JMT Prep: Resupply

[Part 3 of our JMT Prep plan. See previous POST 1 for the background and POST 2 for the food story.]

I really wanted to get this post out before we left, so here goes. The food questions have been answered, and now it’s time to talk about just how that food gets to us throughout these upcoming (2 days!) 21 days.

No one in their right mind would carry 21 days worth of food. First – it’s heavy – and remember, I cut out something that weighed an ounce. But second, and probably even more importantly, you really can’t. Most areas of the John Muir Trail require carrying of a ‘bear canister’. They are virtually impossible for naughty hungry bears to open, even though they are certainly NOT scent-proof.

This is a typical bear canister:


They aren’t small, as you can see. They weight about 2-3 pounds themselves, depending on the brand and should carry about 4-5 days of food for 1 person, of course depending on density/volume/number of snacks/booze/etc. But note: NOT 21 DAYS. Eventually, using them becomes really easy, as does getting it in and out of your backpack.

But not being able to carry all the food at once means you have to do something called “resupply”: you have to plan out stops along the trail so that you can pick up food and restock. The first half of the trail has more options, like in Yosemite and the ‘resort’ where we are staying; the last half of the JMT has fewer options. Some people simply resupply by buying food at the stores that are along the trail (usually not on the trail, but off by .5 miles or so). Others, like us, mail boxes or buckets to those locations that are held (for a fee; ain’t nothin’ free!) until we arrive.

Jennifer and I ultimately decided to resupply 3 times, so once we figured that out, we each had our own methods to organize. For me, I was lucky enough to have a spare bookcase in which to put labels, as you see here:IMG_5533

As you can probably read, we are starting the trail carrying 3 days of food. We resupply at a place called Tuolumne Meadows (in Yosemite), where we will pick up a box that contains our food and snacks for Days 4-8. Jennifer packed the snacks for this leg earlier than others, so that I could bring them back to SF when I was visiting in Seattle over July 4th. This helped to decrease cost of shipping since we only sent 1 box to this location.

Here is the box:IMG_5583

Packed and ready to go – we sent this one off first, since we are getting to this location earlier in the trip. Delivery confirmation showed it as being at the Tuolumne Meadows post office, so we should be good to go on this one!IMG_5584

The second resupply is a bit trickier, and bigger. We are staying at a place called Vermilion Valley Resort to relax on our 9th day of the trip. We have no miles planned and a reservation for a real bed, a shower (!), and laundry. This place will also have magical things like sandwiches, beer, and BBQ. It’s going to feel good for that 1 little day.

That said though, once we leave VVR, we have to carry 8 days worth of food. Remember how I said the bear cans only held around 4-5 days worth of food? Yeah, that’s right – but luckily, bear cans aren’t required along the beginning of that 8 day section, so we’ll be able to whittle down our food supply and eventually get it all back into the bear can by the time we have to. Don’t worry – no bear attacks will be had here – that’s one part of this trip that we’re totally prepared for.

As you see below, for my VVR bucket, I have all of mine and Jennifer’s meals laid out for those 8 days, and also a few replacement toiletries, like wipes and sunscreen, and even a fresh pair of clothes to wear while my dirty dirty laundry is being washed (these clothes will be tossed before we leave).IMG_5586IMG_5589

VVR recommends shipping in a bucket, so that’s what you see here – a 5 gallon bucket that is literally filled to the brim with our supplies (the picture shows it halfway full, but don’t you worry – it was to the top when it went out):IMG_5592

This got shipped out last week, and has also been confirmed as arrived at VVR:


So after that, we have 4 more days to go, and this is the section where the resupply options are few and far between. Most require you to leave the trail by about 14 miles roundtrip, and an extra day of hiking. You could also hire a pack mule service which will set you back a few hundred dollars. Or you could find a loving husband who happily hikes in 7 miles to resupply you for your last 4 days, and walks the rest of the trail with you:

I have a feeling that, no matter how much whiskey he does or doesn’t bring, this will probably be my favorite of all the resupplies. But I also have a feeling he will want to sleep in a tent all by himself due to the stench emanating from the two of us.

So that’s the quick 3 post rundown! We are almost ready for this thing. We’ll be in Yosemite in less than 48 hours, hopefully getting a good night’s sleep, and starting mile 1 of many on Saturday.

Regardless of the outcome, I’ll report back here at some point – so stay tuned!



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