November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010
Display Avatars Sort By:
David Pex
(dpex) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 01/28/2011 15:04:17 MST Print View

Sojourn in the Range of Light
Two Weeks on the John Muir Trail
August 15-31, 2010

Virginia Lake

[What follows is a transcript of my journal I wrote while on the JMT in August 2010. Editorial comments are indicated by brackets. You will note that the early entries are not much more than notations of departure and arrival times. As I got further away from interactions with other people, my journal became more verbose.]
August 15, left Happy Isles at 1700, arrived Little Yosemite Valley 2000. [5.2 miles total] 1.2 mile side-trip to silver apron [this is between Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls. The JMT bypasses the top of Vernal Falls, so I took a detour to get there] & top of Vernal Falls. Tent up by 2005. Dark by 2020. Ate for dinner the sandwiches Barb made for me. [my sister Barbara had picked me up at the Sacramento airport and delivered me to Yosemite Valley]
August 16, left LYV at 0650. To Half Dome junction around 0730. [When I started up Half Dome,] the cables [were] scary, almost turned around. Your hands and your feet slip a bit before holding. Made it to the top just a little bit before 0900. Took pictures and explored for a while. Back to junction around 1040. Met Andy and Ben, also doing the JMT, but taking 3 weeks. We all got water at Cloud’s Rest trail junction which I left at 1111 (and haven’t seen them since). Intended on staying at creek just before Sunrise High Sierra Camp, but I got there a little after 1430, & I wasn’t ready to call it a day. Within ten minutes of leaving, had SHSC in view. They have chlorinated water and solar toilets, and a friendly staff, so I hung out there about an hour. Gave the staff STS cookies, [“Secret to Success” cookies, a dense chocolate chip cookie. I picked up the recipe from a cookbook where a successful Pacific Crest Trail through-hiker attributed his success to these cookies, both for their nutritional powers and their bargaining prowess.] & they gave me two of their cookies. Drank Gatorade and read trail guide. Left around 1600, and found campsite at Upper Cathedral Lake at 1820.

Cathedral Peak and Upper Cathedral Lake
August 17 Out of UCL at 0715. Took side trail to Lower Cathedral Lake, then down to Tuolumne Meadows. Went to Parsons Lodge & Soda Springs, and got to Post Office by 1030. Left pack there and took 2-mile loop trail around [Lambert] dome, and climbed dome. Back at Post Office by noon. Got re-supply, hand sanitizer (not in resupply for some reason), beer, & batteries, and a salmon sandwich [from the Tuolumne Grill]. Arranged re-supply, not enough room [in bear canister], so I re-boxed excess food & the JMT geology book (I brought at last minute) and sent back to Portland. Call Jill [my wife] (Snickerdoodle [our puppy] has forgotten his house-training), got an ice cream for the trail, and left Post Office at 1330 [I also took a sponge bath and washed clothes in the men’s room]. Crossed Lyell Fork [of the Tuolumne River] at 1430 & began long flat hike up Lyell Canyon. Did bare-foot hiking from 1430-1500 & another barefooter was going the other way! [Ray Jardine recommends a half-hour of bare-foot walking each day to toughen up fee] Hit Evelyn Lake Trail around 1640, and decided to push on to Lyell Base Camp. A couple of good spots already taken, & a huge horse camp across river. [I found out later that this camp was the base for trail maintenance crews] Stopped at camp 2.05 at 1802. [camp indicator from Elizabeth Wenk’s excellent trail guide to the JMT]

Camp at Lyell Base Camp
August 18 Already LYV seems like a long time ago. Left Lyell Base Camp at 0715 and began ascent of Donohue Pass. Topped out around ten, and dropped into Rush Creek Drainage. Met Chris and two of his friends at Marie Lakes junction. They plan to exit JMT 8/29. [faster than me!] They powered by me as I trudged up Island Pass. Tougher than I expected, 650 ft. elevation gain. The tortoise caught the hare at Thousand Island Lake a little before 1330. They pass me as I hike barefoot from TIL to Ruby Lake. Refilled [water] bladder at Ruby, and didn’t arrive at Garnet [Lake] until almost 1500. Spot I wanted was taken, but found a level spot on the south slope [of Garnet Lake] at 1515.

