Who doesn’t enjoy opening up the mailbox every day to see whats inside? I know I do.
While we are planning on purchasing the bulk of our food locally as we hike through small towns on the trail, we do have a few (six) key maildrops planned for towns that have thin selection in the grocery department or strategically located at a spot where we might need a special piece of gear (like transitioning form winter sleeping bags to summer sleeping bags as we flip from Maine to West VIrginia).
In addition to the towns we plan on purposely making a stop by the post office, there are also many other small towns that we will be hiking right through that would be an easy stop to pick up a little something from Blue Santa (USPS).
All post offices will accept mail for anyone addressed as ‘General Delivery’ and will generally hold a package for about a month before returning it if it is not picked up. Better yet, if we can’t hit a particular PO during business hours (1 minute past closing time on Saturday means waiting until Monday morning) we can call the Postmaster on Monday and they will forward a package to another PO. That’s the main benefit of Blue Santa over Brown Santa for hikers. There are businesses along the way that will accept packages from UPS and Fedex, but we do not plan on using any of them unless we need an emergency shipment of gear or something like that.
So here is a listing of the post offices that we plan on stopping at (Yes) along with ones we know we will be walking right by and/or resupplying in that town (Probably) or towns that are very close and there is a chance that we can make it (Maybe). I don’t have any estimated dates in this list, since it will change quite a bit as we hike, but look for our current progress on other pages to figure out when we will be where.
What can you mail to us? Pretty much anything that USPS will accept. And usually about the only thing we will need is food. All of our mail drops we have listed we will be shipping a small amount of food, but not all of it. One exception is Monson, Maine – we are shipping ourselves 7 days of food there, so try to refrain sending excess food there. We will be carrying 7 days worth from the box plus whatever we show up with, so we will be set. Just for perspective, 7 days of food weighs about 30 lbs. We have all our gear, and we have five pairs of shoes sitting at home ready to be mailed to us as we wear them out.
So if you do want to play Santa, by all means go ahead. But remember whatever you send to us, we will have to either eat it on the spot or carry it with us. So don’t send anything you don’t think you could eat yourself right then and there in 30 minutes. AKA, the family size 3 lb bag of snickers sounds like a real treat, but turns into a nightmare after about 5 minutes of shoving them in your mouth. Try to avoid things that can melt, so alot of chocolate things are out if they are not covered or coated (like M&Ms). Even individually wrapped chocolates can turn into an inedible amorphous blob of chocolate and foil. Homemade cookies are able to survive a nuclear blast, however. Wink, wink. Be sure any food products are sealed in good freezer weight ziplocks, perhaps even double bagged. If the box smells like food, sometimes critters get to them before us.
Mailing things to us is easy. You will need to figure out where to send something to us first. From our current schedule, you will want to pick a destination at least 4 days ahead of us if using Priority mail (usually only a few dollars more than Parcel Post) or 7 days ahead if using Parcel Post. Some of these post offices are really small. The one in Glencliff, NH is literally a 4 foot by 8 foot addition to a lady’s house where when she is open for business, you are looking straight into her living room. No joke. Mail service to these small PO’s can take an extra day or two, so shipping early is key. For the address label, fill it out like this (with the correct city, zip, and date of course):
Jim Bledsoe (PCT hiker ETA 7/1)
c/o General Delivery
Hot Springs, NC 28743
We must show photo ID to pick up packages, so including both of our names as an OR it means that either of us can pick up the package in towns where we will probably both be running separate chores.
UPDATE: I don’t have a full list of post offices I plan to hit yet, so contact Karen if you would like to mail something. I will try to publish something later.