most special dietary needs. I definitely fell into the "mostly junk food" trap at times, eating a lot of Poptarts and nutella-on-tortilla wraps, but sometimes there were some really awesome healthy options! The food co-op in Hanover comes to mind as an example. Expensive though! But even your average super walmart has an extensive grocery section with affordable and healthy options.
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  5. #25
    Registered User NY HIKER 50's Avatar
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    No one has said this: Mail drops are getting more expensive at the post office with the price of postage going up. Not to mention that with the situation these days post office hours may be VERY limited (in my area some post offices have closed). You need to check with that particular post office for their hours.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by NY HIKER 50 View Post
    No one has said this: Mail drops are getting more expensive at the post office with the price of postage going up. Not to mention that with the situation these days post office hours may be VERY limited (in my area some post offices have closed). You need to check with that particular post office for their hours.
    Actually, mail drops can be getting less expensive! That's determined by how we each soberly work out our hikes - HYOH. This is what we get to do on a hike - THINK for ourselves... instead of letting others make the choices for us.

    Food prices have risen as well. It might be an ultimate $ saving option to buy choice harder to generally locate in convenient amounts light/UL wt low volume nutritionally dense backpacking food items with extended shelf lives beyond relying on Wally World, gas stations/high priced convenience stores, or Dollar General when it's seen offered at steeper sale discounts, repackaged to save packaging wt and volume, and mailed. Again, one does not necessarily have to mail every resupply on an extended length AT hike. One can mail some, buy some along the way offering a diversity of dietary options catering to various tastes, resources, and situations.

    Postage rates are not the only cost liability or benefit in mailing resupply yet repeatedly USP rates is one issue taken out of context of the bigger resupply picture analysis. Repeatedly, many resource frugal backpackers have rightly pointed out reducing in town time often makes for a decreased hiking budget. Being able to get into and out of town quickly in Nero fashion without being triggered into a consumption and shopping Pavlov dog mindset without having to shop for and repackage food and non food items, picking up a prepared mailed box instead is one key technique for lowering off trail time and decreasing money spent while on a hike. A faster, less duration hike leads to less money spent on that hike! It's not brain surgery. This has been shared here on WB many times.

    One neither has to rely solely on resupply sent to USPO's. Outfitters, trail angels, hostels, motels, AMC locations, lodges, etc also are known to hold a resupply box offering perhaps extended hrs of operation to pick up a box. In all seriousness, what's observed are backpackers on and off trail wasting a lot of time a lot of time yet when this topic surfaces the responsibility issue of organizing a mailed resupply so not having to wait minds suddenly go to sleep seeing this as an insurmountable distasteful issue. And, again, if USPO's are employed there certainly are innumerous locations along the AT, PCT, CDT that are still offering reg <strong>or even extended hrs including some open Sat.</strong> And, with larger USPO locations even though open window lobby hrs may not be available there still may be workers inside the USPO that IF ASKED NICELY on Fri or Sat through a SMART phone call may assist in TIMELY getting a resupply handed off. I suspect that most who complain about mailing resupply are the ones unfamiliar with actually doing it!

    Indeed having mailed food resupply including hygiene products more than 140 times domestically to some 35+ U.S. states I've been delayed 24 hrs or less 3 times. The USPO has temporarily lost one resupply only one time in more than 15 yrs of mailing resupply on hikes.

    None of this is shared, again, to persuade one to mail resupply! It is offered so it can be noted the common issues some incur have very workable solutions. Work out your own hike. Build on skill sets not just gear. It's also in hope that it be clearly noted postage costs are far from the only $cost liability or ultimate cumulative resource savings issue in mailing resupply.
    Last edited by Dogwood; 10-17-2020 at 18:06.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    On the AT, food resupply is not an issue, and food is cheap, especially in the southern states. In the New England states, it is more expensive, but everything is more expensive here.
    The southeastern U.S. is regionally the least healthiest in the U.S. It's associated with dietary choices and what's historically been stocked on grocery store shelves.

    Cheap food is not health care costs, quality of life, and longevity cheap!

    It does not take a Masters in Nutritional Science or Cardiologist's M.D. to grasp that maybe, just maybe, habitually consuming 15 cts of Nissin or Maruchaun brands ramen, 50 ct-$1 instant mashed potatoes, Sugar Tarts,.... are not the nutritionally healthiest option resulting in negative health consequences whether exercising often or not. Nor is necessarily the highest/oz cal ratio food/food like products the be all end all of trail nutritional health or reducing trail food wt and volume.

  8. #28
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    One other thing that was probably not in consideration in the past, but may still be at some points are what is available and what purchases are allowed. For instance, at least one supermarket here still limits the purchase of packaged rice mixes to 4 per customer - that might be an issue if someone was trying to shop for a week at one stop. Also, while most places are better in stocking than they were a few months back, there could still be places (especially if a town is smaller with only one market or such) that supplies on some items aren't always fully stocked.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Cheap food is not health care costs, quality of life, and longevity cheap!

    It does not take a Masters in Nutritional Science or Cardiologist's M.D. to grasp that maybe, just maybe, habitually consuming 15 cts of Nissin or Maruchaun brands ramen, 50 ct-$1 instant mashed potatoes, Sugar Tarts,.... are not the nutritionally healthiest option resulting in negative health consequences whether exercising often or not. Nor is necessarily the highest/oz cal ratio food/food like products the be all end all of trail nutritional health or reducing trail food wt and volume.
    Oops, I've been doing it wrong for over 3 decades...
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  10. #30

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    Dogwood, as you say, HYOH. Me, I do not cook on the trail, but I carry a stove to boil water for morning coffee and evening tea. I survive on whole wheat wraps, peanut butter, raisins, bars of all kinds (protein, granola, energy, what have you), and hard cheese such as mozzarella or cheddar. My guilty pleasure is Nutella chocolate spread. I'm not the frugal hiker. In towns, I like to spend in restaurants and take-out. for me, paying NYC prices, food is cheap in the south and even in the most greasy-spoon diner now days you can have along with not-good-for-you cheese burger a decent salad. Take Damascus, the ultimate trail town, as example. In town you have a Dollar Store with mostly processed foods, but right outside of town you have a supermarket with fresh produce. The local diner has a nice selection of fresh, high quality salads along with their burgers and sandwiches. I do not know what is the resupply situation on other long distance trails (CDT, PCT), but on the AT, fresh foods is not that difficult to obtain (as long as you are willing to pay for a ride).

