Welcome to the Backpacker Resupply Service at Muir Trail Ranch! We hope the following information answers every question you have. We have been doing this since the early 1950s, and have been asked a lot of questions, so on this page we have a lot of answers.
The Muir Trail Ranch is the most remote resupply outpost on the John Muir Trail. We are a small guest ranch located in the wilderness and it is difficult to get supplies to the ranch, and maintain our facilties for more than a limited number of people. If you are looking forward to a home-cooked meal, hot spring bath, shower, and restrooms please plan on staying with us as an overnight guest; find more info on our Short Stays page. If you don't have a reservation to stay at our small place, then we are a mail pickup location only with very limited services, please be prepared.
When you send your resupply to us, we assume that you have read, understood, and agreed to the terms outlined on this page. YOU MUST HAVE YOUR EXPECTED PICKUP DATE AND NAME ON YOUR BUCKET!
When does the ranch open for resupply in 2020?
We don't have our opening date set yet, please check back closer to the start of the hiking season.
You can always use Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake as your resupply stop, if your date will be earlier or later than our season. VVR is about 20 miles north of us by trail, and they have a restaurant, resupply and overnight accommodations. If you expect those services, please use VVR instead of us.
From the north, it is 0.9 miles, 1.4 km; an elevation drop of 600 feet, 183 meters.
From the south, it is 1.5 miles, 2.4 km; an elevation drop of a mere 160 feet, 49 meters.
Put your stuff in a sturdy plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid (5-gallon is most popular, other smaller sizes OK). Why? We’re located in the wilderness and take packages across a lake, sometimes during rainstorms. A cardboard box won’t survive the trip. Buckets are waterproof (and recyclable!). Your cache may be hauled in to the ranch on horseback, or on a rugged truck that crawls over rocks. It’s almost impossible to keep meadow mice or chipmunks out of anything that isn’t just about armor-plated. Plastic keeps them out. As for bears, our stout storage building keeps them out. You can get free buckets and lids at a restaurant; they’re used for mayonnaise and such. Home improvement stores have them for sale for about $5 also. (The bucket can be any color but we have found that the dark blue ones are brittle and crack more easily.)
When you pay for your bucket via credit card, accessed via the link on our Resupply web page, you will automatically receive a set of shipping labels in PDF format that you can print, trim and tape to your bucket.DO NOT put the address label on the side; ONLY THE TOP. It could be returned by the post office if on the side and the postage is also on the side where it could be knocked off in handling. It’s safe on the top. Tape the lid and handle down, too.
Yes. The US Postal Service prohibits mailing flammable liquids. At the ranch we have white gas and denatured alcohol for sale by the ounce. We carry screw-on iso propane canisters. They are compatible with the following backpacking stoves: GAZ Turbo 270, Jetboil, Primus, Snow Peak and the following MSR stoves—WindPro, Super Fly, Pocket Rocket, and Reactor. They are in stock at all times; you do not need to reserve one. Our prices are reasonable. We try to keep both 100g and 230g sizes in stock, but sometimes will have just one or the other.
We also carry basic first aid supplies, bug spray, sunscreen, and such.
We do not have any type of food for sale in our store.
We strongly recommend that you use USPS Priority Mail with delivery confirmation. That way you can call a toll-free number or use the Internet to see if your package has arrived at the Lakeshore post office. (You may receive a message saying that delivery was attempted but not successful. Don’t worry. Until we pick up your package, that qualifies as an unsuccessful delivery attempt. If it is at the Lakeshore post office, we’ll pick it up within a week.) KEEP YOUR USPS RECEIPT! It has the Priority Mail tracking number that, in the event you cannot pick up your bucket and we return it to you, you can use to track its return. We do not keep that number, it is up to you to track your returned bucket.
Please allow 3 weeks for your bucket to get to us. When your bucket gets to the ranch we will attempt to deliver an email to the address you provided in the online resupply payment and shipping label process.
If you're short on time you can hike your bucket in to the ranch. Email us for rates. The Lakeshore post office does not allow drop-offs.
YOU MUST HAVE YOUR EXPECTED PICKUP DATE AND NAME ON YOUR BUCKET! We will only return buckets shipped via Priority Mail.
International customers can use any shipping method that will go to a US P.O. Box. UPS and FedEx will not deliver to the Lakeshore post office. Occasionally it will take a while for international resupplies to get through customs, so we recommend allowing at least 4 weeks' shipping time.
When you mail your resupply, the post office clerk can give you an estimate of the delivery date. To be sure it gets here in time, ship about three (3) weeks before you want to pick it up. Better safe than sorry. Make sure your expected pickup date is accurate, or a couple of days early! We store buckets at Florence Lake after we pick them up from the post office and due to very limited storage at the ranch, bring them in a few days before the arrival date that is on your shipping label. If you are more than a couple days early, your bucket may not yet be at the ranch. International customers please allow a minimum 4 weeks to ship from outside the US.
The service fee is US$85.00 for up to 25 pounds. (Buckets weighing over 25 pounds will be charged US$2.00 per pound overage fee.) This covers:
• Picking up your bucket at the Post Office in Lakeshore (about 30 miles from the ranch) by vehicle
• Securely storing your bucket at Florence Lake
• Ferrying it across the lake
• Packing it in on horses and/or off-road vehicle the last five miles in to the ranch
• Storing your bucket until your expected arrival date, or you contact us
Our fee does not include USPS postage, that is separate and the cost depends on how much your bucket weighs, and where you ship it from.
For options other than mailing your bucket, please see "How do I ship my package to the ranch?" above and email us for rates.
