View Full Version : UK Trip to JMT - Sept

2008-01-29, 11:43
HI all, Im fetching a group of British soldiers to walk the JMT (Bishop~Whitney) in Sept 08. Unfortunatly immigration does not allow us to bring our own rations. What / Where / Who can I get trail food to feed 24 soldiers for 8 - 10 days? Any Ideas?

2008-01-29, 13:19
Forgive the ignorance of this colonist but where is this "JMT"?

2008-01-29, 13:47
No worries its is the John Muir Trail, CA

2008-01-29, 15:07
I'm hoping one of our west coast contributers can help you...
If you are looking for pre-packaged freeze dried fare, it looks like "MountainHouse.com" has a retail outlet in Bishop, CA. Might be a little spendy but your foreign money goes pretty far over here these days. They have a search function on the website for their dealers. Doesn't list a website for that particular outlet "Allen Something-something" so you'll need to write them, I guess.
I'm thinking the size of your group would require you to order from MountainHouse and have them drop ship to this place if that's what you're looking for?
Good luck.

2008-01-29, 19:07
24 British soldiers!?!?! Cali will never be the same.
Dont know if you've been to the US before, but my best friend of 16 years is English, from outside east London, and a huge Chelsea fan. He recommends the following while here:

1) go to any US sporting event.
2) Eat a real steak, none of that grass fed crap. Real US cornfed cattle.
3) All the Mexican restuarants in the UK are owned by Indians. While in Cali, definitely eat real Mexican.
4) Try any micro-brewed US beer, not the mass produced crap.
5) Bring your own tea over. You wont find anything you like here.
6) Stock up on US underwear while here, he like Hanes.
7) Buy some US jeans. Yours cost a couple hundred US. Here, with the conversion, you could buy 5 pairs of quality jeans, for what one pair costs you home.
8) England has no wilderness, so suck it up while your here.

Good luck, wanker. ;) :beer:

2008-01-29, 20:51
I don't do freeze dried meals anymore. I make my own meals.

With 24 people to feed this might be worth your while as freeze dried meals will cost you an arm and a leg.

You can buy plenty of foods that don't require refrigeration, or much preparation at any grocery store. (Every town with more than 10 people has at least one grocery store).

Ramen noodles, pepperoni, jerky, cous cous, dry italian sausage, instant mashed potatoes, cup a soup, bagged salmon or tuna, and many other foodstuffs lend themselves to backpacking.

If you find a health food store (many in California) or oriental foods store you'll find even more choices - TVP, etc.

You might also check out this site for meal ideas:www.freezerbagcooking.com/

I often do meals similar to what they recommend at the above site, though I don't use freezer bags, preferring to clean a eating container instead.

As far as drop sites go or places you can restock along the trail I can't help you, as I am unfamiliar with the trail. Hopefully someone else on the board can help you with that. -or you can just do a search, I'm sure there are lots of journals and blogs with helpful hints in that area.
Good luck, and have a good hike.

2008-01-30, 05:37
Thanks for your many relies and advice. I would love to produce our own trail food but we just won’t have the facilities or time. We will be packing loads of dried fruits as snacks.

I found a website with MRE's available (longlifefood.com & readymeal.com). Can anyone recommend these as an alternative? As for me I will be bringing my own Tea-bags and now you have Beckham over in the US you finally do have a great sport for us to watch :aetsch:

Is 'Duff' a micro-brewed beer??

Finally Amigi, we do have wilderness in the UK. Some would class the London Eastend as wilderness. I know I used to live there!

Keep the advice comming.

2008-01-30, 07:08
Is 'Duff' a micro-brewed beer??
Yes, brewed in England : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daleside_Brewery :bandit:
Thus it is an American beer I can recommend : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Tire

In immigration, do NOT check yes to whether you are terrorists, even though European humor dictates to do so.

2008-01-30, 13:08

If you plan to do the trail north-to-south, I may be some help in getting your group started. I'm about 2 hours from Yosemite, and have a lot of time on my hands. I'd be happy to act as liaison for any logistical needs.

I usually get my freeze dried meals at REI (www.rei.com). Lots of locations in California, and, as a member, I get a big rebate at the end of the year :biggrin:


2008-01-30, 19:01
MRE's are heavy and not very efficient for weight-to-calorie intake. Dropkicks advice is sound, in my opinion.

