I admit, I do not avoid Red’s Meadow completely. Red’s Meadow, located just east of Devil’s Postpile National Monument, is an essential stop for pre-mailed resupplies. Rather than carry a heavy load representing 5-8 days of food from Tuolumne Meadows to Muir Trail Ranch, a Red’s Meadow resupply allows a backpacker to break it up into 2-3 days and 3-5 days of supplies. With that in mind, Red’s is a natural stop early in the JMT.
But be prepared. Red’s is a quick bus ride from Mammoth Lakes, which most people in Los Angeles think is a quick drive from that metropolis. Which it seems everyone does in the summer. As you trudge up from the river, you will be greeted by mobs of flip-flop wearing, out of shape, cigar-chomping, loud talking city folk. Their unruly children will be running around being unruly. Litter is present. The transition from wilderness, having likely descended from the unparalleled grandeur of Thousand Island Lake, to urban chaos is startling.
Lines are everywhere. Lines to buy junk food. Lines to pick up your resupply. Lines to board the bus back to civilization.
The backpacker campground is bleak, at best. Restrooms and showers are adequate. But the site is crowded and noisy. Red’s cabins are adequate, mostly. When described as rustic, that is pretty much accurate. You will not be the only visitors, as the resident mice, frogs, and ants will be reluctantly sharing their space. If you must spend the night here, jump on the bus and grab a cheap motel room in Mammoth Lakes. It will be less expensive, quieter, and the plumbing will all be functional.
The Mule House Cafe serves backpacker sized portions. Breakfast is at 7 AM, dinner requires pre-registration by 4 PM. Quantity is satisfying, quality is compromising. Hey, you are in the mountains….what do you expect?
My recommendation is to get in there early, grab your resupply and some Gatorade, and head south to Deer Creek.