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Onion Valley - Independence re-supply
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Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Onion Valley - Independence re-supply on 06/11/2013 14:19:36 MDT Print View

Trying to figure out the most efficient way to get thru the last 100+ miles of the JMT with my son. We will be re-supplying at Muir Trail Ranch, but then there is a considerable distance to Whitney Portal. The mileage for me is not an issue, but for my son, that makes the total days really more than the effort of carrying the food. What are the options for leaving at Kearsarge, and going out at Onion Valley. Is this used for re-supply regularly, and is it an efficient use of time by the time you get a ride to and from the trailhead, pick up your box etc. Or do most folks just push thru for the long miles from MTR and make it work all the way to Whitney? Suggestions? I don't look forward to being a mule so that my son's pack is light. That could easily be a 10 day hike from MTR....

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Onion Valley - Independence re-supply on 06/11/2013 14:49:25 MDT Print View

for me the answer is an easy No it would not be efficient at all, but your situation is yours.
its roughly another 41 miles from where you leave the JMT for Onion Valley to the end at Whitney Portal.
how many miles a day will you be hiking ?
the out is 7.5 miles, then the hitchhike down and back up, then the long up hill hike back to Kearsarge Pass.

only you know your situation.

Christopher *

Locale: US East Coast
Re: Onion Valley - Independence re-supply on 06/11/2013 15:18:27 MDT Print View

Kearsarge is a very common resupply out for PCT hikers coming from the other direction. The hitching to and from Independence, Bishop or Lone Pine is very easy once down on the other side ... and the trail, despite elevation loss/gain is not all that bad ... just a bunch of switchbacks. Once back on the JMT you have something like 35 miles to Crabtree and another 10 miles to summit ... sometimes those last 2 days of food are that straw that broke the you know what ... plus it's a chance to bring otherwise overweight celebratory food-stuffs for the top. Additionally Crabtree is a neat place to take a half day or a zero, which is hard to do if your food is down to its end.


Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: Re: Onion Valley - Independence re-supply on 06/11/2013 15:19:32 MDT Print View

yeah, I hiked it two years ago to reach Roads end for my SHR hike, and I can't imagine it being that efficient. I keep thinking my son will do 10-12 mi a day pretty easily, but I its an unknown. He is only 16, and just don't want to wear him out. I think that the thought of a 10 day food supply just has me thinking of any and all other ideas.
I think that the best bet is to load up on food and accept that we need to make miles and hike smart.

Don Amundson
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
Onion Valley - Independence re-supply on 06/11/2013 16:17:45 MDT Print View

There are a number of options for resupplying from Onion Valley. The priciest is to have your resupply packed in to you over Kearsarge. The packer can be met at any number of places, Kearsarge Lakes, Kearsarge/JMT junction, Charlotte Lake etc. You can have a resupply at the packer station in Onion Valley (they have a hot shower at the station as an enticement). There is at least one service that will drive your resupply to Onion Valley and you pick it up. Hitching from Onion Valley to Independence is time consuming but doable. The Chevron station in town has hot showers for backpackers and a mini store that you can resupply from. If you want some real luxury make reservations at the Mt. Williamson motel. For a price they'll pick you up at Onion Valley and take you back to the trailhead. They recently changed owners and are hiker oriented so they might offer additional services. There are many options that like everything else comes with a cost.
I like the luxury of have the packer bring in my supply. But I'm old and usually hike with at least one other person to share the cost.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Onion Valley - Independence re-supply on 06/11/2013 16:42:41 MDT Print View

I did the JMT solo in 2008 over 15 days, including 7 from MTR to Whitney portal, no resupply. This year we will be doing a 25 day family trip including kids age 10 and 12. We will resupply at Onion Valley.

I don't think it's quite 15 miles out of the way, round trip. Probably more like 12 (You miss about 2 miles of the official JMT). My plan is to leave the family camped at Kearsarge Lakes for a zero day and slackpack out to the trail head and back. This might work for your son too.

