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#56551 - 11/08/19 08:50 PM JMT 2020
WanderingJim Offline

Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 301
Loc: California
So since it's hard to find hikable mountains over 19,341 feet, I decided to try to do the entire JMT next year. It'll also a bit cheaper than Kilimanjaro was. smile

I'm looking at a 3 week itinerary, but that will all be up how my body holds up over 211 miles. Probably do it in August.

For resupply, Red Meadows is a given.

Is the John Muir Ranch or resupplying at Kerserage Pass better (or both)? Vermilion Valley Ranch looks like it's too close to Reds Meadow to really be worth stopping.

Looks like Sequoia Kings Pack Trains provide resupply to the JMT. I'm undecided about exiting Onion Valley to get a real shower/rest/resupply or just getting a resupply brought in. Anyone have any experience/suggestions?

So when does the JMT Rolling Lottery Application window open? Since they let you list multiple dates in the lottery, the regular 168 day window doesn't seem to make sense and ( doesn't mention a date other than the office opens on Nov 18th.

I assume the exit pass for Donohue Pass includes the Happy Isle trailhead permit as part of the lottery? The web information seems to imply that, but it's not 100% clear. Trying to get the entry trailhead reservation separate from the Donohue Pass would seem impossibly hard.

For rest days at Red Meadows or John Muir Ranch, my concern is making reservations for a real bed would be prone to me getting to those spots early or later than planned. Besides doing multiple day reservations (if I can get them), do they usually have free beds for thru hikers? I guess at Mammoth Lakes, I can always find some something last minute in the town.

Any other good web resources for planning (I checked out and the various resupply links)?

I'm going to have to relearn to carry all my own gear after Kilimanjaro's luxury of having porters carry most of my gear. smile

#56553 - 11/08/19 11:19 PM Re: JMT 2020 [Re: WanderingJim]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7996
Loc: Fresno, CA
Hey Jim, I am hoping to do the entire JMT next summer, too -- in July. I have a buddy I have agreed to take along. He's never done much of the trail.

You're right about Vermillion and Muir Trail Ranch -- they're a long day, or a day and a half apart. I did the Muir Trail to Kearsarge section about 10 years ago, and it took a full week. It's the longest stretch between supplies. I think you could easily skip VVR.

Pack train resupplies are really expensive--hundreds of dollars.

I don't know about the lottery. Please post more here what you find!

I've always wondered about resupplying at the Tuolumne Meadows-- that would make the haul up from Yosemite Valley easier. Does the store there carry much backpacker food?

#56554 - 11/09/19 11:57 AM Re: JMT 2020 [Re: Steve C]
Harvey Lankford Offline

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1029
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Steve C

I've always wondered about resupplying at the Tuolumne Meadows-- that would make the haul up from Yosemite Valley easier. Does the store there carry much backpacker food?

I mailed a supply to TM Post office/ Store. We wandered around and took 3 instead of 1 or 2 nights to get from YV to TM so saving the weight was worth it

PCTA site says this capability is still there but I would check

yes you can buy stuff, but we do not do that. We just mailed everything pre-planned in advance, picked it up and kept rolling

#56555 - 11/09/19 12:11 PM Re: JMT 2020 [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Barbara Offline

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 47
Loc: LA, CA
There's a quite good Facebook group -

And also an absolutely excellent book by Elizabeth Wenk - "John Muir Trail", Wilderness Press, at Amazon -

There's also this discussion group which is excellent and has loads of info in its files.

The Tuolumne meadows store has a post office where you can mail a resupply, and the store has a lot of backpacker food as well as some fresh produce and basic camping supplies. You can mail resupplies to Reds Meadow, VVR, and Muir Trail ranch. You can stay at VVR without booking but it can be hard to a cabin or tent cabin at Muir Trail ranch unless you book ahead. Muir Trail ranch has amazing hiker resupply buckets but there tiny store has no food. If you're not staying there, you can basically pick up your resupply, check out the resupply buckets and get water, that's literally it - and they close to hikers at 5pm. They do sell gas canisters for stoves.

Edited by Barbara (11/09/19 12:13 PM)

#56557 - 11/09/19 05:13 PM Re: JMT 2020 [Re: Barbara]
John Sims Offline

Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 557
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Another great resource is You Tube. Lots of info, including permit questions.