Banner Peak and Mount Ritter from Day 4 campsite
August 19. Up at 0530, on the trail at 0613, at southern JMT/PCT junction at 1107 (eleven miles). Toward the [Devil’s] postpiles, took the short loop trip, then to the Red’s Meadows campground bathhouse. Took a shower, did laundry. Then walked road to the “Resort”. Bought beer, sunglasses, [my first pair broke in the pocket on my hipbelt] two postcards & stamps. Few choices in sunscreen, so I went without. Called Jill, and had a garden burger & shake with my beer while I wrote postcards to Jill & the folks. Then took hot, dusty trail to Rainbow Falls, surrounded by tourists. Took NW branch of trail back to JMT so as to miss the least amount of JMT. [I skipped about two miles of the actual JMT to detour into Devil’s Postpiles Monument] Got to “Third Junction” around 1530, and met Dan, a JMTer with a strong pace & no fixed itinerary. Will try to make Sat. morning VVR [Vermillion Valley Resort] ferry, so I may see him Sat. evening. The two of us got to Crater Creek (3 miles) by 1630, but I stopped to climb South Red Cone, back to Camp 4.17 by 1715. Met a party of two, father and son, son is a finance undergrad. [Also met a] Party of 3, going north, father, 2 sons. One son is undergrad accounting major, asked me about what my accounting career has been like.

Crater Meadows from top of South Red Cone, Mammoth Mountain in the distance
August 20. Rolled out of Red Cones at 0728, & trucked on! Deer Creek was buggy, got water at Duck Creek, & Purple Lake was nice. Got to Virginia Lake at 1240, & it is a very beautiful lake. Really a nice spot. Got down to figure how far to the next good campsite, & Bob came by. Older gent, done the JMT awhile ago. Married his “trophy bride” when she was 66, & for the last five years has taken her to the Sierras on backpacking trips. They live in Bend. [Oregon, not that far from Portland!] Spent 50 minutes at this lovely lake, and then pushed on to Squaw Lake, arriving at 1613. James & Theresa passed my camp at Squaw Lake. Will probably meet up at VVR, along with Dan, who walked on to Chief Lake.

Alpenglow at Squaw Lake
August 21. Off at 0705, and got to ferry landing by 1134. Not wanting to wait, I walked the five-mile trail to VVR, and arrived 1328. Got bunk in hiker’s cabin, did laundry & shower, packed resupply (mailed excess back), called Jill, & wrote and mailed postcards. Had two beers (first one free) & got third beer just in time for dinner at 1701.

Vermillion Valley Resort
August 22. After breakfast and short wait, took ferry at 0900, & was at trailhead in 20 minutes. Started walking at 0928, and covered 18 miles by 1835. Feeling good. Marie Lake is very lovely, & a real nice place. [Camped at a site described in Wenk’s guidebook as “a knob with view”.]

Marie Lake
August 23. Off from the knob by 0728, made detour to MTR [Muir Trail Ranch, an easy, though expensive, resupply point] for fuel & water, [VVR had been out of fuel canisters for my stove, so I wanted to pick up a spare at MTR] checked out hot springs, which are warm. [not hot] Back to JMT by 1030 & saw Dan & walked with him for a bit. Took a dip in Piute Creek. Pulled into beautiful McClure Meadows 1632.

