Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Post Office-Budget Tips Part 2

The other day I bought a beautiful pair of 100% UVA/UVB Protection , wrap around Sunglasses.
The perfect item to put in the all important Bounce Box.
Many new hikers use drop boxes. I tried that myself. Take several small boxes, fill them with assorted items,including basic food supplies, and enlist a friend to ship them to pre addressed post offices up the trail.
Problem with this, you're never really sure what you'll need in that town. You don't know if there will be a Walmart or Dollar Store where everything is cheap, if you'll have run out of deet by then, if you need that extra silk shirt, if you'll hate all the food stashed in it, there by forcing you to donate all to a hiker box.
My best friend and trail mentor taught me the value of a Bounce Box.
This box is a sturdy container which is shipped parcel post, insured up the trail by yourself. Every few hundred miles you can take out or put in items as needed.
For instance, your Pacific Crest Trail Guide, a 400 page book just for California alone, can be split into sections and accessed as needed. I only met one thru hiker carrying the whole book early on. Don't know if he ever cut into that book, but as an ultralighter, I burnt or threw away the pages in town once they were done. Paper is heavy.
Even the data book for the Appalachian Trail becomes unnecessary weight once the pages are used. Throw them in the bounce box for souvenirs, if you like.
The bounce box is best sent to small trail towns which have few stores. Bottles of 100% deet (bug repellent), sunscreen, hexamine fuel tablets, a head net for bug season, spare gloves or socks, dental floss, and anything else you would like to throw in are all good examples of items which may be totally unavailable in that small town just when you need it.
In Sierra City, on the PCT, I ended up with a spray can containing only 20% active ingredient Deet. Bulky, expensive and only 1/5 Th as effective, I learned to buy on sale all these essentials and make them available to myself on regular, self regulated basis.
By shipping the bounce box parcel post, you assure yourself about 7-10 days arrival time. Within a couple weeks, you'll get to that post office, open it up, sort through and take what you need. By shipping it insured, you can bounce it all ahead if you don't make it into that particular town, without ever opening it.
United Postal Service rules may have changed sense I used these services last, so check before you do this.
I used a yellow tool box which was large enough to accommodate my ice ax. I received it in Kennedy Meadows, then shipped it ahead to Tuolumne Meadows, in Yosemite, where I could replace it.
Sometimes shipping stuff home is not worth the money. On the Appalachian Trail I wore some extra layers going through the White Mountains in New Hampshire. These layers were all items I planned to throw away once I finished that section so they were all chosen with that in mind. With temps above 80, the I could strip away the extra clothing for my last month on the AT.
If you are able to research your intended trail towns, and determine which ones are small and desirable bounce box stops, write it down for your friends and family. If they wish to send a little, little! care package, have them address it Your Name, General Delivery, Town, State. And then, additionally, Please hold for Thru Hiker.
I say little packages because more than once I was the recipient of another hikers generous disbursement of goods simply because the loving family had shipped 20 pounds of food. No way will anyone eat or carry that much out of town. Thank you for loving us.
I recommend buying the bulk of your food, fuel and hygiene supplies at shops along the way. Shipping is expensive, food craving change, and you may decide to skip a town and not use that post office at all, leaving an abandoned food box.
We will write a post dedicated to innovative resupply later.
Please write if you have any questions.

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