Since it's only 8 days, you could make a very easy and cheap menu.

Dried oatmeal with raisins
Dried fruit.
Dry cereal with powdered milk

Dry salami or sausage with pita bread
Hard cheeses
Peanut butter
Pouched tuna or chicken
Beef jerky

Rice with dehydrated veggies or dried hamburger
Dried soup - veg, chicken, onion, etc

Hard candy
Dry donuts or squashed cake ( my favorite )

Snacks on the way:
Dried fruit
Trail mix

All of this could be bought in bulk and dropped shipped to the local post office, or to Thudley's house. ;)

2008-01-31, 11:45
Thudley, Thanks for the offer. I'm using the logistic angle to get over a week earlier than the rest to 'buy supplies':biggrin:

Most of the group could do with loosing a few pounds so dried foods are the way ahead. I just better not tell them that they will be living off berries and seeds. They would lynch me!

I am looking at vacuum packing some foods, loads of rice and pasta with dreid fruits and nuts for nibbles.

The 'red tape' requires me to produce a nutrition and hydration plan anyway :boring:

2008-01-31, 17:13
Hello UK-Ian,
Good luck with your trip.
Some good advice there from Dropkick and Amigi re' food.
As said, you don't need to buy expensive pre-packed 'dehyd camping meals'. You can get all you need in the way of nutritious/filling dry goods much cheaper from a supermarket store. That's all I use nowadays.
I once did the JMT as part of a thru hike so I know that stuff will get you through ok!
Salami sausage is good - just slice off bits as needed.
Haul a few Snicker bars too - they get to be a real favourite. ;)
For breakfasts consider getting some small plastic bags and putting a 'one meal' individual serving mix of oats/muesli/dried fruit/milk powder in them. That way you can just break the bag into your pot, add water (cold or hot) give it a stir and you're off.
Supply load shouldn't be a problem for that duration. I sometimes carry a sliced loaf of bread - I just compress it into a small lump - that way it takes up less pack space and being compressed it keeps air out and seems to last longer. Just peel a slice or two off as needed.
A cheap and extremely reliable option for carrying water is to get hold of some 2 litre plastic softdrink bottles. (coke, 7 up etc) They're very light, strong, and can be flattened when empty.

The JMT is a great trail, if you have any Jock's in your section, they might be interested to know that John Muir was a Scot from Dunbar! The US has some incredible wilderness areas and wildlife - you'll be impressed!

2008-02-01, 06:23
And I thought all Americans eat at Pizza Hut!

Great advice all and thanks for your suggestions. No comerical meals for us. We will pack our own food for the trail. It looks like we will be flying into LA now so there will be plenty of shops to buy ingredients.

2008-02-02, 20:24
Just a reminder that you will need to store your food (also toiletries and trash) in approved bear canisters while you're on the JMT. This means you don't want bulky foods and you do want foods that take kindly to being compressed. You'll want to remove the packaging and put the food in plastic bags (the kind with a twisty-tie are less bulky than the ziplock type). With a lot of squashing, you can get a lot more into a canister than you'd think. Since the empty canister weighs about 2.5-3 lbs., the more you can get into it, the better.

A couple of non-food items:

Party size in most wilderness areas is limited to 8-15 people (it's 15 in the Sierra National Forest, the only one I checked) to reduce impact on the land (which is quite fragile at those high altitudes). You will therefore have to divide into at least two separate groups which will have to stay well-separated all the time you're out.

I hope you've checked out the permit situation; when they go on sale, they go very fast. The permit for your entire hike is obtained from the land agency at your starting point. Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks save some permits for drop-ins, but you have to get in line very early in the morning and may not get exactly what you want. The National Parks website is www.nps.gov. The Forest Service issues all permits ahead of time, so there is no provision for last-minute drop-ins (who thus have to start in a National Park). The Forest Service website is www.fs.fed.us. Since you're from Britain, you may not be aware that the US National Parks and National Forests are under two different government cabinet departments (Interior for the first and Agriculture for the second) so the two operate quite differently.

You can get lots of info on the JMT from links on the Pacific Crest Trail Association's website.

I hope you have a great hike!