View from Camp at McClure Meadows
August 24. What a day! Off from McClure at 0705, and shut it down at 1840 in LeConte Canyon. And only 15 JMT miles, as I spent 4 hrs. climbing Mt. Spencer. I didn’t recognize Sapphire Lake from the topo (though I did notice the sapphire color of the lake). So, when I got to Wanda Lake I backtracked 1.7 miles to Sapphire (cross-country down some class 3 rock), and commenced the climb. Hard climb. On top 2 hours after leaving Wanda, & took me almost 2 hours to get down & back to my pack. [took the trail on my return!] So 21 total miles today. When I got to Muir Hut at the top of Muir Pass I mentioned [to another hiker] how my sleeping pad had failed last night. So a guy resting at the hut offered to fix it, but I didn’t know where the leak was. So I said I needed a bathtub, or I could rush back to Wanda Lake. The guy’s friend said, “ or you could go back to Sapphire for the third time.” [hiker humor ] Anyway, no joy. But on the way down from Muir Pass, I stopped at the outlet of Helen Lake, got water and checked the pad for leaks in the lake. Found two slits on the underside. Patched them at camp with duct tape. We will see how it holds tonight. [it didn’t]

Wanda Lake from Muir Pass
August 25. Oh my goodness! Another long day, off at 0705, finish at 1855, 20.4 JMT miles, but that’s not the whole story. Mather Pass was a long, hard climb. 11.1 miles from the middle fork [of the Kings River] junction took me 6:45, with 4,030 of elevation gain. Made great time cruising down LeConte Canyon, but then the climb. Golden Staircase [famous grade in Palisades Creek Canyon] was as severe as I expected, but I did not know there would be a warm-up set of switchbacks, and a final set of switchbacks just when you think you’re done. Left the trail junction [at middle fork] at 1000 and arrived at Lower Palisade Lake (6.9 miles) a little after 1330. Took on water and confirmed my sleeping pad patch is not holding. Headed off again about 1400, and finished the remaining 4.2 mile at 1645! [that is, slowly!] And then down the switchbacks on the other side, which are much milder than the north side. As I suspected, my planned campsite 1.3 miles past the pass is rocky with no trees. So I press on. At the 3 mile mark (from the pass) the next campsite is still too rocky to get tent stakes in. After about another mile, I spy a good site, even though I have to cross the creek/S. Fork Kings River to get to it. I am hopeful tomorrow will be easier, as the extra miles today should reduce the mileage tomorrow.

Upper Palisades Lake from near Mather Pass
August 26. On the trail at 0716 and done for the day at Dragon Lake at 1832. 20.3 miles, a long day. But I wanted to adjust my planning. I realized I had planned a 23+ mile day to Guitar Lake, followed by an 0300 wake-up for Whitney. So I figured if I could position myself to make Tyndall Creek by tomorrow, I’d have a much easier day to Guitar Lake. Problem is, between the last feasible camp in Bubbs Creek and the first good camp on Tyndall Creek is 7 miles and the final 2,000 foot ascent (in 3 miles!) to Forester Pass. Anyway, today the descent down Wood’s Creek was strange, as the trees are very sparse. No evidence of fire damage. At the creek crossing, “Golden Gate of the Sierras” the tree cover is back, maybe even some Sequoias? [no, just junipers] Down to 8530 ft., [in elevation] and start climbing up to Rae Lakes & Glen Pass. Made good time, for going uphill. Got to Dollar Lake (original destination0 at 1630 & decided to push on: Walter P. Starr [author of the first guide to the John Muir Trail] thought the view from Dragon Lake was one of his favorites, so I decided to try for that. About a mile east of Upper Rae Lake, off the JMT, it turns out there is no real trail, just a cairned route. [marked with small piles of rocks, known as “ducks”] But I spotted the duck at the side of the JMT, & followed a faint tread through a meadow, and followed cairns up a hill, placing a few extra ducks to ensure I could find my way back. Dragon Lake was exquisite & isolated, & I was able to enjoy Starr’s view, and a great alpenglow as the sun set.