Our service fee is non-refundable once our staff has handled your bucket. You can use VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover by going to our credit card payment page, accessible from the main Resupply web page. Put your EXPECTED PICKUP DATE and NAME OF PACKAGE RECIPIENT in the Description field! Don't put "orange home depot bucket" or something else generic as the Description.
Sometimes non-US credit cards are not accepted by our online sytem so if you are an international customer who has not been successful trying to use the payment page, please email us for options and to receive your shipping labels.
When you pay for your bucket online you will automatically receive a set of shipping labels in PDF format that you can print, trim and tape to your bucket. Our labels will speed up the processing of your resupply once we pick it up from the post office and we can ONLY guarantee timely service if you use them. You will receive a claim check as part of your labels, and we need to see that (or a photo ID) when you pick up your resupply at the ranch.
If you cannot pay by credit card, please email us for a set of shipping labels since you will not receive them automatically unless you use our online payment page. We can accept checks and money orders (in US currency only).
We are open seven days a week from 8 AM to 5 PM, holidays included.
Two weeks (14 days). We do not charge by the day past your estimated date. If your resupply date is in late September we will have your buckets available at the ranch until our closing date, after which they will be shipped out for disposal. We can’t keep your bucket over the winter. We will try to contact you to determine your plans, so please make sure you let us know how to contact you (email is best).
If you have a misfortune or change of plans, there are several options. You can give your resupply to someone else. Simply give them your claim check (sign it on the back). You can contact us to have your bucket returned to you. If you have paid our service fee and you sent it by Priority Mail there is no charge if unopened. If you sent it Parcel Post or other means, we are unable to return your bucket (period). Let us know soon if you won’t be picking up your bucket.
We will only return unopened buckets shipped via USPS Priority Mail!
If we have received payment for our service, and your bucket was sent via Priority Mail, we will send the unopened bucket to your United States return address for no charge. KEEP YOUR USPS RECEIPT from your original mailing! It includes the Priority tracking number, and if you want to track your bucket on its return to you you must refer to that number. We do not have that information on file, it is your responsibility.
Let us know what to do with the bucket as soon as possible, no later than two weeks after your expected pickup date. If we don’t hear from you we will send the bucket out for donation to a charity food distributor.
If you sent your bucket via parcel post or other non-Priority shipping method we will automatically send your bucket out for donation after two weeks.
Yes. In recognition of the Leave No Trash ethic, we have recycling and trash barrels available for your sorted food, plastic, paper and metal trash. We’ll recycle your bucket, too. No charge for this service.
Please, no dead fish and NO WAG BAGS.
Yes. There is a $10 handling charge plus postage for a Priority Mail flat rate box. If you are sending out too much for one box, there is a handling charge plus postage for each additional box. We have small, medium and large flat rate boxes. Inquire while at the ranch. If you are shipping back a bear canister, there is a $50 flat fee to cover the postage plus handling.
We rent computer time, $10 for 15 minutes, and our satellite connection to the Internet works just about 80% of the time. You will be able to access your email account. No big downloads or uploads, though. We have limited bandwidth and if we go over our allotment, we get punished by suffering 24 hours of dial-up speed! Some people forget their email login password—don’t let that happen to you.
Yes, we accept letters up to a Priority Mail flat rate large envelope at no charge. We do not accept boxes without prior arrangement! Tell your correspondents that your address is:
c/o Muir Trail Ranch
PO Box 176
Lakeshore, CA 93634
We have local area postcards and stamps for sale. Your mail will be sent out the next time there is a trip to Florence Lake. The three week advance mailing time applies to mail as well.
Nope. The phone number we show is at our Business Office location in the foothills north of Fresno. It is for general information only. If you need to know about trail conditions, or specific things about your resupply, email is best.
Sometimes you can get a cell phone connection from the high peaks of the Sierra, but areas of reception seem to change yearly so don't count on it.
There is no phone at the ranch!
No problem. Most of the season we have 24-hour power, 120 volts AC, just like your house has. Bring your charger for your camera, phone, iPod, whatever. No charge for a charge.
When you pay for your resupply service fee online you will receive a set of shipping labels automatically. You can print the PDF file, trim it and tape it to your bucket.
We may be able haul your now-full pack on a horse to Heart Lake near Selden Pass or to Evolution Creek near Evolution Meadow subject to availability of a packer and horses. See details at the bottom of the Backpacker page.
Have a memorable, delightful trip!
Back to Resupply main page
YOU MUST HAVE YOUR EXPECTED PICKUP DATE AND NAME ON YOUR BUCKET!
Since we are primarily a guest ranch and it is very difficult to get supplies in to our remote, off-road location, we do not have hiker services other than as a resupply depot and basic store.
If you stay with us as a guest in our cabins, our meals and facilities are available for your use. Go to our Short Stay page for more information, and our Available Dates page to see if the space you want is open.
Do you have a hiker box?
Yes. If you packed extra that you don't want to carry (this happens to about 99% of hikers), you can leave food and gear items for other people to take. If you want to trade items or need something you forgot, you are welcome to go through the hiker boxes.
Hiker boxes are kept sorted in different buckets by types of food, gear, maps, first aid, etc. and we ask that you try hard to keep them organized so things are easy to find. Be careful what you leave; no spoiled food or sharp items please! Things like that can go in the trash.
DO NOT count on supplementing your resupply in part or in whole with the hiker boxes! Their contents are entirely dependent on what other people leave, and you could wind up with nothing but peanut butter and band-aids if you think it's a good idea to avoid sending a well-stocked resupply.