Dec 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm #1283513
I am planning a JMT trip sometime in early August of 2012. Up to this point I have been using AM drops, but am seriously considering picking up a Steripen for use in areas with a lot of water – like the Sierras. If I did take a Steripen would I be able to not carry any water at all, or would I be able to get away with, say, a 1/2 liter bottle?
Also, If I did have to carry some water in some stretches, what areas would I have to do it? (Better to know ahead of time).
Finally, I am planning on doing it in around 10-12 days. Would you guys recommend a single resupply at the midpoint, or more resupplies? I know I can fit 4 days of food in my BV450, maybe if I seriously crammed I could get 5, and the first day packed in my pack.
Thank you so much for your input!Dec 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm #1817576
Dehydration is a silent killer at altitude. In addition to sweat, the dry air sucks water out of you with each breath you take. You will want at least 2 liters of carrying capacity, one of which will always be full.
You'll be surprised how much you'll drink on those long, exposed approaches to the passes. Ditto on the downside as well. Depending on the pass, you can be out in the open for most of the day.
Only you know how much you drink. Plan accordingly. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunscreen.
Do yourself a big favor; even if you use the Steripen as your primary treatment method, carry the AM drops (or tablets). You never know when either electronics or batteries will fail.Dec 30, 2011 at 2:04 pm #1817625
Thanks for the input Bob.
You are probably right, I should plan on carrying the extra water, and if that's the case I will probably stick with AM drops. It just kills me to carry 2+ lbs of water around purifying on my back while Im slogging through creeks. AM drops have kind of trained me to camel up anyway, I tend to pound 1/2 – 3/4 of a liter of water and then fill and purify and a while later do the same.Dec 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm #1817626
You will love the JMT. 10 – 12 days is a reasonable length of time for the trip. As far as water goes along the way, you will find creeks, lakes or rivers all along the way so I wouldn't 'schlep' more than 1 liter of water at a time. The Steripen is a great way to go. I have never understood the logic to drops or tabs for treating water as you have to carry that water at least 30 min – 4hrs, ( depending on what you are trying to eliminate out of your water ), and the weight of the water exceeds the weight of a Steripen or filter. There are many sections I don't bother filtering at all. I didn't filter about half the time on my trip last summer. There is one section between Deer Creek and Duck Creek that you may want more than 1 liter, but you will be around plenty of water otherwise. This will be a pretty dry year the way things are going in the Sierras so far. Should make for easy creek crossings and getting over the passes compared to last year. There are two good sources for info on the JMT, 1 – Trailjournals.com, 2 – JMT Yahoo groups.
Rob, check out this video to wet your appetite a bit fot the JMT:
Dec 31, 2011 at 12:38 am #1817839
Andy DuncanBPL Member
Have a great time on the JMT next summer. I am already planning on doing it again in 2012 after a really good time last summer. Which direction are you hiking? I will be going south bound again and will just bring a day pack from Yosemite valley to TM the first day and have my pack and food waiting at the post office. This way I won't be hauling so much weight up the 5,000 feet out of the valley. My only other resupply will be at Muir Trail Ranch. I didn't bother going to VVR last summer and just resupplied at MTR (faster, easier). Everyone is different but I would rather take a side trip into the Ionian Basin or Darwin Bench rather than take the time to go all the way to VVR.
I used a Bearikade Weekender (650 c/i) and had enough room for the 6 days/110 miles to Whitney Portal. I'm not sure I could have fit all of that into a BV450, although I've heard of people hanging their extra food.
I used AM drops and only carried 1 liter at a time with no problem. I pre-mixed 30 drops into a small mix bottle at the beginning of each day and just added it as I went (like Mike C describes in his book). I found water all along the trail. I would camp near water and bring a few liters to camp for meals etc.
Most people mention the 6 mile section around Duck
Lake as the longest dry stretch, but I thought the section from the small tarn above Guitar Lake to Whitney summit then back down to trail camp was longer with no water.