Starr’s View, at sunrise
August 27. Off at 0700 & back on the JMT by 0720. Started the climb up to Glen Pass, though I can’t really call it a pass. Keep going uphill, above treeline, through the talus. Ascending a steep slope, I see a person on the ridge. That must be the pass, but it is more like just a ridge line that is lower than the surrounding peaks. Anyway, up to the ridge, which is quite narrow. Then down, down, to a nice view of Lake Charlotte, and I can see smoke from a forest fire downstream to the west. I thought I smelled smoke this morning at Dragon Lake, & I guess I did! Cross some flat terrain & start descending to Bullfrog Creek. I make a short (0.5 mile) excursion to the head of Bullfrog Lake to see another of Starr’s favorite views.

View toward East Vidette Peak from Bullfrog Lake
Then back to the JMT & down to Vidette Meadows. Now begins the 3500 foot climb to Forester Pass. I had originally planned to camp at Golden Bear Lake in Center Basin, about 1.5 miles off the JMT. With the change in plans, I’ll still like to make an excursion to check it out. However, there is no real trail, so I have to watch for a cairn or tread. But where I think the trail should take off, near Center Basin Creek, I only find thick forest. I don’t feel like bushwacking with the schedule I have, so I push on. I pass the timberline camp at 1350. I wanted to pass this camp no later than 1400, so it is a good thing I didn’t go to Center Basin. I begin the 2,000 feet of remaining ascent, and it is long and arduous. Part way up, I meet a trail crew just finishing work for the day. They are shoring up some rockwork first done in the 30s that is very impressive. Turns out their camp is at Center Basin! But the trail was about 0.2 miles north of where I had been looking. Finally I tackle the last 17 switchbacks up to the pass, where it is quite windy. At first all I see is a steep couloir on the other side, but then see the trail go uphill slightly before descending some remarkable switchbacks built on rockwork. As with Mather Pass, the south side of Forester has many steep switchbacks, & then you are on a mild slope. Four miles to trees & 4.5 miles to camp, so I walk on, and reach Tyndall Creek by 1822.

Camp at Tyndall Creek
August 28. Last night was cold! Probably in the high 20’s. Had to put on more clothes in order to sleep, then overslept to 0630. On the trail by 0745. Ascending up the Bighorn Plateau, I pas the camp of Martin & Annette, a German couple from Darmstadt. Our paths cross several times in the next two days (unlike Bryan and Dan, who I haven’t seen since McClure Meadows). When I reach the Plateau, I scramble up Tawny Point for the 360-degree view (near another of Starr’s favorite views).

Looking North to Forester Pass from Tawny Point
The climb gets me behind the Germans, so when I catch up to them, I ask them if they have a repair kit for my sleeping pad. They do, so when I get to Crabtree Meadow, I wait for them, & try to patch the pad. Then I begin the climb to Guitar Lake. Just as I get to the lake, my camera stops functioning! Anyway, I decide to go on to a tarn [alpine lake] above Guitar so I have a bit of a head start [in the morning]. After a half mile, I find a tarn with a couple of guys camping. This is the only tarn on my map, so I stop at 1615 and camp. The Germans pass, & say they are going for the tarn 0.5 miles further up that is mentioned in the guidebook. They plan to get up at 0200 to be on the summit by dawn. My pad still leaks, so the two guys (now four, as their friends have arrived) let me use their patch kit. [which still does not stop the leak!]
August 29. Another very cold night, even colder than last night. I wear most of my clothes and close the tent down [close the tent flaps]. As I warm up, I open the door to reduce condensation. I have a hard time sleeping, but the alarm does wake me at 0300. Frozen water bottles, frost on the tent, & condensation inside. Pack in a hurry, no breakfast, & I’m on the trail at 0335. Less than 3 miles to the trail junction, but it is 2,000 feet up. Get to the junction at 0530, and already dawn is starting to break. And it is cold. However, on the climb up I started to overheat, so I took off my down jacket. At the junction I notice my water bladder tube is frozen solid. Off to the summit, less then 2 miles away, but another 1,000 feet up. Between pinnacles I check the progress of dawn, and realize I won’t make the summit by sunrise. So at 0613, I find a good vantage point, & at 0618 the solar orb breaks the horizon. I saw a magnificent sunset last night, & now I see a great sunrise on the summit ridge of Mt. Whitney, only about half a mile from the summit itself. Then on to the summit. I approach the hut about 0645 just as Martin and Annette are leaving. I have them take a photo of me with the hut in the background, and then we go in the hut so that I can give them my email address.

