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High Mileage JMT
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Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
High Mileage JMT on 08/16/2010 19:35:33 MDT Print View

I have an upcoming JMT hike, and I am planning for 8-9 days, and i am wondering if the corresponding daily mileage is too much, considering the ups and downs of this trail. I regularly put in 20+ mile days, but that is in the local mtns.(San Diego) and have also put in 20+ mile days in the sierras, but not for this many consecutive days. So, if you have hiked the JMT in this time frame, what input do you have?

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: High Mileage JMT on 08/16/2010 19:58:51 MDT Print View

I did the JMT in about 9 1/2 days and it's not that tough if you are in good shape. Also:
1) You should have your footware dialed in so you aren't getting blisters.
2) Lightweight gear is also helpful (duh)
3) Going solo would help. I did it with my son and there were days I could have done higher mileage and likewise for him.
4) Sounds like you won't be fighting snow so that will help.
5) Get an early start each day. The easiest miles are early.
6) Get enough of the right calories in you. If I were to do it again I would take something equivalent to Hammer Perpetuem. Many days I was limited in speed/miles by calorie intact. I used to have many problems at higher elevations.
7) Don't push yourself too hard early on. We were 14 miles behind schedule at Muir Trail Ranch and made that up. We were able to hike to Guitar Lake in 4 days and get back on schedule.
8) If heading south. carry little food up to Reds Meadow, do a mini resupply at store and a final resupply at MTR. If your really good you could avoid a bear canister by camping night 1 at TM and night 2 at Reds. Hang night 3 and pick up a bear canister if desired at MTR. The only other place a canister is needed is the area around Rae Lakes. Strategically planned camping could allow you to avoid taking one there. (I actually would ship the canister to MTR and not worry.)
9) Passes. You will want to do at least one day with a double Pass. We camped near the Taboose Pass Trail and did Pinchot and Glen in one day. We went from Charlotte Lake to Guitar lake on the last full day.
10)I have a nice spreadsheet that will let you plan the mileage and elevation change. PM me and I can send it to you.

You are picking a great time of year to do this trail. Have fun

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: high mileage JMT on 08/16/2010 20:04:51 MDT Print View

With good fitness and tough feet (by which I mean very well conditioned feet) that'd be a very reasonable schedule. Between the steep descents, rocks, and hard hard dirt the JMT is tough on the feet.

Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
JMT High Mileage on 08/16/2010 20:23:14 MDT Print View

My feet have always been my limiting factor, blisters are never an issue, just really sore around the 25 mile mark regardless of trail type, weight carried, etc. That just seems to be my comfort limit, I don't have a problem pushing past that it just slows my pace a little. A good nights sleep and I'm ready to go again.

I am going solo and I also start around 5:30 in the morning.The sunrise table for my dates still shows a relatively early sunrise, so I should have plenty of daylight to squeeze in the miles.

I am planning only one resupply at MTR, and plan to gorge/supplement the calories at Touloume meadows, Red's, possibly VVR, and if necessary the hiker barrels at MTR. I always have too much food on my trips, so this trip I am planning food to hit my calorie mark and be low volume for my bear can.

Any particularly rough sections in terms of mental and or physical challenge?

My tentative plan is this:
Day one: Happy Isles- Evelyn Lake Jct
Day Two: Evelyn Lake Jct- Red's Meadow
Day three: Red's - Bear Ridge Trail
Day Four: Bear Ridge trail- McClure Meadow
Day Five: McClure Meadow- Lower Palisade Outlet
Day Six: Lower Palisade- Dollar lake
Day seven: Dollar Lake- High Sierra Trail Jct
Day Eight: High Sierra Trail jct- Whitney

I also have a couple of cushion days to adjust as needed.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: JMT High Mileage on 08/17/2010 07:10:58 MDT Print View

Day 3 will be the toughest. I would go to the Mono Creek Bridge which would cut your 33.8 miles down to about 30. Also, Bear Ridge is one my least favorite parts of the trail and there are some killer sites down along the creek. Also, the switchbacks up from Mono Creek will be a challenge at the end of a 30+ mile day.

Day 6 - I would continue to Rae Lakes to balance your miles more evenly between Day 6 and 7.

Day 7 - Guitar Lake is a cool place to camp. You will meet a bunch of people who are pretty excited about finishing the JMT. Also, it will allow you to get an early start and summit Whitney for the sunrise. It's cool to see the little lights going up the switchbacks out of Guitar starting about 2am.

