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Brian "Gadget" Lewis
Begins: Feb 25, 2010
Date: Wed, Sep 16th, 2009
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For my PCT trip in 2008 I had a whopping 32 resupply boxes mailed to me on the trail, plus one more that I picked up at home. That's more than is recommended, and more than I'd go with if I were to do it again, but it actually didn't work out all that badly.
For the AT, I plan to go a lot more minimal in mailed resupply boxes --- my current plan is to have just five. Partly just from (and with, using) the experience of doing a long trail already, partly due to the fact that resupply is overall easier on the AT with many more trail towns on or close to the trail. Also because it maximizes my flexibility --- it can be a PITA to arrive at a trail town just after the post office closes before a weekend, potentially resulting in stopping there longer than desired. Or a person could find themselves forced to go into a particular town that they otherwise wouldn't choose to, perhaps causing a split with good hiking partners --- just a lot of potential hassle and frustration. And of course, less boxes means less work for my wife to mail these, and fewer times that she or someone has to be home and get my box in the mail, and less chances for a box to be lost in the mail or delayed.
You can click on the planner link at the side of any of these journal entries to see the (boxes mailed to) resupply locations I'm currently planning on, with a brief reason given for the selection of each.
I think 5 boxes is close or at a bare minimum of what I need. I take a daily blood pressure medication, along with a multi-vitamin, Omega-3 fish pill, and a baby aspirin (family history of heart attack). Three out of four of those can be purchased along the way, but typically in large quantities, and I don't use a bounce box --- so I don't want resupply boxes more than about 30 days travel apart (a 30 day supply is normally what my pharmacy will provide, though perhaps I could push for more if this was the only gating factor).
(for definition of the term "bounce box" or other AT terms, see the AT Glossary)
I also need to replace my shoes periodically; I reckon on roughly 500 miles or so per pair. I think I'll start with a pretty well used pair just to my first resupply point (first couple of weeks) and as a guess use "four plus" pairs of shoes for the trip.
More boxes would give me a better ability to carry exactly what I want at more points, but per above, at the cost of flexibility and more work & schedule limitations on my spouse. So apart from what I get in these (tentatively five) boxes, I'll buy what I need from quite a number of various types of stores along the way.
How did I pick the number of days estimate between resupply boxes? Someone posted a hypothetical schedule for hiking the whole (AT) trail at an approximately 15 mile per day pace (some days more, some less, but averaging about 15). This seems to fit my schedule requirements rather well, and looks to have been thought through pretty carefully --- good at least for a first approximation. Ultimately, my wife will mail boxes based on my periodic reports of where I'm at and how I'm doing.
Last comment is that I didn't factor in zero or nero days in the food planning. Generally speaking, I reckon that if I'm taking time off the trail then I'm eating local "town food" while I'm there, so such time doesn't cut into my supply of food to sustain me on the trail itself.
Gadget's AT Journal
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is more than 2,175-mile long footpath stretching through 14 eastern states from Maine to Georgia. Conceived in 1921 and first completed in 1937, it traverses the wild, scenic, wooded, pastoral, and culturally significant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Learn more: www.appalachiantrail.org
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