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What's so great about the JMT?
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Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
PBS Video of the JMT on 05/06/2013 22:16:33 MDT Print View

High Sierra: A Journey on the John Muir Trail


Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Video on 05/07/2013 04:06:17 MDT Print View

Thanks for that link! As if I wasn't psyched enough about my summer JMT plans already...

alan york
(alanyork9) - MLife

Re: Video on 05/07/2013 07:23:50 MDT Print View

Best JMT video yet! Thanks.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
The real truth on 05/07/2013 07:29:21 MDT Print View

Bob Bankhead, for the win. I started to chuckle, and then scrolled, chuckled some more, scrolled... finally broke down and laughed out loud.

Some beautiful photos earlier in this thread, btw.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
What's so great about the JMT? on 05/07/2013 08:30:59 MDT Print View

Although the views are nice, it is one trail I have no desire to hike.
Permits, crowds, restrictions,... are not what I consider a fun hike.

There are other trails away from the crowds that are just as nice.

If you like a lot of company, this is the hike for you.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
a lot company on 05/07/2013 09:03:43 MDT Print View

Do it after Labor Day. Cool and crisp nights, less people, beautiful days and so on.

I do not like backpacking in the Indian Peaks Wilderness next door to me here in Boulder because of the crowds, but after Labor Day? Can't get enough of the place.

I have done all but 30 miles of the JMT (stupid me did not go into Yosemite Valley when I did the PCT), but it really is a lovely stretch of trail.

So lovely, that I want to go back to the Sierra...and I live in the Rockies. :)

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: a lot company on 05/07/2013 09:20:52 MDT Print View

I watched that documentary Mags last night, thanks for sharing it. My desire to hike the JMT has grown more than I thought possible. God it looks amazing.

One criticism of that documentary.

A considerable amount of the film emphasized the physical condition of the hikers, which always seems to be the case with these thru hiking documentaries. Why? Sure, it's physical and relentless, but so much time and energy is spent talking about: blisters, food, pack weight, difficulty, blah, blah, blah.... Let the majesty of the setting speak loudly. Be quiet. Listen. There's still too much command and conquer mentality permeating our recreational outdoor pursuits. I'm guilty of it often and I'm beginning to recognize it.

The most poignant pieces in the documentary were delivered from the phenomenal park historian Shelton Johnson. Such a humble and inspiring individual.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: a lot company on 05/07/2013 09:52:09 MDT Print View

I did the majority of the JMT solo in July many years ago.

"A lot of company" is relative.

You don't have to hike with people, you don't have to sleep where the people are, you can do your own thing. I was amazed at how many people gravitated solely to the well known camping areas, landmarks, and trail junctions only to pitch a tent in a small town. There's a big wilderness out there. Walking as little as 1/4 of a mile off trail can lead you to some real gems and amazing campsites where you will be quite alone.

People seem quite content to follow the herd. Strangely, many of those same people then complain about crowds. Even on something as well known as the JMT, it's amazing what's out there if you dare step off the trail.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: a lot of company on 05/07/2013 10:02:40 MDT Print View

Mags said: "Do it after Labor Day. Cool and crisp nights, less people, beautiful days and so on."

Ditto. My wife and I hiked the JMT in September and it was wonderful. Yes, even then it's possible in some areas to find you have to walk on a bit to find a comfortable campsite, but not often, and you don't see all that many people during the day (except the last day up to Whitney and then out the Portal).

We had great weather, my 32F bag was adequate during the nights, we could have cowboy camped all along had my wife been inclined to that. Water was still not a problem. I can't speak to how hard it was to get the permit --- we applied and got it. Essentially no bugs.

This year, June might be a good time to do it, BTW. A pretty snowy experience with some creek crossing issues when I did it in June a few years ago, but this year it should be great. Somewhat of a roll of the dice as to when the Mosquitoes get active, however. In June 2008 I made it mostly through before they were much of a bother, so I presume that this year June could be buggier for JMT'ers.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
What's so great about the JMT? on 05/07/2013 10:05:01 MDT Print View

+1 If you camp with the pack, hike with the pack, and break with the pack, it may seem crowded.

Doing the trail that way is a choice.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
C&C on 05/07/2013 10:22:44 MDT Print View

The people in the doc fit that mode, I think, because they are young. Some had beers at the end, and some did not. Guess they are late teens - early 20s?

Many young men at that age have the "command and conquer " mentality. I know I did at times. :)

Not that older men (or women for that matter) can't get it, but it does seem to more present in young males over all.

As far as talking about ailments, that does seem par for the course.

