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JMT Advice
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Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
JMT Advice on 12/29/2010 12:33:29 MST Print View

The wife, 13 year old son and I are planning to do the JMT next year.

I am looking for some experienced advice.

My brother in law is a pct veteran and has done the JMT now 3 times.

My primary question is:

We only have two full weeks we can take off work at a time.

My brother in law maintains we can not make the trail in that time (I live close enough to drive to either end in about 3-4 hours). He says at the souther end, that will mean we will have to cover two passes per day and that the climbing will kill us.

I cant really argue, as I have never done 12 days in a row of extended 20 plus mile days, but have plenty of 15-20 mile 3 day stretches. I have also never hiked above 10.5K ft. We do a lot in the norther sierras and much of it above 9K but thats pretty much it.

So, I am totaly nuts for thinking its reasonable to hike the entire thing in 14 days with travel back and forth?

He suggested I go from reds meadow to whitney or drop the jmt and do Tahoe to the valley floor (or stop in the meadow).

He said if I wanted to do reds to whitney to resupply in MTR and pack the last 6 days with no resupply.

Thoughts?

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: JMT Advice on 12/29/2010 15:13:14 MST Print View

Is it possible, yes I did it in 10 days including all transportation from SF and hitching between Whitney and Yosemite. And we did a pass a day with the exception of one day where we did both Pinchot and Glenn. BUT....

the real question is whether you WANT to do what it will take to do it in 14 days. I personally love the physical challenge so half the attraction for me was pushing myself physically. And I did it with my 19 year old son who was 6'2" 190lb and could max out the military PT test.

Here is an option that allows you gain some time. As anyone who has hiked the JMT knows transport between the start and finish can be a challenge. You can use that to you advantage. Start at Reds Meadow heading south. The elevation wouldn't be too bad until Silver Pass which likely be Day 2. I suspect that if you are making good time you could hit MTR at the end of Day 3, maybe 4. This would be a good food carry. Resupply at MTR. Here you will have to either commit to a schedule or carry extra food. You can always send extra food to MTR and make a call based on how it goes on days 1-3. Head to Whitney and then head up the valley using whatever means you had planned. Upon leaving Whitney you can make a call on your next move. Options:
1) Head back to Mammouth tne head home.
2) Head to Reds and Continue north into Yosemite. (You will need a second permit.)

Even if you pick option 2 you are not locked into a schedule. Carry enough food to get you to TM and then if you choose do a small resupply at TM and then it should be a one day hike down into the valley. From here, take the hiker shuttle the next morning back to TM and then bus it, or even hike it back to Reds.

The advantage of this plan is that you are certain to see the best part of the JMT regardless of your speed. IMHO MTR south is the must see area. Likewise the trail from Yosemite Valley to TM is boring by comparison.

Whatever route you pick I would suggest not making this a forced road march unless that is what all three of you want. Also, your hiking speed will drop as you add two more people into the group. You will only be as fast as your slowest person at the time.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Re: JMT Advice on 12/29/2010 18:24:41 MST Print View

I agree with your brother-in-law -- do the "reds meadow to whitney". That is 160 miles. Minimally resupply at Muir Trail Ranch. You can also resupply at OnionValley Trailhead at the packer station there -- they charge about $120 per hiking party to ship supplies to their trailhead packer station and to be able to pick up your supplies there. OV TH is over Kearsarge Pass which is about 7 miles tangent (one-way) from JMT/Kearsarge Pass junction.

I've done the JMT 3 times but I move at an average pace of 10 miles a day. I took 16 days to do the MTR to WP stretch and got resupplied at both points.

Consider joining johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com -- we have 850 members focused on this trail. I'm one of the assistant moderators.

Edited by marti124 on 12/29/2010 22:14:33 MST.

Ryan Commons
(RyanCommons) - F

Locale: Bay Area, California
JMT Advice on 12/31/2010 12:52:30 MST Print View

Here are a few thoughts on a 12 day attempt across the JMT: I'm recommending you take your brother-in-laws advice.

Twenty miles / day means about 12 hours of hiking per day including bathroom breaks, pictures, rests, filling water bottles, eating, and taking in views. Here is a summary of a typical day then:
* 6:00am - get out of tent, eat, and take down camp
* 7:00am - on the trail and hiking or taking breaks for 12 hours
* 7:00pm - reach stopping point and set up camp
* 7:30pm - start cooking or eating
* 8:00pm - about 30 minutes of light to enjoy the rest of the evening
* 8:30pm - get in tent, talk and fall asleep between 9-9:30pm
Some backpackers love that type of camping. My experience as a 13yo was that I liked more time to play around a lake and take in the fun of the sierras.

One other consideration about doing more than 15 miles / day. I've found that people that do not backpack regularly (carry 35lbs for 30 miles over two days at least once a month) wear out after about 4 days of hiking. I am sure it is partially physical, but it is most apparent on the mental side when people start to not want to get up in the morning and are unable to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

If you, your son, and your wife are all into pushing hard on a trail -- GO FOR IT!!! and just have an alternative plan if you find that someone is not having a good time a few days in.

One more thought. If you go easy the first 6 days and then speed up the last 6 days, you'll likely cover more distance than you would if you push hard over the first 6 days. That has always been my experience. I think it has to do with both physical aspects and becoming efficient on a trail.

Best of luck to you,

Ryan

This is good way of seeing all the different parts of the trail. I took pictures of the entire trail and put it into a 40 min slide show going from south to north: http://vimeo.com/7851505

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: JMT Advice on 01/02/2011 15:54:29 MST Print View

This all depends how much weight you are going to carry.
If you can get your packs down to 25 pounds, I would say try to go from Tuolumne.
On the other hand, if you are going to be over 35 pounds at any time and are not an experienced backpacker that I would say this trip will be very very difficult from Reds.
If you'll be over 40 pounds, I wouldn't even try.

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
thoughts on 01/17/2011 19:50:04 MST Print View

Thanks for all the comments. I really do appreciate all the insight. I think I am going to get permits from reds to WP.

I need to look into parking a car at reds and one at WP so we can do our own transport back from whitney to reds.

I will join the jmt list, thanks for that idea as well.

Steven Thompson
(stevet) - M

Locale: Northeast
2 week JMT on 01/18/2011 23:33:10 MST Print View

Backpacking the JMT in 2 weeks is doable, I did it a couple years ago, and yes it means a few days >20 miles or 10+ hours walking. If that is what all of you want to do, and you are physically prepared to do it then it can be the experience of a lifetime.

But, had I more vacation time, knowing what I know now, I would have planned it for 3 weeks minimum. I don't mind the long days, but would have enjoyed doing some fishing. And would have enjoyed bagging some peaks. And I would have enjoyed a couple afternoons doing nothing but looking at wildflowers or clouds or talking to people I met along the way.

Point being, take enough time to fully enjoy all the time out there and not be rushed by a schedule.