Resupply. It’s one of the unavoidable (and sometimes annoying) logistics that hikers are forced to deal with in order to thru-hike.
We tried to find a balance between mailing resupply boxes and buying food along the way. We determined where to send our resupply boxes using information found on Halfway Anywhere’s 2015 PCT Thru-Hiker Survey and Craig’s PCT Planner.
In the end, we mailed 10 boxes, had food brought to us at three locations, and bought food everywhere else. The table below shows all our resupply locations. Highlighted rows indicate pre-packed resupply boxes.
|0.0||US/Mexico Border||Not hungry yet.|
|20.0||Lake Morena Campground||Family brought our box and other gear. (We slack packed the first 20 miles.)|
|41.5||Mt. Laguna||Bought fuel and snacks at the general store.|
|109.5||Warner Springs||Mailed box to USPS.|
|179.4||Idyllwild||Bought full resupply at grocery stores in town.|
|211.0||Ziggy and the Bear||Mailed box to Ziggy and the Bear’s.|
|342.2||Cajon Pass (Interstate 15)||Visited family and bought full resupply in Apple Valley.|
|454.5||Agua Dulce / Hiker Heaven||Resupplied at grocery store in town.|
|478.2||Casa de Luna||Bought snacks at small convenience store in Green Valley.|
|517.6||Hiker Town||Stopped here but didn’t resupply. No stores nearby. This place was weird.|
|558.5||Tehachapi||Hitched from Willow Springs Road straight to a major grocery store.|
|652.0||Lake Isabella||It was a long hitchhike from Walker Pass, but we were able to resupply at a major grocery store.|
|704.6||Kennedy Meadows||Family brought us our resupply. We bought extra snacks at the general store.|
|788.5||Kearsarge Pass/Independence||Friends brought us a resupply, but we still went into town due to weather.|
|903.9||Mammoth Lakes||Took the Mammoth Pass trail into town where we found free public transit and great resupply options.|
|942.5||Tuolumne Meadows||We found a decent selection at the Tuolumne Meadows Store.|
|1016.9||Sonora Pass (Highway 108)||Took a zero and bought our resupply at Kennedy Meadows Resort.|
|1092.3||Echo Chalet||Resupplied at Echo Lakes. The selection was limited; South Lake Tahoe would have had better options.|
|1140.1||Squaw Valley||Due to bad weather, we left the trail earlier than planned and resupplied in Truckee.|
|1195.4||Sierra City||Mailed box to the Post Office. Bought snacks at the general store.|
|1284.3||Belden Town||Resupplied (snacks only) at the small resort store. Limited selection.|
|1328.8||Chester (Highway 36)||Hitchhiked into town and resupplied at a major grocery store.|
|1371.3||Old Station||Found a limited selection at the Hat Creek Resort & RV Park.|
|1416.8||Burney Falls SP||Resupplied at the campground store. The town of Burney would have had better options.|
|1498.7||Mount Shasta (Interstate 5)||Hitchhiked to Mount Shasta. Found a great natural foods store for our resupply.|
|1597.3||Etna||Hitchhiked down to Etna where we found a brewery and decent grocery store.|
|1673.4||Seiad Valley||Ate and resupplied in town. Great selection of tuna packets.|
|1716.2||Ashland||Took a cab. Expensive hotels but numerous options for grocery shopping.|
|1820.3||Mazama Village at Crater Lake National Park||Mailed a resupply box to the campground.|
|1906.3||Shelter Cove Resort||Mailed a box to the RV resort and bought some additional snacks at the store.|
|1981.3||Bend (Highway 242)||It’s a long drive into Bend, but it’s a great town with major grocery stores.|
|2043.2||Olallie Lake Resort||Stopped at the store here (for snacks) because it was just off the trail.|
|2094.5||Timberline Lodge||Terrible place to resupply but only a couple days from Cascade Locks. We bought snacks out of the vending machines and found some good stuff in the hiker barrels.|
|2144.2||Cascade Locks||Resupplied at a major grocery store in town.|
|2226.4||Trout Lake||Mailed a box here and bought snacks at the general store.|
|2292.4||White Pass||Mailed a box to the Kracker Barrel Store.|
|2390.6||Snoqualmie Pass||Mailed a box to the Summit Inn.|
|2461.6||Stevens Pass (Highway 2)||Mailed a box to the ski resort (FEDEX only).|
|2569.4||Stehekin||Mailed a box to the Stehekin post office.|
|2658.9||Manning Park, BC||The lodge restaurant has gigantic nachos.|
What would we have done differently?
We should have sent boxes to Kennedy Meadows Resort (at Sonora Pass), Burney Falls State Park and possibly Timberline Lodge. Kennedy Meadows Resort had an okay selection of food, but it was pricey. Bridgeport (to the east of Sonora Pass) has real grocery stores, but the hitchhike is significantly longer. Similarly, the town of Burney has grocery stores, but we stayed at Burney Falls State Park and were limited by the selection in the expensive general store. Timberline Lodge only has vending machines. We carried enough food out of Bend to make that work.
Other thoughts on food and resupply…
We met many “cookless” hikers. They hiked lighter and faster than us, but they were often rushing to get to the next town for a hot meal. I suspect we enjoyed our time at camp (with hot dinners and hot coffee) a lot more than they did.
We underestimated the sheer quantity of food that we’d be consuming toward the end of our trip. A lot of the dinners in our resupply boxes were too small. We supplemented them with food we pulled out of the hiker barrels. Hiker barrels always seemed to have bags of pasta, minute rice, or mystery grains.
We added olive oil packets to everything. Delicious and extra calories.
Surprisingly, we never ate ramen or mashed potatoes. These two items are staples for other hikers. They are often combined into some kind of casserole.
A lot of our dinners were some combination of either rice, pasta or couscous, mixed with freeze dried vegetables, tuna packets, and sometimes jerky or diced Epic Bars. We also occasionally made chili, pad thai with eggs, or “fried” rice.
Mountain House meals are tasty, but they are bulky, expensive, and generally needed to be supplemented with other foods to be filling enough. Lasagne, Chili Mac, and Mexican Rice with Chicken were our favorites. Typically, 1 pouch is a meal for one person, even though it may claim to be 2-3 servings.
We found that the “microwavable” pastas and rice all cooked much faster than the traditional versions. This shorted our cook time and saved fuel.
Our Favorite Foods
Here are a few items that we ate often and did not get sick of during our 5 months on the trail.
– Rice-a-roni – Microwavable cups, repackaged into ziplock bags.
– Mac and Cheese – Typically microwavable Annie’s or Pasta-Roni
– Tuna packets – Eaten with tortillas or added to dinners.
– Epic Bars – Added these to all kinds of dinners.
– Freeze dried vegetables – Peas, mixed veggies, tomatoes… all were good!
– Milk and granola – Ate this for breakfast almost every day.