MTX FAQs: Mail Drops

Here at Mountain Crossings, we get a lot of questions about mail drops. For most folks, we are the first resupply point and for some we are the first place they send a box to. Here is a run down of mail drops from the minds of us at Mountain Crossings.

First thing first, How To Make Sure You Get Your Box!:

Locations along the trail that accept mail drops end up getting a TON of boxes! Step one to insuring that your box will be there when you arrive is to properly address and label it. AWOL’s Guide is an excellent resource for finding the perfect mail drop spot in any town along the trail. When writting the label, always include the line hold for AT thru hiker and be sure to use your real name when you send a mail drop to a location. Also include your estimated time of arrival (ETA). This way, those who are accepting the packages can file them by last name and ETA in order to keep tabs on each box.

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Second, Determine If A Mail Drop Is Needed:

With the growing popularity of the Appalachian Trail, many locations along the trail have an excellent resupply option for thru hikers. After the price of buying the food at home, the cost of shipping a box can often times be more expensive than resupplying on trail. The argument for sending mail drop boxes is that there can be an up charge on food and other items at outfitters and hostels that offer resupply options. This surcharge is strictly to make having a resupply option available a worthwhile endeavor for the proprietors, thus saving hikers from an otherwise unnecessary hitch into town. By purchasing your resupply in town or at outfitters and hostels along the trail, you are fuel the local economy and helping the build up communities along the trail.

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Third, Bounce Boxes and Forwarding Mail

Some times a mail drop isn’t exactly what you need, but for some with specific dietary or medical needs, it can be crucial. In those cases, a bounce box can often be most useful. A bounce box is a box that you continually send up trail ahead of you. This allows a hiker to have a larger amount of an item at their reach without having to carry it all on their back. If a medicine or food is hard to find, a bounce box can be a great way to ensure you have it.

If you get to town and find you do not need to open your bounce box, you can forward it up trail for free if you originally mailed it via the USPS Priority Mail. This can be done at any Post Office, but only at a Post Office. If the package is sent to a hostel or outfitter that is not in reach of a Post Office, forwarding can often times become difficult. Forwarding a bounce box or mail drop that has been sent via Priority Mail is a service of the Post Office only.

Follow these guide lines and you will be well on your way to easy resupply boxes!

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Our mail drops here at Mountain Crossings, alphabetized and stored by last name. Each day when boxes come in we stack them in their area and log each name and ETA in a book. That way we know approximately when each box should be picked up.

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MTX Daily Life: A Photo Essay

We are in the midst of full blown hiker season here at Mountain Crossings. It’s a fun and crazy time of year! Hikers everywhere. Gear strewn all about. Food being consumed in unbelievable amounts. It’s excellent! Here is a little photo essay of a typical day at Mountain Crossings during peak thru hiker season.

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Jason manning the register behind desk. If you don’t watch out you can get stuck back there for quite a while on a busy day. The upside is that you have control of the music!

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Our pal Irish is hanging out for a few days helping out in the shop. Here he is giving the run down on the proper use of trekking poles. Not only can poles change your hiking game, how you use then can changes everything as well!

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New product is constantly flowing in throughout the season. With so many thru hikers coming through, it is a never ending battle to keep the shelves stocked! Pretzel is busy getting a shipment out on the shelves.

Pack shake downs are a huge part of our day. During peak season we do several every day. It is a free service and we will never pressure a hiker into it.

Pack shake downs are a huge part of our day. During peak season we do several every day. It is a free service and we will never pressure a hiker into it, but many come in asking for tip to lighten their load a bit. We are always happy to help out!

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So many food options for a starving hiker! It can be overwhelming. We have hot foods that can be made immediately and we also have an extensive collection of hiker favorites for resupplying.

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Man, do we love pizzas! This hiker went straight for the good stuff for lunch before hitting the trail again. We have two little ovens in the back of the shop for cooking pizzas. Sometimes you’d think you’re walking into a pizzaria instead of a gear shop because of the wonderful smell of pizza!

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The picnic table is a big gathering area for hikers. They cook here, repack their bags or just sit around and hang out. Here are some hikers soaking up some of Baltimore Jack’s trail wisdom.

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Mountain Crossings is a excellent place to phone home and let everyone know you’re doing well. Do your family a favor and keep them updated! You may be having a blast out here but its only fair to check in when you’re in town or at a hostel.

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Here is Splitter getting some guitar practice in before the hostel fills up for the night. By 5 o’clock there are usually tons of hikers watching movies, playing board games, or making dinner.

Things can get crazy in the hostel when all the hikers start flowing in but it is always a good time talking and sharing stories with everyone.

Things can get crazy in the hostel when all the hikers start flowing in. Everyone is trying to get settled in and get their gear dried out for the next stretch. It is always a good time talking and sharing stories with everyone.

There are a lot of awesome folks in our community around Balirsvillve, GA. During peak season there are many groups who come in and feed our hikers in the hostel.

There are a lot of awesome folks in our community around Balirsvillve, GA. During peak season there are many groups who come in and set up a little hiker feed in the hostel. A nice, hot, home cooked meal has never been as good after a couple days of hiking!

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Hikers, hikers everywhere! On the porch. In the breezeway. In the hostel. Outside of the bathrooms. There is no such thing as boredom around here.

Thru Hiker Kick Off Party Success

This past Saturday was our Thru Hiker Kick Off Party and it was an absolute blast. After many, many days of winter weather, it was the first day of bright sunshine we had seen in far too long. The snow was melting away by the minute and many of us were soaking up as much sun as possible!

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The calm before the storm

We had a constant flow of friendly faces filing through the door and milling around outside enjoying the day. Festivities included live music from Raven and Red, a Gear Raffle, several gear reps brings us all the best of many outdoor companies, grilled hot dogs and a fire pit for S’more making.

Raven and Red, a band out of Nashville, TN, played several sets of incredible music. They brought us all the favorites from bluegrass, mountain music and folk. Their beautiful harmonies and sure finger plucking set the mood perfectly as is resounds out of our bay window.

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Raven and Red provided us with excellent acoustic tunes

Through our Gear Raffle we were able to raise $740 for a project illustrating the Civil Conservation Corps and the Appalachian Trail in Union County. We had donations for raffle prizes from gear companies like Big Agnes, Granite Gear, Sawyer, Osprey, Point6 Socks, Wright Socks, Mountain Hardwear and many, many more! Gear reps came and set up booths what displayed the products of many of the raffle prizes.

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Allen is the rep for Big Agnes, Granite Gear, Helinox, Point6 Socks and others

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Chaz is the rep for Salewa Shoes. We just got a our first shipment into the shop a few weeks ago!

Cullen is the rep for Therm-a-Rest, Osprey, MSR, and the rsy

Cullen is the rep for Cascade Designs, Osprey, and MSR

Richard Judy was signing copies of his book Thru: An Appalachian Love Story

Richard Judy was signing copies of his book Thru: An Appalachian Love Story

Our Kick Off Party is always an excellent excuse to get friends and neighbors up to the shop for a good time. We always love meeting new people who find their way to us and this party was the official kick off to the season where we meet the most new friends and faces. Happy 2015 Thru Hike Season, everyone! We are already in the thick of it now and loving it. Hope you are as well!