Feb 21, 2012 at 7:58 am #1285966
If you had to pick one spot for a zero day, in your opinion and other than resupply points, where would that spot be? I have done tons of reading on the JMT and scourred the internet for any and all info I can arm myself with and if I had to guess for myself I would take a zero day at Evolution Lake or in that general vicinity. What are other suggestions or did I hit the nail square on the head?Feb 21, 2012 at 9:27 am #1842381
@tothetrailLocale: So. Cal.
As an unintended consequence of hiking too fast, we got to spend the day at Dollar Lake. It's not a hidden gem, it's right out there, but it's definitely a gem. Getting to wake up and see the fog roll off the lake and witness that sunrise without having to swiftly pack up was unforgettable. If solitude is what you're after, this would not be the place for you. But I liked talking to the other hikers and it was a great place to off-load coveted candy and other food items that others were fighting over to get from us.
We planned to meet our friends who were bringing our resupply and warm clothes over Baxter Pass, and we arrived a day early. They finished up the hike with us. It was nice to be able to laze around while everyone else was shaking ice off of their tents and bivies, trying to figure out how to best handle the frozen solid clothes they hung out the night before, while we were sipping hot chocolate.Feb 21, 2012 at 9:39 am #1842386
Before I had even finished reading your post I was going to say Evolution Lake. I spent lunch there and would have loved to stay overnight but pushed over Muir instead.Feb 21, 2012 at 11:16 am #1842440
@jasongLocale: iceberg lake
"As an unintended consequence of hiking too fast, we got to spend the day at Dollar Lake. It's not a hidden gem, it's right out there, but it's definitely a gem. Getting to wake up and see the fog roll off the lake and witness that sunrise without having to swiftly pack up was unforgettable. If solitude is what you're after, this would not be the place for you. But I liked talking to the other hikers and it was a great place to off-load coveted candy and other food items that others were fighting over to get from us. "
I too had an unintended consequence of hiking too fast in front of my group and stopped at dollar lake to wait for them at lunch. it turned out they stopped at the suspension bridge for lunch and i ended up waiting for them for 4-5 hours at dollar lake and not knowing where they were! It was a nice lake to hang out at for a bit but by then end I was fuming! but anyway dollar was nice but if you are going to spend a whole day somewhere find a lake >1 mi off the trail and hang there. Rose lake near seldon pass was nice..Feb 21, 2012 at 11:36 am #1842452
Good call Jason G. That makes sense to find a spot away from the trail to rest.Feb 21, 2012 at 11:45 am #1842456
@wufpackfnLocale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Lower Palisade lake. Day hike the SHR to Cirque pass and if feeling really good continue on to Potluck Pass.
However the number of fantastic zero day spots are endless.
BradFeb 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm #1842489
I was also heading toward Evolution Lake but make it Darwin Bench instead. Same general area as Evolution Lake, Darwin Bench is a very cool area to explore.
Evolution Lake can be seen slightly left of the center of the picture.Feb 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm #1842544
I'll second the notion of getting off the trail a little. It doesn't take much. Pick just about any spot, head off the trail a half mile or a mile and enjoy. Pick a lake if you like lakes, or a meadow if you like meadows.Feb 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm #1843255
Camp at…(listed north to south)
1. Island Pass; explore Marie & Davis Lakes basins
2. Thousand Island Lake on the northwest side; explore Catherine Lake or the upper Garnet basin
3. Ediza Lake; explore Nydiver or Cecile Lake
4. Purple Lake; check out the basin behind it (I'm just guessing here)
5. Silver Pass area; check out Peter Pande Lake, Isaac Walton Pass or somewhere. All of the Silver Divide area is just jaw-dropping colorful and spectacular.
6. Evolution Lake; explore Darwin Bench. But I am one of the rare people who is going to say that Darwin Lakes are overrated, and one of the many who say that Evolution Lake is frightfully overused.
7. Wanda Lake; maybe camp on the southwest side a long walk from the trail; explore Ionian Basin. If you like the idea of staying in Evolution Basin, this option is the more remote one.
