Jun 24, 2013 at 5:58 pm #1304568
Hey, I just finished the John Muir Trail Northbound. June 9-21. Weather was awesome and the trails were in great condition. Please let me know if I can answer any questions for those in preparation.
HMG Echo I Tarp and Beak (only used twice due to great weather)
Marmot Plasma 30 (perfect for weather conditions)
TiGoat Bug Bivy (used every night but bugs were not an issue)
Borah Stealth (adequate size but not the right back for this type of trip)
MSR Titan Kettle (worked great)
Snow Peak LiteMax
Bearikade Weekender (save almost a pound but it's not cheap)
Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Poles (best $29 invested…thanks, Costco)
Marmot Zues 1/2 zip (perfect for evenings and early mornings)
Clothes: Arcteryx shirt (2), Columbia Zip Pants (1), ExOfficio (2), Smartwool Socks (2), Sierra Designs Numbskull windshirt, Salomon Boots.Jun 24, 2013 at 6:35 pm #1999437
How was Forrester Pass? No recent info on SEKI website.Jun 24, 2013 at 6:55 pm #1999444
Did you use in rain or drizzle? Experience? How spacious or small did it feel?Jun 24, 2013 at 6:59 pm #1999446
Forrester Pass was a non-issue. The only real issue was a 15 foot snow traverse at the top on the southern side. It was slippery and the footholds were minimal. The northside had snow but the way down was easily decerned. You can leave your micro-spikes and axe at home.Jun 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm #1999448
I only used it 2 nights during the entire trip. The first time was on the 2nd night of the trip when an afternoon shower cut our Forrester Pass approach short. In this case, the sides were staked low to the ground to keep water out. I didn't feel cramped at all. The beak gives enough extra space to make me very comfortable. There is minimal headroom, however, so sitting up under the tarp was not an option in this configuration. The second time I used the tarp was at Vermillion. The weather was great so I was able to raise the tarp and provide much more room. Overall, I was very pleased with the Echo I. Note: I do not own the HMG inner net. I use a TiGoat bug bivy.Jul 10, 2013 at 8:18 am #2004422
I'll be starting the JMT going NOBO on the 23rd of July. How was the altitude acclimatization for you? I'll be doing it in 11-12 days — where would you recommend resupplying (I'm thinking the Muir Trail Ranch?). Also, I'm trying to decide whether to use my Trailstar or a Grace Solo. I'd prefer the roominess of the Trailstar over the Grace Solo but am not sure if it's just too big to pitch reliably on the trail.
Thanks!Jul 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm #2004587
I did the trip in 11 trail days so I have a good feel for what to expect. The first day was incredibly difficult. The hardest day of my life, physically. I did Whitney Portal to Crabtree Meadows. Carrying a 26 lb pack up the switchbacks was much harder than I imagined. I would have done anything for an oxygen tank. Dropping the pack at Trail Crest did little to help. I didn't have altitude sickness but the lack of oxygen definitely got to me. If I did it again I would hike up to Outpost camp the first night rather than acclimate at Whitney Portal. Outpost is right beyond the permit boundary. The higher elevation start and the shorter mileage would have helped a lot of on the summit day.
I took my HMG Echo I and rarely used it. I cowboy camped with my bag and pad in a bug bivy every night but two. I have a Trailstar as well so I can say that I could have use it on 2/3rds of the nights if I wanted. There are a lot of camp sites with adequate space.
As for a resupply, I chose to resupply at Vermillion, Red's and Tuolumne out of their general stores. As a result, I carried 8 days of supplies leaving Whitney Portal. Funny enough, I got a stomach bug and end up eating less than half of this food. I also didn't bother to resupply. I did chow down at Vermillion, Red's, Tuolumne Meadows, and Curry Village Grills, however. I also hiked from VVR to Happy Isles in 4.5 days so that I wouldn't have to eat trail food. It just didn't sound good.
I hope you enjoy the trip. The trail is spectacular!Jul 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm #2006337
So…am I able to get a permit for the JMT at Whitney Portal? If I didn't plan on actually climbing Mt. Whitney and just wanted to get started with the trail for time's sake, would that change the permit situation?
