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  1. #1
    Registered User Fog Horn's Avatar
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    Default Mail Drop Regrets?

    If you resupplied yourself primarily through mail drops on your thru-hike, did you regret it?

    I know the standard arguments against mail drops, primarily having to time town stops, needing a support system at home, and not knowing what you'll want to eat while on trail for six months... But I'm looking for reflection from hikers who experienced the AT using mail drops and if they would do it again or if they regret it and why.

    Thank you to everyone!

  2. #2
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    I used mail drops a few times while section hiking. My only regret is not realizing that a U.S. Post office may not accept packages from UPS. I learned this the hard way after arriving in Caratunk, ME and finding my package was not at the PO. So my advice is you need to consider the possibility that your package may not be there (for various reasons) and have a Plan B.

  3. #3
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    I regret not sending more packages to post offices using the general delivery addressing. My hikes are LASH's of as many as 700 miles. However a couple of times, I had to cut the hike short. Those packages I sent to hostels, motels, etc either cost me a great deal of money to retrieve or were not returned at all with a loss of as much as $80 in food and supplies. With PO general delivery, the PO will return the package to the sender if it is not picked up and there is no additional cost.

    As for sending packages in general, I have no regrets. I thru-hiked the Colorado Trail this summer and the little towns and even the larger ones had limited selections of trail food and it was expensive. I know because I checked to see if I should have just resupplied locally.
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  4. #4

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    Prefer the hybrid approach to mail drops. Getting foods prepackaged that meet your personal preferences is a moral booster on the trail, and the fact that it saves prepackaging time is a bonus (e.g. Monson, ME). The majority of my resupplies were buy on the go, and this worked out well.

    There were two negative experiences for me, 1) a package that took an abnormally long time to reach its destination and 2) arriving in a town on a Saturday just missing the PO and remembering the following Monday was a minor holiday. Tuesday felt like an eternity. Making a hiking plan around PO hours can be stressful.

    For me, the hybrid plan is the best of both worlds. YMMV

  5. #5

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    I used mail drops to general delivery, even one to Mt Washington. Most of my food I purchased on the trail.

  6. #6
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    Default

    I used mail drops the whole way, although I did the AT in four six-seven week sections. I preferred mail drops so I could ensure the quality of my daily dehydrated suppers. I refuse to eat Knorr Sides and mashed potatoes for supper

    I spent the winters dehydrating my meals, or would buy them from Hawk Vittles (the best IMHO). I made chili Mac, BBQ spaghetti, shrimp jambalaya. I love the Hawk Vittles Hot Italian Sausage & Pasta, Clam Vermicelli, and Cashew Curry.

    I sent a box for three to six day pick ups. That may sound like a lot but I could easily control the amount of food to carry.

    I very seldom used U.S. post offices because I never knew what time or which day I would show up. I always tried to send them to hostels, once I called and confirmed it was OK.

    I also made up a daily dry drink mix to go with supper. A concoction of protein powder, chocolate powder, superfood reds and greens, flaxseed, ground Chia seed, and Nido powdered milk. 900 calories. I carried an empty 28 oz. size peanut butter jar to shake it up in.

    I also used my drop boxes to send toilet paper, olive oil, some daily snacks, hand sanitizer, and my daily breakfasts of cereal, freeze dried fruit, pecans, and Nido.

    Never had to make a side trip into town to get food.


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  7. #7
    Registered User Fog Horn's Avatar
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    Default

    I would have thought the opposite world ring true, Idsailor! Like, the hostels and whatnot have longer hours and are more likely to be open on holidays. That's a really interesting point though. A hostel or outfitter won't bump the box forward or send it home.

  8. #8
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fog Horn View Post
    I would have thought the opposite world ring true, Idsailor! Like, the hostels and whatnot have longer hours and are more likely to be open on holidays. That's a really interesting point though. A hostel or outfitter won't bump the box forward or send it home.
    Sending a provision box to other than the PO usually works out great if you get to the hostel, hotel, etc. This year I sent a package to a hotel, which I thought was close to Salida, CO. It wasn't. The hotel was 15 miles in the opposite direction from the trailhead. Also, the hotel was in the middle of nowhere with nothing around it. Bad planning on my part. I was able to hitchhike to the hotel and then back to Salida (a round trip of about 25 miles), so I saved the provisions. Had I not caught a ride with a generous driver, I probably would have not retrieved the box and thus lost about $70 in provisions.

    I never had a problem with timing a pickup since I usually schedule a zero day when I go into town. So, if I get in late on a Saturday, I zero Sunday and pickup the box Monday on the way out of town. Works well. I take a few more zeros than most hikers, but that is by design. I like to look around the towns and I'm in no hurry.
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  9. #9
    imscotty's Avatar
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    ldsailor gives good advice. The USPS has treated me well forwarding late packages or returns at my request.

    I have used mail drops very selectively. I like to keep my options open.
    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


    John Greenleaf Whittier

  10. #10

    Default

    Using general delivery has some advantages. The post office is secure. The box will be kept for 30 days. It can be forwarded without extra postage even a bounce box that hasn't been opened. If you don't make it the box will be returned after 30 days. I am a big fan of flat rate boxes, they even give you the box.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fog Horn View Post
    I would have thought the opposite world ring true, Idsailor! Like, the hostels and whatnot have longer hours and are more likely to be open on holidays. That's a really interesting point though. A hostel or outfitter won't bump the box forward or send it home.
    Any package can simply be marked RTS (return to sender) and there is no charge. It does take a while sometimes to get them back.
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  12. #12
    AT 10,000 Miler
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    Any package can simply be marked RTS (return to sender) and there is no charge.
    Not if you it sent it UPS or FedEx. That return to sender only works for USPS mail.

  13. #13
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PennyPincher View Post
    Any package can simply be marked RTS (return to sender) and there is no charge. It does take a while sometimes to get them back.
    No - not always. When I strained a hamstring and had to leave the trail in Maine last year, I lost a package at a hostel and another at a hostel cost me $30 to retrieve. The post offices would not accept them as "return to sender." The hostels and I tried.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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  14. #14
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by swjohnsey View Post
    Using general delivery has some advantages. The post office is secure. The box will be kept for 30 days. It can be forwarded without extra postage even a bounce box that hasn't been opened. If you don't make it the box will be returned after 30 days. I am a big fan of flat rate boxes, they even give you the box.
    This year the Durango, Colorado post office held a general delivery package 40 days for me. I called them from the trail and asked them to do it and gave them an ETA. They said no problem and the package was waiting for me when I arrived. Not every post office will do this but those on hiking trails usually do a little extra to accommodate hikers.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
    "One step at a time."
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