As we were hiking with a 3 month old baby and a backpack each up from Florence lake and neared Blaney Meadows, we heard a vehicle. Our first response was, on this terrain? Although there was a road of sorts bearing the imprint of tire tracks - where there weren't boulders, etc., from which the trail meandered from time to time, much of the area seemed inhospitable to that type of travel. Sure enough, around the corner and over some boulders a Jeep in low gear labored up to where we stood. The interior was crammed with items with which the driver had just picked up resupply 5-6 miles back at the lake. He stopped and kindly asked if the momma and baby would like a ride up to Muir Trail Ranch, our immediate destination prior to heading up to camp on the JMT, where we hoped to meet a friend. When answered in the affirmative, he moved things that had been in the front passenger seat around, so she could step in with her baby and backpack. Then he slowly, carefully drove the remaining mile or so to the ranch, where he deposited them under the canopy, right beside the bins we had been planning to look through, as the first night, our stove had broken.
On the way he told her @ the ranch, the sawmill, the horses, which incidentally were in beautiful condition, the cabins, the self sustaining operation they'd carried on since the 1930's. The whole area was beautiful, and had been carefully tended to maintain the pristine look that the forest originally had. He opened the gate and told us that we were among the very few that had used this private entrance. The cabins fit perfectly with the surrounding area, and we put this location in our mental rolodex file for future stays. The benefactor of the Jeep ride told us that he was the owner himself, Lloyd Ross.
When we got to the bins where they store food that either has been dropped because it wasn't needed, or people who had planned to resupply had mailed and failed to pick up after a week or so, we found a plethora of items, from batteries to full dried meals, snacks, trail bars, and even foil. What a great service for either starving backpackers or those absolutely tired of their own fare. They had even carefully paid close attention to sell by dates, and discarded food that was unwholesome looking, due to appearance. (As we passed there the next am, we found a number of empty bins from which the questionable food had been removed.) There was a hose connected to piped spring water where we were able to refill our dwindling water supply. We were given a 15 minute warning prior to the 5:00 pm re-storing of the bins, in a bear/varmit proof attractive shed built of stone, until at precisely 8:00 am, it would reappear, having had all defective items culled - all for $0.
2 of us went into the building, were able to see the weather report, and check re: several questions we had. They had passed there on a prior JMT through trip and had fond memories of the pleasantness of the people and the services offered. This is quality! It is even helicopter accessible as well as reachable using the services of a packer - or as in our case, our own feet.
In our opinion, this is a true find, unlike other similar areas where people take definite advantage of all that the traffic will bear.... THANK YOU Lloyd Ross and Muir Trail Ranch!!!