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Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
JMT or HST? on 02/11/2009 06:35:53 MST Print View

While wifey and I may hike the entire JMT this year, we might have time constraints that limit us to a week of hiking (like, should we hike for a week then take some time to put the pounds back on in Napa Valley) so for folks who have hiked both- a week on the JMT or a week hiking the High Sierra Trail (not the Sierra High Route!)?

Which would you do? Pros/cons? Also, what section of the JMT would you hike if you were to pick 100-ish miles of it?

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
JMT or HST? on 02/11/2009 06:52:19 MST Print View

I'd hike the HST. It's a beautiful trail and much quieter than the JMT. If I was hiking a long section of the JMT it would have to include Evolution Basin and Muir Pass.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: JMT or HST? on 02/11/2009 07:32:15 MST Print View

Allright Chris, question #2 for you. Is it possible to hike the HST without a bear can or is this not possible/terribly inconvenient? The SEKI website has a link to their locations but it's not working for me.

Also, anyone have a tip on shuttles from Fresno to the SEKI area?

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
JMT or HST? on 02/11/2009 07:40:31 MST Print View

Russell, I carried a bear can on the HST. I don't know the exact location of bear boxes. Here's a link I've just found:

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
JMT or HST on 02/11/2009 09:20:46 MST Print View

I would do the JMT. You have more resupply places at the start so you can save weight. You can mail packages to Tuolumne Meadows, Red Meadows then VVR or the Muir Trail Ranch. After VVR that's pretty much it on resupply unless you are willing to walk out to do so. I am not positive but I believe you need a bear canister every where in Yosemite if you are staying over night. For me the JMT was life changing event=AWESOME!

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
JMT or HST on 02/11/2009 09:22:27 MST Print View

Bear canisters are required on both trails.

Shuttle is the big issue with the High Sierra Trail. It is roughly 300 miles of driving between Sequoia and Whitney Portal trailheads. There are a few commercial shuttles that could help you out but the cost would be terrible. Search the Whitney Portal Store's forums for more info.

I haven't done the HST, but have hiked from Kings Canyon to Whitney. The drive back took a very long day. If it were me I'd do a loop that starts and ends on the same side of the Sierra. One possibility is HST to Whitney then up the JMT to Vidette Meadow and down Bubbs Creek to Kings Canyon. That gets you the whole HST plus a nice piece of the JMT. It only adds about two (possibly three) days, and one of those would have been spent driving back.

This presumes you have a car waiting. If you fly to the Bay Area, then Amtrak to Visalia, then take the Sequoia Shuttle to Giant Forest you wouldn't have to get back to the west side at all. You could grab the M-W-F Inyo Transit bus from Lone Pine to Mammoth, then the Yosemite shuttle to Yosemite (spending a day in Yosemite). Then the bus back to Amtrak at Merced.

Personally if I were flying in from far away I would probably want to include Whitney, so that would constrain which piece of the JMT. I would not start from Whitney Portal because hitting 14,495 in the first ten miles of hiking makes me sicker than sick.

Edited by jimqpublic on 02/11/2009 09:23:42 MST.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: JMT or HST on 02/11/2009 11:02:50 MST Print View

Appreciate the replies folks. I am not too concerned with resupply/packweight issues at this point...more thinking about which trail provides a better hike for us. The HST is appealing if it offers more solitude but I don't mind walking past a few groups of hikers during the day...and I wouldn't exactly call the JMT crowded compared to where I usually hike. I do agree with ascending Whitney as a must so I would guess the latter portion of the JMT would be what we'd do.

If we go with the HST I don't plan on returning to our starting destination (most likely Fresno) as we'd probably be heading towards Nor Cal so the CREST bus to Mammoth/Lee Vining looks like it makes good sense.

Anyone else who's hiked both trails have any opinions on which to do given 7 days?

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: JMT or HST on 02/11/2009 11:53:32 MST Print View


I have not done the JMT yet, but I have done the HST to Mt. Whitney.

Here is a link to a photo essay of my trip in 2007, which is fairly detailed about what you will see.

Jeremy and I covered the 70 miles in 4 would be a very leisurely.

After you pass Hamilton Lake, the trail is less traveled and gives you lots of opportunities for side trips and solitude.

Nice thing too is that this approach gives you time to aclimate to the altitude.

After Crabtree campsite, you will need to use WAG bags for your waste to pack out.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Re: JMT or HST on 02/11/2009 13:28:12 MST Print View

Thanks Tony! Great info, and loved the pics.