Have a blast on the trail. It is an amazing journey!Dec 31, 2011 at 12:53 am #1817840
drowning in spamMember
Doing it on one resupply means carrying a lot of weight. I think I'd rather add another resupply. It sure is expensive to resupply at MTR and VVR though. As for water treatment, I'd also carry a little AM if I was using the Steripen. You might want to take a look at Sawyer filters. The Sawyer Squeeze with the 1 liter bag weighs less than the Steripen, and there aren't any moving parts to break. It's also faster and costs less.Dec 31, 2011 at 10:21 am #1817927
You have to almost walk right by Reds Meadow Resort – and it's lovely store and cafe. Re-supply there. Climb your first pass (Donohue) with a light load. Reward yourself with a beer and a hot meal at Reds.
MTR is about 1-1/2 days from VVR or 4 days from Reds Mdw so you only need stop at one of them (VVR or MTR) for re-supply. Going south, use MTR and save yourself the climb up Bear Ridge from VVR with a full pack.
If you want or need a 3rd resupply to break up the 10+ days to Whitney Portal, I'd strongly suggest a side trip to Onion Valley. Exit the PCT at the Kearsarge Pass Trail junction. Enjoy the fabulous views from atop KP, then descend to OV. There is a USFS CG (fee-based) there, plus a lot of bear boxes available to anyone in the large parking lot. You can leave (cache) a resupply box in one of them. The boxes in the CG are for paying guests only. Caveat: the big metal public boxes are out in the sun all day and never locked so plan accordingly. The commercial pack station there will hold resupply boxes for a fee. Like MTR, it is expensive but you know the box will be there where you arrive. If you have really deep pockets, they will bring your resupply box to you on the PCT. Contact Brian or Dee Berner at Sequoia King Pack Trains in Bishop. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; Phone at 800-962-0775, 760-387-2627, 760-387-2797; or mail requests to PO Box 968, Bishop, CA 93515.
YV to TM = 1 long day; pick up your pack here
TM to Reds Mdw = 2 to 2.5 days; 1st resupply
RM to VVR = 2.5 days; heartily recommend you take the Fish Creek alternate route out of RM so as to pass the Ida Bell Hot Springs south of RM on the Cascade Valley trail. It rejoins the PCT (same 19.5 mileage distance via either route) 1.1 miles south of Tulley Hole.
VVR to MTR = 1.5 days; 2nd resupply
MTR to Onion Valley CG = 7 days
OVCG to Whitney Portal = 3.5 days
.Dec 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm #1817991
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"It sure is expensive to resupply at MTR and VVR though."
If you are affiliated with a hiking club, sometimes you can get another member to "deliver" a 10-pound food package to some spot on the trail on an arranged date. I've seen it done at Kearsarge Junction, near MTR/Florence Lake, near VVR/Lake Edison, at Reds Meadow, and at Tuolumne Meadows.
If your food package is much heavier than that, you won't get any volunteers.
In some cases, they can do that delivery as a quick overnight trip. In some cases, they can do it as a long day hike. In a couple of cases, they can do it from their car.
–B.G.–Dec 31, 2011 at 2:42 pm #1818009
The 2011 fee at Muir Trail Ranch was $55.
see http://muirtrailranch.com/resupply.html for details on services.
I believe OV Pack Station charges (or did) about $65 per box. I don't know about the packer operating out of Roads End.
Commercial packers will charge upwards of $450 to deliver it to you at a convenient agreed-upon point along the trail. You're paying for a horse, rider, and a pack mule for one day. This option is only really viable for thrus if you can band together as a group and share the cost. At least one of you must reach the rendevouz point at the designated day and time (they can only wait for you for a few hours unless you contract for the "wait however long it takes" deal which could get real expensive real fast at $450 per day), and have written authority to receive all the boxes. I believe the packer will take out your trash and the empty boxes for you, but ask when you set it all up. There are bear lockers at each of the Kearsarge Lakes, but I don't know if the packers can just drop stuff off there. They are governed by very strict NPS and USFS regulations and policies that don't apply to hikers.
