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Pfeiffer "Pfeisty" Brookes
City: Palm Springs
Begins: Apr 30, 2011
Date: Thu, Mar 1st, 2012
Trip Distance: 729.0
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Re-Supply Notes and Comments
About this time of year, former thru-hikers come down with a syndrome known as Spring Fever, and I got it real bad. I need to keep reminding myself that I am NOT HIKING THE TRAIL this year. Of course I'd love to do it again, but I need to work so I can pay off my last adventure.
Anyway, I was jotting down notes for myself on resupply, and thought I might as well share it here. There is no right or wrong way to do resupply. These comments are just my preference if (when) I thru-hike again:
Campo: If you go to Kickoff (and you should), there is no reason why you would want a supply box here. However, if you are starting earlier or later than kickoff, then it is possible you might need a box here. I didn't see any need for it.
Mt. Laguna: You could easily manage without resupply here, but I did it anyway to help keep pack weight down in the beginning. The camp store there is limited and expensive. The post office is right next door to the store and lodge. I sent a box to the post office. Plus, if you leave from kickoff, you can be almost guaranteed it will be the middle of the week and post office will be open.
Warner Springs: Staying at the ranch resort is a no-brainer and the first really awesome hiker friendly place to stay. Send yourself a package to to Ranch if your staying there (and you should), or send it to the post office which is right nearby. There is a gas station mini-mart across the street with chips and soda and some resupply stuff, but better to mail a package. The golf clubhouse across the street from the ranch has decent breakfast and lunch.
Idyllwild: This town is a side hike away from the trail, but it is one of the really fun trail towns, so well worth the trip. There is a full supermarket here walking distance from everything in town. I would purchase my resupply stuff there rather than send a box.
Cabazon: I don't know why anyone would want to resupply again just one day north of Idyllwild. Cabazon post office is rather far away, and nothing in walking distance. Skip this and go straight through to Big Bear.
Big Bear: Interesting outdoorsy town, but unfortunately everything is spread out. There is a full supermarket here, if your willing to hitch or take the bus. Send a box to the main post office if you want to grab your box and go as close as possible to the trail. If you want to stay in town, I would recommend the adventure hostel. In this case I would make a little trip from the hostel and resupply from the supermarket. You could also send a box to the hostel, or to the BIGBEAR LAKE post office, which is a short walk from the hostel. Be careful, Big Bear has two post offices! I got the wrong one, but its not that big a deal to fix once you get there.
Cajon Pass: A trip to McDonalds here is almost a given. Play your cards right and it might be your first calorie-break-even day. There is a gas station mini mart but I wouldn't plan on resupplying out of there. Best Western across the street will take you package if your staying overnight. Alternatively, I think you could defintely go from Big Bear to Wrightwood without resupply (just a pit stop at McDonalds). If you need REI, it is about half an hour down the interstate.
Wrightwood: It's a side hike off the trail, but a really neat little town, and very hiker friendly, so well worth the trip. There is a full grocery store here, so I would definitely buy my resupply stuff there. The motels are unnecessarily expensive - avoid them. Instead, go to the hardware store - they have a trail register and info on trail angels who will help you out.
Agua Dulce: A stop at the Saufley's is basically mandatory, they are wonderful. But there is a full grocery store here, so I would buy my resupply stuff here. If you need to send other stuff you can still send a box to the Saufleys and it will be there waiting for you. If you need REI, this is your last good chance.
Andersons/Casa de Luna: this is a fun place to visit. The Andersons are very kind and generous. I didn't see any need to resupply here. It's just a place to stop off and visit. Getting there is easy, but plan to walk back to the trail if you intend to maintain any kind of schedule. I walked back to the trail and it really wasn't bad at all.
Hikertown: This is a funky little place in the middle of nowhere. Very useful place to send yourself a box. It's right across the street from where the trail crosses the road so no reason not to stop by here and get laundry and a shower too.
Tehachapi/Mojave/Onyx: Your going to need resupply at one of these places, and none of them are convenient. This was one of the hardest resupply to figure out. Tehachapi has local trail angels and they post phone numbers at the trail head. I went to Tehachapi and sent myself a box there, I got there on a Sunday so it wasted alot of time. Onyx was least attractive of the three, so I figured I'd go only if I run out of food (which I didn't).