2008-02-03, 00:25
Sounds like a wonderful jolly you have planned. I eat fairly cheap on the trail. It involves alot of oats and groats. Screw that.

Thudley sounds a little more on the ball, and more local to the JMT, but he should be able to set you up with something a little more upscale maybe. There are some folks in the States that put together hiking foods as a cottage industry. I would look into something like that. A good contact person might be SARBAR. She hangs out at a couple of other sites. She might put you in touch with someone hand to the JMT. I think she lives in Washington. I think she is some sort of a nutritionist. Anyhow, whatever she is she is a great outdoors person and knows food also.

Check out these two sites:

The first one is probably better for finding food for the JMT, but SARBAR has been hanging out at both lately.

There is also this link from the one above:

I think this is SARBAR's site.
Recipes mostly but other resources as well.

2008-02-03, 18:55
Ditto on grannyhiker's concerns about getting permits, bear canisters, and the like. While the JMT is a fabulous, scenic, amazing hike, it is fraught with red tape and regulations. I'm hoping you have an in with someone who is helping you out with all that.

As far as freeze-dried food...I order mine from
They give bulk discounts, which your volume should easily get you. The bear canister requirement makes food planning more challenging on the JMT than on most other hikes.

2008-02-03, 22:37
Maybe for this group they will make an exception,
and do everything in triplicate instead of duplicate,
just so you don't get too homesick. :D

2008-02-04, 07:45
Group size - No worries I plan to break down into 3 groups of 7 travelling 24hrs apart.
Permits - I plan to put my bids in 6 months prior to the trip. Hopefully at the end of Sept there are only the Die Hard trail mates.
JAK - Thanks for the sites. I will definatly check them out.

2008-02-04, 08:19

The above link gives information about getting permits for hiking southbound. If you start in Yosemite, you only need this one permit for the whole trip. You can apply 24 weeks before your projected starting date.

Before you apply for the permits, you need to know your starting date and how many days you expect to spend hiking.

The number of permits issued is limited, so it helps to have some flexibility in start dates or starting points.

Last year I tried to apply online and wasn't successful in making that system work. The telephone reservation line was very busy and it took me many tries before I got through. Once I did, though, the person on the other end was extremely helpful.

You're right that getting permits for the end of September should be a lot easier than for the peak summer season.

This is important:
The phone or internet process gets you a permit reservation. When you actually get to Yosemite, you have to go to the ranger station and get the paper permit. The paper permit must be with the group while you're hiking. Each paper permit is signed by one person and that person assumes responsbility for the requirements listed on the permit. I would strongly suggest that you get separate paper permits for each person, so they can have their own paper permits. Then if some people drop out, or have to separate, they've got permits they can keep with them.

2008-02-04, 10:06
Our route is entry Bishop Pass exit Whitney Portal.

I wish I could book via the internet.Inyo National Forest only do Group Fax booking. Our UK military regulations require us to have a qualified leader with each group so they will be the group leaders. I know it is a bit of a gamble for permits but 'if you dont ask you dont get'.

I will fax my 3 group applications with alternate dates off to the reservations office with a cover note explaining who we are and what we wish to do. :adore: This has to be done 6 months before the trip so end of March.

Just as a matter of interest our regulations require me to produce an Hydration plan, Medical plan, Safety and Evac plan, Nutrition plan as well as the mundane logistic plans. If one date changes I have to resubmit the lot!:afraid:

Who ever said there is no red tape in the wilderness.

Keep smiling and thanks


2008-02-04, 20:46
Our route is entry Bishop Pass exit Whitney Portal.

I wish I could book via the internet.Inyo National Forest only do Group Fax booking. Our UK military regulations require us to have a qualified leader with each group so they will be the group leaders. I know it is a bit of a gamble for permits but 'if you dont ask you dont get'.

I will fax my 3 group applications with alternate dates off to the reservations office with a cover note explaining who we are and what we wish to do. :adore: This has to be done 6 months before the trip so end of March.

Just as a matter of interest our regulations require me to produce an Hydration plan, Medical plan, Safety and Evac plan, Nutrition plan as well as the mundane logistic plans. If one date changes I have to resubmit the lot!:afraid:

Who ever said there is no red tape in the wilderness.

Keep smiling and thanks


Wow--red tape on both ends! I hope you don't get crushed by the clashing bureaucracies.

