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Re: John Muir Trail Update

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avatar John Muir Trail Update
January 09, 2015 12:57PM
Received this today:

Dear Yosemite Hiking Community,

I wanted to take this opportunity to share information with you about the John Muir Trail (JMT) within Yosemite National Park. Over the last several years, Yosemite National Park has seen a significant increase in demand for permits to hike the JMT. During that time, there also has been an increase in the number of impacts related to JMT hikers along the trail corridor. Last summer, for example, there were 31 reported bear incidents in the Yosemite Wilderness; 30 of which occurred along the JMT. In addition, popular backcountry camps have seen a sharp increase in overnight users which is affecting the quality of the visitor experience. The increased demand for JMT permits has also lead to some hikers skirting the traditional permit system, which has made it more difficult for non-JMT hikers to obtain wilderness permits for other trails within Yosemite National Park.

The National Park Service is working with its neighboring agencies to develop an interim solution that will protect natural resources, provide for a quality visitor experience, and maintain hiking access throughout Yosemite—including the JMT. Implementation of an interim solution will be communicated to the public and the hiking community.

The National Park Service will continue to work with social media sites to ensure current, accurate, and up to date information is shared. We look forward to a solution that enables access and protects the park resources that attract JMT hikers.

Finally, I would like to apologize for any confusing or mis-information that has reached the Yosemite (John Muir) hiking community. I understand and appreciate your support for Yosemite’s Wilderness and invite you help us protect its truly unique qualities.

Sincerely,

Ed Dunlavey
Wilderness Manager, Yosemite National Park
Re: John Muir Trail Update
January 09, 2015 03:15PM
I feel a need to comment on the sentence "The increased demand for JMT permits has also lead to some hikers skirting the traditional permit system, which has made it more difficult for non-JMT hikers to obtain wilderness permits for other trails within Yosemite National Park." When I spoke with Ed Dunlavey on the phone yesterday (for quite some time), he agreed that current rules allow one to get onto the JMT regardless of which permit they receive (in fact, he knew of more ways to get onto the JMT than I did, we laughed about that). However, he said some of those doing this did not even bother to hike the trail they got the permit for and instead illegally hiked one of the legacy trails (such as Happy Isles). Nobody in the social forum groups has ever advocated doing this atrocious behavior. People who do such are subject, if caught to up to $5,000 fines according to the print I read (I did not reconfirm this with Ed). Ed did tell me that they want to achieve a change where those wanting to do those traditional (non-conventionally used for the JMT) are open for those not wanting to do a JMT but have not settled on a way to do that currently. I expect something to happen but with this announcement, we'll be in the communication loop in a timely manner. I greatly appreciate Ed reaching out to the JMT social groups.

PS, In case it is not 100% obvious, the official post confirms that the permit acquisition process for the time being remains the same as it was in 2014. Just remember, do not abuse the process and hike differently than what your permit allows you to do, and do not reserve beyond the head count you hope to have show up and obtain permits (if you do temporarily, immediately release it after deciding which reservation you like best, hopefully within 24 hours of getting the reservation you most sought for). Also, the reason the park service is having a problem with JMT hikers is that not good enough Leave No Trace practice is happening. Rangers should not be able to visit where you camped and detect any difference from what it looked like before you camped. Visit the web site https://lnt.org/ and thoroughly learn the principles there. Had the JMT hikers been treating the JMT like Burning Man people treat the Playa, I doubt if the park service would be concerned about the JMT hikers. See more here: http://burningman.org/event/preparation/leaving-no-trace/

Roleigh Martin, Lead Moderator, John Muir Trail Yahoo Group (3500+ members)
avatar Re: John Muir Trail Update
January 10, 2015 03:23AM
Quote
marti124

However, he said some of those doing this did not even bother to hike the trail they got the permit for and instead illegally hiked one of the legacy trails (such as Happy Isles).


A simple solution to stop this most egregious abuse that you have noted (of starting without the proper wilderness permit at Happy Isle or at one of the Tuolumne Meadows THs that provide easy access to JMT) would be to station one ranger at Happy Isle and one on the JMT past the Rafferty Creek split from early morning to early afternoon (later if it becomes necessary) that will check every backpacker's wilderness permit who is heading "south" on the JMT. This won't solve all the problems that the rangers are encountering on the JMT, but should help alleviate this most egregious one.

.
avatar Re: John Muir Trail Update
January 12, 2015 02:37AM
Ok, so they've got a problem and they're thinking of some changes to address this problem.

What changes? I haven't found or seen what changes they're thinking of.
I can't comment on something I don't know about.
Re: John Muir Trail Update
January 13, 2015 12:02PM
So much to update here. Please see the long thread here: http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/41364/SierraNevada#Post41364

Before the changes are official, Ed Dunlavey has been reaching out by phone with several JMT forum posters/moderators, myself and Peter Hirst quite substantially.

Peter has been very good at documenting the history in a condensed manner. Expect something official in the near future.
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