Here's a link to a listing of all Sierra pack train operations and their contact information:
.Dec 31, 2011 at 2:49 pm #1818010
Thank you so much for the replies, fellas. My pockets certainly aren't that deep, $450 bucks is way out of my price range. Im now looking at probably 2, maybe 3 resupplies, last one exiting Onion Valley… I hadnt considered that!
Happy New Year, gents.Dec 31, 2011 at 3:01 pm #1818014
drowning in spamMember
I wouldn't use packers to save time, not unless I knew they were reliable. This summer I met a scout troop that was using a packer to resupply them. The packer left a note at Reds Meadow saying that they'd meet them at Purple Creek. Uh, what's Purple Creek? There's a Duck Creek and a Purple Lake… I suppose the creek coming out of Purple Lake might be called Purple Creek, but I don't see that name on the topo, and that's an odd reference to use anyway. That caused a lot of consternation with the scout troop, especially since the packer wasn't at Purple Lake in the morning like they had agreed upon. My group was camped at Duck Creek and we finally saw the packer going by towards Purple Lake towards the end of the hiking day. When time is important, you don't want a packer like that.Dec 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm #1818017
Diana VannBPL Member
I appreciate the information, too. I'm planning a JMT hike for this September, and I'll be part of a party of 3 to 5 hikers. We are planning to start from the Yosemite Valley and end at Whitney Portal. Has anyone picked up a resupply and/or done a layover day in Independence?Dec 31, 2011 at 5:24 pm #1818056
Rob, If you are doing the JMT in 10 – 12 days, I really don't see any reason to exit to Onion Valley or have packers re-supply you. One option is obscenely expensive, and the other is not really necessary looking at your time frame, IMO. I would recommend looking into renting a Bearikade Weekender as it will allow you to carry much more food then the Bear Vault.
I agree with a previous poster that your best bets for re-supplying are Tuolumne Mdws Store, Reds Meadows, and MTR. Last summer that is what we did on our hike as well, and it worked out great, There is no reason to use both VVR and MTR as they are only 1/2 – 1 day apart depending on your tempo.
Last year's schedule looked like this for us:
Day 1 – Daypack to TM, (re-supply and pick up backpacks).
Day 2 – Rosalie Lake
Day 3 – Lake Virginia, (re-supply and eat at Reds Mdw).
Day 4 – Marie Lake
Day 5 – N. Evolution Lake, (re-supply MTR).
Day 6 – L. Palisade Lake
Day 7 – Arrowhead Lake
Day 8 – Above Wallace Creek
Day 9 – Early wake-up, Mt. Whitney, exit WP
Total time 8 days, 3 hrs., 3 mins.
There is a pretty dry stretch from the tarn above Guitar Lake and Trail Camp. I kind of forget about that one for some reason, but a previous poster mentioned it as well. This summer it will be more of a problem due to lack of snow, but last summer there was still melt off available.
I have a 'hunch' that there will be some JMT and PCT records going down this year due to the lack of snow. Creek crossings and passes will be a piece of cake compared to last summer!Dec 31, 2011 at 11:09 pm #1818155
Konrad .BPL Member
Rob, I'd recommend you drop the Steripen. This is coming from another Steripen user. I did the JMT this past summer, and I did it with AM drops. If you can manage to hike with only enough water to last you to your next water-stop, before treating with a steripen for the recommend 1:30 minutes (or however long it takes, i can;t remember) than surely you can last the additional 20 mins for the AM treatment to be effective. Aquamira is so effective, and pains free, and lightweight(!) I've been contemplated the sale of my Steripen. With AM, you have no risk of battery failure. I actually had a really awesome conversation with some old skool lightweight backpackers from Canada. They brought up the fact that AquaMira has been around in Canada for ages, and the only reason why they don't list it as being effective against certain diseases, and organisms in US is because the United States FDA hasn't approved of it. In Canada, the aqua mira equivalent has been advertised as killing EVERYTHING. I never got sick on my trip, and I only waited 20 mins between treatment and drinking. I took Mike Clellands's tip and premixed my aqua mira in a small bottle in the beginning of the day. This way I didn't have to wait the 5 min waiting time before I dropped it into the unsanitary water. I would simply roll up into a stream or river, scoop, and drop, and 20 mins later I was drinking amazing water. Honestly, drop the steripen, you won't miss it.
