On my first hike on Mt. Whitney a couple passed me on the trail and said you smell so clean. I looked at them so confused and they said that they’ve been on the trail for a month. The first thing that ran through my head was what do you eat out here for a month. Well now I know!
You ship resupply buckets or pack it all in with you!
Planning your resupplies and what to bring on the trail with you is one of the harder aspects of planning the John Muir Trail hike.
On my thru-hike, I planned to be on the trail for 17 to 18 days, so I needed to plan accordingly. The hardest part is not over packing, really thinking about what you’ll need and what you’ll want to eat. For my duration, I decided to have 2 resupplies and only carry 6 days of food.
To start, get buckets! I used the orange ones from Home Depot. You can ship resupplies in a box too but sometimes they get stored outside and if it rains, you don’t want your freeze dried meals hydrated early.
Depending on how many days you’re going and where you are starting from will determine how many resupplies you have.
When food shopping, get high calorie foods. For a guide on what meals to bring on a backpacking trip, read through my blog post on understanding how our body uses food as fuel and ideas for what to bring.
Also remember, you will need a bear canister. I carried the BV500.
If you’re going in the spring/early summer or fall months, make sure to check that your resupply point is open at the time of your trip.
I also suggest adding in a little treat into your resupplies and mixing up your meals. You’ll get bored quickly of eating the same thing. I added in a green apple Gatorade into each of my buckets and my hiking buddy added chips to hers.
I suggest repackaging your resupplies to save space in your bear canister.
When I repackaged everything, I could easily fit 7 days of food and toiletries and trash into my BV500 bear canister.
RESUPPLY POINTS OPTION HEADING SOBO
If you’re starting from Happy Isles this is the first resupply point on the trail, if you’re heading NOBO (Northbound), Tuolumne Meadows will be your last resupply option.
This resupply point is 23 miles from Happy Isles.
The post office is only open seasonally, so make sure they’re open when you plan on picking up your packages. The post office is located pretty much right on the trail and they will hold packages for thru-hikers at no cost. The post office is right next to the General Store so if you need something extra, you can get it there.
This is the address to ship to:
Your Name Here
c\o General Delivery
Tuolumne Meadows Post Office
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Located around mile 59 from Happy Isles, Reds Meadow will pick up your package from the Mammoth Lakes post office and hold it until pick up. Packages can be picked up from the General Store between 7am to 7pm.
The resupply point is a quarter of a mile off the trail. Just follow the road to the General Store, which also sells food and cold beer! They also have hot showers and a couple of hiker cabins, $50 per night (single) or $80 (double). The price includes showers and space is limited and reservations are recommended. The General Store also sells fuel.
Reds Meadow charges $40 to pick it up and hold it. If you want to drop it off in person in advance, they will hold it for $3/day.
Mail a form with the check with the form below 2 weeks before shipping your bucket then ship your bucket 3 weeks before you plan on picking it up. This is the form.
Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR)
VVR is located about 6 miles off trail and requires more effort to get to than some of the other options.
From around June to September VVR has a water taxi that runs from 9am to 4pm which can save about 5 miles from the hike to VVR. The taxi costs $13 one way and $23 round trip, you don’t need advanced reservations.
There is a 25 pound limit for each resupply bucket, they charge an extra $10 for overweight buckets.
Mail within 2 weeks of arrival. VVR charges $30 for June through September 15th. For May pick up or after September 15th through October they charge $50. VVR picks up the bucket from the post office and brings them to the resort for pick up.
VVR also provides showers and laundry services to everyone. Showers are $7 per person and include soap and a towel, laundry is $7 per load and includes soap. If you decide to stay at the resort, it includes showers.
For more info on VVR, click here.
Muir Trail Ranch (MTR)
This is the last official resupply option along the John Muir Trail. It’s also around the half way point on the trail. Depending on your hiking speed/days, many people have this as their last resupply point. And it’s less than a mile off trail.
This was my first resupply.
They charge $85 for a bucket weighing up to 25 pounds. They ask that you send your resupply in a 5-gallon bucket 3 weeks before your arrival. They will hold your resupply for an additional 2 weeks past your arrival date.
You need to pay online, then they give you a sheet to print and put on the top, side and inside of the bucket and a slip to bring with you to claim your resupply.
MTR sells fuel canisters since you can’t ship them and you can leave your trash with them.
Packages can be picked up between 8am and 5pm daily. And there are hot springs nearby!
Kearsarge Pass/Onion Valley
This was my second and last resupply on the JMT. There is no official stop right off the trail. And it’s only 40 miles from Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, so most choose to skip this stop.
For my resupply a trail angel (shout out to Kate) who is living in Bishop for the summer agreed to hike in a resupply for me and my hiking partner over Kearsarge Pass. So if you can find someone who will do this for you, do it!
Resupplying here will add 15 extra miles to your trip, but the hike to Onion Valley is beautiful!
There are a few ways to resupply here.
- Have a friend hike it in.
- Have a friend drive it to the Onion Valley trailhead and meet you there.
- For $75 the Mt. Williamson Motel will hold packages for non-hotel guests in town. This requires you to be able to get to town. If you’d also like a hot meal, shower, laundry and lodging at the hotel, the hotel offers roundtrip transportation. The cost for this is $175 (single occupancy) or $225 (double occupancy) and includes transportation, accommodations, breakfast, laundry, and storage of your resupply package. Click here for more info.
- Hire Berner’s Pack Service which uses pack animals to meet you along the trail. Contact them through firstname.lastname@example.org.
To arrange a resupply through the Mt. Willamson Motel, contact them to arrange the service you’d like.
Phone: (760) 878-2121
Once you’ve determined your plan, $100 check made out to the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation in a separate envelope to the address below. Then pack all food in the bucket and mail it to the same address below, make sure it arrives one week before.
The address to ship to:
Mt. Williamson Motel and Base Camp
PO Box 128
Independence, CA 93526