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What's so great about the JMT?
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spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 11:18:04 MDT Print View

Serious question; not intended to stir the pot. It's single most popular hike among people here, at least if you go by the number of threads about planning for it. Then there're the threads about how crowded it is, which seems to confirm its overall popularity outside of BPL members. Why is this a bucket list hike?

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
JMT on 05/05/2013 11:23:46 MDT Print View

Probably because mile for mile, it is the (more than likely) most scenic *ON TRAIL* long-distance hike you can do with relatively easy logistics, is well marked/defined, lots of resources for planning, etc.

Factor in that it is "only" 200 miles and it is a thru-hike many people can do with their hard earned vacation time (esp if you have a boss that does not think a one week trip is long. :) )

The Wonderland Trail would be a close rival for similar reasons, but the JMT has a historic cachet that the Wonderland Trail does not have. The Collegiate Loop (CT/CDT) here in Colorado is, IMO, a similar type of hike for the average person but I'll admit that is not going to have the sheer amount of scenery and "awe factor" of the JMT.

That's just my .05 worth.

Until I get in a better position in terms of my long term career goals, my bucket list hike is the SHR..the JMT on steroids, but probably not a trip the typical backpacker may enjoy. :)

Edited by PaulMags on 05/05/2013 11:29:21 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 11:29:38 MDT Print View

The entire hike from start to end is simply spectacular! There is not a bad section.




Edited by Creachen on 05/05/2013 11:33:16 MDT.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: JMT on 05/05/2013 11:50:27 MDT Print View

That is pretty spectacular scenery, I have to admit.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 12:19:41 MDT Print View

... and crowded is relative to your expectations and desires.
there are a few areas along the trail near major access points where day hikers make it somewhat crowded (Whitney, Yosemite, Reds Meadow) but aside from these you can often go 2 hours or more without seeing a soul. not solitary I admit, but what's wrong with a kindred spirit now and then.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Do Yourself a Favor - Avoid the JMT on 05/05/2013 12:31:09 MDT Print View

The JMT is a mosquito-ridden dust-slog up incredibly steep slopes covered with little ball bearings disguised as pebbles. If you do survive to reach the pass, all you can see is more rock. Savage bears, sneaky marmots, and silent rattlesnakes lurk nearby, just waiting for your first, inevitable stupid move. The abundant deer (see "hunters" below) and grouse are their scouts, sent to locate potential prey.


Most water crossings are readily and preferably swimmable; packrafts are optional.


Escape routes are almost as bad and take at least 2 days, being their own mini-versions of the JMT tread. Did I mention the rampant hunters that stalk the woods, desperately seeking something at which to fire their new rifles?

Resupply options are almost non-existent since the outrageously overpriced horsepacking outfits have bought up and closed most local roads - of which there are pitifully few - and towns, which they use to shelter the stuff they rake out of their horse barns.

Yosemite Valley? It's a tourista trap - lots of loud kids and rude parents in shorts and Hawaiian shirts packing 20 pounds of camera gear they have no idea how to use. Concessionaire price shock is the #2 cause of sudden death in the Valley, second only to being run over by shuttle buses driven by under-paid, legally blind, former NASCAR drivers.

Mt Whitney? Yes, it is the highest point in the lower 48 states - that part is true. What they don't tell you is that Sir Edmund Hillary decided Everest was an easier and safer climb. The only rangers that go there are the ones being punished by their superiors for morality reasons. Forget the ice axe and crampons; bring oxygen tanks - lots of them.....and be sure your life insurance premiums are paid in full.

Decades ago, the western states decided that it's cheaper to just drop their convicted psychopaths and serial killers in the middle of the wilderness and let nature take its course. If they're innocent, they will survive, if not............ Unfortunately, a few have proven stronger than the local wildlife and even the Grizzlies and rattlesnakes turn and run.

Be smart - stay away. Better yet, stay east of the Rocky Mountains. This is the REAL wilderness out here.


The rest of you posters, STOP pontificating; let's keep our secret to ourselves. We don't need no stinking east-coast hikers.

I'm told the Long Trail is nice ... and it's local. Hike on!

Wandering Bob

Edited by wandering_bob on 05/05/2013 13:22:47 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Do Yourself a Favor - Avoid the JMT on 05/05/2013 12:36:55 MDT Print View

You didn't mention the elevation - it'll make you sick...