I think it's worth having 1/2 – 1 liter of water on you at all times. There's no point in sacrificing safety to save a couple ounces…no one's comparing base weights out there. This past summer, the 7 miles or so before Red's Meadow had very very little water, and what water was available, was extremely skunky/stagnant or mosquito infested to the point where it was worth just trucking on to Red's. Everywhere else on the trail had very ample water, to the point where you could, if you wanted to, get by with just 1/2 a liter between stops.Jan 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm #1818323
Konrad, I don't want to 'hi-jack' the thread too much, but I have been trying to pare down my water treatment weight for awhile and am open to try a couple of options. Right now, I carry a Pur Hiker water filter with trimmed down hoses and a DIY Gatorade lid fill adaptor for my bottles. The total weight is 10 ozs. My routine is to stop at a water source, pump water to drink on the spot, then pump 32 ozs. and proceed to hike, allowing me to carry 1 32 oz bottle at a time and get fresh water when I stop. I am trying to calculate a 'system' for switching to drops that will work for me. A couple of questions on the Aqua Mira: where do you get the brown or black plastic bottle to store the mixed solution at? How many 32 oz. bottles can you treat in a day with the pre-mixed solution? I am probably going to experiment a bit this summer with this method.
I am also wondering on the treatment time recommended by Aqua Mira. Do you think you didn't have any issues because of the good Sierra water, or do you think 20 mins is sufficient to treat Giardia? They recommend 30 min. for Giardia, more if the water is cold. Just a thought. I have had Giardia before, (not from hiking water), and it sucks! I am pretty picky about my water sources, but one can hike most of the JMT without treating at all, if you are careful on your water sources. The Giardia scare is WAY overblown, but it is possible to contract it.Jan 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm #1818845
Robert, thanks for the detailed info! As of now, Tuolumne Meadows Store, Reds Meadows, and MTR are my resupply points.
Konrad, I couldn't find anything to disagree with on your post so I will be sticking with the drops. Thanks for the input! I think I saw something shiny I didn't have and wanted it.
As for AM usage, I think there is quite a bit of disagreement and anecdotal evidence on this site. My normal routine is to "camel up" quite a bit, chug maybe 1/3 liter or more and refill and treat. I wait at least 30 minutes, but I find I can go much longer than that without really "needing" a drink.
The bottles are available at US Plastics, cheap.
There is a kit you can buy from gossamer gear that has everything you need to get started, but no pre-mix bottle. I used a well cleaned Clear Eyes bottle, and keep it out of the sun. The droplets are not the same size as the AM bottles, do a test and see what the ratio is. My bottles take 10 drops instead of AM bottles 7 drops, and the clear eyes is back to 7. I wrote the number on each bottle so I don't get dumb. 10 drops of each into the premix bottle, then 14 drops out of the premix bottle per liter.
I have never heard that premixing is an authorized use, but Mike C! is outdoors a lot more than me, and it works for him. So it works for me.
I premix enough for 3 liters every day and rarely use it all. It usually goes in the bottle so I have clean water first thing in the morning.
Big downside that I literally just experienced was that it doesn't do much about the taste. I still taste pond water and sulfur from a over-nighter I just got back from.Jan 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm #1818846
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"As of now, Tuolumne Meadows Store, Reds Meadows, and MTR are my resupply points."
Why do you need so many resupply points if you are doing the whole trail in 10-12 days? Based on the food capacity of your bear canister, you ought to be able to do it with one resupply near the middle.
