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Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT
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Huan Huynh

Locale: Central TX
Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/07/2013 09:00:07 MST Print View

Hi, granolagrinder is HERE @_@. I'm so excited to join this community, great info guys, keep up the good work.

I'm going to spend at least 12 days hiking (with some friends) the JMT sometime middle of June and early July 2014. Its going to be my 1st southbound section hike trip in the wilderness and I'm very nervous as well as exciting, but planning is the key and that's why I'm here.

I'm interested in camping at different environments, mix it up a little bit, camping by the lake one day, next to the main trail the next day ... or maybe just setup a camp at high elevation and enjoy the awesomeness of beautiful night sky and the view of valley. Perhaps, I can wander off to the dense forest, off trail, and camp with solitude.

I'm aiming to log about 8-13 miles per day in this trip, so 12 days southbound trip would properly get me to John Muir Ranch. I know there are many variables when it come to select a campsite but with your experiences, I'm hoping to enhance the total experience at JMT.


Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/07/2013 09:07:49 MST Print View

Everybody's different, but from my perspective you can enhance you experience by not over planning. Relax, hang lose, and respond to the circumstances of the particular day as far as camp selection goes. Go with what you feel along the trail.

Bill D

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/07/2013 09:16:23 MST Print View

If you're new to longer hikes, then, yes, mix it up. You may find you really like being camped closer to the trail and getting a quick start the next day. Or maybe you won't like the other people walking by early and late. Higher elevations offer spectacular star and meteor viewing on clear nights, but are colder, especially on clear nights. If your sleeping system is a little light, that might not be comfortable. If you're working to keep your weight way down, then being near water lets you do lots of your hydration and cooking without carrying much water weight. So, yeah, play with it, sample a variety of types of sites.

Huan Huynh

Locale: Central TX
RE: Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/07/2013 09:53:51 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for your input. I've always thought when you select campsite the only thing matter is: location location location, but there are so many variables such as temperature, moisture, water source, personal gears ..etc. I'm gonna look at my gear lists see what work best.

Edited by granolagrinder on 11/07/2013 09:55:36 MST.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/07/2013 09:55:32 MST Print View

I agree with Bill's approach, but I did find this useful when planning.

Elevation Profile

Edited by csteutterman on 11/07/2013 09:56:23 MST.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Ask along the way on 11/13/2013 01:44:24 MST Print View


Your best source of information may well be the many northbound hikers you encounter. Engage them in conversation and see what they have to suggest about where to camp. Where do they WISH they had camped the night before? "Man, we passed this amazing spot by x lake and wish we'd stopped there..."

Variety of landscape and camping experience will happen on its own. Without any predetermination.

When I think of returning to the JMT, I tend to focus on particular gems that are a shame to rush through - whether you camp there or not. The two most universally beloved areas you are going to pass through are (1) a long section from Donahue Pass to Shadow Lake; and (2) the few short miles just before and just after Silver Pass. I would plan to do short miles on those days, pausing to enjoy, maybe see some of the famous just-off-trail sites like Lyell Glacier and Lake Ediza. Take long lunches; go exploring; photograph; take a half-layover day. And camp.

- Elizabeth

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Re: Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/13/2013 10:38:09 MST Print View


In case you are not yet a member, I recommend you join the Yahoo group joinmuirtrail. There are many resources on there that will be helpful - for example a spreadsheet with all the 200+ campsites (description, GPS data) that Elizabeth Wenk lists in her book John Muir Trail: The essential guide to hiking America's most famous trail

The members on that group are very nice and patient in answering any question that comes up.

Enjoy the trail!


Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/15/2013 16:59:53 MST Print View

Like most have said camping is good almost anywhere on the JMT. There were a few places that I remember being special (in sobo order): Cathedral Lake, the north side of Island Pass, 1,000 Island Lake (west shore away from crowds), Squaw Lake (Silver Pass), Marie Lake (Seldon Pass), the south end of Darwin Bench, Evolution Basin (Evolution/Sapphire/Wanda/Helen Lakes), the plateau at the top of the waterfall that overlooks Deer Meadow, Upper Basin, the south side of Pinchot Pass, the lakes on the south side of Forest Pass, Big Horn Plateau and the tarn to the east of Guitar Lake. Most of these are already popular so I don't feel like I'm giving away any private 'secret spots', but I will say that there are many many special little areas out there waiting to be discovered. Have fun. Andy.

Ron D
(dillonr) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/15/2013 17:31:51 MST Print View

+1 on the Wenk book recommendation, it has tremendous campsite detail. I purchased the kindle version and downloaded it onto my phone when I hiked it.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
How to pick a campsite on 11/15/2013 19:08:50 MST Print View

Hike to you see a cool place or until you're tired then stop.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How to pick a campsite on 11/15/2013 19:29:43 MST Print View

I was southbound on the JMT going through the Evolution Region. As I passed the McClure Meadow Ranger Station, I stopped to speak to the ranger, and I asked him about any upcoming tent spots that I should be looking for. He directed me to one that was a few miles ahead, and that would coincide with sunset. I headed that way, and I was just a few feet from the spot when a northbound backpacker jumped on it before I could. Shucks. I could tell by the wild look on his face that he needed it more than I did, so I found another spot a hundred yards away, not far from Darwin Bench.


Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Re: Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/16/2013 06:33:28 MST Print View

Thanks Manfred. It was a real pleasure meeting you and your family on the JMT this summer. Hope to meet you again next year.

The Elizabeth Wenks JMT spreadsheet is also here:

I do encourage people to join the JMT Yahoo Group -- we do have 2300 members focused on the trail and more research material on the trail than all the other web sites combined (or very close to it). We also have a JMT Cribsheet of all the information you'd want on the trail condensed to a single sheet of paper (back-to-back). Great to take on the trail.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Need suggestion in campsite selection along JMT on 11/16/2013 07:58:32 MST Print View

Check out Highsierratopix also. Eric has done a good job of attracting some very good minds there. All about the Sierra Nevada.