Resupplying on the PNT
On this page, I hope to answer some common questions about how I got food and
other supplies during the summer.
Please email me at
email@example.com if you
want to know more.
The Executive Summary I bought food as I went, stopping
in various towns along the way. For items that I would use frequently, but not be
able to get on the trail, I used a bounce box. The following sections
flesh out this very brief description. There is no reason to send yourself maildrops unless you have a special diet or want to avoid the 230 mile resupply run between Oroville and Glacier. See the guidebook for information about Ross Lake Resort.
Using the Postal Service Hikers will get to know the USPS very well
during their hike. You can send yourself a package to any post office in
America using the General Delivery address. You address you package as
c/o General Delivery
Town, State, Zip
Please Hold for Hiker. ETA: Your expected date
When you get to the post office, show your idea and they will retrieve your package for you. Most POs will hold your package for at least two weeks from when they receive it. Don't send them a package 2 months in advance. Besides being rude, it will probably be returned before then. Although no one knew what the PNT was, I had no problems with the USPS system.
It used to be the case that if you were shipping in-state it was a lot cheaper to send something Parcel Post. However, times have changed and the cost difference between Parcel Post and Priority is minimal these days.
Using a Bounce Box A bounce, or drift, box is simply a package that you mail to yourself repeatedly. That is, you keep bouncing it to yourself. It contains things that you will need on the trail. For example, spare batteries, maps, guidebook sections, extra shirt, extra LED light, books, etc. Basically, anything that you think you may need to restock along the way and don't think you can easily get. When you fill up a journal or a memory card (or film!) you can put them into the box. You can use an actual box, but better is a 5 gallon, plastic paint bucket. There are some big benefits to doing this:
- They are very tough. You won't have a shredded box to pamper after the third
- You don't need any tape to seal them up. The lids snap shut and stay on
tightly. The postal employee behind the desk will probably tape the hell out of the lid anyways.
- They have a wire handle, which make them easy to carry through town.
- You can sit on them outside of the PO.
- They are very waterproof.
- They protect their contents.
- They are very big. You can put a lot of stuff in them.
You can buy a bucket and lid for about $5 in any hardware store. Mine survived the PCT, AT, a section on the CDT, and the PNT. It is still going strong. Incidentally, I've been hearing from people hiking the PCT recently that I came up with this grand idea. I didn't. I copied it from Dave Brock, whose PCT page I read, and re-read, several times before doing my hike in 2003.
I sent my bounce bucket 7-14 days up the trail from me. The towns I sent it to were:
- Eureka, MT
- Metaline Falls, WA
- Oroville, WA
- Anacortes, WA
The PNT guidebook has some information on towns along the way, but most of it is extraneous, ambiguous, or other wise not helpful. For example, including information on Spokane really doesn't help a long distance hiker because Spokane is more than 100 miles off trail. There is some useful information such as which towns have free camping is included. Before getting to specific towns, I'll describe some easy resupply strategies which extend to any trail in the US (or Canada). There are three basic kinds: Mail drop, buy as you go, and hyrbid.
The idea is to buy food in bulk and mail it to post offices, hostels, motels, trail angels, hunting outfits, and other places along the trail. There are several benefits for this.
However, the mail drop method has several critical disadvantages.
- First, you can determine exactly what you will be eating. There is no mystery as to what a town will have and you can eat at a much higher level than the other methods. For example, you can cook and dehydrate meals (very easy to do) at home and then enjoy very tasty, very nutritious meals on the trail. Moreover, you can access ingredients that are very hard to find on the trail, such as quinoa.
- Second, by buying in bulk you can reduce overall costs. For example, there are several very good energy bars out there (ProBar, Honey Stinger, etc) and you can stock up on cases of them at a much reduced cost.
- Third, you can greatly speed up the town process by not having to hunt through stores for food you can eat or re-packaging the stuff you do buy. While this may seem like a small deal to someone sitting at home with a latte, hikers want to do as little as possible in town: Resupplying takes time.
- Fourth, if there is some item from home that you need (like maps, new memory cards, etc), you can have the mailer put them in the box when needed and send them to you. That is, you can avoid having a bounce box if you want. For example, you might want a new pair of shoes after 600 miles. Buy the shoes in advance and put them in the resupply box going to you near the 600 mile mark.
