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Shipping Food to the JMT
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Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Shipping Food to the JMT on 05/08/2009 15:32:49 MDT Print View

I am starting my JMT hike in August with a group of 5. We will resupply at Vermillion and Muir Ranch. I always repackage my food for my hikes to cut down on waste, bulk and weight.

The problem I have is with the foods I open and repackage; like dehydrated meals, nuts, etc. Since they are no longer sealed they won't stay fresh for as long as it takes to mail, etc. I would like to pack my canister with the food beforehand to make sure I have room for all the food. I also do not want to leave so much trash at Vermillion and Muir Ranch. I was thinking of resealing all of the opened items using a vacuum pack machine. Naturally, the unopened packaging could remain as is.

What have you done or what what you suggest?

Edited by scottbentz on 05/08/2009 16:00:29 MDT.

David Neumann
(idahomtman) - M

Locale: Northern Idaho
Shipping food to MTR on 05/08/2009 16:36:28 MDT Print View

I repackaged my food into heavy duty zip lock bags and Aloksac bags and had no problems. I would think the vacuum pack solution would be even better. Once the five gallon plastic bucket is packed and the top is back on, seal it as best as you can. MTR stores the buckets in a dark, cool location so they are well protected. If you ship by priority mail, it won't take too long to get there.

Vermillion and MTR aren't too far apart. I sent one small package to Red's so I didn't have to haul a big load coming out of Happy Isles and then had the one bucket at MTR. Depends on your time schedule certainly. I didn't go to Vermillion; didn't want to leave the wilderness.

Have a great hike.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Shipping Food to the JMT on 05/09/2009 10:59:07 MDT Print View

Food vac + desiccant packets will go a long way to keeping everything fresh.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Shipping Food to the JMT on 05/09/2009 11:15:08 MDT Print View

"...they won't stay fresh for as long as it takes to mail, etc..."

Vacuum bagging can increase the required volume because stuff doesn't 'nest' as well. You end up with a lot of empty unused space. Unlike packing your sleeping bag in a Big stuff sack and letting other things sink into it.

Will your dried foods lose much 'freshness' over the time period you are considering? Most dry stuff has a pretty good shelf life even after opened.

If not, pack it loose and floppy.

Edited by greg23 on 05/09/2009 12:28:55 MDT.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Thanks for input on 05/09/2009 15:12:42 MDT Print View

First of all, I only want to send my food vacuum packaged to the location where I pick it up at either Vermillion or Muir Ranch. Naturally, I would take it out of the vacuum bags at that point. Also, I am only talking about the food that has to be taken out of already vacuum packed bags. The other food, such as energy bars, etc. I'm not at all worried about that stuff.

I was worried about the time it took between opening the packages, repackaging, mailing and having the food there for a week or so on top of it.

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Shipping Food to the JMT on 05/12/2009 08:05:21 MDT Print View

I vacuum-sealed all of the food that went to Muir Trail Ranch. I sent 11 days worth to MTR and it barely fit into the 5-gallon bucket. Vacuum-sealed packages definitely take up more room than more loosely packed stuff.

I would not bother with a VVR resupply VVR is only two days from MTR, I would restock at Red's Meadow instead. You may also want to send a package to Tuolumne Meadows for resupply: that way you only have to carry two to three days food out of Yosemite Valley. For shipment to Red's or Tuolumne Meadows, there is no need for vacuum-sealing; stuff gets there easily within a week to ten days of mailing. Not so with Muir Trail Ranch.

One thing I found, the hard way, is that with vacuum-sealing if you vacuum-pack greasy stuff like crumbled Fritos the grease will migrate to other packages unless you put it into an airtight container. Not sure why this happens but it does and it makes a bit of a mess.

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
ziplock or not on 05/12/2009 13:02:19 MDT Print View

wouldn't be so worried about the trash - they have piles of these plastic paint buckets at the Muir Trail Ranch, and they haul them out on their Unimog. A few wrappers in there won't be the world.

On the other hand - I usually have all my meals in ziplock bags and they stay fresh just fine for the 2 weeks between packing and pickup. I despise the packaging of freeze dried food, even the vaccum sealed stuff is extremely bulky in a bear canister. I just buy the stuff in bulk in a large can and repack into zip locks, or mix my own stuff.

Just don't pack the fresh salami into the food you mail to those places.

You know you can mail food to the store at Reds Meadow as well?