Good luck!:beer:

2008-02-05, 05:59
Just thought, there's a Yahoo Groups site that's exclusively for those interested in the John Muir Trail
You could check their messages for any info' of interest or join the group to post any questions you may have.
Cheers, Geo.

Onkel Bob
2008-02-20, 20:46
Hey now, wandered into the thread quite late, hope you're still monitoring it.
Getting food in Bishop is easy and might be preferred. While some things are more expensive on the "east side," freeze dried food (Mountain House, Alpine Aire, Backpacker's Pantry) is usually competitive to local prices here in the Ess Eff Bay Area.
However, what you must keep in mind is a bear cannister is required for nearly every cm of you itinerary. The SIBBG (http://www.sierrawildbear.gov/) has the details. The short story is you will need them in Dusy Basin, the Woods Creek drainage, Rae Lakes, and Vidette Meadow. The bears at the latter two are especially innovative and will steal your food in minutes if you leave it unguarded. It's a $150 fine and an escort out of the wilderness if you are found to be non-compliant. The duration of your trip is too short to plead "through hiker" status. You will also need "poop" bags (a.k.a. blue bags) for the trip from Crabtree Meadow to Whitney Portal. That's new for this year.
I'm not sure if you can rent them in Bishop; I imagine some clever merchant is taking advantage of the market. I own 2 cannisters, a Bearikade Expedition and Garcia Machine, and so never need to rent. Check out www.395.com, it might have some answers. The Yahoo group is quite active and can offer advice, some posters may live on that side of the state.
Finally, you only need a permit from the Inyo National Forest Ranger's office for entry. There's no need to interact with NPS if this is your itinerary. The deciding factor is where you enter, and South Lake is under USFS jurisdiction.
Finally, I just noticed, end of September... In the Sierra Nevada, the calendar can be deceptive, August is followed by November some years. I hiked the Rae Lakes Loop one September/October and was greeted with 30 cm of snow on Glen Pass. It melted quickly but it also has been known to stick around. I keep a temperature/time log and average morning temps for that 5 day trip was -5 C. I had 10 hours of "daylight" each day (0700 - 17:00) with 1 hour of twilight before and after. Bears will especially active then too.

2008-02-27, 05:58
Great advice Bob and thanks for the late entry.

'Poop' bags was a new one on me but I know from Iraq you have some called 'Wag Bags' that are on the market.

Hopefully the snow will hold off until after the trip but Im pereped for 3 season equipment anyway. They are all soldiers so are used to not being too comfortable. They still think its California and it never snows there on the TV! Cant wait to see there faces.

Permits will be applied for in March as required so no worries there. I have also secured extra funding to purchase 24 Bear containers so some store will have a good sales day.

Again Many Thanks

Jim Henderson
2008-02-27, 13:13
I am a little late in chipping in, but in reply to experience with LongLife Food...

I periodically restock my own MRE supply thru them. They are a little more expensive than the cheaper suppliers like Sportsmans Guide and Cheaper than Dirt, but their MREs are a bit higher quality. You won't get so many bean and rice dishes in their cases. You get more of the meat and tastier items.

A few years back you could specify which main entre combinations were in the case. But they discontinued that due to handling not being worth it on individual cases. But with your group size maybe they would make an exception. But then again it may be moot since with your group size you can just order full cases of each individual item and get exactly what you want. And they do have some special entrees and desserts that are much nicer than what is usually available, and more expensive too.

I like their stuff and as I said the overal quality(food, packaging, condiments) etc are better than the generic MREs out there.

Good Luck and have a great time.

Jim Henderson

Onkel Bob
2008-02-27, 19:49
One last thing on trip planning - I think there's a privy (pit toilet) at Crabtree Meadow. I say that because there's a Ranger Station and I doubt they would make the ranger use the wag bag or other method. I used blue bags on Mt. Ranier, a different device. Wag Bags have some kitty litter thing going on.

24 cannisters? Wow! you may need to go to numerous stores, as few would keep that many in stock. You may also check with the Inyo Forest Ranger (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/contact/index.shtml) as they rent cannisters (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/recreation/wild/bear.shtml). (Look on the bottom of the page.) Because you're going in so late, I would make an assumption that some will be available. Be aware, Garcia Machine (those black ones) are not waterproof. They will sink to the bottom of the lake if a bear kicks it into one.

