I decided to send two resupply packages for my JMT hike. I sent a 2 gallon bucket to Red’s Meadow which I planned to reach on day 5, and a five gallon bucket to Muir Trail Ranch (MTR) which I planned to reach on day 8. It cost $49 to send my MTR bucket from Vermont, and less than half that for the bucket I sent to Red’s Meadow (can’t remember the exact price). In my buckets, I made sure there were enough hot meals so that I could have one each day and a variety of snacks (just in case I got sick of eating something). I also included extra toilet paper, baby wipes, leukotape, and a packet of laundry detergent (to use at Red’s Meadow).
Overall, I was satisfied with how I chose to resupply. Sending additional resupply packages to Tuolumne and VVR would have been unnecessary given the number of days I spent on the trail. However, I definitely had way too much food during the first half of my hike. I started my hike with so much food that once I got to Red’s Meadow and picked up my resupply, I had more food than could even fit in my bear canister and had to give most of it away. I also carried too much food from Red’s Meadow to MTR, where I had to give away tons of food as well. I definitely started with too much food and had far too much in my resupply buckets, but I also wasn’t eating enough which was part of the problem. If I were to do this hike again, I would just mail a small resupply package to Red’s Meadow that had my favorite hot meals and snacks, and would pick up any additional snacks I wanted at the store (which had sufficient options). I would still fill up my MTR bucket though!
There were some items I loved eating on the trail, while others… not so much. Although this list doesn’t include everything I ate on the trail, these are the items that stand out when I look back at the food I brought. Here’s what worked for me and what didn’t:
- Mountain House Rice & Chicken – This one always turned out well (I ate it twice) and I could enjoy it from start to finish, which definitely makes it a ‘hit’.
- Mountain House Noodles & Chicken – This is another one I could reliably eat (and completely finish) even when I didn’t have much of an appetite. I’d say the Rice & Chicken one was more delicious on the trail, though (I always looked forward to that one more).
- Idahoan Buttery Homestyle Mashed Potatoes – I liked these mashed potatoes so much, I saved my last packet so that I could eat it before beginning my hike up Mt. Whitney. Next time I’d bring more because they take up very little space and always tasted great to me.
- Nongshim Gomtang Ramen – I could have eaten this Korean ramen every day. I love this variety of ramen because the broth is so filling and isn’t spicy. I cooked it in my Jetboil so that I could drink the broth more easily.
- Mountain House Beef Stew – I’ve enjoyed this one on previous backpacking trips, but not on the JMT. I put less water than directed (which I always do for these types of meals), but for some reason it was very watery. It was such a chore to eat it… let’s just say a watery beef stew isn’t very appetizing.
- Mountain House Apple Crisp – I had never tried this before, but expected it to be a very special treat on the trail. I was so wrong… it was sickeningly sweet (which is saying a lot, since I love eating things that are sweet!). Hated every bite.
- Mountain House Breakfast Skillet – I had never had this before, but actually really liked how this tasted (had a mix of eggs, potatoes, peppers, and sausage). My only problem was the volume of the food… it simply was too much for me and it was really hard to finish the whole packet. I would take this again if I could share it with someone, but as a solo hiker I’m not sure if I would.
- Stove Top Stuffing Mix – I thought this would be a very special treat, and for the first few bites it truly felt like Thanksgiving. However, a whole box of stuffing is far too much for one person to eat and my Thanksgiving soon turned into a nightmare. It definitely tasted good (at first) and I’d consider bringing it again if I could share it (or, I would repackage it into smaller portions).
- Oscar Mayer Fully Cooked Bacon – I put two packets of this in my MTR resupply bucket, but felt so unsure about this bacon that I initially put both packets in the hiker bucket. Right before leaving MTR, I decided to keep one of the packets and I’m so glad I did. I loved it! I completely regret giving away the other packet and definitely would have brought tons more had I known how amazing it would taste on the trail. I can’t recommend it enough!
- Bridgford Pepperoni – I tried this for the first time at Virginia Lake, and expected to love it. I was so wrong… eating a whole packet of pepperoni was a horrible experience that I will never repeat. Unfortunately I had three more packets waiting for me at MTR which immediately went into one of the hiker buckets.
- Butterfinger – Most of my butterfinger bars didn’t melt, and even the melted ones were still easy enough to eat due to the type of packaging used. These were great because they were easy to eat, had lots of calories, and always tasted good on the trail (even when I didn’t have much of an appetite). I got the ‘fun size’ ones which were the perfect size.
- Lays Barbecue chips – I bought a big bag and repackaged it into smaller portions. These always tasted good, as I often crave salty food while on the trail. I even put some in my bear canister at MTR (despite the bulkiness), but had to crush them a bit to make them fit along with everything else. I absolutely would bring them again although they are bulky.
- Big Little Fudge The Great Divide – I bought a few of these in Tuolumne and loved them so much that I bought a ton more at Red’s Meadow. I’ve always been a huge fan of peanut butter & chocolate fudge, and absolutely loved eating it while on the trail. These came in the perfect size for snacking and I would definitely buy these again for a hike on the JMT.
- Jacquet Mini Brownies – I bought a bunch of these before departing Korea and enjoyed eating them on the trail. I gave away two boxes of them at MTR because they were too bulky, so I’d say they’re a more appropriate treat for the first half of the hike (when there’s more space in your bear canister).
- KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt bar – These melted slightly but that just made them softer and even more delicious.
- Cheez-its – Normally I like Cheez-its when backpacking, but I didn’t this time. Perhaps I didn’t enjoy eating a cracker-type snack because the JMT is so dry? I’m not sure, but I never wanted to eat them (especially after a lot of them got crushed) and wouldn’t bring them again.
- Lays potato chips – I didn’t enjoy these ‘regular’ potato chips because they developed some sort of strange taste (probably from other items in my bear canister). I never had this issue with my barbecue chips, which always tasted normal.
- Bark thins – Normally I like this chocolate (I’ve bought the mega-sized bag from Costco more times than I’d like to admit), but it didn’t taste good to me on the trail for reasons I still don’t understand.
- Reeses – I love Reeses, but these became a melted mess (thankfully I stored them in a ziplock bag).
- Honey Smacks – I brought these during the first half of the hike for breakfast (when it doesn’t matter so much if your food is bulky). I loved these as a kid but haven’t had them since, and unfortunately I brought them without trying them first. Big mistake… the adult version of me doesn’t like them at all.
- I also tried various bars (Clif Builder’s protein bars, Pro bars), but didn’t enjoy any of them. Thankfully I only brought a few as I REALLY didn’t like them.