Part of the logistics of doing the John Muir Trail is how to get food into the wilderness when you don’t pass a road for a full 220 miles. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of research on what’s available. There are many different resupply options at the beginning of the hike (going North to South), but for the last 100 miles or so, there’s nothing right off the trail.
Mile 0 – Happy Isles
Happy Isles is where you start (if you’re lucky enough to get the permit!) and allows you to enter this crazy journey! Of course, you’ll need food, but not too much, because your first opportunity to resupply is…
Mile 23 – Tulomne Meadows
Most thru hikers tend to leave some supplies in one of the bear boxes here. If you don’t trust other hikers not to take your stuff, there’s a post office. There’s also the opportunity to drink a beer here. It seems like most people cache some gear here because those first twenty miles are quite the uphill battle.
Mile 58 – Red Meadows
After walking the JMT for almost a week, you arrive at Devil’s Postpile, which is a national monument. You can resupply here – they’ll store your resupply for a fee.
Mile 88 – Vermilion Valley Resort
The jury seems to be out on VVR. Some people love it and others hate it, but it is a viable resupply point. Before the drought, there was a large lake that they would ferry you across less than a mile from the trail that would take you almost exactly to the resort, where your first beer would be free. Now, though, there’s the possibility that they won’t even be able to run the ferries because of how low the water is, and thru hikers over the past several years have had to hike about 5 extra miles to get to the resort. It can also be a very costly stop – expensive for beer and food, and staff encourages you to “take a zero,” which can really slow down your trip. The fees to store your resupply, at least, are reasonable.
Mile 108 – Muir Trail Ranch
This is the last place right off of the trail that’s an option to resupply at. If you choose to resupply here, you have a good 10 days of hiking – not only is that hard to fit into a bear can, it’s extremely heavy. If you need 2-3 pounds of food per person per day, that’s an addition 25 pounds of weight to your pack! Muir Trail Ranch’s fees are reasonable, and they do have a tiny shop that you can buy things from for the last leg of your trip, too.
Other Resupply Options
- Have a friend meet you and hike in some food! This can work really well if you have friends that want to do part of the trail but can’t do all of it. There are many side trails that people can use to join up with the JMT. Bonus – more people = more fun on top of Mount Whitney!
- Pay a pack animal service to hike in some food. This can be extremely costly, but means that you won’t have to leave the trail.
- Hike to a trailhead and hitchhike into town. Not my favorite option, because of the hitchhiking, but inexpensive and effective. You do have to leave the trail though.
Right now, I’m leaning towards a resupply at Tulomne Meadows, Red Meadows, and Muir Trail Ranch. If there’s any friends in the LA area who want to do 5-7 days of the trail with us, I’d be happy to have you pack in some food as we approach Mount Whitney!