A couple options:

No resupply. I would suggest on a southbound hike of up to 20 days to not resupply south of MTR. Take your time on the northern half of the trail, do a zero at MTR and stuff yourself, then head south with 8 days food. I found the southern half easier than the northern because I was acclimated to elevation and the trip.

Decide on the way. Do as above, but if it looks like you aren't going to make Whitney Portal, make the unplanned resupply at Independence. Hitch into town and then either resupply from the meager options at Valley Market or bus to Lone Pine.

Mt. Williamson Motel "Strider's Resupply" Complete Package ($175 per person, $275 double occupancy) that includes:
One night’s lodging; One hot breakfast; One load of laundry; One pick-up shuttle from Onion Valley Campground Trail Head to motel; One drop-off shuttle from motel to Onion Valley Campground Trail Head: Receiving and holding one resupply in our secure, air-conditioned facility.

I THINK that there is some limited cell service between Kearsarge Pass and Onion Valley. If not you definitely get coverage about 1 mile down the road.

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: Re: Onion Valley - Independence re-supply on 06/11/2013 17:01:26 MDT Print View

A part of me has been leaning towards what you mentioned with regards to leaveing MTR with 8 days of food. We are taking our time on the N section, in fact we are coming in via Rush Cr, bypassing Lyell and the Valley circus. We will re-supply in Reds, and then at MTR. So we will only have light packs for those sections. This will also give me an idea of what our mileage goals could be. Very possible to get strong on these portions in prep for the long haul. I also thought that worse case scenario will be me being a mule for the Whitney section. Also maybe grabbing some free stuff from the free barrel at MTR for a bit of extra food.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
I would do it in one stretch without re-supply on 06/11/2013 17:48:58 MDT Print View


I went in 2010 with my then 15 year old sons. As you can see in my son's trip report we took 9 days from MTR to Whitney Portal. The boys carried their own bear canister (Bearicade Expedition). Back then we were by no means light weight and carried way too much food. It still worked out fine.

In 2011 my wife and I went with our then 12 and 9 year old daughters. Our son and a friend hiked in over Kearsage Pass to met us at the intersection with the JMT and re-supplied us. We felt that was necessary because my wife and I carried all the food for our daughters. We had of course learnt a lot of lessons from the year before and lightened our loads accordingly.

In 2012 my wife and I went with our then 10 and 9 year old daughters. This time we planned without a re-supply. As you can see in our trip report it took us 8 days (really 7 if you consider that we left MTR after lunch and arrived in the early afternoon at Whitney Portal). Like the year before only my wife and I were carrying bear canisters, but our girls carried their own snacks for that stretch (starting at ~5 lbs each) during the day. That way we avoided the need for re-supply.

Given that your son is 16 years old and can carry his own bear canister with all his food, I would suggest to plan to do the stretch from MTR to Whitney Portal with no re-supply. If you plan for a low base weight (around 15 lbs) and not more than 1.5 lbs of food per day, you will keep your total max weight below 30 lbs which should make for a comfortable hike.

Have fun out there,


Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: I would do it in one stretch without re-supply on 06/11/2013 18:36:56 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for your feedback. I believe that more than anything its just a Dad being cautious and worried for his son. Most every scenario I can think of has run thru my mind, and your feedback has confirmed most of what I felt we could do. I'm pretty excited to have the opportunity to spend this time with my son, so I just am trying to do everything I can to try and make it as enjoyable as possible. So again, Thanks!

Kevin B
(kedward) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Re: I would do it in one stretch without re-supply on 06/13/2013 00:53:20 MDT Print View

Of course you know your son way better than any of us, but I'll bet he's tougher than you might be giving him credit for. By 16 I wouldn't be as concerned—especially given that this section is at the end of the trip. Lot's of time to get acclimated (both literally and figuratively) and strong. His body will adapt fast, and it will be a great challenge to tackle together.

And like was said above, if you pack pretty smart you should still be in the 30lb range. Manageable for sure.