WAG bags- ah yes...will wait to tell the wife about this detail.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
WAG bags- Only for Portal Exit on 02/11/2009 14:44:20 MST Print View

Wag bags are really no big deal. They open out nice and wide. You do your business and seal it up, then put it in a ziploc. Pick one up at the Crabtree trail junction, toss it in the clearly labeled container at Whitney Portal.

They are only required if you exit at Whitney Portal. If you exit anywhere else don't get/use the bags unless you want to carry a sack of 5h1t for your whole hike.

Kevin Lutz
(mtntrailrunner) - F
Re: JMT or HST? on 02/11/2009 17:02:16 MST Print View

I've done both.

You didn't mention what time of year you're going. If it's during the middle of summer you'll see big crowds on either end of the JMT but just from Trail Crest on down (which technically isn't even the JMT) in the south and to the Half Dome junction in the north. The rest of the trail is relatively uncrowded.

I did the HST last July and saw almost no one. I had Kern Hot Springs all to myself for a couple of hours.

If you did the JMT from Yosemite Valley to Red's Meadow you could simplify logistics by leaving you car on one end and taking YARTS back to it from the other end. That's not quite 100 miles but it's a lovely section.

I know it's not one of your choices but the TRT (Tahoe Rim Trail) is also beautiful and easy to resupply from. The section on the west side is the most scenic and it's not too far from the wine country.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Re: JMT or HST? on 02/11/2009 17:22:10 MST Print View

You only need to use bear cannisters on the HST if you do not camp at a site that has bear boxes (they are about every 8 miles on the HST). I've done the HST each year from 2000-2006. If you can go from Crabtree Meadows to Whitney Portal in one day, you can go without a bear cannister. Most people can't, they stay at guitar lake, where there is no bear boxes, so a group of you can get by with just one bear cannister as all you need to store in it is your smelly stuff at guitar lake.

Now the advantage of a bear cannister for each is that you are not tied down to staying where there are bear boxes.

If SEKI has changed their rules since 2006, this advice is outdated then.

In 2005, we did the HST one way, 3 of us, and we only took one bear cannister for the 3 of us (not one apiece). We used it at guitar lake.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Re: JMT or HST? on 02/11/2009 17:28:07 MST Print View

Thanks Kevin. I thought briefly about the TRT but I have to narrow the choices down! I have hiked the JMT thru Yosemite NP so I know how beautiful Lyell Canyon is. I'd be sorely tempted to do the south section due to Whitney, regardless of planning hassles.

We're probably going in early-mid July, trying to hit the magic period of optimal-snowmelt-yet-no-mosquitoes interval. I know, pipe dream, right? I'd go in late August or early September but we have been to the Sierra late in the season and I really want to see all the waterworks in full force. Last time we were there, all the falls were a trickle if not dry, and we could rock hop ever water crossing. What fun is that?

As an aside, how is the winter progressing? Below/above/average snowfall year in the Sierra?

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Re: Re: JMT or HST? on 02/11/2009 17:31:17 MST Print View

"Now the advantage of a bear cannister for each is that you are not tied down to staying where there are bear boxes."

Roleigh, that's just what I was thinking. Having the flexibility of campsites will make the extra weight worthwhile. In actuality, I'd rather not camp at well established sites anyway due to increased likelihood of bear activity.

BTW, I've been reading your various past postings on the SEKI and JMT yahoo groups; they continue to provide valuable info. Thanks!

Edited by rswanson on 02/11/2009 17:33:16 MST.

Kevin Lutz
(mtntrailrunner) - F
Re: Re: Re: JMT or HST? on 02/11/2009 17:51:05 MST Print View

As of this month Sierra snowfall in general is well below half of normal.

But the season isn't nearly over. More storms are in the queue as I write.......

I agree that packing the canister on either trail is a wise choice. Not only does it free you from bear lockers but you'll also have a camp chair and a washing machine for your clothes!!!

Laurence Beck
(beckla) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
JMT from South Lake to Whitney Portal is 98 miles on 03/19/2009 16:54:58 MDT Print View

Russell, This summer (9/5-9/13) I am hiking the JMT from South Lake outside of Bishop to Whitney exiting at Whitney Portal. It is 98 miles and all on the eastern side of the Sierra's. I have not actually figured out the transportation issues yet but there are shuttle services that will pick you up at the Portal (where you leave your car) and then they will take you to South Lake. This is the most rugged part of the JMT. As Kevin mentioned, hiking from Yosemite Valley to Red's Meadows is some of the most beautiful areas of the trail. Its about 60 miles. From Red's Meadows you can take the bus shuttle to Mammoth Lakes Main Lodge and then catch YARTS the next morning back to Yosemite.