AZT Post-Hike Thoughts: Food & Resupply

All of my food prep efforts for my 2018 SOBO AZT thru-hike paid off! The meals themselves worked pretty well – many were delicious, a few questionable. The locations also worked mostly – a few errors but mostly without a hitch.

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Tasty food I never tired of:

Breakfast:

  • Oats with coconut milk powder + freeze dried strawberries and blueberries + brown sugar
  • Grits with cheese powder, bacon bits or bacos, veggies
  • Ramen with veggies and/or seaweed
  • Trail mocha: instant coffee, hot chocolate, coconut milk powder

Lunch:

  • Tortillas with cheese and hot sauce
  • Tortillas with salmon, olives, and hot sauce

Snacks:

  • Snickers (I didn’t have too many, maybe why I still like them)
  • Salt & Vinegar chips
  • Variety! Something continually different is always good

Dinner:

  • Bare Burrito: rice, beans, cheese powder, veggies, hot sauce
  • Thanksgiving-on-the-Trail
  • Hot chocolate

Food failures:

  • Falafel oats – what was I thinking?!
  • Dehydrated potato pieces. They really don’t rehydrate = potato rock bits
  • Falafel mix as falafel. I added too much water which was a mushy mess. However, when executed properly – rehydrated well and fried in oil – it’s delicious.

A better resupply strategy:

If I did it again, I probably would have sent a little less food to most locations. It’s nice to have food pre-prepared, but it’s also great to get that Snickers or chips or whatever snack I’ve been craving and also not have too much food. Generally I overpack food and have too much anyway. In the future I’d pack less, on the skimpy side, and buy extra in town as needed.

A better SOBO resupply strategy
(including mileage and how many days it took me to get there):

START – Northern Terminus

SOBO mileage: 0
Miles to next resupply: 21.7

Pack food for 1-2 days on the trail. Don’t forget the FUEL CANISTER!

Jacob Lake

SOBO mileage: 21.7 (2.5 mile roadwalk to “town”)
Miles to next resupply: 33.3-44.8 ish to the North Rim Country Store

I enjoyed going into Jacob Lake although most hikers skipped this town. It’s less than 30 miles from the start and a 2.5 mile road walk each way. I ended up sending a box here, which was later returned to sender (turns out, there’s no post office! Although you can send a package to the campground if you have the correct address). If I did it again, would buy enough food here to make it to the North Rim Country Store. The store has a good snack selection with some meals. I ate dinner (a burger) and breakfast (egg casserole) at the restaurant which was tasty. The restaurant is also well known for it’s pastries and milkshakes.

North Rim Country Store

SOBO mileage: apx 55-66.5 depending on access point
Miles to next resupply: apx 33.8-45.3 depending on how you get here

The North Rim Country Store is great! They are very hiker friendly and super helpful. I sent a box here and would again. I actually sent myself too much food here and ended up mailing ahead (which only worked because I had a preprinted UPS label). If I did it again, I would send enough to make it to the South Rim. There was a fire closure when I hiked through, making it convenient to walk to the store. However in a normal year, the store is out of the way and isn’t as convenient to access – it can be accessed by walking the dirt roads mostly (but then you miss a pretty stretch walking along the north rim), or hitching from the south.

Grand Canyon Village – North Rim

SOBO mileage: 76.3 (1.5 mile national park road walk)

The store here at the North Rim Visitor Center is a great place to get snacks.

Phantom Ranch

SOBO mileage: 90.7 (on trail)

In the bottom of the Grand Canyon you’ll find Phantom Ranch. It is also a great place to get an expensive snack. It’s well known for it’s lemonade which is refreshing on a hot day.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon (near Mather Campground)

SOBO mileage: 100.3 (0.6 miles off trail)
Miles to next resupply: 4.7 to Tusayan/105.7 to Flagstaff

The Canyon Village Market here is actually one of the best stores along the AZT – everything a backpacker could want and more – plus it’s very close to trail. I picked up a few snacks and meals here when I stayed at Mather CG for 3 nights. If I did it again, I would buy resupply food at the store instead of sending myself a box to Tusayan.

Tusayan

SOBO mileage: 105.0 (about 0.5 mi off trail to visitor center)
Miles to next resupply: 100.0

I mailed a package to the National Geographic Visitor Center, which was fine. However if I did it again I would just buy food at the store near Mather Campground before getting to Tusayan instead. Besides, the “town” is a collection of overpriced touristy things anyway.