Their store has a lot of things, but it doesn't have everything I'd want in my bear canister.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
ziplock and vacuum pack on 05/12/2009 13:53:37 MDT Print View

I use ziplocks for nuts, fruit, crackers, cookies, chocolate. Clif bars et al, as you said, are fine in their own wrapping. These things will keep for many weeks without vacuum packing.

For oily stuff that can spoil and/or leak grease - cheese and meat (salami, jerky, smoked fish) - I vacuum pack and leave it vacuum packed throughout the hike. I wrap each meal's portion of cheese & meat in saran wrap. Then, four meals worth get carefully consolidated, like puzzle pieces, in each vacuum bag. Every other dinner I open a new bag to expose meat & cheese for two dinners and two lunches. That way, I only have 6 vacuum bags for a 12 day hike. The vacuum bags do take up a bit more room than ziplocks, but it keeps that oily stuff from leaking and it increases its shelf-life.

And one hint, in case you didn't think of it... The butcher at my local grocery store is the one who suggested this approach, when I asked his advice about which kinds of meat to take backpacking. And the butcher does the vacuum packing for me. He gives me bags, I stuff them at home, and bring them back for him to seal. The first time I did this I didn't ask him to put the seal as low on the bag as possible, and I ended up with 2-3" flaps of plastic which I couldn't cut off. That did make it harder to consolidate the bags in my pack. Since then, I ask him to put the seam as low as possible, and it's been great.

Hope you enjoy your JMT hike! Amy

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Shipping Food to the JMT on 05/15/2009 17:48:57 MDT Print View

VVR and MTR? Those are about 2 days apart. I wouldn't worry about trash at either. At MTR, part of that $40+ goes to hauling out your paint bucket anyways.

I packed everything bulk so I had to use less bags. I also packed everything loose so that I could fill every nook and cranny in the bear can. Worked great. Packing a bunch of rock hard packages won't use all the cansiter space effectively.

The only thing I ate that would have a problem staying fresh was the tortillas. You can buy fresh flour ones at VVR or you can ship wheat ones that can last a month. Everything else was liptons, rice, noodles, dehydrated sauces, oatmeal, bars, nuts, dehydrated fruit etc. That stuff won't go bad for a very long time.

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
VVR and MTR? on 05/20/2009 09:34:11 MDT Print View

Sometimes I do both, VVR and MTR, like on our southbound leg this summer. Basically, if I am going past VVR anyway I do both supplies. The reason I go to VVR is not to save a few pounds on that section, but because I prefer a different route between Reds Meadow and Bear Ridge over the regular JMT. The trip up to the top of Bear Ridge from VVR is much more pleasant than the 50+ switchbacks on the JMT, for example, although there's absolutely no water on that route.

MTR has a truck that runs between the lake and the ranch to haul buckets and trash. You can even mail things back from there if you change your mind on some items.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
VVR and MTR? on 05/20/2009 12:18:37 MDT Print View

I did MTR rather than VVR last year; I heard a lot of good things about VVR, and if/when doing it again I'll go there to try it out. I picked MTR because it took a lot less time ... leave the trail one place, pick it back up another, very little off-trail distance to resupply, no waiting for a boat. And MTR was a day closer to my previous resupply (Independence via Kearsarge Pass), which spread out my resupply points more evenly.

I agree that resupplying at both seems a bit much, about a day apart if I recall correctly, especially given that both charge to haul in and hold your resupply, plus the boat ride fee at VVR (and the cost of the inevitable beer, etc ...).

In lieu of Reds Meadow, it's not too hard to take a bus (actually a couple of them) from Reds Meadow into Mammoth Lakes. A bit expensive and touristy, but you can buy groceries there and thus resupply on the fly, and there are reasonably cheap lodging options in town (including a campground if I recall correctly?).

In terms of the original question, only you can decide how much food you can fit; I vacuum sealed some stuff, and packed around that with other stuff that didn't get vacuum sealed so that it didn't make it that much harder to pack it in "efficient enough". But YMMV a lot based on what type of food you're eating and how many calories per day your body can use at the time...
MTR in particular has nothing to augment what your resupply bucket contains (don't recall a hiker box there, but maybe). VVR probably has a hiker box and I think they have a limited store (again, no personal experience).

Edited by brianle on 05/20/2009 12:20:08 MDT.