- Fifth, you can resupply at obscure places and thus cut your food weight down. For example, on the CDT you can mail yourself a box to Benchmark Ranch just after the Bob Marshall Wilderness. There is no food to buy there. By doing this, you can carry four or five days of food out of East Glacier, and then another four to Lincoln. However, I just put 8 days of food in my pack and went across the whole stretch in one shot.
- First, you have no idea (really) what you will want to eat over the course of several months. If you have a lot of experience with long hikes you can generally narrow the options pretty well, but until you have that experience it will be tough to figure out if you can stand Clif bars for six months. Moreover, people tend to underestimate the number of calories they need and hence maildrops can be thin on food. On the other hand, on the PNT I was less hungry than on other treks and needed less food. If I was sending mail drops, this would have been a problem as I would have had more food than was needed.
- Second, you cannot access fresh foods. For example, hauling lunch meat, bread, vegetables, cheese, fruit, or even a whole, roasted chicken is a really nice treat and something that will make the first few days out of town a more pleasant experience. Of course, you can always mail drop and then buy more, but if you're going to do this, why not buy everything?
- Third, you are are tying yourself to the schedule of the post office and can spend several unexpected days in town doing nothing while waiting for the PO to open. You really don't want to have a schedule on a long hike! If you are moving faster or slower than expected you will have to adjust all your mail drop schedules and this can involve a lot of work.
- Fourth, unless you ship from someplace close to the trail you won't save any money. In fact, it will be more expensive (generally) than buying as you go, even at the inflated prices you find in small towns and resorts. For example, load up 5 days of food at 2.5 pounds per day and you have a 12.5 pound package. For me to send that package via priority mail from Tacoma, WA to Boulder, CO would cost me $20 ($13 if the food would fit in a flat rate box). It is going to be hard to make up that amount of savings in your food.
- Fifth, you need to have some one reliable at home mailing the boxes out at the right time. Additionally, you need to be able to communicate with that person in case you are moving faster or slower than expected (the schedule thing). The person has to be ultra reliable.
Buy as you go
This method utilizes the stores that are found along the trail. Sources of food include regular grocery stores, convenience stores, hostels, gas stations, and outfitters. There are several benefits to this.
This method also has disadvantages.
- First, it is very convenient. There is very little pre-planning involved and you do not need someone at home to mail things to you. You are not tied to a post office schedule and you can change your resupply plan at will.
- Second, you can alter your diet to fit your conditions at the moment. Unless you have a lot of experience it will be hard to predict what you will want to be eating seven weeks and two days into your hike. Moreover, you can adjust the number of calories to suit your body. You may be using up many more calories than you thought and hence can ratchet up your consumption to match your needs. For example, I developed a real taste for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (the neon orange powder stuff). I hate this stuff at home, but it tasted really good on the trail.
- Third, you are supporting local communities. On a relatively wealthy, well traveled trail like the AT, this isn't a big deal. In small towns along the PNT or CDT, your business is much appreciated. Moreover, you can find locally produced food that isn't available elsewhere. For example, jerky and sausage can be found in many small places, or specialized backed goods.
- First, you are tied to what is available. It is possible in small areas that the stores can get bought out by people in front of you. I've heard of this happening at a few places along the AT in March and April and at Crater Lake on the PCT. This has never happened to me.
- Second, you'll eat a much less nutritious diet. Expect lots of junk food and heavily processed box things. You may have to buy several boxes of Pop Tarts for breakfast, mass quantities of Slim Jims and Snickers bars for lunches, and instant stuffing and potatoes for dinner. By including some energy bars you can normally get enough vitamins and minerals to keep going.
- Third, stores close without warning sometimes. You have to be prepared to hitch hike elsewhere to buy if the only store in town is closed or if you it doesn't have enough to get you by.
- Fourth, you need to find out what sort of stores are along the way. On the AT or PCT or CDT, this is pretty easy. On the GDT or PNT, this is a bit more difficult. It doesn't take much time, but you need a certain amount of faith that everything will work itself out.