2008-02-27, 23:27
They will sink to the bottom of the lake if a bear kicks it into one.So typical of da bears eh...
If they don't make it in the first three rushes, punt.

2008-02-28, 06:48
Great advice on long life foods and I welcome more!

It would be easier if Domino's deliverd on the trail!

I will be using a mixture of MRE/pre prepared meals and stuff we can pick up ourselves. I have 7 days to test the best before the main group arrive. If I get MRE's do they come with Tea/coffee/snacks etc?

I know 24 Bear Canisters is alot but I presume we will need one each for an 8 day trek. Please advise. I will look at hiring containers but I only know of Yosemite NP that hire them. Again welcome any advice. If I hire direct from the firm I may as well buy the cheaper containers.

Keep the advice coming. If I dont get any threads I look around and make silly comments on gun laws so please keep me busy:biggrin:

2008-02-28, 06:54
Just seen I can hire 24 Bear containers for $240 for 2 weeks in Bishop.

Hopefully If I warn them off the may hold enough stock.

Jim Henderson
2008-02-29, 14:15
[QUOTE=UK_Ian;23298]Great advice on long life foods and I welcome more!

I will be using a mixture of MRE/pre prepared meals and stuff we can pick up ourselves. I have 7 days to test the best before the main group arrive. If I get MRE's do they come with Tea/coffee/snacks etc?

On Long Life Foods... all the "Complete Meal" MRE Combos come with some sort of drink, either coffee, a fruit drink mix or rarely tea. They also usually have one packet of sugar, creamer if appropriate and usually a couple chicklettes type gums. Often a tiny bottle of Tabasco, a packet of salt and pepper, a spoon, matches. There is usually a side dish, most often rice, Mac and Cheese or Apple Sauce. You also can expect some sort of dessert like a cookie, crackers with cheese/peanut butter, or somtimes a small candy. Individual entrees etc do not come with the Accessory Pack"

They also have optional meal heaters, these are heating bags activated with water to heat your MRE. I have had mixed results with the self heaters, usually not hot enough and one time I had one explode under my chair as I napped, fun.

Longlife also has a fairly good list of dessert items available in singles and case sizes. Some are quite good. Me and my boys like the various "cakes", pound, orange, pineapple, fudge brownie etc, cakes. They also have packaged fruit, very similar to canned fruits. Occasionally one of these show up in the meal pack.

Due to the size of your group, the case lots really make sense. You could buy a case of all the favorites and divy them out to the men. Wish I could do that, but it takes us forever to use up all the MREs. They even sell pallet loads which I assume would supply a small army.

One other thing I recall, they also sell cases of squad meals, these are trays about 2-3 kilos of an entree like Cheese Omlet, BBQ Ribs, Turkey and Gravy, Ham Slices etc. These are pretty good and will feed about 10 men as a main course. You might look into those. Biggest problem with squad meals is that the trays are large and need to be heated either in an oven or a hot water bath or??? Since the newer trays are plastic, you can't heat them over fire unless you are very careful/adventurous.

One other thing, I am talking about Long Life Food Depot http://www.longlifefood.com/ Be sure you get the correct address to be sure we are talking about the same things. There are a couple other sites with similar names/addresses, but I am not familiar with them. The "fake" sites appear to be "re-Direct" search engines which just send you to addresses of advertisers.

Good Luck,

Jim Henderson

Jim Henderson
2008-03-06, 20:21
Hopefully one last post on Long Life Food Depot...

Just got an email from them. They are having a half price sale on their tray packs. If you are at all interested in the squad style tray packs, this would certainly be a good time to buy. I personally don't recall any half price sales from these guys in the maybe 7 years I have dealt with them. The prices are pretty good, down around $11 or so. Not bad for entress for 10 or so guys. I may get some myself at this price, take me forever to use them tho.

Good Luck and have tons of fun,

Jim Henderson

2008-03-07, 05:41
Many thanks Jim I'm onlie with them now and its looking good.

2008-03-08, 20:20

Here's a bit of late news that should add spice to your hike:


These fierce critters were thought to be extinct in these here parts. :ahhhhh: