Friday, May 15, 2020

Mail Drops and the Virus

During this time of issues with unknown resupply in towns and the current virus outbreak, I highly recommend mail drops for resupply on the trails. So what goes in your drop?

Food for what you need for the days until your next drop. Write out a sample menu list. See this food list for other ideas.

Sometimes extra treats can be put into the box from home you can’t get elsewhere to enjoy on your day off from the trail. Especially treats you may not find.

A roll of toilet paper in a Ziploc along with some baby wipes. For women: light pads are helpful. A new pee rag bandana. If you know approx when you might need feminine supplies, it helps to have that in your drop too along with any medications you might take.

Medications. I have a set of personal meds and vitamins I take (see the first aid blog for what I add vitamin-wise. I usually carry enough meds for ten days. Be sure you are ok on the homefront with your prescription meds and plan ahead (you can ask for "vacation refills" ahead of time to pack into maildrops). I have added a sandwich-size Ziploc with some extra Advil and Tylenol.

Pages copied from the Thru Hiker Guide or the Companion (AT) or specific trail guide you need for the next section of trail you are hiking. 

I've also added for long distance ventures – 

Some brand new Ziploc bags to replace the ones I use in my pack. And large envelope in case I need to mail things home. 

A few extra band aids, leukotape, etc to replenish the first aid kit. Small bottle of hand sanitizer to replace. 

For fuel, use the trail guidebooks and trail forums to find out where they are obtainable on the trail.

Be sure to send your mail drop Priority Mail and allow plenty of time (I give it at least a week). 

The drop should be addressed as follows for a Post Office delivery (Use your REAL name, not your trail name, and be sure to carry ID to pick up at the PO). Be sure to have a RETURN address on it in case you need to ship it home. Writing or marking something obvious or your last name on the outside side of the box so the carrier can see it among the piles of boxes helps too. Send it Priority Mail. 
Sample address:

Jane Doe
General Delivery
Hanover, NH  03755
Hold for AT Hiker: ETA (state the expected date of your arrival)

Other businesses, hostels, etc are accepting maildrops and are good options if you feel you may arrive on a weekend when the PO might be closed. However some of these are closing due to the virus. CALL AHEAD with your ETA to see if they will be open. If you mail to other locations, be sure to put your real name and "c/o" - care of and the address being sent. Include your ETA.

If you are going to be late (like more than five days), courtesy asks that you call the place holding your drop and alert them.

If you sent your drop Priority Mail to the Post Office, are going to be late, changed plans, etc and you have NOT gone to the PO and claimed it at the window, they can bounce your mail drop up the trail or send it home for you at no charge. 

During this time of uncertainty, but really, at all times on a hike, planning and preparing is essential to a great time in the outdoors. 

Related Links: The Virus Thing and Hiking - 8 Ways to Protect Yourself and OthersNeed to be at home for a while? Check out my Hiking Adventure Series on the Appalachian Trail - Mountains Madness and Miracles and the Florida Trails - Gators Guts and Glory!


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