Still wondering how to best deal with the southern half of the JMT. We plan to stop and resupply at Muir Ranch...then there are no more easy resupply options for the rest of the trip. There's over a hundred miles between Muir Ranch and our Whitney exit, and I cannot carry 8-10 days worth of food for three people. If I was going solo, there wouldn't be any problem, but I'm not going solo...and my daughters can't carry 8-10 days worth of food each. Well, maybe they can, but I don't think they'd enjoy the experience if they did.
There seem to be three options. One, hire someone to bring your food to you on the trail. That option is expensive, and it probably requires being very specific with our timing. Two, we can hike down to the Onion Valley trailhead and hitch a ride to the nearest town. That option means getting off the trail for a couple of days and walking over 16 extra miles. Three, we can suck it up, take on some extra weight (with me carrying most of the burden) and attempt to do the rest of the trail in seven days instead of 8-10. That option probably isn't the safest move, though. We could always try it, but then do the Onion Valley trailhead thing if we found we couldn't go as fast as we wanted and/or we were running out of food.
I'm fairly certain we'll easily be able to average at least ten miles a day. The girls are strong hikers and we're used to the steep and rough terrain of the Whites, so I don't anticipate having any problems with the trail itself. The altitude, however, is a bit of an X factor. The girls have done well with their high-altitude highpointing thus far, though, so I think we'll be fine with proper acclimatization. We didn't feel the altitude at all and the girls hiked two and a half miles an hour on our last highpointing trip (Kings Peak in Utah), hence my optimism. Still, I don't want to count on being able to handle the southern half without resupply, so I've got a lot of thinking to do.