Planning a resupply strategy is extremely tedious, time consuming, and incredibly important unless you’ve found a way to survive via photosynthesis. Since it is physically impossible to carry all the food necessary for a 5 month thru-hike resupplying periodically is necessary. There are a few ways to go about doing a resupply. Mail food to yourself ahead of time, buy as you come across towns, or a combination of the two.
Mail drops involve buying food ahead of time and then utilizing your official Resupply Technician (probably your loving and worried mother) to mail your food package to a Post Office, hiker friendly business, or a Trail Angel. Buying ahead of time allows you to potentially save some money by buying in bulk and also avoid the markup prices of some small towns along the trail. Some places along the trail will not be possible to buy food for a resupply. The biggest problem with mail drops is having to follow a schedule to pick up your resupply and possibly having to wait days for a Post Office to open on a Monday morning because you got to town Friday evening and they aren’t open on Saturday.
Buy as you go
Buy as you go simply means buying food when come across or hitch into towns along the PCT. This allows more flexibility in your hiking schedule and more variety in your trail diet. Peanut Butter Chocolate Cliff bars may sound good at home but by your 20th bar in 10 days the packaging alone may disgust you. Buying as you go lets you have more variety and not have to force the same crappy food you’ve been eating for the last thousand miles down your throat. As mentioned above sometimes trail towns are so tiny that they have to put heavy markups on their items or your only option is a convenience store that only has Snickers and potato chips. Mmmm… Breakfast of hikers.
This is the strategy I will be utilizing. I didn’t want to be tied down to a schedule of making sure I can pickup my food before a Post Office closes and I also didn’t want to show up to a store only to find those bastard hikers ahead of me cleaned out the store already and left me with banana flavored protein bars and that hot dog on the heating roller that’s been sneezed on for who knows how long. I utilized a combination of Yogi’s town guide and planyourhike.com resupply summaries. This gave me a good guess of whether I would be able to buy from stores in town or if I’d be better off with a mail drop.
Below is my resupply strategy with my proposed dates of when I think I’ll get to trail towns. It has whether I will buy or mail and if I do mail it has the address and contact information for where I’ll be sending my mail drop. I’ve also set it up so that as my official Resupply Technician is following along on my progress she’ll be able to update the date that I actually arrived to a town which will then update the estimated arrival dates further down the trail. Feel free to download or make your own Google Sheets copy.