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
MTR "hiker box" on 05/27/2009 07:30:14 MDT Print View

Thy have buckets full of food others left behind. We replaced about half our 8 day supply with "higher grade" food there last summer, about July 18 (so after a bunch of hikers had already passed through). Early in the season there may not be that much.

As for VVR and the boat - if you alter your route a little, you don't need to take a boat. We usually come over Goodale Pass through Graveyard Meadow to VVR, then cut diagonally back up to Bear Ridge from the dam. Not Muir Trail, but I think it's just as interesting, if not better (because you're mostly alone on it).

It's about 1.5 days from VVR to MTR, so probably not a big savings in pack weight. However, if you've done the regular Muir before, this is a good alternate and you get to pick up food on your route.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
Goodale Pass on 05/27/2009 14:08:50 MDT Print View

Peter, I like your idea. Does the Goodale Pass Trail come out right at the VVR? The Harrison Maps do not show the entire length of the Goodale or Bear Ridge trails.

BTW I just ate food I had package for an aborted JMT hike last summer. No ill effects!

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
Goodale Pass to VVR, resupply info links on 05/29/2009 08:56:19 MDT Print View

The trail is in good shape and gets you right down to the resort.

regarding food shipping - the prices vary from location to location, with MTR being the most expensive, because they are ideally located and there's no easy alternative (like bus to Mammoth at Reds)

Resupply info links:



and the just updated MTR page (price has not changed from '08)

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
VVR vs Muir Ranch on 07/10/2009 11:47:54 MDT Print View

As I look at my trip plan I am wondering about my resupply needs.

As of now I was planning on resupply and a 1 day layover at VVR. We would arrive on day 5 and spend day 6 there. We thought we could resupply enough to get us past Muir to spread the weight out a bit. We would resupply at Muir a day and half later to complete our resupply. (using Bearicade Weekenders).

After seeing the Hot Springs at Muir, I am thinking maybe we wouldn't mind just spending our off day there due to the hot springs, etc. If so, we would get a small resupply at Red's and then at Muir. My hiking partners do not want to resupply only once.

Is there an advantage to Muir over VVR? Is one more laid back than the other. I think we could get cooked food at VVR and that would be a great advantage. Our days coming in and out of Muir are about 22.5 miles and don't allow much time for getting in a hot spring.

If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: VVR vs Muir Ranch on 07/10/2009 16:06:27 MDT Print View

Hi Scott,

Having never stayed at either (although I've hiked past MTR a couple times) I'll limit myself to pointing out that VVR is quite a bit off route, including the ferry ride if you so choose. MTR would be my choice based on that alone.



Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Vermillion off Trail on 07/10/2009 17:25:25 MDT Print View

Thanks Rick.

If we go to VVR we need to arrive by 4:45 to catch the ferry or hike in using another trail. We would then leave the next day at 4:00 ferry in order to be on the trailhead early the next morning.

I was hoping for a few good meals at either one. Is one better that the other?

Any experience would be helpful. I know if you go South to North you will for sure go to Muir Ranch since it is the first resupply spot available.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: Vermillion off Trail on 07/11/2009 14:57:20 MDT Print View

MTR and VVR are substantially different experiences; I personally have only experienced MTR, but talked to a lot of folks that went to VVR.

I was at MTR in June before it was open for guests, but unless you book (I would guess expensive) rooms there in advance I don't think your experience would be much different. You pick up your plastic bucket, they give you a picnic table to spread out on to get your resupply into your pack, and there's a hose there you can get water from. There's a little store with limited things at high price.

Don't get me wrong, the people are really nice, it's just that their primary focus is on guests staying there.
The upside is that it's a small detour from the trail both in terms of time and distance. I didn't go to the hot springs so can't comment on those.

VVR has tent-cabins and I think they let hikers spend their first night there free. You can indeed get a meal there and the folks I've talked to all enjoyed it a lot, though some with chagrin at how much money they ended up spending --- nice meals and beer etc but at a cost.

As you said, I went for MTR partly because it was about a day closer than VVR (about 21 trail miles), and its location was better to more evenly spread out stops both from where I was coming from (NOBO), and for a next-resupply at Mammoth Lakes. Most thru-hikers I know chose VVR anyway, and some went even longer without resupply to get there, starting from Kennedy Meadows (I resupplied in Independence). You just have to choose based on whichever factors are more important to you. My experience was faster, less distance, but with no social or meal options. That was okay as I got plenty of both in Mammoth Lakes.