Two weeks, solo, JMT or WRR?

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Home Forums General Forums General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion Two weeks, solo, JMT or WRR?

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    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    Looking into planning a trip to the mountains this year for two (maybe three) weeks in mid to late August. Would prefer to share the experience with someone but that may not be possible. I have done short solo trips but my bigger trips tend to be with others. Willing to exercise/condition for going from ~1000' elevation where I live to up to 14K' if needed.

    My two options:

    1. Drive to Wyoming and do some loops in the Wind River Range (and/or Tetons)

    2. Fly further west and do the John Muir Trail southbound in 14 days

    WRR has no permit issues. Time is approaching quick for a JMT permit application. What would you do?

    Dirk Rabdau


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    One heck of a choice!

    Having only done one, the JMT, I would say it depends on the type of experience you would like to have. On the JMT, you will start and end with quite a few people. yeah, permits are controlled, but you will other folks out there. This never bothers me much, but to some, they'd rather have a solitary wildnerness experience. By comparison, except for a few popular hikes, there aren't many destinations in the greater Northwest that I ever encounter more than a handful of people. The Winds definitely qualify. There are a lot of great trip reports on the Winds and it looks spectacular as well.

    One of the best trip reports really hints at the majesty and grandeur of the Winds.

    You better hop on that permit process if you hope to hike the JMT. It's definitely easier as a solo hiker to get a permit, but you could always put in a permit for the JMT and if you don't get drawn, well, the Winds it is! This year is an extremely low snow year in the Sierra thus far, so snow travel will not be an issue. I would also add that planning re-supply, the JMT experience would be easier. However, if you did a loop hike in the Winds, you wouldn't have to arrange post-hike transport back to your car.

    For another perspective, this video really captures the appeal of the JMT.


    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    Yeah, I figured the JMT (or a large chunk of it) would probably be a good choice for my first "large scale" solo trip, especially since someone would come along the trail soon enough if something weird or unspeakable happened. Day after day of 15-16 mile days at altitude concern me but there are plenty of "outs" if need be. I have seen The Muir Project videos, they make it tempting!

    I am not sure yet what would be the best way to get to and from the JMT. Fly there and rent a car? Fly there and get shuttled somehow? Any experiences would be appreciated.

    Andrew Wolff


    Locale: Chattanooga

    Ryan, thats my WRR report that Dirk references above (thanks Dirk), that trip was two years ago and this last year in September I haiked the JMT.

    JMT TR Here:

    You obviously can't go wrong with either of these choices. I loved the remoteness of the Winds although there were definately people around the trailheads and more popular areas. I've always wanted to do the JMT although I ended up doing it last year more as a fallback after being to busy to really plan for the SHR. I ended up just flying out and getting a walk up permit which was surprisingly no problem even on labor day weekend. By all means get your permit ahead though.

    I think it comes down to what kind of trip you want to do. WRR is a little more remote and less peopled and you'll need to do some route planning for it. Also with the right route there and a willingness to push offtrail into the backcountry the scenery highlights are almost constant although I still had a couple of days worth of relativly unexciting trail there. The JMT has its low points too throughout the trip although by the time you get into the southern Seirra on the last half the good scenery is definately pretty sustained.

    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    Thanks for the info Andrew, I enjoyed your trip report. Looks like I will be trying for a permit for sure now.

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