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josh mcnary
(jamcnary) - F

Locale: Subaruville, the Rockies
Seeking advice on an early season JMT thru on 11/17/2009 09:56:16 MST Print View

Greetings all, I'm a long time reader, first time poster. I'm planning a SOBO JMT thru during the first 2 weeks of July...aiming for 10 days on the route. I'm not anxious about the snow travel or the bugs (have you been to the Wind Rivers in June???) but I am curious as to people's thoughts about the viability of high mileage days (25 mile) this time of year. I know it's all about snowpack...but from previous experience, what do ya'll think?
Have you found the non-PCT portions of the route already broken?

Edited by jamcnary on 11/17/2009 10:34:53 MST.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
re: Seeking advice on an early season JMT thru on 11/17/2009 12:16:57 MST Print View

In a normal year, a lot (most?) PCT thru-hikers go through starting sometime in June; I started NOBO through the Sierras in early June in 2008. Of course a lot depends on the snow year; 2008 wasn't too bad, but still a good deal of snow to walk over. I would expect you'll find lots of tracks to follow in the snow; hopefully most of them will even go where you want to ... :-)

25 mile days would be aggressive even for a person with light base weight and fully up to thru-hiker conditioning (NOBO PCT thru-hikers have walked 700 miles to get to the start of the Sierras). The snow, elevation gain and loss, perhaps elevation, all contribute to make it harder to make the miles there, though maybe by the time you're talking about in July the snow will be reduced somewhat (again, depending on the particular year). I wouldn't count on 25 mile days regardless, as who wants to race through such gorgeous country? I actually did a couple of 25 mile days in there, but more "it worked out that way", in one case pushing to get to town before the post office closed, and those were long and tiring days.

Zack Karas
(iwillchopyou@hotmail.com) - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
JMT on 11/17/2009 12:18:10 MST Print View

I wouldn't consider the first 2 weeks of July as early season, as most PCT hikers leave Kennedy Meadows around June 10-15th. You should be fine with that mileage assuming you can cover 30 mile days on snowless trail.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Seeking advice on an early season JMT thru on 11/17/2009 14:25:34 MST Print View

>Have you found the non-PCT portions of the route already broken?

Lots of folks hiking the JMT in mid June as well as the PCT hikers who decide the JMT section north of Red's Meadow is nicer than the PCT section.

So route finding shouldn't be an issue unless there is fresh snow. Still a possibility but highly unlikely.

Yeah 25 mi days are possible but won't leave much time to stop and relax.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Early JMT on 11/17/2009 16:00:03 MST Print View

It all depends on snowpack. For a ten-day schedule you will need to hit the trail running. Hopefully your home elevation in the Rockies is high enough that you won't need time to adjust to altitude. At a ten-day pace you'll do two passes many days. If there's still much snow then the second pass may have very soft snow to deal with. Generally though by July there will be a pretty good trench packed down.

Have fun. I hiked the JMT in 2008 and was hoping to repeat this year, but health issues stopped me. I may repeat in 2010 and if so I'll probably be doing it in late June and early July.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Early JMT on 11/17/2009 17:59:11 MST Print View

I am hoping to get my tanned Aussie butt over there late next year to walk the JMT so this is a good read at the moment for me.

josh mcnary
(jamcnary) - F

Locale: Subaruville, the Rockies
Cheers! on 11/20/2009 10:56:15 MST Print View

Thanks ya'll for your insights. Reading your responses got me to thinking about early starts and possibly the need for a little extra traction on re-frozen hardpacked snow in the mornings (I hike in road running shoes...severe overpronator, trail shoes lack sufficient support). I think I'll give the "screw shoe" a try this winter and see how it works.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Seeking advice on an early season JMT thru on 11/20/2009 18:52:01 MST Print View

25 mile days should be no problem. The bugs will be so bad in the first 2 weeks of July that you won't want to stop, ever. Seriously. Plus that is prime thunderstorm season, so you'll likey get the maximum rain. This summer in late july, the bugs were brutal. I highly recommend doing the trip in late august/early september. My first JMT trip was that time of year, and it was fabulous - not one drop of rain, almost no bugs. We finished in mid-september, after labor day, and by then we practically had the trail to ourselves.
If you must go then, I wouldn't worry too much about the snow. Yes, you'll have to deal with some, but it won't be a big deal. Just try to plan your pass crossings for mid-day. And bring a headnet!

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
traction on 11/21/2009 07:46:19 MST Print View

I brought light 6-point crampons and never used them, mailed them home partway along and that was with an early June start. A PITA sometimes in terms of wanting to take them off and put them on too often, so didn't bother, and a lot of time snow is soft enough or sun cupped enough or whatever; there seemed to be very little real ice. Trail runners worked fine for me.