When you are in the moment, you focus on the immediate. Tiredness, hunger, injuries.

it is perhaps only after the journey is completed that you focus on the intangible: The sound of the falls, the smell of the butterscotch from the pines, getting to the top of a pass and seeing forever.


re: Shelton Jonhson
My favorite part, too Eloquent, thoughtful and with an obvious passion for the wilderness.

Edited by PaulMags on 05/07/2013 10:25:00 MDT.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: What's so great about the JMT? on 05/07/2013 10:31:36 MDT Print View

I'm tempted to badmouth it so people go elsewhere... but most of the JMT isn't very crowded.

It's an iconic trail- I remember being a little kid and marveling at the Happy Isles sign "Mt. Whitney 211 miles". That's why I finally broke down and did it (solo) in 2008; that's why my whole family is doing it this summer.

Four things to consider about the High Sierra:
1. Ticks. I hate ticks.
2. Rattlesnakes. When one surprises me it scares me.
3. Poison Oak. I don't like poison oak.
4. Rain. I don't mind rain but mud and breaking camp in the rain are a real drag.

Fortunately, the JMT is all above the range of poison oak, almost all above tick range, mostly above rattlesnake range, and it's very rare to have unrelenting rain day after day in the summer.

I did one 10 day trip on/near the JMT that had rain every day, but it was only a couple hours at most. When I through-hiked the JMT I had three bouts of rain lasting less than 1/2 hour each. Most of the trail is well-drained so even in rain, you probably aren't in a mud bog.

Regarding crowds- the ends are very crowded. The northern mile probably sees 3000 people per day, the southern mile 150. Southbound in August 2008 I had one day (Red's to Duck Lake) where I saw only 4 people. Most days I probably saw about 15-20 people on the trail. I camped with other people on purpose 4 times, just once because it was hard to avoid. The other 9 nights I was out of sight or at least across a lake from any other campers.

EDIT: Typos

Edited by jimqpublic on 05/07/2013 13:25:54 MDT.

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
What's so great about the JMT? on 05/07/2013 11:58:20 MDT Print View

Jim, your experience in 2008 pretty much parallels mine. The only places I felt the presence of crowds was at Happy Isles, Tuolumne Meadows, Red's Meadow and Whitney Portal. BTW, did you get a ride from Whitney Portal to Lone Pine with an old guy driving a red Toyoya Pickup on September 7th? If so, that was most likely me.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: JMT on 05/07/2013 12:19:16 MDT Print View

Part of the appeal of the JMT has to be the absolutely mindless route finding. And yes, it lives up to the hype.

If the JMT was in Idaho it would not be crowded. If the 'Dacks were in Montana you could find parking on a summer weekend.

Thankfully (White Clouds and the SW Bob) they are.

Edited by DaveC on 05/07/2013 12:20:36 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: JMT vid on 05/09/2013 17:14:43 MDT Print View

"High Sierra: A Journey on the John Muir Trail"

Got around to watching that. Not bad, but whatever Gregory dealer fit them all in too-small packs should be rolled down the north side of Forester Pass. Even with a heavy pack you shouldn't look like quasimodo.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
What's so great about the JMT? on 05/09/2013 17:36:51 MDT Print View

I guess the thing that always kept me away from the JMT was all the stupid posts on all the backpacking forums, BPL included.
You know the ones:
What tent should I use on the JMT
Which is the best stove for the JMT
What sleeping bag do people bring on the JMT
What brand of sniffing glue is recommended for the JMT
and on and on...

It's like the JMT has requirement that are somehow quite different from other trails?

And if you ever read the list of programs that REI and other outfitters put on, a very high percentage of them are JMT related.

I have spent my time around the area and it is nice, but so are many other places, that get much less hype.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re What's to great about the JMT on 05/09/2013 17:41:25 MDT Print View

I've seen so many pictures of the JMT I feel like I've already been there. Looks like a nice trail but since I don't live in CA I highly doubt I'd bother with the logistics. I'd have to book a flight, get permits, get bear canisters, and rent a car just to hike it. No thanks, unless I was joining a friend I'll stick to other places.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
JMT... NOT on 05/09/2013 19:16:36 MDT Print View

Indeed. I warn everyone against hiking the JMT... it's over rated... ugly... a real PITA... Please, do yourself a favor and hike something else... anything else...

(and leave the JMT suffering... to me :)


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: re: JMT vid on 05/09/2013 23:58:09 MDT Print View

"should be rolled down the north side of Forester Pass"

I would vote for the south side. It's steeper.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: JMT... NOT on 05/10/2013 00:09:45 MDT Print View

Did you know that much of the JMT is above the treeline? That means no pretty trees and plants to look at. Just ugly rocks everywhere.