How to Support Us on the Trail -How to Craft a Thru-Hiker Care Package

First of all, thank you for even opening this post. We appreciate the support of our family and friends that is given freely and out of love! 

I've been overwhelmed by the support we've been given, words of encouragement, family members offering us places to sleep and shower, offers to send us food and care packages, even unsolicited financial contributions! I've been blown away. 

It really shows me the fantastic community of loved ones that we have grown. 

A lot of the recommendations in the article are based on stores we know and love in Santa Cruz, so if you can't find a specific item, please know that we will be so freaking touched by the fact that you cared to send us anything at all! We just wanted to give some suggestions about the kinds of things we know we will miss. 

Many of you have asked us how you can help, where to send us packages, etc. 

First of all, I'd like to talk about what to put in the packages. 

  • Food - especially food that might be hard to get in backwater East Coast towns.  Anything special to you  that will help nourish us. There is a list of some of our favorites below. Keep in mind that what we are sent we will have to carry up and over every hill we come across. Until we eat it. Which honestly might be right away. 
  • Notes of encouragement - This more than anything would be so appreciated. Knowing that people back home are rooting for us and want us to succeed will be so important on days when It's rained 9 days in a row and we are muddy up to our knees and so hungry we are thinking about eating the next bear that we come across. Little doodles are a plus!
  • Nothing valuable - As I mentioned, we are going to have to carry what we are sent, and things could easily get lost or damaged on the trail. Along with this, please don't send us physical books. We both have kindles though and would love to get recommendations! 
  • Cash! We can use this to buy ourselves pizza, entries to all you can eat buffets, and other calorie dense warm meals that we might otherwise have to pass by. Cash can also go towards stays in hostels, shower fees, and shuttles if we are having a hard time hitch hiking to and from town. Many towns along the way are so "backwater" that there are places that don't take cards, so we will need to have cash on us. 
  • Post Cards - If you send us one, we might send you one! :P
  • Sample Sized Soaps - If you see little single use soaps, shampoos, conditioners, etc.... We'll take them. We are going to smell seriously foul, and everything helps! If you stop by the New Leaf on Fair in Santa Cruz they often have a basket of samples in their body care section, with things like Shampoo and Conditioner and other delights!
  • Chap Stick - Eric's favorite is Elemental Herbs brand. I like pretty much anything!
  • Travel Size Weleda Salt Toothpastes - Eric's request! (They sell these at New Leaf on Fair St, and I'm pretty sure the one downtown... I'm not sure where else)

Food We'd like

Here's a list of food items that we would LOVE to get in care packages. The quotation marks are brands, if there is a preference. I tried to be specific, but please know that we will eat and enjoy pretty much any food you send us. I tried to include things that we are unlikely to be able to get while we are on the trail, but love to eat. I will also try to update this post as we hike, and make new posts if we are craving anything specific.

  • "Alive and Radiant Foods" Kale Chips - The Trader Joe's Brand is also excellent. Eric also specifically requested Kale chips be included on this list. 
  • Home baked cookies. (my favorites are oatmeal chocolate chip, Eric's favorites are Peanut Butter chocolate chip). Eric also suggested Banana Bread and "other baked goods" for the list. 
  • "Go Raw" 'cookies' - my favorite flavor is Lemon Pie, Eric's is Chai. The Carrot Cake Flavor is also very good. I know that they sell these at New Leaf in Santa Cruz, and probably many other health food stores.
  • "Go Raw" Coconut Crisps (Tangy Lime Flavor, Eric doesn't really like these but I could probably happily eat 3 bags in a sitting). The Salt and Vinegar flavor is kind of trash, though when we are low on electrolytes I might like that one better. I should point out that we both love coconut, and it's full of healthy fats and other things that our bodies will be needing, so please send us coconutty things! 
  • "Wonderfully Raw" Cocoroons-favorites include the brownie and lemon pie flavors (ok, I love lemon flavored sweets.)
  • "Cocohydro" dehydrated coconut water. The Original and pineapple flavors are both excellent
  • "Mount Hagen" Single Serve Instant Coffee - I included a link, but they also sell these at New Leaf in Santa Cruz, so there's a good bet they would be at other health food stores as well. These are cheaper and better than Starbucks Via, but Eric likes Starbucks Via too, so that certainly wouldn't go to waste. Just please don't get decaff. seriously. 
  • Larabars - We purchased Costco Packs of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Cashew Cookie, and Apple pie flavors, so any flavors other than those would be great!
  • ProBars- All the varieties are great! Meal, protein, bolt, etc!
  • Cliff Bars- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut is a Kira favorite. 
  • Clif "Shot Blocks" - Eric thinks the margarita flavor is weird but I like 'em! The fruity flavors are probably best though. The Jelly Belly Sports Beans are also amazing! 
  • "Tanka" Beef Jerky - I love the cranberry buffalo jerky. I'll take literally any kind of beef jerky though
  • "Carnation" Breakfast Essentials Milk Chocolate Powder
  • Dried Mango/other dried fruits
  • Salami
  • "Various Trader Joes Treats" - like speculoos, Almond Butter, and chocolate. 
  • Single Serving packets of Olive Oil and Coconut Oil - The coconut oil ones can be found at health stores, olive oil may need to be sourced from the internet
  • Nuun Hydration Tablets - readily available at REI and I've seen them at health food stores as well. I like the ones with caffeine in them. 
  • EmergenC - let's avoid scurvy yes?
  • Digestive Enzymes/Chlorella Tablets - help our poor oil/carb filled digestive systems out.... 


Where to send them?

First of all, contacting my Mom will be the best bet for determining where to send a package. She is managing our regular mail drops, so she will have our next destination most of the time. If you need contact information please let Eric or myself know.  (Eric's mom should also have this information, because... moms...) You can also contact us, but since we will be out of cell service and with our phones on airplane mode, you might not have enough warning to get a package to our next stop in time. We will try to give our moms the next two or so stops we are planning to make. They can also help coordinate so we don't get 9 packages to the same stop. We'll also try to keep the blog fairly up to date, but no promises there.

It's important you don't "surprise" us with a package

because we might make a last minute decision not to stop in a town, and we won't go to a post office unless we are expecting a package. If we miss your package, it can be forwarded to the next stop easily and free of cost, as long as we know that we need to coordinate that!

You will most likely be sending things to:

General Deliver

Appalachian Trail Hiker: Kira Thornley/Eric Duarte

Town, Zip Code

General delivery holds packages for up to 30 days. Please use our real names, and not our trail names, since we will have to present ID to pick up general delivery packages and my ID doesn't have a trail name on it!