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East Access to JMT?
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Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
East Access to JMT? on 07/08/2012 17:21:39 MDT Print View

I had to pull the party out at Florence Lake for a medical issue and will be reinserting them in a few days. We are thinking of an eastern trailhead, but have only been on Bishop Pass which is a bit north of where we are thinking. Kearsarge is too southern.

How are Taboose, Sawmill, or Baxter Passes? Primary concern is for a well marked trail that is maintained well enough so a staircase is the hardest thing to navigate.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: East Access to JMT? on 07/08/2012 18:19:12 MDT Print View

all three of those passes are slogs. Of the three, I do not know which one is better. My question to you is where do you want to end up, and where are you ending, with how many miles per day? I was coming down N. 395 yesterday and there was a fire in the region of Taboose. All three of those passes could be 2 day crossings of the Sierra crest due to the elevation start. Please explain your itinerary and many of us can give you a better and reasoned answer

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Piute pass on 07/08/2012 19:09:04 MDT Print View

Whats the trail that goes over Piute pass? ( I think it is the piute pass trail out of north lake. That would drop them right back at the trail near Muir trail ranch. I have done several miles of that trail and it seemed fairly tame and very well marked, you can't get lost once you are in the valley.

Edited by gg-man on 07/08/2012 19:10:18 MDT.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"East Access to JMT?" on 07/08/2012 19:13:58 MDT Print View

+1 to Piute Pass for getting onto the JMT from the east.

No big deal, well marked. The last little bit between Hutchinson Meadow and the JMT junction is a little annoying as it goes up and down along the cliff above the river, but it's not too bad.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Re: East Access to JMT on 07/08/2012 19:32:27 MDT Print View

Dunno exactly when yet, depends on the doc's orders. Each day later puts them further south to meet the exit dates at Whitney. I'm just trying to get recommendations on trail quality.

For example, I found this on the seki site for Baxter Pass:

"This trail is extremely difficult to follow due to damage caused by fire and flash floods in previous years. It is not recommended for most hikers. Trail is not well-maintained, but has been repaired from the mudslide in 2008."

Unless someone knows the trail has been improved, I now know Baxter is no good for the group (experienced, but not at ease with surprises - read too many Into The Wild books :). I'm more foolish and like being off trail.

IIRC, Piute is even further north than Bishop.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: East Access to JMT? on 07/08/2012 22:23:19 MDT Print View

Taboose is the most used of those trails and probably the easiest to follow. All are serious slogs - like 6000 feet of climbing in 8 or 9 miles. All start low enough that they are in the desert, and are best tackled with either a pre-dawn start or an evening start. Pre-dawn allows you to climb up out of the desert before it gets really hot; evening (starting after the sun is down behind the crest) means you are in the shade all the way.

there is a very recent Trip Report here on BPL up Taboose Pass - you might query that person on possible campsites along the Taboose pass trail that would allow you to do an evening start and break the big climb into two easier chunks.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: East Access to JMT on 07/08/2012 22:42:06 MDT Print View

Depending on your timing, one thing (and I am sure others here could comment more on this) is if you want to avoid the great climb, you could call one of the outfitters who serve the area. They probably could get you to the trail via one of several passes a bit quicker. Anyone have any experience with this?


Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Kearsarge on 07/10/2012 15:40:29 MDT Print View

You just named three of the most badass climbs I can think of.

You've been up Bishop Pass. +2200 feet. Taboose, Sawmill and Baxter are each three times that much climbing.

All three are "unmaintained." If there are rockslides covering the trail, doubtful anyone's been in there any recent year to clear them out.

Easy decision if it were me: Up Kearsarge Pass - one of the most pleasant on the East Side - great view on top. Take your time getting to Whitney, do some side exploring on the way. East/Reflection Lakes, Center Basin, Lake South America and surroundings, Wrights Basin, Wales Lake are several spectacular possibilities that come to mind. Frankly, in that section, any of those side trips is more interesting than the JMT itself.

If you are not attached to doing Mt. Whitney - I realize they may really want to - I consider the section of the JMT from Piute Pass to Kearsarge Pass to be extraordinarily scenic and I would choose it any day over the Kearsarge-Whitney section. You'd enter them at Piute or Bishop Pass, exit them at Kearsarge.

- Elizabeth

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Re: The Plan on 07/10/2012 19:03:33 MDT Print View

Well, the doc says no backpack for the affected one, but hike all you want. Personally, I think it's a great opportunity to shed 20 pounds from the pack, but they've decided to head up Copper Creek and park at Granite and the vicinity for a week. The rationale is that we'll do the JMT later when I can join and this time with UL systems.

As a side note about the transition to UL, my pack was at 18# base when I hiked in with the party of 5 and carried out 12-14 pounds of excess they decided not to haul to Whitney. I met them again at Red's and hauled out another 14 pounds. Finally, I picked them up at Florence and all the packs were still 40# and more, one being like 50#.

We're talking books, a spiral notebook from NOLS, two whisperlight stoves & fuel (in addition to a jetboil Sol and jetboil helios + 2 pounds of fuel) two steripens and a katydin filter + bags, 4 nalgene + 1L stainless thermos, everyone had spare camp clothes, pajamas, and camp shoes, crampons. Between the five, they had two enormous, duplicate medical kits including iodine+betadine+neosporin, scissors, second skin, moleskin, KT tape, and alcohol wipes (in addition to bottled alcohol for hygiene). They carried full 3L camelbacks, two of which had external heavy sleeves attached to the back of the packs, several event dry bags @7oz each, heavy snow gaiters, aloe for sunburn, and shaving gear. There were other emergency items, but my wife would not be happy if I mentioned them as they were quite unnecessary.

I'm sewing a quilt and a down jacket to remove 6 pounds from my base which includes a 2# bear cannister. All have foresworn heavy packs ever again. We'll see.

Thanks for the knowledge on east side passes. I've never had good insight into how often or who was using them.

Jealous at the office,