Assembling My PCT Resupply
I’ll be mailing myself 13 resupply boxes while I’m on the PCT, each packed with roughly five days of food. I’ve posted all of my resupply locations and addresses here, and in this post I’ll describe what’s in each box and how I put them all together.
Choosing and Labeling Boxes
I chose to send my packages using USPS large priority mail flat rate boxes, when possible. Everything that fits in the box will ship from Texas to the PCT for $18.90, no matter what the box weighs. Be sure to check the specific instructions offered by each resupply point; some accept only USPS, while others only take UPS or FedEx. Some will also have different addresses, depending on the shipping method you’re using. I ended up with 12 boxes to send USPS, and one to send UPS.
Each of my boxes is labeled with duct tape and my last name on all four sides. This might be a tiny bit of overkill, but it’ll help me be able to point mine out in stacks of other boxes. I used red and black duct tape, but any kind of tape or stickers would be helpful. Also, check the instructions for your resupply points, I know some require your name on all four sides and may charge you a fee if you don’t have it (Vermilion Valley Resort is one of them). Be sure to write your estimated date of arrival on all your resupply boxes.
I started by writing each resupply address on an index card, and then clipping the cards onto the priority mail boxes. I am not addressing the boxes yet, so that I can change my resupply points along the way if I need to. I also included any relevant special instructions on the index cards, because my mom will be the one addressing them and mailing them out. I’ve read conflicting advice about timing the shipment of boxes. USPS claims that it can ship from Texas to anywhere on the PCT in two to three days. Many of the previous PCT hiker blogs I’ve read say to allow about a week. Some trail angels and campgrounds who hold boxes will be driving to town to pick up packages from a PO box, which could add more time. I’m aiming to have my boxes sent seven to ten days before I plan to pick them up.
The Food I’m Sending
I bought only foods I liked, and only things I hoped not to get tired of. Realistically, I might hate it all by the time I’m opening up the Washington boxes. That’s part of the risk of buying resupply food ahead of time, but that’s alright. For me, I’d rather spend food money now while I’ve got it, so that even if my budget is tight by Washington, I know I’ll still be getting full boxes of food every 100 to 150 miles. I tried to choose a wide variety of food and snacks, so we’ll see how it goes.
Below is a list of everything I bought for my PCT resupply. I anticipate having to buy a few additional things in town, even in the places I’m sending boxes to. I’m admittedly not great at (or really even trying to) estimating exactly how many days I’ll have between mail stops, or exactly how much food I’ll want per day. I’m new at this; this is my first thru-hike. I know that my hiking pace will vary, and that my cravings might as well. So I’m not stressing about that part too much. I bought roughly $400 worth of food and split it evenly, aiming to have fiveish days of food in each box. I may change this a little as I go, or maybe it’ll work just fine.
In my resupply boxes I’ll be getting:
–Carnation Breakfast Essentials packets
–Instant coffee packets
–Propel Water packets
–MiO water flavoring, some with electrolytes and some with caffeine
–Pop-Tarts, mostly the dessert and berry ones
–Small jars of peanut butter, Nutella, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Spread
–Nutter Butter cookies
–Tuna packets, some plain and some flavored
–Instant mashed potato packets, all flavors
–Knorr Pasta Sides, all flavors except the broccoli ones
–Ramen noodles, all flavors
–Dehydrated refried beans
–Dehydrated backpacker meals, just a few scattered throughout
–Potato soup mix
–Peanut Butter M&Ms
–Clearance shelf Valentine’s candy, including conversation hearts and Fun Dip
–Seasoning packets, including taco, fajita, enchilada, and chili seasoning
–Powdered sauce packets, including hollandaise, ranch, and spaghetti sauce
Not every box has everything, and the quantities in each vary slightly. I added a little extra food in the boxes bound for the Sierra and Washington. In those places the weather might be crappy and that could potentially slow my pace, so extra food might be nice.
I really have no idea how this is going to go. I really don’t have any cooking skills at home, let alone backcountry cooking skills. I’ve used my Jetboil once to make ramen indoors, so I’m not sure that quite counts. As with all things PCT, I did the research to know what I’m in for, but I’m mostly winging it. I researched PCT stuff for a year and have barely scratched the surface. So if you have any specific tips or trail cooking experience, feel free to comment below.
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