8 Thoughts on Appreciating Your Resupply Buddy

Let’s hear it for Resupply Buddies. They are often the silent partner in your thru-hike. For some crazy reason, they have let you rope them into 4-5 months of devoting lots of their precious time thinking about your hike, your needs, your logistics, your location. They store your boxes in their dining room, they brave multiple post office trips, they let you fill their calendars with sticky note reminders to send what box when; they even somehow manage to survive your countless hours of talking gear. And if your Resupply Buddy is your significant other, like mine is, then they are also the ones taking care of the bills, the animals, the kids, the house. They are keeping the day-to-day alive and healthy, so you have something to come back to. I’m amazed that my husband is willing to offer such support for me, to let me go follow my dream, even though it means he will live alone for the summer. I try to keep this in mind when I get caught up in the whirlwind of planning my thru-hike. Here are some thoughts on properly tending to our Resupply Buddies.

  1. Slather on the Accolades

Our Re-bud deserves a lot of gratitude, even well ahead of the actual thru hike. I try to thank mine as much as I can. My Re-bud is my sounding board while I plan; he is forced to listen to me dissect all the pros and cons of a Zpacks tent vs. a Big Agnes tent. He will nod politely as I examine all the minutia involved with buying a pair of trail runners. He doesn’t bat an eye when I approach the subject of choosing a start date like it’s a deep philosophical puzzle. I can wax romantic for hours about the appeal of trail life. When I think about how often I’ve made him look at pctplanner.net, or read the volatile and meandering threads posted on the PCT FB page, or all the articles pertaining to backpacking that I send him, I cringe. And then I say, thanks.

It’s also important to not just say thanks, but to really acknowledge the grunt work they are taking on, just because they happen to like you. My Re-bud is basically saying, “Sure, go ahead, quit your job for 4 months and have an adventure of a lifetime. I’ll just stay home and toil away, feeding our cats and dog, cleaning the house, paying the bills, binging on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and, oh yeah…. live alone all summer.” I try to make sure that he knows that I know that he is incredibly awesome for this. His support is what makes it possible, so I am vocally glad and I am loudly thankful.

  1. There is No I in Team

This thru-hike you’re about to do is so fantastic, and I say share that fantastic with your Re-bud. Think team-mate instead of chore-mate. Sure you need them to do some tedious stuff for you…. stand in line, buy last minute socks, head net and Tiger’s Balm, drive to and from a remote trailhead. But there are ways let your Re-bud part of the more fun aspects of planning. Ask them on an over-nighter to test out gear with you, or go on training hikes. Sample trail food together. I needed my Re-bud to come pick me up at several places, so I would entice him by telling him he would experience SHH: Sympathy Hiker Hunger, meaning he could eat whatever he wanted in a trail town- guilt free. There’s giant pancakes in Seiad Valley, I added. Soon enough, he was looking forward to driving out and picking me up at trailheads.

It could be that your Resupply buddy would prefer to be left alone about all this hiking crap. They are fine with helping you out, but would rather not have to listen or participate in any of it. They just want to send you cookies and not have to think about it. That’s fine, too. Sometimes showing appreciation is as simple as letting your Re-bud off the planning merry-go-round.

  1. Be a Prepper

Taking a cue from #2, it would be supremely helpful to have as much of your resupply prep taken care of before you pass it off to your Re-bud. Stock as much food as you can ahead of time. Get those extra socks, Dirty Girl Gaiters, Sunscreen, and smashed rolls of T.P. in those boxes now, don’t leave it for your Re-bud to figure out what goes where. Become friends with making lists. A list of special treats you wouldn’t mind finding in your box. A list of extra, miscellaneous, and “Plan B” gear items (bonus if you color code, matching the gear item to the name on the list) and where to find them. Put all the resupply addresses on the boxes yourself, and make sure they have a list of those addresses, including phone numbers. Get a calendar and mark when you think you will be at a certain place, and when you think they should send the resupply. Give them your itinerary, even if most likely you will be off-way off. It still helps your Re-bud to see all of this visually. Pay for postage. Say thank you, thank you, thank you.

