Please keep in mind this is what I did for my trip. Based on my experience and desire to have more control, I would not do my food again using solely mail drops, but it worked. To determine the number of bags I was to send to myself throughout the trail, I divided the (number of miles between each mail drop location including road miles from trail to mail drops)/(by the number of miles I think I could average a day). The first two supplies (first 6 days) was based on a 13-mile average days, while the rest of the supply was based on a 20-mile average days.
|Supply #||Mail Drop Location||Mile Mark||Bags of Food|
|0||Starting Point – Amicalola Falls||-8.8||3|
|1||Neel’s Gap – Mountain Crossings||31.4||3|
|2||Dick Creek Gap – Top of Georgia Hostel||69.6||3|
|3||Nantahala Outdoor Center||137.1||1|
|4||Fontana Village, NC||164.7||4|
|5||Green Corner Road – Standing Bear Farm||241||2|
|6||Hot Springs, NC||274.4||4|
|8||Roan Mountain, TN||393.8||2|
|16||Big Island, VA||784.6||4|
|19||Harpers Ferry, WV||1022.7||2|
|21||Boiling Springs, PA||1121.3||1|
|23||Port Clinton, PA||1217.1||4|
|24||Delaware Gap, PA||1293.4||3|
|31||Williamstown, MA – The Willow Motel||1592.6||3|
|32||Manchester Center, VT||1651.1||3|
|33||VT 100 – Basecamp Outfitter||1700.9||2|
|Katahdin (End of trail)||2189|
Organizing Hike with Mail Drops
– More control over money: Knowledge of food prices prior. Opportunity to save money buying in bulk too.
|– Less control over what you want to eat: Your cravings will change.|
– Priority Shipping: If you send your food as priority shipping to a Post Office, you can bounce your food north (or south) without extra charge in person or with a phone call.
|– Support Needed: Need of a reliable person to send your packages of food.|
|– Money Spent: You do not need to worry about running out of money on trail if you already bought everything you need prior.||– Shipping costs are pricey: It very much depends on where your reliable person lives, but make sure you know how much money to leave aside for them.|
|– Preplanned food: You don’t need to put in the time on trail to plan and shop.||– Undesirable foods will go to waste: I could no longer stand, granola, bacon bits, and the non-original flavors of mashed potatoes.|
|– Post Office Hours: Post Office hours are limited and can influence your day-to-day pace.|
|Possibility of Not Finishing: You lose the freedom of spending as you hike.|
- Have your reliable person send your packages via priority mail so in the case you for instance do not need to stop or land in town on a Saturday after post office hours (Post offices are closed Sundays), you will have the ability to (‘bounce’) call to request to send your mail drop up to another destination north or south for later.
- Be sure to have a list of all your addresses for each mail drop on your person. I personally saved the addresses to an Excel Spread sheet on my Dropbox (cloud storage app) and saved it for offline use.
- If you plan to bounce your mail drop north/south, be sure to send it to another location that also requires the same amount of food.