It used to be common for thru-hikers to prepare dozens of boxes of food and other supplies, which they would then schedule to be sent at intervals to destinations on the trail. That practice has been less necessary in recent years. There are a greater number of businesses near the trail that provide hiker services, so it's now much easier to resupply for short sections.
Though I don't really need to do it, I have elected to prepare a couple resupply boxes for my first three weeks on the trail. I decided to do this because I am trying to make those weeks as efficient as possible.
I'm hoping to get through the Smokies before April 23, which is when I plan to take a week off from hiking. I will be to attending DrupalCon, a web developer convention that is scheduled for April 24-28 in Baltimore.
So the plan is to have a food box waiting for me at Neel Gap in Georgia, which is the first resupply option directly on the trail. I'll send another box to Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina.
An outfitter store is located at both of these spots, so it's possible to purchase resupply items there. I don't plan to spend the night at either of these locations, though. It will be faster for me to just pick up a box there instead of shopping and repackaging everything before continuing down the trail.
A couple stops are planned during the first three weeks where I'll have more time to shop for food. Hiawassee, Ga. and Franklin, N.C. are farther off the trail, so a longer time spent in town will be necessary anyway.
The final resupply during the first three weeks will be just before the start of the Smokies. Our two sons, Logan and Landon, are planning to join me for the 72-mile hike through the national park, so I will arrange for them to bring me a resupply box I've prepared ahead of time.
There are many other things to do before I leave, like handling a few last minute gear changes, but I feel like I'm about as prepared as I'm going to be.