Day 8 - Don't underestimate the brutality of the decline down to portal. We were able to summit Whitney and get down to the portal by about 1pm.

You will find that the passes get easier and easier as you get used to the elevation. I had a much harder time on Donohue than Forester.

Joel Waddell
(TenderPaw) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Re: Re: High Mileage JMT on 08/17/2010 14:10:36 MDT Print View

Can you send me a copy please?

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: High Mileage JMT on 08/17/2010 20:53:59 MDT Print View

I did it recently in 11.5 days. Felt fast enough for me :-)

Your day 1 sounds much, much harder than day 2. YV to Tuolumne is a lot of climbing. Consider sleeping at the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker's campground at the end of day 1.

Greg Gessel wrote: "Don't underestimate the brutality of the decline down to portal."
Ditto. I thought that descent was physically the hardest part of the whole trip -- harder than any of the climbs.

"Guitar Lake is a cool place to camp."
On the other hand, I would disagree with Greg here. Kind of a lousy place to camp, IMO. Crowded, no privacy.

It's going to be tricky getting over all the passes on the souther half that fast. If there's a big storm, you're just going to have to accept the possibility that it might not be safe to go over a pass late in the day, and that might mean you won't be able to complete the hike on this schedule.

You're getting into the level of hiking speed at which it may be difficult to eat enough calories to replace all the energy you're burning.

Edited by bcrowell on 08/17/2010 20:54:59 MDT.

Ed Engel
(Doorknob) - F

Locale: West of what you think is west
Re: Re: High Mileage JMT on 08/17/2010 21:16:32 MDT Print View

We just completed the JMT. We took 14 days but on our way up to Whitney we ran into a young woman from France who said she did the trip in 7 days. She said she had 2 50 mile days, getting up at 2am to hike.

Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
JMT high mileage on 08/17/2010 22:21:19 MDT Print View

Day one is a point of contention, depending on how the permit issue plays out, I have no reserved permit. I plan on getting to the wilderness office at about 3 AM and setting up shop for a hopeful number one spot in line prior to day one of the trip. Although not a traditional approach, I might possibly hike the first section backwards and cut the mileage so I can stay in the valley overnight and catch a shuttle back up to touloume and continue on. Just gonna play the start by ear.

I do have some cushion days for rain and or need for rest.

The mileage vs. calories issue should be fine for me, I can go for days on end with minimal calories and don't ever seem to have any adverse effects, but the hike itself will confirm or deny that statement. I think I will be alright.

I have done the section from the tarn above Guitar Lake to the portal in a day and found it to be a breeze once out of the switch backs up top ( that made my feet sore for some reason)

Thanks for the suggested adjustments Greg, I think I will make note of those and possibly adjust my plan.

Thanks for the comments, and any more would also be appreciated. I generally only get one big sierra trip a year, so hopefuly all is well.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Another start option on 08/18/2010 06:45:28 MDT Print View

Don't know how you are doing the transport between trailheads but we started at TM, hiked to Whitney, hitched and bussed back to TM, drove to the valley, took the hiker shuttle back to TM and day hiked back down to the valley. While this sounds complex and it takes almost a full day, it worked. It was easier to get a permit out of TM. Also, you will be heading downhill on the the TM to valley leg with a very light pack instead of trudging uphill will a fuill load.

Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
shuttle on 08/18/2010 12:40:36 MDT Print View

My dad is going on vacation the same day I leave, so he will drop me in TM. I will use the park shuttles to get between TM and the valley. My wife is picking me up at the portal. Hopefully I will just get lucky and get a walkup permit first day. That I will soon find out.

Kurt Achtenhagen
( - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: High Mileage JMT on 08/21/2010 07:11:11 MDT Print View

Chad - I think you are spot on in your planning. A group of us did essentially the same last fall with 8 days total on trail. I had only two days >20 miles in prep, and literally only did about 6 miles the month before departure due to a bike crash.

For me personally, I found whenever the going got really tough, it was really about calories.

We spent about 15 hours a day walking, swimming, fishing, resting etc. If you have time to read, I wrote a 4 part blog for Leave No Trace that captures the essence of our trip:

Have a blast!

also - we had no problem moving our permit by a day at the Tuolumne permit office. We got in line around 7:00 and there were 2 folks in front of us.

Edited by on 08/21/2010 07:13:27 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
JMT Permits on 08/21/2010 09:55:01 MDT Print View

a 3am arrival at the wilderness office should insure you a permit.
I arrived twice at 6am and was able to get a JMT passthru permit ... but the second time I got the "last" one.

good luck