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Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
JMT South Bound OCTOBER on 10/03/2009 20:33:44 MDT Print View

Starting beginning October. Any thoughts or suggestions. Plan to putz along at about 14+ days. Medium-packing. Perhaps some side-trips. Winging it a bit in first week as haven't been as active as I'd like! What is still possible in terms of re-supply??? Think 15 October is last day for VVR -- might serve as a motivation to get my act together quickly. Otherwise could get pretty heavy! Any strategy/logistics comments most welcome!

Laurence Beck
(beckla) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Maybe packing services are still available?? on 10/03/2009 21:51:34 MDT Print View

I know that both Red's Meadows and Muir Trail Ranch are closed. You could try Rainbow Packers out of Bishop, CA. Their phone number is 760-873-8877 and you can google them for more information on the web.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
JMT South Bound October-Be Prepared on 10/03/2009 21:59:15 MDT Print View

Really watch the weather--Oct. is the Shoulder Season and ANY Thing can happen this time of year....I am sure you will have a great time but do alot of research on your (Bailing Out Points) on the trail---Be prepared for some cold weather for sure-especially past VVR to Whitney (much higher elevations). On the upside it could also be perfect: less crowds,no skeeters, bears are getting ready to hibernate, solitude and beautiful fall weather.

Goodluck

Edited by Creachen on 10/03/2009 22:04:12 MDT.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
JMT Southbound - Weather Warning on 10/04/2009 00:04:19 MDT Print View

Just posted to the PCT List Forum tonight by Mtnned

"The first snow of the year has hit with a vengeance here in South Lake Tahoe. It began at about 8:30pm tonight, less than two hours ago, and we have at least an inch on the truck. The wind is blowing so hard that, not only is it snowing horizontally, but the last of the picnic table umbrellas has been blown up the hill into the summer flower bed."

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: JMT South Bound OCTOBER on 10/04/2009 14:43:41 MDT Print View

" Winging it a bit in first week as haven't been as active as I'd like!"

If this means you're not in pretty good mountain shape, you might want to very carefully think the trip through. If the weather deteriorates quickly you may have to bail, and speed is of the essence in that kind of situation. If you can't move quickly and maintain the pace long enough to get out over the eastern passes, or down to Roads End or some similar west side exit point, you could find yourself in deep trouble. My 2 cents. Best of luck if you go.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: JMT South Bound OCTOBER on 10/04/2009 18:35:50 MDT Print View

I second Tom's thoughts. I have been caught in Sierra snow in Oct. Though it was only at 7500 feet, just think what can happen at 10,000 with no bail out options. I would wait until next year. If you like hiking in late season (I do!!) then maybe do it in Sept. over 2010

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
beginning of october already on 10/04/2009 20:50:15 MDT Print View

Yeah, I've been loosely planning a 7-day trip for the third week of October. Had considered the South route from VVR. Now I'm not sure about access or the weather on whole. It could be gorgeous solitude, like Jay said, or it could be a bail-out... hrmmmm.

Maybe I'll opt for some stormy weather on the Lost Coast.

UPDATE: found Scott's trip report from last year, same time:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=16188
"The whole trip I felt like I was "chasing the end of the season" as campgrounds were closing, rangers were leaving, there were hardly any other hikers, and fall was in the air."... he had to bail, and luckily too, with a storm hitting on his heels.

Edited by uberkatzen on 10/04/2009 21:05:56 MDT.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Snow in the Sierras This Weekend on 10/04/2009 22:31:32 MDT Print View

I just got back from a trip in the Emigrant Wilderness going from the Crabtree Trailhead to Long Lake. Friday and Saturday felt like weather in August and then it all changed last night with a storm that brought high winds and about 4 inches of fresh snow. Below is my campsite at Gem Lake on Saturday morning verses Sunday morning.

Gem Sat Gem Lake Saturday Morning

gem Sunday Gem Lake Sunday Morning

Gem snow

Thankfully, the snow slowed to allow decent visibility and it was a relatively easy 10 mile slog to get out with no elevations higher than 9k. The JMT in October seems a bit dangerous for my personal tolerance for risk. I would seriously consider an alternative with more manageable bailout options in the event of a winter storm.

Edited by Davidpcvsamoa on 10/04/2009 22:38:53 MDT.

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
RE: Snow in the Sierras This Weekend on 10/04/2009 23:05:57 MDT Print View

Dave, that's classic. Awesome. Thanks a lot for posting the pics and the solid warning.

cheers, man
-Michael

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Thanks on 10/05/2009 11:53:05 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone. Bailing the first half looks pretty easy. Think VVR is open until 15 October. Many emails and no response -- not a good sign. As for fitness and speed, it's all relative. We're never where we want to be when we set out on a tramp. Someone posted elsewhere about taking along more than just that 13 page JMT map set in the event that you want to bail -- otherwise you walk off the map. I suppose the bus to Mammoth Lakes is over for the season? As for packers, sounds too complex and too many issues. Sounds like a heavy slow walk at this point. Bail out plans key. But weather could be very stable! On the other hand, maybe it is time to think about skiing. Or a southern hemisphere tramp.

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: JMT South Bound OCTOBER on 10/05/2009 13:55:29 MDT Print View

Can you tell us what your level of experience is? You are very nonchalant, and that is a fun attitude to have, but not unless you have the skills and knowledge to back it up.

From this thread and your other thread on this topic, I'm getting the vibe that you aren't very experienced. I'm sorry if that is the wrong assumption, but that is the signal you are sending. No one wants to be mean or dissuade you from having a great time, but safety is an issue. Weather isn't always stable this time of year and it is silly to assume it will be. I'm thinking you should plan a different hike.

