Instead of looking at this hike as one really big hike, it is better to view it as a series of smaller five-day hikes. Series means about twenty-eight smaller hikes. Each of these five-day hikes will end in a town where I can resupply for the next hike.
I could buy all my food in bulk at home and ship it to every resupply point. In theory, this would save me money, because certain foods are much cheaper bought in bulk. As a family, we do much of our shopping at Costco.
Many of these towns are big enough that they have their own grocery store. Buying local has some major advantages. First, my taste is going to change as I go. I might like Chocolate Mint Cliff Bars now, but three months into it, I might rather eat earthworms than one more Minty Cliff Bar (unlikely!). Second, waiting for box may require that I stay in towns longer than I want. If I get into a town late on a Saturday and miss the post office before it closes, I’m stuck in town until Monday when the post office reopens.
Therefore, buying local is the better strategy. However, not every town has a grocery store. I would rather not survive on urinal mints from a gas station bathroom.
To assist me, I am looking to what my sisters and brothers who have hiked this trail before me recommend. I’m using the Halfmile Anywhere 2017 Survey as a guide. Based upon that survey there are thirteen towns were I will need to ship a box. They are the following locations:
- Warner Springs (Desert)
- Kennedy Meadows South (Sierra)
- Kennedy Meadows North (NorCal)
- Sierra City (NorCal)
- Belden (NorCal)
- Crater Lake/Mazama (Oregon)
- Shelter Cove (Oregon)
- Timberline Lodge (Oregon)
- Trout Lake (Washington)
- White Pass (Washington)
- Snoqualmie Pass (Washington)
- Stevens Pass/Skykomish (Washington)
- Stehekin (Washington)
It turns out that my very first resupply point after about five days is one of the towns on the list — Warner Springs. So, before I leave, I will ship a box to Warner Springs. That box will have four-days of food in it. That may be overkill, because will stop at the Paradise Cafe for lunch and get a burger. It is a rite of passage on the trail.
For Kennedy Meadows South (Yes, there are two towns with the same name in California), I will do a gear swap. Before I can enter the Sierra Mountains, I will need a bear canister, an ice axe, micro-spikes for my shoes and a warmer base layer. I will keep this heavier gear only as long as I need it. I will also nee
For the Northern California towns, I will ship boxes myself. I will ship a box from Tuolumne Meadows to Kennedy Meadows North. From South Lake Tahoe, I will ship a box to Sierra City and Belden.
For Oregon I will use a similar strategy. From Ashland, I will ship a box to Mazama and Shelter Cove. From Bend, I will ship a box to Timberline Lodge.
That leaves Washington. There are not many options there. The most likely strategy there is full resupplies from home. I’ll worry about that when I get there.
Using this strategy, I only have to pack one box before I leave. That makes this trip much simpler.