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JMT trail heads...please HELP
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Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
JMT trail heads...please HELP on 02/06/2013 10:42:31 MST Print View

Ok, I read and read and read about my options for starting, but for some crazy reason none of it seems to make sense to me no matter what. So basically I need someone to tell me what to put on my permit application...

I would like to start at Happy Isles. I would like to be able to hike to the dome. I have never been to Yosemite and would like to be able to see the iconic parts of the park. I would like to end at Whitney Portal.

I am a sea level flatlander and am planning short mileage to start (8-10/day for the first few days, then up it as I acclimate and get my mountain legs).

Which trail head do I want? There are three happy isles choices and for the love of Pete I don't know which is which (yes, I have read and re-read the Yosemite info pages). What should my second and third choices be for starting? Touloumne Meadows seems like a good option, but which of THOSE trail heads?? Goodness gracious why is this so freaking complicated?

And lastly, where will I be camping the first night? Does that really matter for the sake of the permit?


Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
JMT Trailheads on 02/06/2013 11:41:50 MST Print View

Entry trailhead first choice:
Happy Isles -> Little Yoesemite Valley
This gives a first day hike of just 4 miles to Little Yosemite Valley.
First night camp location: Little Yosemite Valley.
Do Half Dome the next morning and then continue on your way.

Entry trailhead second choice:
Happy Isles -> Sunrise / Merced Lake Pass Through (no camping in LYV)
This gives you a first day hike of six or seven miles.
First night camp location: JMT / Clouds Rest Trail junction.
There is water here and it is only half a mile after the Half Dome trail junction.
Do Half Dome the next morning and continue on your way.

I'd like to walk to the top of Half Dome on this trip: Check Yes.

With a wilderness permit you can spend the night before your trip at Yosemite Valley backpackers campground. $5 per person, no reservations required or taken. No need to add this info to your permit.

A day or two later you will be in Tuolomne Meadows. You can spend the night here as well in the backpackers campground. Spend a few hours exploring Tuolomne Meadows, it is beautiful.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Thank you!!! on 02/06/2013 12:11:00 MST Print View

That's what I rock

Stu Pendious
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: JMT trail heads...please HELP on 02/06/2013 15:47:26 MST Print View

>>Touloumne Meadows seems like a good option, but which of THOSE trail heads??

For a third choice, Lyell Canyon is the trailhead you'd want from Tuolomne. Although, doing Half Dome from a Lyell Canyon trailhead isn't really a plausible option, since you would be heading South and away from Yosemite from there. Also, if doing the JMT soup-to-nuts is really important to you, starting from Lyell Canyon would be be skipping 25 miles or so (depending on what map you're reading). Although coming back at the end to flip that section can look very inviting when you peak at an elevation profile of the JMT.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: JMT trail heads...please HELP on 02/07/2013 01:56:09 MST Print View


+1 to everything Katy said.

But seriously, if you're going solo, don't stress if you don't get an advance permit. Getting a walk-in permit to start at Happy Isle will not be a problem.

For options, instead of giving alternate trail heads, you might just give alternate dates.

I also come from sea level and never experienced any real problems with altitude. Because you are going southbound, the elevation gradually increases as you go, giving you plenty of time to acclimate.

Have fun.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Alternate dates first... on 02/07/2013 06:40:55 MST Print View

Not really thinking this through, we (there are 2, possibly 3 of us) had aug 2 as our first choice, aug 1 as number 2, then July 25 as number 3. But lo and behold, since you can't have alternate dates ahead of the first day to apply, well then July 25 became option number 1, etc. So yes we DO have alternate dates, but if you look at what is sold out already I don't hold out a lot of hope for getting much in the alternate date category.

Thanks for the's exactly what I was looking for. We are going for 2 permits with the two alternate trailheads suggested by Katy (thanks!!!) and get the third as a walk up if he decides to join us. Then if that doesn't work out, we'll throw on some other alternates (maybe lyell at this point) on the second round of application for our August dates.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: JMT Elevations on 02/07/2013 07:11:19 MST Print View

"Because you are going southbound, the elevation gradually increases as you go, giving you plenty of time to acclimate."

Well, I guess it depends on your perspective. Starting at 4000' from sea level is easier than starting at 7000' (first night at Lone Pine, and starting at the Portal). But it is still a bit of a go.

(I hike northbound, so Happy Isles is at the right.)

Muscles and endurance will adjust quickly, but red blood cell acclimatization takes about 10 days.

Edited by greg23 on 02/07/2013 10:19:27 MST.

Stu Pendious
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: Alternate dates first... on 02/07/2013 10:02:42 MST Print View

>>July 25 became option number 1, etc

Yup, for Happy Isle, I wouldn't bother with any alternative dates... it is just too highly sought after for that to do you any good. Triple check to make sure your dates are for the earliest departure available to try for, for a chance at winning the daily lottery. I've wasted a few days trying before, not realizing I was asking for the date right before what was newly coming available. I got off track because I faxed my first permit request in the morning, and then started faxing in the afternoon and didn't adjust accordingly... just kept bumping my dates up by one from the last form I filled out.

Another idea, if you have trouble. Get a permit for a short trip a couple days before you want to start the JMT, and do a small shake down trip and then get to the permit office early and try for the first-come-first-served. If I have the time, I'm a big fan of taking an overnight that leads back to the car before I head out on something bigger. As sometimes this is when I realize I've forgot something, or that I really don't want to carry an item I previously thought was going to be useful.

Susan D
(susand) - M

Locale: montana
JMT on 02/07/2013 19:04:09 MST Print View

I did the section from mile 5 of the JMT to Red's Meadow last year, and I also found the planning very confusing intially. Having a map in front of you helps tremendously. I started from near Tuolumne, about nine miles down the road at Sunrise. You can hike it from Tuolumne - some road miles and some along Tenaya Lake, I think, but I hitched. Spent the night before in the Tuolumne backpacker's camp, which you can do if you have a permit for the next day. The Sunrise permit is easier to get than any from the valley (according to YNP staff), and you can include Half Dome if you want (I didn't). You loop down to the JMT via Cloud's Rest and join it (the JMT) at mile 5. (The turnoff to Half Dome is at mile 4.5, and you could do it on the second day out). From there, you just hike the JMT, missing only the first 4.5 to 5 miles.

It is about 11 or so miles (don't have my maps) from Sunrise to the JMT via Cloud's Rest, but you don't have to go over Cloud's Rest - there's a trail that skirts it, I think. I camped up top on my first night out and it was quite nice, but that might not be a good idea in Jul/Aug (I was there in late Sept).

Anyway, I thought I'd let you know that Sunrise is an option if you can't get any of the Happy Isles options, or if, like me, you can but don't fancy the long slog out of the valley.

Also, there's a JMT yahoo group that is extremely helpful with things like this (and with everything about the JMT, actually).