I'm sorry if my assumptions are wrong. If you're set on this trip than post your gear list and let everyone critique it. It will be a major help to you whether you are experienced or not.

Edited by arichardson6 on 10/05/2009 13:56:18 MDT.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Thanks on 10/05/2009 14:06:39 MDT Print View

VVR is a remote lodge, not the type of place that answers emails. If memory serves they only have a sat phone on premises. Yes, the bus to Red's Meadow is over for the season.

Enjoy your walk. I'd love to be out there in Mid October. I'd bring much of my winter gear and be prepared for two or so feet of snow. Backpackers die frequently in early season snow storms in the sierra.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Open Mind on 10/05/2009 14:40:29 MDT Print View

Not assuming anything.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: JMT South Bound OCTOBER on 10/05/2009 17:13:04 MDT Print View

Dave, those are great pics. Allot more snow than what Jay, Josh, and myself got last year. Pretty cool

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
John Muir's Gear List? on 10/05/2009 19:17:48 MDT Print View

Wonder how this would stack up! Truth is I'm a bit of a gear junkie. Only since subscribing to BPL and reading Ryan's excellent book have I purchased a little scale and started a spreadsheet. Thanks for the inspiration! I doubt John Muir did this, though.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/05/2009 19:36:30 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Re: Snow in the Sierras This Weekend on 10/05/2009 19:22:36 MDT Print View

Great photos! Thanks for posting! About what I would expect this time of year. Having to post hole through a metre with my necessarily heavy load would be a different story. Of course, there is some chance of that this time of year. Also, a chance of perfect weather with chilly mornings.

Laurence Beck
(beckla) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
It was 18 degF in Tuolumne this morning at 7:21am.. ouch! on 10/07/2009 09:32:59 MDT Print View

You aren't kidding about chilly mornings.

Here's the link to the weather website (ROMAN)
http://raws.wrh.noaa.gov/roman/

In the Region drop-down, select the CA - San Joaquin Valley/Hanford item and it'll give you various Sierra sites. In the Product drop-down you have several choices where you can get the requested weather info.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Colorado Mountain Girl on 10/07/2009 10:42:16 MDT Print View

Thanks for the weather report. 18F -- can handle it. Can handle snow too :) Up to a point. Post-holing with a HEAVY pack through 1-2 metres of soggy snow -- possible scenario but gather not likely -- for any great distance alone would be very difficult for me. Wonder what they are seeing in terms of high temps. Supposed to be clear a week out -- which often means cold. Navigation skills can ALWAYS be better -- much better with my GPS than map/compass -- LOL.

BUT what really did this in for me is RE-SUPPLY -- 30+ pounds of consumables??? If you are planning 14 days in winter -- can you really pare that down much? I'm vegan so hunting and fishing aren't something I'd plan for or have a clue how to go about. Furthermore, I simply need warmer stuff than most (sub 0F bag, etc etc.) 50 lbs is getting very close to HALF my bodyweight!!! I've carried this amount but not over 210 miles of fairly high mileage days. (Yeah, I know it shrinks as the days pass but still A LOT, IMO!)

If MTR were open for packages, I would do it in a second! As for packers, sounds like they need a time and place for delivery. Many reports of unreliable outfits -- get to the top of a pass and turned back by a ranger because they don't have their "animal permit". Sounds pretty iffy for someone winging it in cold weather. Yes, there are other resupply options -- for a bit more planning and a bit more money -- but not worth the effort, IMO at this point.

I'm one to wing it! Much of The Alps (the access and hut systems) are perfect for me in this respect!!! On foot or ski. Throw on a lightish pack, pick up a map and head out for a few weeks.

If I don't think success is likely, then I'll find another challenge. Already making another plan for this month. :) Though a few Sierra types are encouraging my not to abandon JMT…October is the best month! No chance in making it to VVR and a box before it closes at this point. I'm NOT going to carry that MONSTER pack described above. :)

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Perhaps... on 10/07/2009 10:54:29 MDT Print View

Now, a friend just back from her second JMT this summer is egging me on. A delightful French mountaineer in love with the trail! She says it is cake-walk and idiot-proof and we will go together. She argues that the days are short and the nights will be boring with no one for me to talk to. Wants to bivy so we can use her new stargazer gadget. I love the continental attitude! Doesn't solve the problem of the heavy pack though! Unless she wants to carry my Bear Vault. She is a fellow free spirit! She thinks I'm crazy for getting a little scale. But I am already thinking of the Lycian Way and warmer climes.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/07/2009 10:58:35 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Uberkatzen --don't give up so fast! on 10/07/2009 11:15:52 MDT Print View

uberkatzen -- don't be intimidated by the comments some of these people are making to me! Maybe because I'm a girl. Some don't like my 3 season tent or wouldn't bivy in winter. (I have a winter tent, BTW!) It's not winter anyway! Whatever….

Have a talk with Doug at the Whitney Portal Store/Hostel. Stayed at the hostel almost a week earlier in the year and contacted him more recently regrading late season contingencies. Real character and a joy to spend time with. If you're cruising by, stop in and hang out -- he talks to all -- you don't have to stay there are buy anything though at $20/night, it's a steal. I started a little post on the Whitney Portal board to which Doug has responded. Really this is someone who knows and LOVES these mountains! Of course, there are some issues in October that you don't have in August but this can be a great time. Also has great advice on loops in the area. For me, I am deterred by the prospect of a heavy pack! The weather pattern seems to be one of 7-10 days clear with a little storm and then another week of clear.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/07/2009 11:19:33 MDT.