Food: Mail or Buy?
When we tell people about our PCT hike, they often ask how we will handle the food aspect of the trip. Fortunately, we won’t have to carry 5 months of food all at once. Instead we will replenish our food supplies periodically, either by buying food from grocery stores near the trail, or shipping ourselves packages to post offices convenient to the trail. Both options have pros and cons.
Buying food at grocery stores near the trail allows us to buy whatever we are craving at the moment, rather than trying to decide months in advance. If we get sick of a certain energy bar or type of instant mashed potatoes, we can switch to another. Buying at grocery stores can also be cheaper because there isn’t the added expense of shipping the food. Plus, grocery stores tend to keep longer hours than post offices, meaning we’re less likely to be stuck in town waiting to get our food.
On the flip side, the benefit of shipping ourselves food is that we can guarantee we will eat nutritious food. Some towns along the trail only have a convenience store or gas station food mart, rather than a full grocery store, so the pickings can be slim. Eating candy bars and ramen every day would get old quickly. Another benefit of preparing food boxes ahead of time is that it makes PCT town stops simpler and less stressful. In some towns we can ship a box to a local business, which is open longer than the post office.
Since we are vegetarians and predominantly eat organic food, which is hard to find in some rural areas, we are going to opt for a combination approach. At locations where there is a bigger city with a grocery store near the trail, we will stop there and buy food. But when the town nearest the trail only has a gas station or convenience store, we will mail ourselves food boxes. Where possible, we want to stay close to the trail and walk to get our food, rather than hitchhiking, so we’ve factored that into our plans as well. After doing some research in Yogi’s PCT Handbook, this is the breakdown we decided on:
|Location||Buy or Mail||Days
|Warner Springs||USPS to PO||4|
|Kennedy Meadows||USPS to KM General Store||11|
|Vermillion Valley Resort||UPS to Vermillion Valley Resort||4|
|Echo Lake Resort||USPS to PO||5.5|
|Belden||USPS to PO||3|
|Drakesbad Guest Ranch||USPS to Drakesbad Guest Ranch||3.5|
|Burney Falls State Park||UPS to Burney Park Camp Store||3.5|
|Castella||UPS to Ammirati’s||4|
|Seiad Valley||USPS to Mid River RV Park||3|
|Crater Lake Mazama Village||USPS to Crater Lake Camp Store||4.5|
|Shelter Cove Resort||UPS to Shelter Cove Resort||3.5|
|Big Lake Youth Camp||USPS to Big Lake Youth Camp||4.5|
|Timberline Lodge||USPS to Timberline Lodge Ski Area||2|
|Whites Pass||USPS to Kracker Barrel Store||4|
|Snoqualmie Pass||USPS to Chevron Station||3.5|
|Skykomish||USPS to Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven||5.5|
|Stehekin||USPS to PO||4|
Based on this plan, we will create 17 food boxes, covering about 73 trail days. Jim and Cindy have graciously offered to be our package shipping team. THANKS!