At the summit of Mt. Whitney
It is very cold and windy, & all my fingers are numb despite my gloves. There are six or seven other people in the hut (after Martin and Annette leave) trying to get warm. Rather miserable. After a bit, we all leave. I take a group photo of four of the guys, & I briefly have the summit to myself. But it is too cold to stay. I walk briskly back to the junction, but now have a decision to make: should I go cross-country 2 or 3 hours to Sky Blue Lake, called by some the most beautiful lake in the Sierras, that has a great sunrise off surrounding peaks, or should I go to Trail Camp, which has the option of a short pre-dawn scramble to a good vantage point of sunrise off Mt. Whitney? The problem with Sky Blue Lake is that the route out goes down a couloir [gully] to Mayan Lake. From reading the route guide & talking to the Crabtree Ranger, this couloir sounds rather sketchy, especially as a solo hiker. I could just do an out-and-back to Sky Blue & return to Trail Crest by the same route I take in. This route has some scree & talus [loose rock], but is well within my capabilities. But I have heard there is a possibility of snow tonight, & more sub-freezing temperatures. As my fingers have just gotten warm again, this prospect is not very appealing. The Sky Blue option was a way to add another day to my JMT adventure, but I am just about adventured out. So I head down to Trail Camp, down the 98 switchbacks. Trail Camp is right at the bottom of the switchbacks, but it is cold, windy, & treeless. I decide I want to spend my last night of the trek among trees, so I continue down, releasing the idea of a dawn reflecting off Whitney. It also seems way to early to stop [1000 or so]. So, I don’t stop until the very last campsite , 2.5 miles from the trailhead, at 1232. Lone Pine Lake, a very pretty place.

The switchbacks down to Trail Camp (first lake); Consultation Lake (large lake); Lone Pine Lake (barely visible past Consultation Lake)
August 30. Off by 0635, and at the trailhead by 0752. Pack weight 23.5 pounds, 22 pounds after dumping trash & waste. Easy hitch to Lone Pine from Doug & Lisa, after a great conversation with the Doug that runs the Whitney Portal store & makes HUGE pancakes. About 20 minutes in Lone Pine to catch ride with another Doug going to Burning Man. Then short ride to Mammoth itself, in town by 1330.

Gear List
Gear: Weight (oz.)
Pack ULA Circuit 40.4
Tent TT Contrail 21 sq.ft. 24.5
Sleeping bag Marmot w/dry sack 32.0
Sleeping bag liner 4.75
Sleeping pad Thermarest Prolite Small 11.0
jacket Marmot Nano 8.0
Jet-boil Jet-boil 21.0
wool shirt Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket 5.7
containers Camelbak bladder+1.5L Cantene 9.0
first aid/survival first aid/survival 20.6
river driver shirt icebreaker layer 9.0
book book 5.5
inner pants BodyFit 200 leggings 7.5
headlamp headlamp Petzl E+Light 1.6
toilet paper toilet paper 2.0
Cozy for freezer bag cooking 1.0
clothing bag ULA Excursion Sack 1.3
BearVault 41.0
socks Icebreaker (1pr.) 2.5
Icebreaker cap 1.0
gloves 2.0
Inline filter 2.0
trail guide 3.0
maps 1.0
synthetic brief 2.0
spork 0.5
lighter 1.0
Aqua Mira 0.5
Rite in the Rain mini notebook 0.7
Montbell trowel 1.4
Spectra cord 1.0
3 1 gallon plastic bags 1.0
hand sanitizer 1.0
Muir Trail Atlas 1.0
Weight before food and water: 16.76

water Camelbak+1.5L 120.69
food 36.80
Food and Water: 9.84
Pack Weight: 26.61
Boots NB 1520GT 30.0
Hat Tilley LT6B 3.6
socks Icebreaker (1pr.) 2.5
silk t-shirt 4.9
synthetic brief 2.5
Pants 14.0
bandana 1.0
Titanium Goat trekking poles 6.4
sunglasses 0.8
watch 1.0
whistle w/headlamp 0.0
knife 2.0
camera Pentax E70 5.6
Total Worn: 4.64

