Sure the JMT is usually described from north to south.
You have to describe it one way or the other, and
the convention has come to be north to south. This
makes sense, since most hikers are going to do it in
that direction. However, it does not mean that you
are not hiking the JMT if you hike south to north,
and for obvious reasons the fastest trips are going
to be done that way. Either direction is equally
When Buzz & I set out to set the Colorado Trail
record in 1999 (he succeeded, while I dropped out
with an injury) we elected to start in Denver mainly
because the majority of backpackers hike that
direction. We knew that starting in Durango would
be easier, but we felt better about starting going
the other direction. That was just the run we were
doing at the time. The current supported and
unsupported records were set by starting in Durango.
I agree this is a great forum to vet these issues
& it is super to have so many experieced folks
involved in the discussion. In the end, everyone
is going to do what makes the most sense to them,
and I believe that everyone will accept what others
do. I suppose there may come a time when different
people hold the Portal vs. Summit records (as there
was before Buzz & I did the JMT in 2000). OK, no
Buzz & I felt strongly when we did the JMT in 2000
that one should stick to the current official route.
Hence, we used the gross horse trail into Happy Isles,
rather than the Mist Trail, and the official route
through Tuolumne. I did the same in 2003.
New records on the big trails (LT, CT, JMT, etc.)
are getting TOUGH! On that note, has anyone heard
anything about Scott Williamson on the PCT? He
should be finishing up before too long, no?