  1. Time Flies When Adventure Begins

If your Re-bud is someone you usually spend a lot of time with, they might get lonely and/or low while you are out traipsing across the land. Invite them to have their own adventure while you are gone! Maybe they can’t join you on your hike, but they can challenge themselves in some other way. I personally tried to influence my Re-bud to do something that was physical and demanding, so that when he picked me up at the end of the trail, we would both have major accomplishments-and healthier bodies- to share and compare. He decided to do something new and kind of out of his reach- a marathon. Now we both had a major goal to focus on, and a success that we would each earn alone, but celebrate together.

An adventure for your Re-bud doesn’t need to be physical, but it should be big! Something that will put them to the test and give them what your thru hike will give you.

  1. Postcards From the Edge

Seriously. Postcards are a great idea. It’s kind of sweet to let your Re-bud know you are thinking of them. After all, you’ve forced them to have to think about you on a regular basis. Pictures are great, too, if they are specifically for your Re-bud. Agreeing to Instagram (or whatever) each other a photo once a day is fun and inclusive. Accruing stamps, or beer labels, or other small paper-oriented items from the towns you pass could work, too, especially if your Buddy is the collector-type. There is a well-known thru who saves her Cliff Bar wrappers for her nephews. Neat.

If your Re-bud is your life partner or parent, they may want you to take an In-Reach or Spot. I say do it for them. Let them hear from you if they need to. It’s the least you can do, and means a lot to them.

  1. Lessons from Survivor

Anyone who watches Survivor knows that there is a segment where the contestants can win a visit from their loved ones. This happens usually about 30 days in on a 39-day stint on a miserable island with no food or sleep and everything that happens feels heightened and dramatic. The loved ones come and spend a day on this island with the lucky contestant, who proceeds to assault their loved one with a wild-eyed monologue of everything that has happened; every twist and turn and summarization of friend and foe comes tumbling out at a manic rate, and the loved one just kind of stands there, nodding as if they have any idea what the contestant is talking about.

A thru-hiker can feel similar to what that contestant feels. If you are going to have your Resupply Buddy pick you up, or drop you off, or visit you in town, it would be a truly gracious act to go out of your way to not treat them like they are a loved one on the game of Survivor. Give them the conch. Let them tell you about that lame co-worker or how the cat won’t stop vomiting on the stove. They probably need to vent as much as you do. And they don’t have the awesome trail adventure to bolster their spirits like you do. Give them your attention so they know it wasn’t worthless to follow your hike thus far. Hell yeah, you need to get to a shower and a burger joint ASAP, but you can manage to share the spotlight. Keep your Resupply Buddy happy! (Trail Town BONUS: If your Resupply Buddy is also a Friend with Benefits, now would be a good time to cash in. Or pay out.)

  1. It’s a Hard Knock Life

If you live with your Re-bud, like I do, consider all the chores and upkeep they have done the 4-5 months you’ve been gone. When you get home, you are going to want to hibernate, for good reason. civilian life will be a shock to your system. You will have a lot to mull over and may not want to do things like go back to work. Or pick up the dog poop in the yard. It would be a grand gesture to take over the things your Re-bud has been doing alone this whole time to. Do the laundry. Cook dinner. Clean the cat box and sweep the floors. Run a few errands. It will feel good to stretch your legs anyway, and you can stop at the Taco Truck on your way home. Recognize that your Re-bud has created their own new routine, just like you created yours on the trail. There will probably be bumps to smooth out. Participating in the mundane daily activities will go a long way to show that you appreciate all that they have done to keep everything running, and that you still place importance in it, even if you might have lifestyle questions to figure out for the future.

  1. Pay it Forward

Now that you’ve made it home safely, and have readjusted to life off trail, it’s time to support your Re-bud the way that they supported you. You are now their “Resupply Buddy” for a big endeavor they are undertaking. For me, that means I support my husband while he writes a book. And, in order to bargain a thru-hike in 2016, I told him that I would not stand in his way if he wants to make a documentary. About Ska. Sigh. I may not like Ska, and filming documentaries are a nuisance, but I bet he would rather I picked something other than hiking long distances to be over the moon about. C’est la vie.

I’m sure there are things your Re-bud has been wanting to achieve. Be their helper. Return the favor. Maybe you’ll get postcards.

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