First Cut Resupply Plan

I see litter as part of a long continuum of anti-social behavior.
Bill Bryson

Oregon and Washingon Resupply locations

A resupply plan, as you might imagine, maps out all the places on the trail where you will stop to get supplies, spend the night in town, have zero days (days with no hiking) and estimate the daily hiking speed, distance, etc.  In the end, in addition to the food stops, you get an overall estimate of the hike duration, mileage between stops and start and stop dates.

There is a very nice piece of free software (donations encouraged) online that makes this planning quite easy and painless.  It’s by a PCT thru-hiker Daniel Craig Giffen called Craig’s PCT planner and can be found at www.pctplanner.com.  After entering all your resupply details you get several useful summary tables and charts that can be printed along with the whole detailed plan.  The preliminary, first cut plan is at the end of this post.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am that Craig provides this software and web server space.  I started with my own spreadsheet that has a similar form, but it doesn’t have all the nice features of the software like embedded town stops with mileage between, calculation of daily miles/hours based on estimated hiking speed and elevation changes.  Many, many other features like that.  It would have taken a year to develop the spreadsheet to have a similar functionality.

Resupply locations in California

The PCT planner (luckily) allows you to plan in a NoBo or SoBo direction.  This is extremely helpful to SoBo’s like me as all the other planning material assumes NoBo and you have to read it backwards.  I found it helpful (essential?) to use Yogi’s guide in conjunction with the PCT Planner to work through the details of which good resupply towns and Post Offices (and trail angels) should be selected.

Presently, I’m assuming my start date to be June 13th (could change) and the planner estimates reaching the Mexico terminus by November 16.  Two things could change the end date dramatically.  First, I have included very few zero days (days of no hiking).  It’s very likely that I will need or want to take more days.  I just don’t know right now where they will be.  It will mostly depend on how I feel on the trail, or if I’m avoiding bad weather.  The other big factor is my hiking average pace.  I believe that I was very conservative with my pace, ramping slowly at the start (snowy, difficult mountains) at 1 mph and ending in the desert sections at 2.7 mph.  I’m likely to ramp faster and have higher average speeds in the second half of the hike than I estimated.  If both the above are true, I may still have a mid-November finish but with more zeros and a faster pace.  I’m assuming throughout that I will be hiking a 12 hour day.  This, of course, will actually vary between 8-15 hrs/day with many days cut short by a town visit or an ideal campsite (or sore feet).

Typical Hiker Resupply Food

Deciding what goes into a particular resupply package is another complex process.  I will have to work through my food choices, packaging, quantities, non-food consumables like batteries, TP, clothes, maps, data book pages, etc.  Although I’ve been thinking about this for some time, I have yet to start the formal process of planing.  So far, I’m estimating about 30 resupply packages to be mailed out by my daughter on roughly 5-7 day intervals.  That’s a lot of boxes to put together ahead of time and to store.  Plus, 30 trips to the post office over a 5 month period.  I’ll owe her plenty…

I may only put major meals in most of the resupply boxes, supplementing in the hiker towns, as they have food stores.  This will allow me to vary some of the food choices as I’m likely to grow tired of the preselected choices by the second month.  I considered, at one point, not mailing resupply packages from home but doing all resupply in the hiker towns, forwarding packages to locations without proper stores.  This has the advantage of complete flexibility in food choices as I go.  The reasons I chose to send resupply boxes is I have high blood pressure and require a very low salt diet.  Most dehydrated foods are very high in salt content.  It’s difficult to find low salt choices.  This will be much easier before the hike than on the hike.  Also, many of the hiker towns have limited choices and I would be stuck eating expensive junk food.  Lastly, I need to send packages anyway as I need to send maps and data book pages for each section.  Carrying all the maps and books the whole trail is out of the question.  I considered a bounce box that can be mailed forward

Bounce box (bucket)

and contain consumable supplies, maps, etc., but I found it difficult to find resupply locations uniformly along the trail that allowed mailing packages out.  Many places allow mail to arrive but cannot be sent out.  The bounce box could have also contained heavy items that I only need in town, like my chargers for my cpap batteries.  Unfortunately, I will have to carry these monstrously heavy items.

In addition to the normal resupply items, there are specialty items that must be mailed strategically for specific trail sections.  In the northern Cascades I will be using a lot of heavy snow gear (ice ax, crampons, heavy clothing layers, etc.).  After the snow sections, these will be sent home.  Once I get to the Sierras, I expect to need some of the cold weather gear again, so they will have to be shipped to me.  Also, I will need a bear canister in the Sierras (by law), but it’s 2.5 lbs empty and I don’t want to carry it any more than I must.  After the Sierras, it will be shipped back home again.

Below is a tabular form of the resupply plan, followed by an elevation graph.  It should be self evident.  If you prefer, you can view the plan online with this link: http://www.pctplanner.com/v.php?g=ptFYyY99R5z4

Happy days!

Bill

Plan

Unfortunately, the table is not broken down by state.  It is in chronological order and it starts in WA.  OR starts at Cascade Locks.  CA starts at Seiad Valley.  Also, without the Yogi’s guidebook, many of the names above may not be familiar to you.  You can Google some of them and they will show up with websites or be discussed in blogs.

Also, many of the stops listed above are not resupply stops, but convenient for spending the night or just eating at a restaurant before moving on.

The first section, which is the longest section, actually starts at Hart’s pass, goes north to the border, then back to Hart’s pass and on to Rainy pass.  There is a buried resupply at Hart’s pass that I’ll pick up along the way.  There was no good way to show this in Craig’s tool, so I just added the extra miles and elevation.

Below is an elevation graph of the whole trail.  It’s clear that the desert section at the end is not really flat, but contains some of the steepest and longest climbs on the trail.

Overall graph

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