Skin-Out Weight: 31.25

first aid/survival:
DEET 0.50
first aid 2.00
sunscreen 0.50
lip balm 0.15
compass 1.00
signal mirror 0.50
toothbrush 0.50
toothpaste 1.00
comb 0.10
matches/lighter 0.30
pen 0.10
floss 0.50
cash and ID 0.30
extra ziplock bags 0.10
foot powder 1.00
duct tape 1.00
no ace bandage 0.00
metal match 1.00
firestarter 1.00
reading glasses w/case 1.50
peppermint soap 1.00
phone calling card 0.10
ibuprofen 0.50
cell phone 4.00
alarm watch 1.90

quantity Main Food:
2 Mountain House 4.50 9
4 logan bread 2.00 8
4 gorp 4
2 Clif bars/151 Bars 2.40 4.8
2 "backpacker bites" 1.00 2
2 smoked gouda 1.00 2
2 Instant breakfast/milk 1.50 3
2 Will Bars 2.00 4
36.8 oz.
2.30 lbs

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 01/28/2011 15:46:25 MST Print View

Awesome report David, and thank you for sharing! This has gotten me even more excited about my JMT trip this summer!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 01/28/2011 16:50:12 MST Print View

Nice report.


Ryan Commons
(RyanCommons) - F

Locale: Bay Area, California
Journal on 01/29/2011 10:46:05 MST Print View


Great report. I really like that you copied it out of your journal on the trip. Can you share about your journaling practices on the trail. I've never been great about taking the time to document a trip in writing and it is not the same when I try to write it all when I get home; post trip journals lack a lot of the experience.


James Ennis
(JimEnnis) - F

Locale: South
"John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 01/29/2011 18:02:34 MST Print View

Great trip report. I'm planning a JMT hike this summer and always glad to read others comments on their trips.
Any chance of sharing that cookie recipe. I'm always on the lookout for new ways to enhance the menu.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 01/29/2011 18:12:58 MST Print View

It seems as though you have a number of photo captions without the photos. Maybe that was intended, or maybe not.


David Pex
(dpex) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Reply to Comments-Journaling Practices/Cookie Recipe/Photo Captions on 01/30/2011 19:30:51 MST Print View

Journaling Practice: This is actually the first time I've journaled on the trail. I written trip reports, but usually months after the trip. On this trip, I had a "Rite-in-the-Rain" all-weather journal 391-M, 24 pages, which was not enough. The last two days were written on the back of a map some other hiker gave me! That said, I would just try to write a bit every day as I got into my bag, no more chores, just a little writing. Some days were rather terse, as I was a bit tired and ready to turn off the head lamp. A couple of days I missed completely, but I made sure I got caught up the following night. Too often one can lose interesting details when one gets removed from the immediacy of the experience.

Photo Captions: Yes, when I transcribed the journal into Word I inserted a photo for each day, and gave the photo a caption. When I copied the Word document into the BPL blog, it did not copy the JPGs. Any advise on this would be appreciated.

Cookie Recipe: this recipe is from Lip-smackini' Backpackin' by Tim and Christine Conners, which along with Freezer Bag Cooking, by Sarah Svien Kirkconnell, have enabled me to move beyond Mountain House and prepare virtually all my trail food at home:

4 c. butter/margarine
3 eggs
1.5 c white sugar
1.5 c brown sugar
4 T vanilla
3 c flour
4 t baking powder
1 c wheat bran
3 c oats
1.5 c walnut, chopped
3 c semisweet chocolate chips (or raisins)

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together, then blend with butter/sugar mixture. If dough is too runny, add more oats. Drop teaspoon-siz balls on greased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. 133 calories/ounce.