Kennedy Meadows: This is basically a mandatory resupply and the last chance to take care of anything before the high sierra. Pretty much everyone sends themselves a few boxes here. It costs a couple dollars to pick up from the general store, but totally worth it. Double check the addresses as there are two Kennedy Meadows. If they tell you you sent it to the wrong place, be patient and ask them to look again. Laundry is the bottleneck here so sign up early or you'll be there for 3 days.
Now comes the tricky part, resupply through the High Sierra:
Lone Pine: You could get there via horseshoe meadow or the east side of Whitney (Whitney Portal, which requires a permit). This is just a day or 2 up the trail from KM so I skipped it.
Independence: Get there via Kearsarge Pass. Rather a long haul up and over, but it was my first time through the sierra so I figured I better resupply somewhere. Send yourself a box to the post office. Courthouse motel is across the street and perfectly fine. Last year (2011) there was trail angels (Uber abd Brittlecone) at Onion Valley trail head, which was a major help (thank you SO much). I think trying to hitch here would probably suck.
Bishop: Hike out over Bishop Pass. I skipped this and figured I would use it only if I run out of food (which I didn't). If your going to hike over a pass for resupply, I thought independence was the lesser of two evils.
Muir Trail Ranch: This is the closest to where you would want a resupply if you could have it wherever you want. Any resupply you choose in the sierra will cost you either money or effort. They have specific packaging requirements so research it. If your very early in the season they might not be open (won't be an issue in 2012). I didn't seriously consider Muir Ranch for resupply in 2011 because of the package fee, however, at least you know how much it is going to cost. It would have been cheaper overall compaired to vermillion. If I decide to use a resupply in the sierra next time, I will probably do it at Muir.
Vermillion: This place is a classic rip-off and they know they have you by the short ones if you wind up here. I went there in 2011 but will definitely go out of my way to avoid it in the future. If it's your first time through the sierra, you might want to just eat your pride and go on in there. You will be needing any service you can get at this point. If you decide to go here, keep in mindyou will probably still need to go to Mammoth a couple days ahead.
Reds Meadow/Mammoth: you could get a box at Red's, but the shuttle bus down the hill to mammoth is super quick and easy. You body and gear will probably need lots of service by the time you get here, so go to town in Mammoth. It's an expensive ski town, but you'll still get much more for your money than at Vermillion. There is full supermarket and anything else you could want (but not REI). Free trolley transportation.
Next time I go through the Sierra, I will seriously consider trying to go from Kennedy Meadows all the way to Mammoth in one shot. You need to be a fast strong hiker to do this. I wasn't willing to try it my first time though, and particularly not with the big snow in 2011. You will be eating ridiculous amounts of food through here and you will still loose weight like a sieve. The bear can makes it logistically difficult. I probably would bring a fishing pole through here next time as well.
Tuolomne Meadows: post office is a short walk from the trail. you can get a package here, but it gets sent through Yosemite Valley post office to here, so it takes longer. Also it opens late in season if there is a lot of snow (2012 will be no problem). There is a little camp store same place as the post office, good for a snack.
Northern Kennedy Meadows: at Sonora pass, the hitch down there is a pain, but you really have no other choice. They will hold a box for you for a fee (totally worth it). They will also tell you you sent it to the wrong kennedy meadows. Be patient and ask them to look again. There is a camp store here but very expensive. definitely send a box. You can get a decent meal at the resturant, plus shower and laundry.
Echo Lake/South Lake Tahoe: You can get a box literally on the trail at the post office in Echo Lakes. You can also get a sandwich and an awesome milkshake there, then continue north on the trail - in and out in 1 hour (but no shower or laundry). Unless you have a burning desire to go to South Lake Tahoe, I would definitely skip it next time. I found it to be a difficult hitch.
Sierra City: send yourself a box to the Red Moose, they will take good care of you there, you will camp there and eat there too - great place. Post office and a little store are across the street. Store is expensive but good sandwiches. I just walked to and from the trail it is not that far. Getting cash in these little towns is a continuous problem on the trail. Be sure to carry some cash out with you from places like Mammoth and Ashland.
Belden: this is near the trail and can get a ride from trail angels. Restaurant at Belden-Town is right on the trail. Send a box to the Post Office. It's confusing when you read about it, but you'll figure it out no problem when you get there.
Chester: I didn't resupply here, but this is an option because there is a trail angel there (piper's mom), she was super-helpful.
