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Steve's JMT Thread

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avatar Steve's JMT Thread
December 24, 2013 06:59AM
Hiya guys, long time no speak. I've been busy over this side of the pond with everything except for hiking. It's good to be back, and I am looking forward to seeing what you guys get up with Yosemite in winter.

With the new year approaching, I really should start seriously thinking about my 2014 vacation ( <- see, I'm learning the lingo, and everything!)

After the success of my 6 day trip this summer, I am interested in the JMT for next year as I love a good challenge. I have a few logistical thoughts though, which I would like to run by you guys, if I may.
(I am aware there are loads of JMT sites out there, and I will be studying them in detail soon, but I feel like this is my 'home' forum, so like to hang out here)

I would like to do the hike in as few days as reasonably possible, as costs, and time away from work become an issue for me. It's not just the hike itself, but the flights, and days either side of it, car hire etc. It mounts up real quick, and eats into my holiday allowance more than I would like.

On my trip this year, I covered between 6, and 14 miles per day. The lower mileages are because of time spent at Clouds Rest, and a trip up Half Dome, but, 12-14 miles a day should be doable. I move pretty fast, except for the first hour in the morning, and hike till it's just light enough to make camp and eat.

So, with some slightly lighterweight gear (I already go pretty light) and slightly better fitness (I'm already pretty fit too), I am thinking that 16 days would be doable, including a rest day. 14 would be my target.

When do I need to start looking at permits? And, is it possible, if moving very fast and light to do Happy Isles to Tuolumne Meadows in a day? Somebody suggested it a few months back. That's 22 miles, but I could travel with just a small day pack, and pick up my pack from my car at Tuolumne Meadows. This would make it easier to get a permit, as I would just need a Lyell Canyon one, instead of the more popular Happy Isles one. Or is that a crazy idea?

Also, logistics at the Whitney Portal end will be interesting. How easy is it to get transport back to Tuolumne Meadows from there?

And one final thing that has been bugging me - does anyone know if it is possible to send supplies from the UK, to the re-supply points? I am not sure if I can sent food (most likely mountain house packets, chocolate, carb gels, and cereal bars) via airmail. I don't think they like food crossing borders, which presents an intersting resupply challenge.

Sorry, for the ramble, thanks for reading my musings. I will get on over to some of the more specific JMT sites, and do some reading.

Re: Steve's JMT Thread
December 24, 2013 01:57PM
I think its completely doable.
As far as transportation back to Tuolumne Meadow, I have used East Side shuttle for shorter trips. It's a little pricey, but Paul is very dependable, and a pleasant guy.


As far as Happy Isle to Tuolumne Meadows in a day, you might be able to do it, but you would be really tired the next day. You could do it downhill over 2 days , or even one day long day ride the shuttle from the valley floor back to your car, and pick up the bulk of your supplies to start up Lyell Canyon. Check the bus schedule on the Park website, but I think there's an evening bus and a morning bus most years. There's a backpackers camp on the Valley floor as well as at Tuolumne Meadows that you can use for one night without reservations if you have a Wilderness Permit.

When I was on the West side of Whitney last September I met a guy who was finishing the John Muir Trail in seven days, 35-40 miles a day. He had meant to do it in six, but the passes slowed him down. He was also cold and hungry.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/24/2013 02:11PM by lschaaf.
Re: Steve's JMT Thread
December 24, 2013 04:27PM
> When do I need to start looking at permits?
168 days before your start date. More info here.

> How easy is it to get transport back to Tuolumne Meadows from there?
Usually an easy hitch from Whitney Portal down to Lone Pine, CREST bus to Mammoth.
The YARTS bus runs from Mammoth to Tuolomne Meadows, then onto Yosemite Valley, and after a four hour layover in Yosemite Valley it continues to Merced at which point you get on the train to Emeryville and then a short shuttle to downtown San Francisco.
Depending on the bus timetables you could do it all in one day, or stop over in Mammoth for a night in a hotel, warm shower and much appreciated meal.

>does anyone know if it is possible to send supplies from the UK, to the re-supply points?
Don't bother. Spend a couple of hours when you are in San Francisco, first buy an empty paint bucket from a hardware store, then go to REI and stock up on what you need and mail it off to Muir Trail Ranch. This is the only place that you need to mail supplies. Yosemite Valley, Tuolomne Meadows, Reds Meadow, even VVR have small stores where you can pick up freeze dried dinners, power pars, oatmeal, candy etc.
avatar Re: Steve's JMT Thread
December 25, 2013 07:27AM
Hey Steve, I have not done the JMT so take my input with a full shaker of salt. But I have been looking into it same as you, so some thoughts:

- I've been racking my brain to figure out how people do it in 14 days (or less -- I heard the record is just under 4 days). Yes, a calculator will tell you that 14 days to cover 220 miles is just under 16 miles a day, and on paper that is doable. But...consider your experience in Yosemite last year, which parallel's mine: you can't cover that much ground AND stop to smell the roses, it's one or the other. Do you want to finish the JMT so you can say you finished the JMT? If so then race on through. But if you want to linger, take in the scenery, explore side trails and summits and lakes as you and I both did this past summer then your daily mileage will need to be less. Like you, I found only 7-12 miles filled a day quite well when also enjoying the scenery.

- Keep in mind that the JMT is anything but flat -- not only are you wanting to cover 220 miles but also about 85,000 feet (26km) of total elevation change. In 14 days that averages more than a mile of total elevation change per day, while trying to do 16 horizontal miles per day. Every day. And most of this at starting elevations above 10k ft (3km). Can you do that day after day for 2 solid weeks? Even if you can, do you want to?