john hansford
(jhansford) - MLife
JMT Trip Report 2011 on 02/18/2012 11:30:05 MST Print View


I don't know whether you are still monitoring this thread, so I may try elsewhere too.
I like the sound of your trip. I did HI to Whitney last year in 13 days with Half Dome. I am going again this year, 2012, but want to take a little more time to explore around a bit and climb some peaks. Would you still recommend the same peaks, or would you have some other suggestions? Maybe Mt Solomons or Black Giant from Muir pass for instance? Split Mountain?
I think I was lucky with the weather, sun almost the whole way and no wind. Had a night on Whitney, and not even freezing.


Edited by jhansford on 02/18/2012 11:32:24 MST.

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 02/18/2012 11:52:35 MST Print View

John, When are you heading out on the JMT this summer? I will be heading out with a group of 3 or 4 starting in August doing some of the PCT and combining it with a JMT trip in the middle. We are looking at maybe trying the mountaineering route as an alternative to heading back up the main Whitney Trail after leaving Lone Pine. We are shooting for an Aug. 11th date and heading NOBO. Maybe we will cross paths along the way. Have a great hike.

john hansford
(jhansford) - MLife
John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 02/18/2012 12:20:12 MST Print View

Robert, I'm starting from Yosemite on 29 July for maybe 16 days, depending where I go. Looks like we'll cross around Glen-Forrester, would be cool if we met up! I'll be the grey- beard on my own. Two more questions for you : 1. I was camping high but still had min temps of 45'F apart from two frosts. Was it unseasonably warm, or are lower temps the norm? Last time I had a PHD 23'F bag and was too warm, so am thinking about a Chisos quilt this year. 2. Does a JMT permit cover peaks?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 02/18/2012 12:48:15 MST Print View

"Does a JMT permit cover peaks?"

I am not aware of many permit requirements for hiking up any peak in the Sierra Nevada. The one possible exception might be Half Dome in Yosemite. There are some special areas where the trail to the peak requires a special permit, e.g. Whitney. However, there aren't many of those. A JMT permit allows you to be anyplace along the JMT. If you dropped your pack behind a bush and then ran off to bag some peak, e.g. Mount Goddard, nobody will say anything. To be on the safe side, you would want to leave your pack well out of sight, and leave all of your food in a bear canister that was away from the pack.


Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 02/18/2012 14:37:12 MST Print View

+ 1 to what Bob said on the peak-bagging.

As far as temp ratings on your bag, that is one that is different for everyone. I am a fairly warm sleeper and get away with a 32 degree WM bag, but I have been chilled in it before. It does cover %90 of my sleep needs though as I can add layers when the temps dip down, or we are camping higher up.

I will keep an eye out for you as well. When it gets closer to time to go, and we have our itineraries set a bit more, shoot me a PM and we can estimate about where to look for one another. We will be going about 24 - 28 miles per day once we get on the main trail. I have a 'loose' itinerary now, but we are waiting to see what the rest of winter holds for us on doing the mountaineering route or not. We don't want to carry the extra gear for doing a more technical climb if we don't have to.

john hansford
(jhansford) - MLife
John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 02/18/2012 14:56:30 MST Print View

Thanks Bob and Rob re the peak bagging.
As for the overnight, if you can just tell me what the typical temperatures might be at 10,000-11,000ft in an average year first half of August, then I can assess the right bag for me. Eg have you had many frosts on the high slopes, (not valley bottoms)?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 02/18/2012 15:06:18 MST Print View

John, you might want to re-phrase your question.

Toward the south part of the JMT, the valley bottoms are around 10,000-11,000 feet, and the high slopes go up to 13,000. It is lower in the north part.

You'll see lots of good weather nights when the dawn temperature is maybe 35-40 F. Then there will be a few when it dips down to 30 F. When a storm blows in, you might possibly see it dip to 20 F. Unfortunately, when a storm blows, the wind chill can make it seem worse.