–B.G.–Jan 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm #1818860
Do I need to? Nah. And I still might not, but it will lighten up my pack quite a bit for the first half. My original plan was one resupply, but people have talked me out of it.Jan 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm #1818896
Bob, To add to what Rob said on the 3 re-supplies. It was REALLY nice to be traveling with daypack weight for the first few days of the JMT. Even after Reds, the weight added was not really that bad. The only re-supply that we 'felt' a difference on was MTR when we added about 9 lbs., making our heaviest pack weight of our trip at 24 lbs. with everything. It really gave my feet, legs and lungs a chance to get in the swing of things for an up-tempo hike. Yeah you definately don't NEED to do 3 re-supplies, but IF you can pull it off, go for it!Jan 2, 2012 at 7:11 pm #1818919
Paul McLaughlinBPL Member
The longest waterless stretch on the JMT (assuming a few snow patches will be hanging around near passes) is about 5 or 6 miles between Deer Creek and the Duck Lake outlet stream. You'll probably cover that ground in 2 hours or less. You won't need lots of water for that. Personally, on the JMT I never carried more than about a pint of water, and usually more like a half pint, as there are so many water sources unless you are walking in Sept/Oct when some of the streams dry up and the snow patches are usually gone.Jan 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm #1819975
Rob, Thanks for the heads-up on the black dropper bottles. I ordered several different sizes and colored lids to use for a multitude of liquid items.
Out of curiosity, when are you looking at heading out? I am looking at doing the JMT as well, I know, I know I already have, but it is an addicting trail and fits my time frame for distance and scenery to a 'T'. I am looking at mid August as well. Maybe we will run across each other out there.Jan 15, 2012 at 1:38 am #1824931
I'm also thinking about the JMT this summer – 2012. Probably july or August depending on snow melt, etc. I have a few logistics questions as well. I'm curious about what factors to consider in deciding on going northbound or southbound. What airports should I consider flying into and out of and is there public transportation to and from trailheads. I had thought of flying into the SF Bay area, but is there a better way to get there?
Also, if i don't want to buy/carry ice axe and microspikes, how late in the season should i wait to go? and what are the usual late season day & night temps so I can plan gear, etc.
WRT water treatment, i still use the 2-part iodine tablets. I haven't tried the auqaumira, so I'm curious what advantage they would have over iodine, which is a 30 minute treatment cycle. I definitely want to keep my pack light so i don't want to carry more water than i need.
thanks all!Jan 15, 2012 at 5:09 am #1824941
Hiking MaltoBPL Member
Easiest airport logistically without a car is reno. You can take the Eastern Sierra Transport Authority bus from Reno to either Lee Vining or Mammoth where you can take the Yarts bus down to Yosemite valley. After reaching Whitney Portal you will have to hitch you way off the mountain, not a major task, then that the ESTA bus back up the east side to Reno. Look at schedules carefully, it will drive the timing of your flights and whitney exit.
It sounds like you want to minimize snow, look at either August or September. This year could be a low snow year so it July could be doable this year.Jan 15, 2012 at 7:00 pm #1825142
Jim FitzgeraldBPL Member
@jimfitz12000Locale: Southern California
Re Independence (Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass), it is a small town with a few motels, two restaurants (neither open daily) and two gas stations that carry (or did carry) some resupply food for backpackers. I was at Onion Valley last summer and no problem hitching a ride. If interested, I know a retired Inyo County road worker that lives in Independence; Miguel drives hikers to/from trailheads.
Re airports, in addition to Reno, there was/is a Burbank (Los Angeles area)/Mammoth Lakes daily summer flight. As mentioned, easy to take YARTS from Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite. If you fly into Mammoth, can take a resupply package to the post office (have to pay postage), where it is picked up by Red’s Meadows Resort and taken to Red’s Meadows.
Re MTR, it is certainly more expensive than VVR; but at MTR, can spend the night in a cabin on a bed in your sleeping bag, take hot meals, pack a lunch for departure day, take an outdoor hot spring bath/shower, pick up resupply, buy denatured alcohol, go through hiker’s barrels, etc. MTR is just off the JMT. MTR does not serve wine or beer, so if indulging, include in your resupply bucket.
Storm track scheduled to drop into California later this week. Most likely too late for even an average snowfall year, but snowfall can accumulate rapidly in the Sierra winter, which can and does extend into late April/early May.Jan 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm #1829107
Any recommendations for a bear cannister? Given the seemingly frequent resupply points, I presume a smaller size such as bear vault 450 would be adequate – yes or no?
Also is 40 degree quilt adequate for August nighttime temps?
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