#56563 - 11/11/19 12:08 AM Re: JMT 2020 [Re: WanderingJim]
britonwhit(ney) Offline

Registered: 03/06/14
Posts: 82
Loc: UK
I did the JMT last year (2018) NOBO with my wife and kids (8 & 11). We took 25 days which seemed a really nice pace.

If you go NOBO, the permits are approximately a million times easier to handle. No Donohue pass limit, apply online real-time for the date you want, and start at any of cottonwood pass, cottonwood lakes or Whitney trail.

MTR was a great, simple resupply venue with fantastic hiker boxes and friendly staff.

We used Sequoia Kings Pack Train to resupply us over Kearsarge. This was a mistake, I'd never use them again. We agreed an 8am resupply, which was going to involve the packer coming in the night before, overnighting at Charlotte Lake, and meeting us first thing for resupply- this was agreed, contracted and paid for.

Instead, without out knowledge, our packer was reassigned to take a spot trip into Kearsarge lakes, (much more lucrative I'm sure) and didn't meet us till 3.30pm, at which point we were getting ready to pack up and walk out. When it hadn't arrived by 9am I managed to exchange inreach messages with SKPT where the owner assured me my package would be with me by midday... When it hadn't arrived and I was starting to get worried, she stopped responding to messages. Some of her messages were as ridiculous as (at about 12.30) "you should be able to see the packer coming down the trail towards you now" - at this point we were on the JMT, but the packer was still 5 miles away around Kearsarge pass. When the packer arrived, I discovered she had no way of communicating with base, so they were just making up a story about where she was.

The promised refund never happened either.

My particular frustration was that my original plan had been to leave a resupply in the boxes at the trailhead and run out and back to collect it, but we decided it was better to save a day. I could have run out and back long before the pack train ever arrived.

#56584 - 11/28/19 12:45 AM Re: JMT 2020 [Re: WanderingJim]
Anton Offline

Registered: 08/02/17
Posts: 41
Loc: San Diego
You will have a blast!

A few things to consider:

1) Forget about the lottery and go northbound (NOBO) from Horseshoe meadows. This strategy adds ~22 miles to the whole trip but permits are very easy to get in advance (look for Cottonwood pass/lakes at
2) Starting in mid August is best - virtually no snow and mosquitos, dry trail and low chances of T-storms. If you go NOBO, even first and second weeks of September will be relatively warm since you will be finishing the final sections of the trail at lower altitudes.
3) Another advantage of going NOBO is that the trail gets easier at the end, when your legs get tired, and the meals at Vermilion, Reds and Tuolumne taste better!
4) Don't skip Vermilion - they are awesome! I spent nights at Vermillion and Reds and Vermilion is infinitely better.
5) I don't have any experience with resupplying on the JMT (done it 3 times unsupported) but, as far as I know, lots of NOBO folks ship resupply packages to Mt. Williamson motel and then pick them up by making a side trip via Kearsarge pass (~14 miles round trip form the junction to the Onion Valley TH; hitch to Independence). MTR and Vermillion are two other popular places to resupply.
6) Consider bringing a fishing rod.


Edited by Anton (11/28/19 12:46 AM)

#56585 - 11/28/19 11:44 AM Re: JMT 2020 [Re: WanderingJim]
Bob West Offline

Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 857
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Vermillion has real beds, good dinner and breakfast. The Muir Trail Ranch seems to cater to customers who ride horses in to the ranch from the West side; they provide that service.

As you enter the MTR, there is a gate with a little bell that hikers are asked to ring, to alert the manager. Ten years ago I didn't ring the bell and strolled right in, only to be met by a very angry owner who chewed me out. (She became friendlier after I bought one of their crummy t-shirts.) Meals and beds are only offered to the horse rider clients. The "campground" is merely being able to find a spot under the trees. Yes, there is a sizable stash of left-over, abandoned trail food you can browse.

Vermillion is a much friendlier place. MTR is a s-hole.

Edited by Bob West (11/28/19 11:45 AM)

#56586 - 11/28/19 10:25 PM Re: JMT 2020 [Re: WanderingJim]
bobpickering Offline

Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 475
Loc: Reno, Nevada
In 2018, I did two dayhikes (Recess Peak and Silver Peak) and one overnight trip (Izaak Walton) from Lake Edison. VVR was a great place to get showers between hikes, a couple of real meals, and a ferry ride across the lake and back.