I typically equip myself with a 30 F bag, and with warm down clothing, I will make it through a 20 F night. But that is just me.


john hansford
(jhansford) - MLife
John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 02/18/2012 15:30:00 MST Print View

Good answer, Bob, thank you.


Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 02/18/2012 19:53:50 MST Print View

Hi John. I think I really didn't quite understand the question on the temps. I have many nights over the years of hiking in the High Sierras where I wake up to ice in my water bottle. I don't carry a thermometer, so I don't really track specific temp. ranges, I just know if there is ice floating in my water bottle, it was at least freezing that night. Those are the nights that I will slip on my Primaloft jacket for some extra insulation!

David Pex
(dpex) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
JMT 2012 on 02/22/2012 15:15:43 MST Print View

Hi all,

On my JMT trip in 2010, it was rather cold (below freezing) my nights at Tyndall and above Guitar Lake. When I summited Whitney at dawn on 8/29, it must have been in the high '20s with strong (25mph) winds!

So, Robert, I am also doing the PCT/JMT NOBO this August. My itinerary:

8/11 Fly into Mammoth Lakes, hitch to Lone Pine, stay at hostel.
8/12 Pick up permit and hitch up to Cottonwood Lakes trailhead. Over New Army Pass and cross-country to Sky Blue Lake (in Miter Basin south of Whitney).
8/13 Cross-country over Crabtree Pass and up to Discovery Pinnacle. Summit Whitney and take JMT to Wallace or Wright Creek.
8/14 Over Shepherd Pass and Junction Pass to Golden Bear Lake in Center Basin.
8/15 Center Basin to above Twin Lakes (before Pinchot Pass).
8/16 Twin Lakes to Lower Palisade Lake.
8/17 Lower Palisade Lake to Sapphire Lake/Evolution Lake.
8/18 Sapphire Lake to Marie Lake (simply stunning there).
8/19 Marie Lake cross-country to Lou Beverly Lake, down Bear Creek Trail to VVR.
8/20 VVR up Graveyard Meadows to Goodale Pass, down to Fish Creek, and back up to Virginia Lake (one of my favorite places on the trail).
8/21 Virginia Lake to Agnew Meadows (true PCT route).
8/22 Agnew Meadows to Lyell Creek crossing.
8/23 Lyell Creek Crossing to Upper Cathedral Lake.
8/24 Upper Cathedral Lake to Happy Isle, via Cloud's Rest and Half Dome.

Sounds good to me. Perhaps I will see you along the way. I'm 57, look like my avatar, and I'll be hiking with my ULA Circuit backpack.

Dave Pex

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
John Muir Trail (JMT) Trip Report, August 2010 on 02/23/2012 18:39:12 MST Print View

David, we will be heading down to start our hike August 11th, What time does your flight arrive in Mammoth? We may be able to give you a lift to Lone Pine. We will be starting from Reno pretty early in the morning hittng the Mammoth area around 9 - 10 AM. We are looking at doing the Mountaineering Route right now, as the snowpack is so low, I think this is a great year for cross country if you don't want to pack crampons and ice-axes. We will be getting a late start, but are only heading to Upper Boy Scout or Iceburg Lake for the first night. I'm pretty excited. One of the guys I am hiking with has done the route you are going to be doing over New Army Pass and Sky Blue Lake and he says it was fantastic! Have a great trip. PM me if your timing looks like it may work out on the ride, otherwise, it is pretty easy to 'thumb' a ride in that area.

David Pex
(dpex) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
JMT in 2012 on 02/24/2012 01:37:38 MST Print View


Thanks for the offer! Unfortunately, I won't be arriving at the Mammoth airport until 5:30PM on the 11th. I don't think I'll have much trouble hitching, as long as I get a ride before it gets dark.

In 2010, I hitched from Lone Pine (after an easy hitch from the Portal) to Mammoth and got a ride rather quickly with a guy going to Burning Man! Not so lucky this year, but I do not anticipate any troubles.

Happy Trails!