Tuesday, August 09, 2016

AT Section Hike 2016 - Resupply

Food is heavy. So there's no way I'm going to try and carry 11 days worth of food with me when I start the trip. With only a few exceptions the AT hiker can count on having a reliable resupply point at least every three to four days when they're on the trail. So planning becomes a calculation about how how much weight you want to carry versus how much you want to stop.
Several days worth of hiker chow.

As a rule of thumb I've found that carrying a three to four day supply of food works well. My first step in planning is to sketch out a menu plan for each portion of the hike between my resupply stops -- how many breakfasts, how many lunches, how many dinners, plus snacks, drink mix, and that ever-important jar of peanut butter I hold in reserve.

The second step is to decide where to resupply, and how to do it. Option one is buying food at a trail town along the way. On this trip I'll be stopping in Hot Springs on Day 4. Hot Springs is a well-equipped trail town, with a grocery store, lodging, laundromat, and bars. A perfect spot to stay the night to resupply, clean up, and regroup.
The AT runs through the heart of Hot Springs

Moving south from Hot Springs is the challenge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. GSMNP starts about two hiking days south of Hot Springs, and will probably take me five days to traverse. One option would be to load up with seven days of food at Hot Springs - not an attractive option. The other option is to use a mail drop.

Mail drops have historically been an important part of AT hiking. Hikers will mail packages of food and other supplies to post offices or lodgings along the way, and then pick up the package when they arrive. It's a useful strategy when resupply options are limited or expensive. 

Two days south of Hot Springs, just before the Smokies, is Standing Bear Hostel, which accepts mail drops. So I'll ship the bulk of resupply items that I'll need for the Smokies trek there, and pick up odds and ends from their camp store.

Next time: Some thoughts on gear.

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