Drakesbad: this is right on the trail and a great place to stop. I sent a box here which worked well. One of the best meals here and the hot pool. Short walk to nearby campground.
Old Station: there is a post office here, a short walk from the trail, but you won't need resupply here if you do Drakebad. The "Resort" is actually a very dumpy low end trailer park. In no way shape or form could this be misconstrued as a "resort". It was also far the worst food I had on the entire trail. In fact, it may be the worst hamburger I ever had in my life. Definitely skip it. How can you mess up a hamburger??
Burney Falls: The camp store is not far from the trail, but the signs are totally useless, and you'll probably wander in circles for a while like I did. Sending a box here is the way to go. Also can get a shower for quarters from the store, but no laundery that I found.
Dunsmuir/Castella: you'll probably need resupply here. Castella post office is a shorter walk but still rather far and an impossible hitch. The food store there is nothing much. I wound up going to Dunsmuir anyway. There is a medium sized market in Dunsmuir - I would go there and buy my resupply stuff and not bother with a box. Hitching to Dunsmuir was easy.
Etna: you could manage without resupply at Etna, but it is such a cute little town you should go there anyway.
Seiad Valley: The trail goes right past the store/cafe/post office so no reason not to pop in. Store is small and a little expensive. I would send a box. I happened to get there on a Sunday and the post office was closed, so I bought some resupply food in the store (the box would have been much cheaper).
Ashland/Callahan's: Callahans is a short walk from the trail and a great hiker friendly place. Eat in the resturaunt, shower and laundry. Ashland has all stores you might need (other than REI), but they are not walking distance from Callahan's. I would send myself a box to Callahans and take a 24 hour mini break there, then get right back on the trail.
There are lots of resupply possibilities through Oregon, but I tried to do less towns and longer stretches to speed up and save time.
Mazama: campground and overpriced AYCE resturaunt (brass decor and plants don't make the food taste better) you'll still eat there though and probably get your money's worth. Send a box to the little store, you can get a shower and laundry there too.
Elk Lake: I went 5 days straight to Lake for next resupply. Short walk from the trail. Basic restaurant, and they will help you with shower and laundry. Definitely send yourself a box.
Timberline: I did another 5 day stretch from Elk Lake to Timberline. AYCE at the timberline lodge, very delicious and fancy nice. Send a box to the Wy-east store a short walk from the lodge. I paid for a room, but if I did it again I would stelth camp over by the trail and just hang out at the lodge.
Cascade Locks: Pacific Crest pub is across the street from the post office. either is fine for your box. I didn't find a grocery store here. standard pub food and good beer.
I tired to make it crom Cascade Locks all the way to White Pass, and I wasn't even close. I was almost totally out of food before Trout Lake. The trail starts getting more rugged again.
Trout Lake: you need to hitch there but it is not a bad little place. mini-store, I would definitely send a box. Basic restaurant with huckleberry milkshakes. I stayed at the B&B it was nice and they gave me a good hiker discount, and copious hiker-portioned breakfast.
White Pass: send a box to the Kracker Barrel, you can get a few snacks in there too. You'll probably be wet and cold and want to rent a room.
Snoqualmie Pass: The Summit motel was horribly uncomfortable, they give hikers this crappy room with broken HVAC. I literally left the room to camp outside, it was that bad. Send a box to the chevron and buy some snacks there. If you need REI, there is one about half-an hour away on the interstate (hitch of course).
Stevens Pass: You will need resupply here for sure. Dinsmores are totally awesome, definitely go there. It's far from the trail, but surprisingly it was one of the easiest hitches. You need to regroup and get everything straight because the next section is hard.
Stehekin: you need resupply here and a box to the post office is the only way to go. Take the shuttle bus from the trail at High Bridge. laundry shower phone and restaurant. Pig out at the bakery.
Your going to be totally bored with your boxed food, so make use of the towns with grocery stores whenever you can (rather than a box).
You don't need every resupply place, some are necessary but many are optional depending how you plan.
Hiker hunger will kick in but it was much later than I expected and consequently, I had too much food in the beginning (common problem for first timers).
You need more food (fats especially) to stay warm when you are cold and wet (Sierra and Northern Washington).
Dang, this trail is really long - I can't believe how long it took to write this!
If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me and I'll try to answer for you.
Pfeiffer's Pacific Crest Trail Journey
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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