JMT Food Plan

Doing the JMT is easy.  Selecting the gear is easy if you have been backpacking some.  The hard part is logistics and choosing and packing food, which is the subject of this post.  For our 2016 JMT, we had a 7 day section that we’d start with seven days of food in our packs from Cottonwood.  We’d meet up with horse packers at Charlotte Lake and get another 7 days worth of food, which would last us to Muir Trail Ranch. There we would pick up 4 days worth of food to get us to Red’s Meadow.  There we’d pick up 3 days of food to get us to your exit point, Tuollumne Meadows.

All food had to fit in our bear cannisters, where were BeariKade carbon fiber cans. For our later food pickups we mailed plastic buckets of our food for each section to the horse packers, Muir Trail Ranch, and Red’s Meadow, following their shipping instructions.

For lunches we had a meat, some kind of carb, Clif bars and Builder bars, cheese, a sugary drink, and snack food.  Our lunches were these items, with each week having a few substitutes.


beef jerky        7 oz for 7 days (in later weeks we had pepperoni, and loved that stuff)

dates                9 oz for 7 days

Clif Bar            1 bar per day

Builder Bar     1 bar per day

Gouda cheese 5 oz (one wheel per 7 days)

yogurt raisins   8 oz for 7 days

dried mangoes7 oz for 7 days (some weeks we had dried peaches)

Candy bars       1 per day for Jim, I didn’t have any

Triscuits             1 box for 7 days (other weeks we had Ritz crackers, or tortillas)

Sugary drink like Tang or Wylers, one L per day, plus several Crystal Lite envelopes per day


For the first two sections we had 2 oatmeals per breakfast (each), just to save space in the bear canisters. Also 2 Via coffees, 2 packs of sugar for the coffee for me (not Jim), and dried milk for the coffee for me (not Jim). In order to get on the trail earlier I’d have the two Vias in one cup, and the 2 oatmeals in one cup.  We had some raisins to add to the oatmeal.  Next time I’d add nuts, cranberries, and brown sugar to the oatmeals to spice them up. In the sections where we had fewer days to jam into the bear canister, I had Raisin Bran Crunch and milk from dried milk, and Jim also had cereal and milk, instead of oatmeal. We packed a baggie for each day’s breakfast into a separate bag: oatmeal, coffee, mild, and sugar.


For years I have made dinners from the grocery store rather than use freeze dried meals like Mountain House. Angel hair pasta cooks in only 3 or 4 minutes, and the 1.9 L pot on my Caldera Cone stove works well for these meals.  Using the simmer ring on my stove I can simmer the pot long enough to make scalloped potatoes or Mac and cheese, without burning it on the bottom.  After many years of backpacking, I had my favorite dinners, and we just repeated them in each food drop.  At the start of the trip my favorites, in order, were those below:

(1) Packit Gourmet Big’un Burrito with 2 tortillas each.

(3) pasta carbonara with bacon

(6) scalloped potatoes with bacon

(2) spaghetti with sausage granules

(4) Pasta with pesto and smoked salmon

(5) Pasta with tomato sauce and salmon

(7) Mac and cheese with bacon

The favorites by the end of the trip are shown in parenthesis in each line above. For the second set of 7 days we had the same 7 meals, and in subsequent food drops had the top 3 or 2 of those. Recipes for the bottom 3 meals are available if you ask me for them.

For every dinner, we started with a cup of miso soup as soon as we got to camp.  It is salty and savory, and perks one up nicely after a long day of hiking.  We always had enough for a cup of cocoa in the evening, and a cup of tea before bed. All the ingredients for a dinner for 2 were in one bag, except for cocoa and tea.