[Cdt-l] BenchMark Mystery

Karen Somers kborski at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 9 09:59:52 CDT 2008

I really hate to even say this, because Beverly is very nice and Benchmark is a neat place.
However, based on my experiences and those of my other hiker friends, I would NOT recommend Benchmark as a mail drop.  We spent a lot of money ($25 x 2  people plus the extra cost of UPS) only to arrive at Benchmark with completely empty food bags and a locked cabin inside which sat our drop box (we could see it through the window).  We followed all of Beverly's directions, including calling her just before we left East Glacier to let her know the exact day that we would be there (we stuck to our schedule even though we could've easily made it in the day before our plan).
After arriving at the cabin, we waited for A DAY AND A HALF, camping out in the yard.  Lots of cars came and went on the dirt road outside.  (Luckily, there was a hiker box on her porch, so we were able to cook up some left-behind dinners to tide us over while we waited).  Finally, we hitched into Augusta.  It took us about 15 min to get a ride to town!  First car stopped.  It is about a 45-min drive, if I remember correctly.
In Augusta, we went in a general store and asked where/how to find Beverly.  We called her and she said she'd be out to the ranch later that evening.  She said she thought WE weren't supposed to be there for another day (????).  So, we spent that day in town, eating a restaurant meal and buying some fresh food.  Augusta is a GREAT trail town.  Compact, cute, real, plenty to eat, an affordable hostel, a hotel, park and library.  GREAT bar, too.  And the friendliest people we have EVER met in any trail town on the PCT or AT.  We TOTALLY regretted not just going into Augusta and skipping Benchmark altogether.  It would've saved us $60 (which we could have spent on an air conditioned room with a hot shower) and a lot of angst.  We would have had a nice relaxing town stay with plenty of good food and ultra neat people to meet.
Hitching back on a week day was harder than getting out to town.  It took us about three hours and two rides to get back to the ranch/trail.  Hard, but I've had worse on other trails.....
I guess I would just recommend that you not be intimidated by the remoteness of Benchmark.  It may be down a one-way dirt road, but we found it remarkable easy and worthwhile to get into town.  There is of traffic on the road, esp. on weekends, because there's plenty of camping and fishing along the road.  It's still a long, hard haul from Benchmark to Lincoln, so the down time to get into Augusta is worth having.  Everyone who pushed straight through to Lincoln with no rest was so tired that they had to take a zero in Lincoln anyway.
There were several other irrate and hungry thru-hikers who had the same experience with their boxes as we did at Benchmark.  Some of Beverly's neighbors who gave us one of our rides told us that they see hikers in that fix all the time (food locked up and no one there).  
Benchmark is really a lovely place and its proprieter is lovely.  In all honesty, the service to thru-hikers is not neglectful, as much as it is just highly unorganized.  

--- On Sun, 6/8/08, R Smith <ronyon at comcast.net> wrote:

From: R Smith <ronyon at comcast.net>
Subject: [Cdt-l] BenchMark Mystery
To: cdt-l at backcountry.net
Date: Sunday, June 8, 2008, 7:15 PM

Hmmm...your remarks below make me feel uncomfortable about the Benchmark
drop. Think I'll send food, but no maps or Jim Wolf pages. I can use
as a backup for the food.
I just mailed Beverly my $25 to her PO box, will let you know if it gets

    The BenchMark Mystery
  We mailed our check 3 weeks ago ( they have not received it ) to the  PO
Box 190. ( As was advised in the Yogi book )

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