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 16:50:54 MDT Print View

You forgot to mention the hordes of Mosquitos, many of which carry diseases such as meningitis. Also, the bears along the JMT are smarter, and hungrier, than the average human. Oh, I forgot to mention that the fleas on most of the chipmunks are known to harbor plague and the sheep ticks are big enough to cut steaks from. Not a nice place at all, I recommend you consider Big Bend Park for your summer outing.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 17:07:34 MDT Print View

You had me at plague. JMT 2014 for this kid!

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Do Yourself a Favor - Avoid the JMT on 05/05/2013 17:21:15 MDT Print View

I've heard that 75% of JMT hikers develop skin cancer within a year of hiking.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 17:21:24 MDT Print View

I remember the old days fighting in tehipite valley a couple dozen or so decades ago. Those were wild times. Back then we liked the JMT area because it was safe. I think that is why it remains popular today. Further south is hot and dry, too easy to make a mistake and become dead. Go east, and the buffalo could end your life in a stampede. West was a smoke filled valley, and North was where the wild things were. Wolves, grizzly bear, Sasquatch, and worse wandered those forests.

Indeed, dispite all the horrors, it remains the safest place in California. Of course a buffalo stampede isn't a concern anymore, but I still have nightmares.


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 17:31:50 MDT Print View

Most BPLrs live in the Bay Area. They are lazy and the JMT is close by. There is nobody selling ice cream on the JMT. That alone is reason the do the Tahoe Rim Trail instead.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 17:34:37 MDT Print View

They have ice cream at three locations on the JMT now !

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 17:45:58 MDT Print View

Most of the comments here made me smile. My strait answer would have been pretty much what Paul said plus the observation made by Ken about it being close to the bay area.

on the reasons to avoid the JMT... hantavirus killed a number of people who visited Yosemite last year

minor nit with Ken... Tahoe Rim does have been eats (including ice cream) just off trail, but there are a number of places I purchased ice cream when doing the JMT. I won't say it was great ice cream... but it tasted pretty darn good to me.


Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
JMT on 05/05/2013 19:01:39 MDT Print View

Actually, the Hanta Virus stuff was in Yosemite Valley---not strictly part of the JMT.

Besides all of the above, where else can you hike a trail named in honor of America's greatest conservationist?

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
Re: What's so great about the JMT? on 05/05/2013 19:10:45 MDT Print View

I don't think anyone mentioned: 222 miles & does not cross a road.
PB (JMT '00, '03, '12)

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
AT and JMT and "crowds" on 05/05/2013 20:00:49 MDT Print View

I've never hiked the JMT (yet) but I've done the AT in much of Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania. I did NOT like the people experience, especially at the designated AT shelters. Much too crowded.

The JMT, from talking to people who have done it and seing their photos, appears to be much less populated overall.

As for wildlife, I've backpacked from White Wolf up the Toulmne Creek to the Meadow and found it very tolerable, crowd wise. The JMT, IMHO, could not be much worse unless one gets unlucky in their timing.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Stay in the right lane on 05/05/2013 21:22:41 MDT Print View

If you do decide to hike the JMT, please stay in the right lane. Nothing is more annoying than side-by-side chattering tourists blocking those of us who have a bus to catch.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
bus to catch on 05/05/2013 21:56:53 MDT Print View

LOL. Great line.

I do remember hiking down from Garnet Lake towards the Minarets and being passed by a guy who was clearly on a mission to catch a bus. At one point, the trail switchbacks down a ridge, and there is a STUNNING view of the Minarets above you.

This was right where he passed me, and he never even looked up. He was too worried about catching the bus.

Funny part is, we passed him later that afternoon, as he was taking a break to soak his feet in a creek.

WE pumped water (upstream from his feet!) But didn't chat much. WE figured that we didn't have that much to talk about, since he had missed most of the views on the hike!

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Re: bus to catch on 05/06/2013 00:00:25 MDT Print View

PW - Here I am being funny, but I'm hiking the JMT twice this year, SOBO in July at a leisurely pace over 16 days, then if I haven't come to my senses, I'll go NOBO in September trying for 5 days. I know the view you're talking about. My plan is to hike over Donohue before dawn so I'll see it in the early morning light after 4 hours or so.

I actually don't like having my nose to the dirt when I'm hiking fast. But it is a uniquely rewarding state of mind when you are moving fast and glowing on a long day, having to pay attention to the twists and turns, but all the while quite aware of the expanse around, the looming mountains, and one's place in the larger topography.

I absolutely love hiking at odd times, no cooking, no washing, no tent, no slow waking, stuffing, packing ... just move and take a break later. Crisp and cold at 3 am, slicing through absolute stillness and all alone. It feels much more like I'm not on the home schedule. It's taken a long time to shed the 'backpacking' version of home life, but what a difference.