Resupply Strategy on the Continental Divide Trail

Backpacking

Salt Lake City, Feb. 8, 2019: How do you get food over a distance of 3,000 miles? In this post I provide a brief summary of what you have to consider when planning your resupply and I share my final table of the resupply strategy for the CDT (see link at the end of the post).

Resupply Strategy – Some Basics

First, I would like to explain some common resupply strategy knowledge among thru-hikers:

In general, there are two major strategies to resupply along a thru-hike: 1) buy as you go, and 2) resupply boxes. Below, I explain briefly how these strategies work and what the pros and cons are.

Buy as You Go

Personally, this is my preferred way to resupply food during a thru-hike. It allows you to change your diet whichever way you like and to buy the food you mostly crave at the moment. Additionally, I like to support local shops and stores. Even if the prices for groceries are sometimes a little bit higher, you save the shipping cost for a box.

Note: You should know before you hit the town whether there is generally good resupply or if it depends on the season. Additionally, make sure to check the opening hours of grocery stores.

Resupply Boxes

This is a very useful and definitely necessary resupply strategy when thru-hiking the PCT or the CDT. Resupply boxes are boxes that you prepared and sent ahead either before leaving for the trail or while on the trail. There are locations where resupplying food is challenging due to high prices, and limited or no availability.

Note: Always remember that if you send a resupply box, you may have to consider that post offices are often closed on Sundays. Therefore, you have to wait sometimes for a day until you can pick up your package.

I always try to pick resupply stations that are close or even on the trail. I simply don’t like to rely on having to hitchhike into town. Sometimes there are buses that pass by trailheads or prior hikers reported whether hitchhiking is easy from a certain spot.

Resupply Strategy – CDT

I personally like to prepare the resupply strategy for my thru-hikes. Some hikers start a thru-hike without planning much of the resupply stations ahead. There is one general rule: Nothing goes 100% right on a thru-hike. You are very limited in planning what’s going to happen on trail. The resupply strategy is one simple way to get more familiar with what to expect on trail, and therefore, I always create a table of my resupply strategy that I carry along the trail.

Resources

Generally spoken: Coming up with a resupply strategy for the CDT was much more complicated compared to the PCT. Reason for that are the number of alternates along the trail. I used a number of sources to come up with a CDT route that most CDT thru-hikers take and subsequently, I am most likely going to take as well. The thru-hiker surveys on HalfwayAnywhere report on resupply stations that are most commonly used among thru-hikers. Prior thru-hikers further answer the question of where would a hiker definitely send a box? I further used this source to identify the most commonly used alternates of the trail.

In order to assemble more information about the possible resupply towns, alternates, and distances between towns, I used Yogi’s CDT Handbook. Not only did it help me to come up with a resupply strategy, it also gives a general overview about the trail, challenges of each section, and other valuable information that will help to mentally prepare for a CDT thru-hike.

Using both of these sources helped me immensely to come up with a resupply strategy that works for you.

My Resupply Strategy for the CDT

Here I provide the table that provides all the information about my resupply strategy that I plan to use along the CDT. Some explanations to make it easier to navigate through the table:

  • This resupply strategy is for a NOBO thru-hike.
  • I planned an average of 30 miles per day and increase up to 38 miles per day later on to come up with estimated days I need to resupply for.
  • Miles to cover: Tells me how many miles I need to hike before I hit the next planned resupply station.
  • Days to cover: How many days I need to resupply for at that station.
  • Buy(B)/Send(S): B=Buy as you go strategy, S= Will send a box (additional information on whether they accept UPS or USPS).
  • Distance from trail: How far way is the station from trail?
  • Notes: anything worth to mention (address for box, hitch hiking, opening hours, etc.).
  • In red: Reminder that I request backcountry permits in Yellowstone and Glacier NP.

Follow this link to open the table:

ResupplyStrategy

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