The hybrid strategy tries to use all the benefits of the above two while avoiding their weaknesses. The idea is to buy as you go when you can. You figure out where you can't buy and then send a mail drop to there FROM the trail. As an example, you can't resupply (effectively) out of the store at Kennedy Meadows on the PCT. However, 250 miles before you hit Kennedy Meadows you'll be in Agua Dulce, where you can access big super markets. Buy food in Agua Dulce and mail it to yourself in Kennedy Meadows. This method effectively combines the benefits of both systems of resupply.
What is best for you? Which method will work best for you depends on who you are and what you like. In general a hybrid approach is best. Just don't over do the mail drops. If you have a strict diet (vegan, kosher, macrobiotic, halal) or are a picky eater (nothing with preservatives) or have allergies, you're probably better off with a mail drop system. If you don't want to deal with unknowns or have sponsorship for food, mail drops will be better. If you want to do minimal pre-trip planning and can resupply out of your neighborhood gas station, then buy as you go is for you. If you are planning your first long distance hike and have some doubts, ask around. There are lots of resources for you to draw from and you'll get a lot differing opinions on the matter.
The following is a listing of the towns that I went through along the PNT. The mileage is my own estimate based on the PNT guidebook, forest service road signs, and time-speed estimates. I'm including only the information that I think is important for long distance hikers. Some of the towns have a lot in them! There are many other towns in the PNT guidebook and several hikers I know used radically different towns than I did.
- East Glacier Park, MT East Glacier isn't on the PNT, but most hikers will pass through the small town in the Blackfoot Nation since the Amtrak comes right through town. There is a quite sufficient grocery store in town across from the train station and situated in the middle of the action. The store has internet access also. On the same strip you'll find Serranos, which is a pretty decent Mexican restaurant, in back of which you'll find the Backpackers Inn. This is a hostel with bunk rooms ($12) and a couple of private cabins ($?). There are several motels on the strip of unknown quality. The Two Medicine grill has a nice breakfast. You can buy HEET at the store and at the gas station down the way. On the other side of the tracks is the big lodge where you can catch a shuttle bus and, a but further down, several stores and bakeries.
- Waterton Townsite, AB. In my opinion, the townsite really sucks. Everything is expensive, the food isn't very good (and I've eaten at five different places over three different visits), there are lots of tourists, the beer is bad and pricey, and there are lots of tourists. I know I mentioned this twice, but it is something you should be aware of. You can stay at the Walk In portion of the campground, which is located at the far end of the townsite along the lake. In 2008 it cost $24, but there is a hot shower you can use. The Walk In designation just means that people park and walk 20 feet into a large expanse of grass. Do yourself a favor and just find a spot in the woods along the lake. The trailhead to the US border is located across the road from the Walk In area. Arrange your Glacier National Park permit at the warden station (visitor center) located across the street from near the turn off for the Prince of Wales hotel. There is a very adequate grocery store and a liquor store (where you'll have to buy beer).
- Polebridge, MT. Polebridge is a very small town on a gravel road in the North Fork Flathead valley approximately 38 miles from Waterton townsite (if you go via Brown Pass). There isn't much there, but what is there is very nice. Polebridge Mercantile is the center of town and has a really outstanding bakery in it. You might be able to eek out enough food to get you to Eureka, but it would be a little tight. No HEET. The Polebridge PO is also in the store, though service seems erratic. I think mail gets delivered only once or twice a week. There are two pay phones at the store as well. The store also seems to employ a large number of very attractive young women. There is a tavern/cafe that I didn't go to and which had somewhat strange hours. If you walk out of town about a quarter mile you'll get to the North Fork Hostel, which is a super cool place. Run by a German (?) named Oliver, the hostel is "off the grid" meaning that it doesn't get electrical or water service. There is a communal kitchen area and a bunk costs $15, which includes a shower. Or, you can pay $10 to camp on the lawn. There was a "Freethinkers" night being advertised for a week or so after I was there. I was treated really well by Oliver and the other guests and I don't think it was because of anything I did: They are just nice and the town of Polebridge is filled with such people.