- Why not just start at TM? I don't recall your itinerary from this past summer, but if you covered some/all of the JMT between the Valley and TM already then you could go ahead and check that off or save it for a future trip. As you said, greater likelihood of getting the permit out of TM to Lyell but also cuts out 10% of the mileage (which, from Valley to TM, also includes 6,000 ft of elevation gain).

- My biggest reason for currently shying away from considering the JMT is the total amount of time -- even if the trail is doable in 14 days, as you said the travel to get there and back pushes the whole trip to nearly 3 weeks and I don't have that kind of time. So one thing I am considering is section-hiking it, do half this coming year and the other half TBD. One downside to this approach is acllimating to the altitude on that southern half, it's one thing to start in the Valley at 4k and hike your way up to 12-14k, it's quite another to start above 10k, you would need a day just to acclimate to the alititude.

- Rather than leave a rental car that you are paying for by the day in YNP for the entire trip, you can take Amtrak (rail system) from San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, etc. Will be much cheaper than renting a car for that long and no need to remember to drive on the right. ;-) Alternatively, there are shuttle services to/from Reno, which is closer to the portions of the trail outside of YNP.

Hope this helps.
Re: Steve's JMT Thread
December 27, 2013 03:55PM
I think JRinGeorgia nailed it with his response - I did the first leg of the JMT last summer from the Valley to Reds Meadow - It took my daughter and I three days to go from the valley to Tuolomne (Valley to Little Yosemite to Sunrise HSC to Tuolomne) - we took our time and then another three days from Tuolomne to Reds Meadow (Tuolomne to Lyell FootBridge to Thousand Island to Reds Meadow) - Our last day we started at Thousand Island Lake and hiked a little over 16 miles to Reds that day. I'm 52 and though my daughter is a spry 16, that was a really good pace for me and I was pretty beat when we were done - mostly downhill.

My biggest regret is that I didn't take more time on the trail to stop and appreciate things rather than force myself to move on to my "next goal" - As a result I now have changed my attitude towards hiking the remainder of the JMT - Before I had separated the hike into three sections - 2nd was to be from Reds Meadow to South Lake and last would be South Lake to Whitney - I am now going to take more time and split the remaining 2 sections into at least 4 sections stopping off at VVR and Onion Valley and maybe having at least one rest day in between to fly fish, take pictures and hike - This wilderness is far too beautiful to just blast through it like your on a mission - you just miss too much of what it has to offer.

Considering your time constraints, at the very least, consider splitting it up a bit so you can enjoy it more - You're coming too far not to.

One thing on the food though - There are plenty of stops that you can mail to and people do this from the east coast all the time so I can't see why it would be different from across the pond - and I would rather do that than get the food at the stops since you would have more control over what you are eating and a better selection. Most of these places don't have the healthiest cuisine. IMHO

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/27/2013 04:02PM by SoCalCPA.
avatar Re: Steve's JMT Thread
December 28, 2013 04:47PM
I did the JMT a couple of years ago and about half of it again last year. My thoughts:

While this is my favorite forum by far, the JMT users group on Yahoo has so may JMT specifics I have to give it a strong recommendation.
Katy has it right about the food drops...do it here in the states. Also, know that the resupply points generally have a good amount of stuff left on a "take it as you need it" basis. I know folks that have done an entire 8 day resupply from the buckets at Muir Trail Ranch.
You will probably choose between Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) and Muir Trail Ranch (MTR) for one of your re-supplies. Both are fine...VVR is popular for the shuttle taxi across the lake that gets you there...but with lake levels low the shuttle has stopped operating each of the last two years in mid summer. With another dry year here in California staring us in the face I would lean toward MTR for a mid-trip resupply.
Happy Isles to Tuolumne in one day...don't bother. The first day anywhere is always the hardest...altitude, blisters, etc. Push to hard on the first day and you will regret it the rest of the trip...which may not be as long as you thought it would, if you get my drift. The suggestion to start at Tuolumne is a good one, although permits there are probably not any easier to get than Happy Isles.
10 to 15 miles a day is a good pace. You will probably recall the afternoon thunderstorms that frequently crop up in the Sierras...and knowing that pretty much the last half of the trip includes a pass a day, plan to stage yourself close enough to the passes so as to be able to get up and over them by noonish.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2013 04:47PM by Bearproof.
avatar Re: Steve's JMT Thread
December 28, 2013 08:10PM

My hiking partners and I did the Red's Meadow to Onion Valley section of the JMT. 9 Days and wish we took longer. A couple of good things about starting at Red's heading south: acclimation and acclimation. The elevation starting out is moderate, and the ups and downs the first couple of days really help acclimate to higher elevation.
Our biggest mistake was failing to fully account for elevation gain in one day, we camped at Tully Hole, then went over Silver Pass then up Bear Ridge in one day. That was probably too much that early in the trip.

Do what you love.
avatar Re: Steve's JMT Thread
March 05, 2014 07:07AM
Hi all, many thanks for your input into this thread, and your advice.

As my work circumstances have changed, and I am now not sure where I will be working or living this summer, I have had little time to look into the JMT, so chose to shelve the idea for at least another year.

I just simply did not have enough time to plan to the level of detail required.

Instead, work all being well, I hope to be trying an 8-10 day loop inside the park, possibly in June/July time, weather, permits, and and money permitting. I will post about that one in a bit.

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