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JMT in Mid-July- Looking for Itinerary Critiques
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John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
JMT in Mid-July- Looking for Itinerary Critiques on 01/08/2014 20:19:55 MST Print View

I'm working on finalizing an itinerary for a 13-day solo JMT SOBO, starting from Tuolumne in mid-July. I think I have the itinerary pretty well worked out, but I wanted to throw this up here, since I know there's a lot of Sierra expertise on BPL. Any comments you guys have on my trailhead logistics or the hike itself would be really appreciated, especially on the back end (getting back from Lone Pine). I'm really pushing my luck with what my work is willing to let me do with respect to time off, so I'm pretty constrained.

Getting There:
Arrive at SFO evening of 7/11, stay with a friend outside of the city or grab a hotel
7/12- 12:45 Amtrak/Yarts combo to Yosemite Valley (SF Ferry Building/Emeryville/Merced/Yosemite)
7/13- Putter around the valley
7/14- Tuolumne hiker's bus to TM, depart from Lyell Canyon trailhead ca. 10:30/11

Getting Back:
7/26- Hitch to Lone Pine from Whitney Portal, stay overnight at a hostel
7/27- Shuttle to Mammoth Lakes (expensive, but as far as I can tell, there's no ESTA on Sundays), then fly from airport to PHL (via LAX)

Hiking itinerary (with daily mileage)(Landmarks are approximate):

Lyell Canyon TH to Marie Lakes Tr (16.4)
Marie Lakes to Beck Lakes (16.7)
Beck Lakes to Purple Lake (16.7)
Purple Lake to Lake Edison Tr (14.7)
Lake Edison Tr to Senger Crk (16.2)
Senger Crk to N Evolution Lk (19.3)(Resupply at MTR in the AM)
N Evolution Lk to Bishop Pass Tr (camp ~.5mi past trail jct)(15.1)
Bishop Campsite to Upper Palisade Lk (11.6)
Upp Palisade Lk to Sawmill Pass Tr (16.8)
Sawmill Pass Tr to (Near) Bubbs Crk Tr (15.2)
Nr Bubbs Crk Tr to Shepherd's Pass Tr (13.2)
Shep Pass Tr to Guitar Lake (11.2)
Guitar Lake to Whitney Portal via Whitney Summit (16)

The itinerary is mostly informed by the Erik the Black atlas, with input from the Wenk guide and a lot of various data collections from the JMT Yahoo group. I tried to be reasonably mindful of the elevation profiles, but probably didn't do a great job in places.

Any thoughts on site selection/choices of where to take big days (and where not to) would be appreciated. I tried to be reasonable with distances (it's a lot easier to plot out 20 miles on a mpa than it is to hike it.) Obviously, the most questionable choice is the 19.1 mile day that will have the last 14-15 miles with a freshly loaded pack (ca. 30lb)

Background- I do most of my hiking on the East Coast, and usually do 15-20 mile days. This will be my longest hike by about 100 miles and 5 days, so there's a lot of new concerns for me. (Did the Wonderland Trail in August over 8 days without much trouble.)

If you're reading this far down into the post, thanks for taking the time. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Miles at altitude on 01/09/2014 19:05:10 MST Print View

Only you and your condition can answer that question, but I think it's a lot to bite off at these elevations. YOur mileage on the JMT will have a lot more up and down, at 10,000.

Can you do this? Probably. But you may end up hiking 12 hours a day, and that's not how I would choose to do this hike. YMMV

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
JMT in Mid-July- Looking for Itinerary Critiques" on 01/09/2014 19:36:11 MST Print View

The Wonderland trail is pretty tough, IMO, and a good test case for the JMT. Except for elevation. It sounds like the JMT elevations will be new to you. Hard to tell how you'll respond.

Many people hike this trail with your kind of daily mileage. Personally, I would dial it back a bit; maybe add a day off somewhere. You're coming a long way for this adventure. No sense grinding. But then, you know what you like!

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Re: Elevation on 01/09/2014 21:32:41 MST Print View

Thanks for the feedback thus far. I'm pretty confident in my conditioning and ability based on past experience, but I definitely want to make sure I give myself a hearty dose of reality since this is a huge step up from anything that I've done.

The elevation is definitely something that's factoring into my thinking. My experience maxes out at about 9,000-ish. I've been fine, but obviously that doesn't tell me a lot about how I'll handle Forester and Whitney. (Realistically, if it takes me that far to have problems, I'll just suck it up and plod along.) The possibility of having real issues above 10k has occurred to me.

I will probably try and massage some of the days to drop the daily mileage (Thanks to a more detailed set of elevation figures, I've already flagged one of the days as problematic due to the combination of distance and gain.) I will also probably work on an alternate (aspirational) itinerary where I do a few bigger days and maybe give myself a "Nearo" day. I need to average 15.2 miles a day, which is pretty workable.

Thanks again. Reality checks are always appreciated when I'm sitting inside dreaming of the mountains.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Elevation on 01/09/2014 22:09:40 MST Print View

Also, you need to factor in some bad weather. In the summer, you won't get hit with too much bad weather that should stop you, but it might slow you down, especially as you are trying to get through a high pass.


Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Cut down on your tourist time in Yosemite Valley on 01/09/2014 22:11:25 MST Print View

Your itinerary has you spending two nights (7/12 and 7/13) in the Valley before your hike. Maybe spend that time on the trail instead to make your hike a little less rushed.

So you arrive in Yosemite Valley on the YARTS bus at 1:20 pm. Walk straight up to the Wilderness Center and collect your permit. Then spend the next three and a half hours exploring the Valley, maybe even rent a bike and ride around to get a good view of the cliffs and the waterfalls. At 5 pm get back on the YARTS bus and head for Tuolomne Meadows. Spend the night in the backpackers campground with lots of other JMT hikers. Up bright and early the next morning to start your hike.

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
YARTS on 01/09/2014 22:31:40 MST Print View

Thanks for pointing out the 5Pm YARTS bus- I'm not sure my travel schedule will fit in the extra day, but I'd definitely rather be there overnight to start the hike.

I didn't think that bus line ran that far (could've sworn I checked it, but obviously I didn't)- I thought I was limited to the tour/hikers bus that runs in the morning. This is super helpful.

(Also, you've saved me $5 in bus fares if I'm reading this correctly.)

Edited by jrowan on 01/09/2014 22:32:39 MST.

Charley White
(charleywhite) - M

Locale: Petaluma
re: YARTS on 01/11/2014 13:46:41 MST Print View

"Thanks for pointing out the 5Pm YARTS bus- I'm not sure my travel schedule will fit in the extra day,"

I must be misreading this as I think Katy saved you a day.

You didn't mention if you will have a permit, or are going for a walk-in. Your *legal* leeway gets sticky if not. Let me make a couple of observations from having suffered figuring it all out a year ago. Basically, only extreme efforts will get you camping spots in other than the backpackers' campgrounds. The first 20 readings will indicate bp sites are a legal option for the night ONLY if you have in your possession, a trail permit for the next day. Hidden away is a rule that these sites are ALSO intended for people who arrive by food, bicycle, or bus. You. However you still technically get only one night. How to do the same-day-cancellations vs. the next-day-walkins is a whole separate thing. I will just say, do what Katy says & camp above whatever comes through in the valley. They will check you & you will pay, but I no longer fear their ability to ID & remember you as 2 nights vs one.

OOps, edit to add: psych yourself up to cadge a ride from WPortal to Lone Pine by any means necessary. That walk would truly be nasty, brutish and long. The Whitney Hostel is fine, but their unbending policy of not letting you in until--4pm?--makes that motel/lodge immediately south way worth the slight extra $. They are great.

Edited by charleywhite on 01/11/2014 13:54:32 MST.

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Re: re: YARTS on 01/11/2014 14:20:43 MST Print View

I didn't word my response brilliantly- I was mostly referring to the fact that this gives me an option to condense things with respect to transit a bit more than I have spelled out now, and can probably add an extra day of hiking if I really wanted to. That said, I do want to give myself a little bit of a buffer getting in, so that I'm not in a position where I'm totally out of luck if there's a transit problem.

Re: Permit- I will 100% have a reserved permit in hand. If I don't get an advance permit, I'll be finding something else to do this summer. I'm coming from Philadelphia, so I don't want to be in a position where I'm depending on getting a walk-up permit.

Re: Staying- I tentatively booked a night in a tent cabin at the TM Lodge to treat myself before heading out. Shouldn't be a bad way to kick off the trail in relative luxury.

All that said, I'm now thinking about negotiating an extra day off from my work- between that and losing a day getting to TM, I could swing 15 days of hiking, which lets me start from Happy Isles and actually do the whole thing. (Although I'm a bit tempted to grab the Glacier Point bus and take the Panorama Trail to the JMT junction- I've hiked both in the past.)

The extra day will also mean my travel day from Lone Pine falls on a Monday, which puts ESTA back in the picture instead of shelling out serious $$$ for a shuttle. (I'd pay it to make the trip work, but all things considered, I'd rather just take transit.)

I have some serious decision-making to do before the registration window opens for my days.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Re: re: YARTS on 01/11/2014 16:37:23 MST Print View

Unless it means a lot to you to be able to say you've hiked every foot of the JMT in one trip, I'd suggest that if you get extra days you still start at Tuolumne. Having done the whole thing I'd say that first day up out of the valley is 90% slog and not enough gorgeousness compared to what you get once you leave Tuolumne. There are just so many places along the trail where you'll want to have time to just stand or sit there in wonder that having more time is always a good idea.

And a general note - in July you have lots of daylight. So start early, finish late, and dawdle during the day. You can cover a lot of ground without ever feeling rushed.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Where to spend more time on 01/16/2014 15:43:19 MST Print View

With the day you'll save using Katy's suggestion, maybe you could afford to slow down and spend a night in the Evolution Lake area, which is among the most beautiful places on the trail (and one of John Muir's favorite places) -- or spend more time around Rae Lakes (also stunning)...