- Eureka, MT. Eureka is the largest town you'll be in to until you reach Oroville. Its charm was lost on me when I first staggered in, hot, sweaty, and massively dehydrated. I soon grew to like it. Via my somewhat strange route, it is 103 miles from Waterton. Eureka has everything you could want. There is an expensive hotel outside of town, but you can camp in the city park for $5 a night. Payment is on the honor system it seems, but if you want a key to get into the bathroom, which also has a hot shower, you'll need to go to the police station (open 24 hours) and pay the $5 plus a $5 deposit for a key. If you really don't want to pay, you can go across the street and use the bathrooms in the gas station/casino. I spent three nights there and liked the park. The local youth like it also and on summer weekends it can get loud across the street and by the river. You've got at least three good resupply points. Close to the park is an organic health food store (Heavens Peak Organics) with some very nice things in it. It is for sale, so who knows how long it will be there. Next to it is the Montana Market, which is a standard grocery store with, again, everything you need. Further out of town on the main drag, but close to the PO, is an even larger grocery store called Steins. You can find HEET there and in several other places. The PO has been relocated since the guidebook was written and is now about a mile walk out of town on the main drag. If you keep going, you'll hit the forest service office where you can try to reserve the Webb Mountain lookout and get updates on trail clearing. You can access the internet in multiple places, including the library and video store cum coffee shop cum internet cafe. all right in the center of town. For dining options, I really like Grandma Tina's, a pizza joint across from the city park and Cafe Jax, which has really good breakfasts, salads, and shakes. The staff are fantastic. Don't bother going at night: It transforms into a snobby, poorly served Italian place. My "all you can eat" pasta plate was one serving. I waited for 30 minutes and the second plate never came out. I paid and left. There were rumors of an ownership change, and if so the night thing will get canceled since the chef at night is the owner's daughter.
- Yaak, MT. Yaak is a microscopic town consisting of a store and two bars. Hikers on route won't go to it, but those taking my cut off will. It is located about 62 miles from Eureka. I didn't eat at either bar, but did sit outside the store and drank several liters of sports drinks trying to rehydrate. It would be tough, but possible, to resupply at the store, which closes at 6 pm. The two bars looked ok. The laundromat may or may not be in existence (I saw signs, it isn't clear that it is open). About 3 miles down the road you'll find Pete Creek campground.
- Moiye Springs, ID. There isn't much in Moiye Springs other than a store/gas station. It is 98 miles from Eureka via my route, which you should vary so that you miss Moiye Springs altogether and get into Bonners Ferry with less road walking on US 2. There is a nice view from a high bridge of a damned river.
- Bonners Ferry, ID. Bonners Ferry is about the size of Eureka but quite spread out and is 104 miles from Eureka via the alternate route that I took. There are two parts. In "upper" Bonners Ferry you can find an outdoor gear store and a natural food store, but not much of else of interest to hikers. In "lower" Bonners Ferry (where you come into town) you'll find everything else you need. There is a Best Western in town, but it looked ritzy and was attached to a casino. Instead, I camped at the fairgrounds. Beware that there are no signs saying you can do this, but I checked around (it took some doing) and was told that I could camp there. You might want to check in at City Hall, the Police Station, or the Visitors Center. Camp over by fence for the rodeo area: The sprinklers won't get you. There is a Safeway two blocks from the fairgrounds where you can get supplies, including HEET. The library is a few blocks further and has internet. The PO is across the street from the Safeway. Very good burgers were to be had at Mugsy's, along with quality beers on top (Arrogant Bastard!). They have outdoor seating so you don't have to worry about stinking up the place.
- Metaline Falls, WA.
Metaline Falls is a dying town located about 80 miles from Bonners Ferry along my alternate route, which is much shorter and direct than the PNT and involves no hitching. It won't be there much longer, but for now it has everything you could want. There isn't much to do in town, so it is perfect for a zero day and I took my first one there. There are two lodging options in town. First (and best) is the Washington Hotel, right on the main drag. This is an old, historic building, but quite comfortable and is run by a fun woman named Lee McGowan. Contrary to the guidebook, there is no bakery on the ground floor. Rooms are $30. The hotel has a communal shower area and a common front room with a TV and a nice view of town. This is a cash only place! The other place to stay is in a shady, soul-less apartment complex on the other end of town. The building itself is a "historic" one, but the Washington Hotel is much nicer. There is a restaurant next door to the Washington Hotel which has great breakfasts, but is also cash only. Pretty good lunch and dinner, too. There is a bar on the other side of the street that also sells food, but it smelled, well, greasy. On the same street as the Washington, the diner, and the bar, you can find the PO and a well stocked grocery store which also has HEET. There is also a movie theater in town, but it only shows flicks Friday to Monday. Make sure to check out the visitors center, which has lots of old photographs and sells cheap used books. The library is located in a historic building with more old photos and some displays. Definitely worth a look. Note that there is also a town called Metaline on the other side of the river. If you are sending yourself something, make sure it is addressed to the right town.
