|Mail drops: an important part of any through-hike|
All this talk in the last few years of the Postal Service getting chopped often makes me think of my experiences with it. And now it’s time for me to rant a little. In college, I sent and received well over a hundred packages of CDs via tape-trading lists for concert recordings (Grateful Dead and Phish made this practice famous), before everything went digital (yes, kids, there was a time when people sent CDs by mail instead of going straight to bittorrent). The postal workers I dealt with were always wonderfully friendly, the service was dirt cheap, and not a single package ever went missing.
The Internet finally made that hobby obsolete, but I continued to utilize the Post Office because I transitioned quickly to through-hiking. Dozens more packages sent for cheap, held at post offices for a hiker bum like myself, often forwarded for free when I didn’t need them at the moment, and always delivered without hassle. I almost never send mail drops via the other mail carrier companies, mostly because it’s just more expensive and harder to find a place from which to ship. I’ve only used them for four mail drops on backpacking trips since the Appalachian Trail, and of those four packages, three were never delivered. I am unimpressed.
Now that I’ve been in the normal world for a pretty large chunk of time, I’m seeing some of the things that annoy people about the postal service– junk mail and being outdated. I’ve used mail quite a bit less in the last few years than ever, but I still don’t mind waiting in line at the Post Office because every postal worker in every town I’ve lived in has been wonderfully helpful and pleasant to deal with.
I’ve tried to move away from using mail drops in every long-distance hike I’ve done, but I can never seem to fully stop myself from walking into the Post Office. Those flat-rate boxes are just too good to pass up, and sometimes you need to mail things to yourself that you can’t find in stores along the trail. As talk of closing down the rural branches and cutting delivery schedules keeps going on, I can’t think of how I’d deal with through-hiking without that service. Just like every other obstacle, I’d find a way around it. In the meantime, I do love stuffing as much non-perishable food into a flat-rate box as possible, then opening a bundle of joy somewhere along the trail. It never gets old.