8. Muir Pass area; climb the Black Giant
9. Leconte Canyon; hike up to Ladder Lake, requires very good x-country skills. Ladder Lake is really well known for its spectacular nature and is hard to get to. The camping will not be as interesting though (assuming you'll be in a lowland forest in lower Leconte Canyon).
10. Palisade Basin below Ampitheater Lake; hike up to that lake, requires very good x-country skills
11. Lower Palisade Lake, hike over Cirque Pass as mentioned, requires very good x-country skills
12. Upper Basin – you can walk off-trail and just find a little tarn of your own. Gorgeous.
13. Arrow Lake just off the JMT.
14. Upper Rae Lake; explore Sixty Lakes Basin (or Dragon Lake). Rae Lakes is another really gorgeous, but overused area. Consider camping both nights in Sixty Lakes Basin; to get there it's an easy flat-ish hike on a use trail.
15. Bighorn Plateau (in good weather of course)
16. From the JMT south of Bighorn, you can explore Wrights Lake Basin or the lakes at the top of Wallace Creek. But I don't find that section of the JMT (or the camping alongtrail) to be interesting – just the offtrail diversions.
Depends on whether you want to just sort of sit by the lake all day; or whether it's all about the layover day destination. Along the JMT my favorite place to "sit and soak it in" is Sapphire Lake (south of Evolution Lake), but I can't recall if you can camp there, and it is certainly very close to the trail/people. If what you want is to witness the kind of remote and rugged beauty almost no one else sees (and that will be hard to access once off the JMT), I can't think of a better place than a bushwhack up to Ampitheater Lake as a layover day – although I'm not sure exactly where you would camp and how pleasant that camp is. That is as remote/untouched/spectacular as it gets so close to the JMT.
Out of all those, the best place to have a really spectacular camp for 2 nights *and* a spectacular dayhike on your layover day, might be the west/northwest end of Thousand Island Lake. Although that lake is extremely popular, nobody seems to want to walk that far from the trail to the west end of the lake to set up camp. Now you are right under Banner Peak. I would have a very hard time deciding which to do on my layover day: Lake Catherine, or the basin above Garnet Lake. These are jaw-dropping places, both accessible via easy x-country passes, and you won't see anyone unless someone is coming through on the High Route.
Ampitheater Lake, viewed in the distance from Potluck Pass
The idyllic basin behind Garnet Lake and under Banner PeakFeb 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm #1843273
…and now I'm going to argue for Wanda Lake. Just looked through my old photos, to confirm what I remember: It looks like there is plenty of camping on the southwest side of Wanda, a good 20+ minute walk off the JMT. That side of the lake is also the setting-off point for Wanda Pass (looks easy) and Ionian Basin, to the south. To the northwest, there are the Davis Lakes and that is a very nice x-country from Wanda as well.
Google-image Wanda Lake, looks like an amazing place to camp for 2 nights and you might even get some solitude there :)
– ElizabethFeb 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm #1843292
@creachenLocale: East Bay
Boat ride to VVR with food,showers,washing machines,resupplying and did I mention ice cold Beer. Everybody is happy there!Feb 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm #1844279
I guess Dollar Lake is quite a draw. I stopped for a swim, lunch, and a nap too.
There are many beautiful spots that could work. Almost every valley or lake is worthy. I had no zero days on my 15 day hike, but four where I arrived in camp before noon. Sure nice to take a break. With so many great spots, I suggest the "where" is less important than "when".
If carrying enough food between MTR or VVR and Portal is tight, it makes a zero day in the Southern half hard. If your timeline is tight, then a planned zero toward the end of your hike would be good because it gives a cushion if you get delayed.
I think Muir Trail Ranch is a good spot for a southbound zero day. Either pay to stay, or do as I did and camp across the river. Your food resupply can have extra goodies. You can swim in the clean warm lake or soak in the hot black muddy springs. It's relaxing and a pretty spot- but somewhere between remote wilderness and VVR/Red's Meadow with cars and motel rooms.
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