- Northport, WA. Northport is right on the Columbia, 46 miles from Metaline Falls via my alternate route. This is a little less in the death throes than Metaline Falls, but only barely. Lodging is limited. There is semi-official camping at the park down by the river, but it is supposed to be for RVs only and according to the locals it is where the young people go to smoke weed, shoot guns, and do wheelies on their quads and motorcycles. None of the locals that I talked to (which included two members of the border patrol) thought that camping there was a particularly good idea. There is a B&B in town which costs $50, which isn't bad considering that you get breakfast also. There is a place that rents cabins in town, but I never found out how much. A local named Joe that I met at the Mustang Grill let me camp on his lawn. The Mustang Grill, by the way, has some high quality breakfast food including the best bread I had on the trail. Really amazing multigrain stuff. There is a big grocery store right in town for supplies, including HEET. Also in town, across from the Mustang, is Northern Ales, a brew pub run by a friendly dude named Steve. They no longer stock organic groceries, but they do have pizza. The PO is a bit further down the main drag, but within 1/2 mile of Northern Ales. There is library a bit off the main drag, but it is only open a few days a week. If you're going to take a zero in one of the two places, I would definitely do it in Metaline Falls, which had a much chiller, if dying, vibe to it. The main attraction of Northport is Northern Ales. But the lodging, eating, and library available in Metaline is much better.
- Republic, WA. Republic is a small mining town located about 85 miles from Northport if you take the cut-off route that I did and come directly into town. It was super hot and sweaty when I came in and I decided to shell out $71 for a motel room. The cheaper place in town was full with miners. There is a third, more expensive place in town as well. Despite the spendy room, I really liked Republic. There are several good bar/grill combos. There is a Mexican joint, an Italian place, and a bakery. There is a big grocery store as well and several gas stations on the outskirts of town. The library is on the main drag close to everything. The PO is on the drag also. Get the idea? Everything is close. Republic has a very authentic feel to it and, thanks to mining, isn't dying. You can walk directly out of town pretty easily also and cut off the southern orbit that the PNT makes around Republic.
- Oroville, WA. Oroville is a strange town in the Okanogan Valley located approximately 60 miles from Republic on a direct route (i.e, not the PNT). It can be blisteringly hot here, especially is you happen to pass by the apple orchards when they are watering. Oroville marks the halfway point of the trip, both distance-wise and mentally. After Oroville you climb into the Pasayten and cross the north Cascades. The next town of any appreciable size is Anacortes, though Glacier has supplies and beer! You will want to take some time off here because it is a long, long way to Glacier and even further to Anacortes. Fortunately, it isn't too expensive to stay in town. I stayed at the Camaray Motel, which was $40 a night and is located on the main drag across from Alpine Brewing (which was closed when I was there). There are several other motels in the area. If you really want to camp in the heat, walk out of town a mile or so to a state park on the lake. Or, camp at the RV park in town (on the way out of town) for $15. Your next motel stop is a long, long way away, so treat yourself. The town of Oroville is a little shady, and every male above the age of 10 seems to go around without a shirt on. Seriously. There is a huge grocery store (Prince's) about a mile from the Camaray, though there is a closer one in the other direction, also on the main drag. The PO is located about 2 blocks from the Camaray, as is the library. You can get HEET in a few places, but not at Prince's. Many dining options. If you want to meditate, they have a Zen center on the main drag about a block from the Camaray.