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    I did it on the PCT in 2016, it's a bit more expensive, but gives Much More Freedom to your Adventure!! On the AT it's much easier, you'll hit a road every 2-3 days & you wont need an overly stuffed feedbag
    Take Time to Watch the Trees Dance with The Wind.....Then Join In

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    Oops, I've been doing it wrong for over 3 decades...
    There is no right or wrong way or only a duality of choices. Lonehiker, I did write "That's determined by how we each soberly work out our hikes - HYOH. This is what we get to do on a hike - THINK for ourselves... instead of letting others make the choices for us." We don't need to despise or get snarky with that which we disagree.


    My responses are intended to cut off the immediate negativity of considering mailing resupply, at least some resupply by seeking solutions to the common issues people who don't mail cite.

  13. #33
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    I don't despise anything you write and now that you don't write 10,000 word responses I actually read much of what you post. I just think you over-think things. (maybe the smiley face thing will make me appear less snarky?)

    For the record I've mailed and bought as I went. Both work equally as well. But, I generally prefer to buy as I go. I would like to address one myth I see many perpetuate. That is the thought that you have to get tired of food that you compile from home, and mail, before the trip. I guarantee it is much easier to create a diverse menu from a well stocked grocery store in advance than it is to do this from some of the podunk little stores on the trail. Plus I find that I generally buy the same type items anyway. Luckily food isn't that big of a thing for me. I start my day with poptarts and end it with honey buns. What can get any better than that?
    Lonehiker

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Creature Feature View Post
    Thank you so much for the response. It's heartening to get such detailed/thoughtful opinions. It makes the whole process much less overwhelming to know that there is a community of experienced thru hikers that will share their experiences for the common good.

    It does seem that the consensus is that, buying food along the way, is certainly feasible albeit some careful planning would be advisable for those areas where good food is scarce.
    I would opine that as a senior hiker, we are often sending prescription drugs forward for resupply. Likewise, postage is required for resupply of other non-food resupply items. Thus adding food items to the box makes for more efficient/cost effective logistics and allows for "tailored" meals.
    I for one like to make soups with dehydrated meats (usually chicken), dehydrated mixed veggies and beans; then rotate different grains/pastas for a base (ramen/couscous/rices/spaghetti noodles/stovetop stuffing/ etc). I package each serving/meal in a sealable sandwich bag for mailing.

    Off course I won't turn down a good burger offtrail though . . .

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    If you are a pretty young thing, I guess people will stop for you. I'm neither pretty, nor young and I always pay for a shuttle.
    That's when it pays to limp.

  16. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    That's when it pays to limp.
    Or beg. I once watched cars for an hour come to an intersection, stop, turn onto the main road in the direction I wanted to go in and buzz right on by me. So, I finally had a moment of inspiration and went over to the corner with the side road. When the next car came by and stopped, I asked for a ride. It worked.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  17. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    There is no right or wrong way or only a duality of choices. Lonehiker, I did write "That's determined by how we each soberly work out our hikes - HYOH. This is what we get to do on a hike - THINK for ourselves... instead of letting others make the choices for us." We don't need to despise or get snarky with that which we disagree.


    My responses are intended to cut off the immediate negativity of considering mailing resupply, at least some resupply by seeking solutions to the common issues people who don't mail cite.
    Dogwood is right. Many people on this board immediately urge hikers to dismiss the idea of mailing packages to themselves for resupply. I believe Dogwood was simply saying that all options are as viable as the others depending on what one "values" for their resupply plan. He makes good points about the amount of time spent in town affecting the length of time hiking affecting the cost of the hike as well as the quality of the food one can resupply with.

    I think another spurious objection I see time after time is "variety." As in "how do you know what you will feel like eating months from now?" Most of us eat tge same few foods over and over again. A study done (geez must be over 20 years ago now) showed that the majority of people ate the same 6 meals over and over. I think this only applied to dinner but I don't recall. The point is, look at what the average hiker eats for months on end. It's the same things over and over even if they rotate through 2 or 3 different variations of the same thing. I have much more variety in my backpacking meals if you exclude breakfast. I like eggs for breakfast and I do have options like veg, breakfast sausage, salsa, cheese, etc in my eggs but they are still freeze dried eggs. Then I have at least 11 different freeze dried meals to choose from that I make myself. Add in nuts, seeds, and berries and fresh foods along the way and I have a better variety than most people do when they are at home. And every year I am figuring out ways to freeze dry and recreate new meals from home for the trail.

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  18. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Creature Feature View Post
    Thank you so much for the response. It's heartening to get such detailed/thoughtful opinions. It makes the whole process much less overwhelming to know that there is a community of experienced thru hikers that will share their experiences for the common good.

    It does seem that the consensus is that, buying food along the way, is certainly feasible albeit some careful planning would be advisable for those areas where good food is scarce.
    Personally I have found that I get cheaper rates for my freeze dried meals in non priority boxes as my meals are very light weight but somewhat bulky. I have not had problems with transit times but I also plan well ahead. I would absolutely use priority boxes if I had heavier items or absolutely needed something on shorter notice.

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    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

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