Flagstaff

SOBO mileage: 205.0 (mileage varies on urban route vs equestrial/original route)
Miles to next resupply: 50.0

I bought food here (the most convenient option while I had vertigo was just to supplement what food I already had with snacks at the Walgreens, which worked). There are lots of options to buy food I suppose, so buying instead of mailing seems like a good plan. Mary and Dan sent a package to Flagstaff, but there are several post offices and they sent accidentally to the wrong one, so heads up on getting the right location.

Mormon Lake

SOBO mileage: 255.0 (1.1 mi on spur trail to “town”)
Miles to next resupply: 72.6

I sent a package here, which worked well. If I were to do it again, I’d likely do the same. The hike off trail to Mormon Lake is a mile, so it’s not that bad. The post office is run through the small store and I believe they will get your package any time the store is open. It’s also a decent place to get a greasy burger, but the restaurant is only open Thursday through Sunday (or was when I was there) so if you’re planning on a hot meal it has to be the right day. You can make do if you want to buy food here for resupply.

Pine

SOBO mileage: 327.6 (0.5 mi roadwalk to brewery)
Miles to next resupply: 113.4

I sent a package to THAT Brewery which worked well. Would do again. Many hikers resupplied at the store in town, which worked for them too, but they don’t have the widest variety of options.

LF Ranch

SOBO mileage: 350.9, but don’t go here

Originally I planned to send a box here, but never heard from them, so I didn’t. The owner is nearly impossible to get ahold of, so don’t count on sending anything to or staying at the LF Ranch.

Payson

SOBO mileage: 396.7, but not worth the effort

While planning, I thought I might stop here, but ended up not bothering. Instead I went with a long resupply from Pine-Roosevelt Lake which was the way to go. Technically you can hitch to Payson, but it’s a difficult hitch on a fast highway.

Roosevelt Lake

SOBO mileage: 441.0 (1.6 mi roadwalk to marina)
Miles to next resupply: 45.4

I sent a box here to the marina, which was a good plan (otherwise you have to hitch to a mediocre place to get food). The marina is as described – not hiker friendly with only a few expensive snacks. I actually sent two boxes here, but for some reason the person looking for my second box (with my new shoes) couldn’t find it at the time even though it was there – kind of odd. They returned it to me once I got home after the trail.

Superior

SOBO mileage: 486.4 to Hewitt Station Rd TH or 487.6 to Hwy 60 (then a hitch), but you’ll probably get back on trail at Picket Post at mile 488.2
Miles to next resupply: 37.7 to Kearney, or 95.3 to Oracle

I sent a box to the post office, but once I realized I was going to arrive late on a Saturday, I called and they brought my packages to the Copper Mtn Motel which was super nice! If I were to do it again, I’d probably buy food instead of sending – the Family Dollar and Save Money Market are good and easy spots to resupply.

Kearney

SOBO mileage: 525.9 (hitch to town)
Miles to next resupply: 57.6

I didn’t stop here, but it’s possible to resupply in Kearney – although it’s pretty close to Superior, so I’d recommend either one or the other. However, Old Time Pizza delivers pizza to the trail which is mindblowingly amazing to any hiker. Sadly Tarek, Andrea, and I mistimed our hike in this stretch so we missed out the pizza 😦 I hear it’s great though.

Oracle

SOBO mileage: 583.5
Miles to next resupply: 86.0 to Colossal Cave

I met Jared here and we spent a few days in Tucson where I picked up food at Sprouts for the next stretch. If I wasn’t meeting someone but still planning to stop in town, I probably would have sent a box to the Chalet Village Motel or bought food at the Dollar General. If not stopping in town, I would have sent a box to Summerhaven on the top of Mt Lemmon.

Summerhaven – Mt Lemmon

SOBO mileage: 604.9

The Mt Lemmon General Store and Gift Shop is a great place to get snacks and freshly made fudge. You can resupply or send a box here, too. It’s a half-day hike from Oracle.

La Posta Quemada – Colossal Cave

SOBO mileage: 669.5 (1.2 mile slightly confusing road walk)
Miles to next resupply: 68.0

Old info indicated that La Posta Quemada Ranch was the place to send a box. They no longer accept hiker packages. What I did, which is the way to go, is to send a package to the Colossal Cave Gift Shop. Hitching is not super reliable around here, so I would recommend sending a package.

Patagonia AZ

SOBO mileage: 737.5
Miles to the end: 51.2

I sent a box to the post office here, which was fine. If I were to do it again, I’d maybe send a box or maybe resupply at the Patagonia Market or Red Mountain Foods natural food store.

Southern Terminus – END

SOBO mileage: 788.7

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