- Glacier, WA. There isn't a whole lot in the town of Glacier, located on SR542 about 230 miles from Oroville (15 less if you hitch). But, you'll like what you find. There is a store with plenty of supplies for you to buy, including great baked goods and an excellent microbrew selection. You're west of the Cascades now, which means every place will have good coffee, and Glacier is no exception. Milano's is a good Italian place across from the store. There is another cafe in town, but I've never gone to it. There is a forest service office in Glacier that employs a lot of attractive, helpful women. Ask them for where to camp in town, but basically find a gravel road splitting off from 542 just outside of town (toward Baker). Follow this a short way to where a track splits off to the left. Follow this to an open spot next to the river. This is a 5 minute walk from town. If you are following the PNT, this will be your last town for a long time as you wander around the logging areas south of Baker. If you road walk SR542 and SR9, you'll have other towns soon.
- Edison, WA. Edison is a very small town located near Samish Bay about 50 miles from Glacier via SR542 and SR9. There isn't much in town, but there is a very good grill right as you come in to town. Another block or so gets you to main street, which has a sweet bar in it and a fancy, boutique grocery store. You can buy high end beer (at normal prices) and wine there. Bay View State Park, where you can camp, is about 6 miles further along. You're on the PNT at this point.
- Anacortes, WA. Anacortes is probably the best town on the PNT. It is about 70 miles from Glacier via road walking, though you can make this longer by taking the absurd PNT route through the industrial waste land of March Point. However, the PNT barely skirts the edge of it. Do yourself a favor and walk the 12 blocks into downtown. When you hit Commercial Street, just walk it into downtown. Lodging is more expensive ($70 vs $50), but you're in a super cool area with lots of eating options, brew pubs, and atmosphere. You can take a sweet route out of town also directly from downtown. I stayed at the San Juan motel, which is the cheapest of the downtown options (though not by a lot). The PO is right across the street. There is a massive Safeway just on the outside of downtown (4 blocks from the PO). The library is excellent and also located in downtown. The Rockfish Grill (the front for Anacortes Brewing) is in downtown and has great beer and excellent carnitas. There are several other good eats places in town. I took a zero here and loved it. Pick up a free area map from the visitors center, which is also in downtown. Everything you want is in downtown and if you follow the PNT you'll come away thinking that Anacortes sucks. Seriously, come into town. You probably haven't had much luxury since Oroville, which is a long, long way. Budget for the stay in advance and enjoy your time. You don't have a lot of other places like this on the PNT, and between here and the ocean the only real place to take some down time indoors is Forks.
- Oak Harbor,WA. Via the scenic (at times) roads and beaches that I took, Oak Harbor is a 24 walk from Anacortes. Oak Harbor is a military town (Whidbey Naval Airstation) and is one of the few towns I won't go back to. You can walk from the PNT into downtown, but it takes a while. Just keep following your nose until you get to the water, then follow it to the right to the RV park, where you can camp for $12 (I didn't pay). There were a lot of shady characters in the park and I slept with my knife in my hand. The town of Oak Harbor is completely without character, which is too bad because it is in an excellent location and if a few changes were made it could be great. But that would mean getting rid of all the PayDay loan places, furniture stores, car dealerships, fast food joints, sleazy motels, and other such things that seem to accompany the military where ever it goes. Although only a few miles from Anacortes, it is a world away. When walking to the Safeway, I had to wait 5 minutes to cross the street (at a light!) due to very heavy traffic from the base (in the early AM it was deserted). I was a little worried at the attention I was drawing from various groups of people while I rambled about town. One reason I came into town was that I had heard there was a great brewpub in town. Well, I looked through downtown and couldn't find it. Incidentally, I live in a town with a much bigger military presence that is nicknamed Hoodwood or Lakehood, so Oak Harbor wasn't exactly a new experience for me.
- Coupeville, WA. Coupeville is a small town 12 miles or so from Oak Harbor via a sequence of pretty roads. I didn't stay there, but really liked it. Oak Harbor was really awful, but Coupeville was just delightful, even if it was a little touristy. The houses were beautiful, old, and well restored. At the water front I ate a nice lunch (and a pint of Guinness) at Toby's, a historic bar. Coupeville was like a mini version of Anacortes and a world away from Oak Harbor. There is a PO in town along with a grocery store, but you probably don't need supplies at this point. There were a few B&B type places, but they looked pricey. If there was a free park in town, or a local had invited me to camp on their lawn, I probably would have taken a day off and swilled beer at Toby's. You won't go through Coupeville if you take the beach route of the PNT.