Also, if I already have all of my food bought, would you recommend just mailing half of it to Muir Trail Ranch instead of trying to resupply out of multiple other towns?
Thanks!Jul 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm #2006342
Get your JMT walk-in permits for the Whitney Trail at the Interagency Center south of Lone Pine. It doesn't matter if you do Whitney or not. Same entry point, same quota.
I would mail ahead. Doing an off-trail resupply will cost you two days of both time and food, unless you are really fast.
Muir Trail Ranch is convenient. In and out will add only a mile, if when you leave, you take the Cutoff going up the hill. As a resupply hiker you are low on the totem pole. As in "Here's your food and no, you can't use the bathroom". If you plan to camp, it's up and over to the river. Nice spot and all. I usually plan on hitting MTR by noon, and starting up the hill by 1:00 pm. In-and-out. Thanks and 'bye.
Vermillion IS hiker friendly. It's hard to get in and out in a day. So figure on an overnight there. It's the beer that slows you down. Don't know what the ferry status is. If it's not running, hike down Bear Creek versus going to the junction.
It you do mail food, remember to include a soda and a luxury snack. Eat as you repack. Leaving the dregs behind.Jul 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm #2006361
Resupply out of both MTR and VVR is expensive if you're planning to mail packages. That's why I chose to buy from their general stores. I believe MTR wants $50 and VVR wants something like $30. VVR has a general store and their markup on general supplies is no where near the cost of mailing them a package plus the pickup fee. A night off in VVR is also well worth it. It's nice to sit around the fire with other hikers and just enjoy the company.Jul 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm #2006362
"So…am I able to get a permit for the JMT at Whitney Portal?"
As others have stated, you can't get anything at Whitney Portal except for maybe a parking citation. The wilderness permits all come from the Forest Service at the Interagency Visitor Center that is a mile south of Lone Pine. When I was there last Monday, there was a waiting line of people for just such a permit. I have no idea how successful they were. It is a crapshoot.
As for the remarks about needing oxygen on the way up the Switchbacks, I hear you! When I went up there last week, I was carrying only about 12 pounds. Nevertheless, the thin air will catch up with almost everybody. I graphed out my results since I was using a pulse-oximeter to gather data. This graph is complicated, so you have to study it a bit. It told me that I am not getting any faster.
Going up the Switchbacks is part of the problem. Then when you reach Trail Crest, the cool breeze from the west hits you. That tends to chill you somewhat on the way down the two-tenths of a mile to the JMT junction. Of course, most hikers are going up to the summit from there, so they drop their backpacks temporarily at the junction. Three marmots live there in the talus, so they come out and have their way with your backpack. I recommend temporarily hanging your pack at eye level off the rock cliff right there.
–B.G.–Jul 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm #2006366
One of the best ways to do a resupply is kind of hard to arrange, but it works good if you can swing it. That is having a friend hand-carry a food bag of ten or fifteen pounds and meet you at some pre-arranged spot along the main trail. The advantage is that the JMT hiker doesn't need to leave the trail at all, and doesn't have to deal with resorts, postal delivery failures, or anything else.
For example, a good hiker can leave Onion Valley, go over Kearsarge Pass, meet the trail to hand over the goods, and then return to Onion Valley … all within a day.
Another spot for that is the hiker goes in from Florence Lake to the JMT. Another one is at Lake Edison. There are more, but they can get progressively harder for that delivery guy.
–B.G.–Jul 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm #2006460
Thanks for the chart. Not nearly as complicated as a psychrometric chart or phase diagram :).
If all else fails I might just have to go SOBO. I think either way I'll probably be resupplying at MTR. No friends in the area and I already bought all the food.Jul 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm #2006463
I could have tried to present it as a Nichols Plot.
–B.G.–Jul 15, 2013 at 6:58 pm #2006480
USA Duane HallParticipant
@hikerduaneLocale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
If and when I do the JMT, I have connections to the Ross family, just west of the MTR. :) Met them a few years, intro by Eric from Highsierratopix.
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