- Port Townsend, WA. Port Townsend is a major town that you reach after a ferry ride. It is located 5 miles from Coupeville via the road walk and 45 miles from Anacortes. PT is a bit of a mixed bag. But, first the good. The best brewpub on the PNT is in Port Townsend, and that is Water Street Brewing. From the ferry terminal, make a right on Water Street (the main route) and walk about 4 blocks down. It is in an old, historic building with lots of old, dark hardwoods inside. They had an absolutely stunning single hop ale (way major IBUs) called Strange Brew. I drank 3 pints of that, plus a pint of their Imperial IPA. The food looked awesome, but I was still full from the burger I had at Toby's a few hours early. There is another brewpub in town (Port Townsend Brewing), but I didn't see it. The main area of PT has a lot of tourists, but isn't too bad overall. My idea of bad is Leavenworth, if that helps and you've been there. If you want to camp in town, you can head to Fort Worden State Park, which is a 2.5 mile walk! You can take the bus if you want, but it didn't run at times convenient for me (on the hour). When you get to Fort Worden, it looks like it will be a nice experience. But, the "Walk In" campsites are pretty dumpy and in the middle of the woods. It ended up being me an several homeless people. I don't know how much it costs because I didn't pay, nor did I see anywhere to pay or even how much it was supposed to cost. There is a big Safeway in town located on your route out of town on SR20. There were some nice homeless people, and then there was the Tribe. These 14-24 year olds show up in places like Portland and Olympia and Seattle and Bellingham and Vancouver. Homeless, dreadlocked, and bearded (men and women, too). Frequently they are carrying musical instruments, fibercraft bags, and ascribe to an odd mixture of anarchism, paganism, trustafarianism, and class warfare. They seem to exist simply to annoy other people, especially any one they think is "bourgeois". There were a lot of them in PT and they frequently picked arguments with tourists, yelled at passing cars, and generally made a nuisance of themselves. On my way out, I passed one and smiled and said hello. He glared at me angrily and went on his way. Now, at this point I had a thick beard and had been living out of doors for quite some time and so couldn't be mistaken as a tourist. I just wasn't part of the tribe. PT was the only town where I ran into the Tribe. The homeless people I camped with were actually homeless and not part of the Tribe.
- Discovery Bay, WA. There isn't much here. The PNT tells you to take the bus for 5 miles to here, then walk obscure routes into the Olympics. I did and wouldn't bother again. See the Thruhikers guide for other options. There is a store here with overpriced things to buy. You could resupply here, but it would be best to haul supplies from Port Townsend, which is about 12 miles away on foot.
- Port Angeles, WA.
I didn't mean to come into Port Angeles, but a storm drove me out of the highlands and down to the warmth and security of sea level. Hikers will pass through only if they are forced to, or on their way home from the PNT. PA is a big, sprawling town. Expect to pay a lot for even the dumpiest of motel rooms. A Red Lion on the water will run you $200+ a night in the summer. The hotel people have to make all their money between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I stayed at Riviera Motel for $65. I suspect that you won't do any better than that. PA has everything you could want in a town, including transit out of it.
- Forks, WA. Forks is a strange town in the middle of nowhere, but important for PNT hikers as it is the last town before the end. On the route I intended to take from Port Townsend it would be 125 miles. In Forks you'll find a selection of motels. I stayed at the Town Motel, which several motel owners told me was the cheapest. It advertised color TVs, for example and cost me $51 with tax. The other places were all $65+. You can camp at Bogachiel State Park, which is about 4 miles south of town. The best pizza on the whole PNT is at the pizza joint in the grocery store shopping center at the southern end of town (next to Town motel). The chicken-pesto-sun dried tomato-artichoke heart-riccotta cheese pie was out of this world. There is a library at the north end of town along with a liquor store. There is a National Parks office at the southern end of town in the transit center building. Here you can get permits for the park and rent a bear canister (needed for the raccoons on the coast), which you'll need to return in either PA or Forks, though you can drop it at the Cape Alava ranger station. They don't have a regular way of bringing the canisters from Alava to Forks or PA, however.