Dec 17, 2013 at 7:34 am #1311109
Ok, so I got bit by the bug this summer after going to Glacier NP and was thinking of doing another trip west…but some places are a bit scary for me to go solo…griz's and all. But I was thinking about doing a section hike on the JMT. It seems doable for me as a solo hiker or maybe with another friend. I have experience with East coast backpacking and go solo here, but the West is a totally different ballgame…lots to consider.
Any ideas about how to go about section-hiking the JMT? Or maybe another trail that I can do in 7-10 days? I can get the guidebooks but it's nice to hear it from those who have gone before me. Perhaps Wonderland trail?
Thanks!Dec 17, 2013 at 9:25 am #2055175
Art …BPL Member
" Any ideas about how to go about section-hiking the JMT? "
basically just do it.
I saw several female solo packers on the JMT last summer.
it is an easy to follow trail.
much of it is fairly high elevation, so you need the basic high mountain skills.
for a section hike, logistics will vary depending on your trip.
7-10 day … how many miles ? slow, fast, medium speed ?
there are no grizzlies in the Sierra, and black bears are generally not a threat.Dec 17, 2013 at 10:37 am #2055197
Medium speed…yep, just do it. : ) I was just wondering if any sections were better than others to choose from. Not as if there are 'bad' sections out there, but logistically and scenery-wise.Dec 17, 2013 at 10:50 am #2055200
Art …BPL Member
that's why I asked how many miles you were interested in doing.
you could do anything from a very casual 30, to a somewhat intense 160.
a very nice and logistically easy trip is Mammoth/Reds Meadow to Tuolumne or Yosemite Valley. could be from 30 to 57 miles depending on start/finish.
a nice big bus will take you back to the start cheaply and fast (YARTS).
permits are easy at the Mammoth end for walk-ins, a bit harder at the Yosemite end.
the country is some of the JMT's best.
and Yosemite adds in other options to the trip if you have never been there.
so a lot of this depends how alone you want to be also, since Tuolumne and Yose Valley are not exactly empty of people in summer.
A longer (but with fewer people) option is Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass to Reds Meadow/Mammoth.
125 miles, sections over the big passes can be fairly remote even in summer. you finish at a nice ski resort town to get a bit of civilization when its done.
travel logistics are a bit more involved but easily doable.
my 2 least favorite sections are :
1. from Whitney Summit down into Crabtree, Tyndall, to just before Forrester Pass.
yes it is nice here, but other areas are even better.
2. Cathedral Peak to Yosemite Valley
again nice here, but a bit crowded in summer, relatively speaking, and I prefer the high country.
there are no bad sections.Dec 17, 2013 at 11:42 am #2055212
Thanks. Now I have a place to start. My biggest concern would be altitude sickness, so I don't think beginning at Whitney would be a wise decision. But your advice on Mammoth/Reds might be something that I could do. As for solitude…I don't want to be tossed amongst a sea of people. High country would be a great experiance. So, for now, I need to do some homework and figure when to go, etc for a permit.Dec 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm #2055231
For the John Muir Trail, there are only a few direct access points reachable by vehicle. However, there are a number of trailheads that aren't too far off the main trail, so you can start at one place, hike to the main trail, head north or south along the main trail, and then exit at another trail. The only problem is the transportation problem of getting back to your starting point if that was where you left a car.
You can organize a whole group of people and split into two teams. One team starts at one end and the other team starts at the opposite end. Then you exchange car keys in the middle.
–B.G.–Dec 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm #2055238
jeffrey armbrusterBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Another option is to not go on the JMT at all, or perhaps only partially. You can plan loop trips that cover 60 or more miles all throughout the Sierra. This solves any transportation problems and also often gives you more solitude. And the scenery can be as fine or better.
However, even the JMT is not necessarily as 'crowded' as people might imagine. It's not like there are conga lines snaking along. You may be pleasantly surprised.Dec 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm #2055288
What!?? No conga Line??? Drat.
@BG: No groups going with me and I'm not going to spend time gathering them, either. But thanks for the idea.
At least I know that I can do some loop trips. Time to get some maps and sit down and plot.Dec 17, 2013 at 3:12 pm #2055302
Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
If you hike North Bound you will see 5 times more people.Dec 17, 2013 at 3:21 pm #2055307
"At least I know that I can do some loop trips."
A typical trip for me goes like this. Start and go about one day to reach the JMT. Follow the JMT northbound for three days. Spend another day hiking back to some exit. At worst, it will take me one additional day to get back to my car at the start point.
–B.G.–Dec 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm #2055319
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
>"One team starts at one end and the other team starts at the opposite end. Then you exchange car keys in the middle."
I strongly suggest you hide the keys on the car in a pre-agreed-upon location*. This avoids keys slipping out of your pocket and into a lake or the groups somehow missing each other maybe while one is still in an off-trail campsite.
*duct-taped inside the front/rear bumper on the left/right side; under the RR hubcap, (for cars with low fenders) sitting on top of the LF tire, at the base of the RF coil spring of the front suspension, wired to the lower radiator hose, etc, etc.
Although it requires more co-ordination, there are potential pound-miles to be saved with such an arrangement. Fuel, batteries, non-smelling food or beer can be left one or two days out from each trailhead because then it only gets carried for 10-20 miles instead of for 100-200 miles. That really only works if you've hiked the trail before and scoped out good locations. I do it a lot, hiking solo, and like to stash things up under footbridges and/or highway bridges. Beer is best stored buried in stream-bed gravel and covered by a notable rock XX feet downstream from a bridge or trail crossing.Dec 17, 2013 at 4:01 pm #2055323
"I strongly suggest you hide the keys on the car in a pre-agreed-upon location*. This avoids keys slipping out of your pocket and into a lake or the groups somehow missing each other maybe while one is still in an off-trail campsite."
David, the reason for exchanging car keys at the mid-point is this. If the meeting cannot occur for any reason, then the contingency plan is that each team must turn around and return to their own vehicle. We've always done it this way for long ski trips, and it has never failed us.
–B.G.–Dec 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm #2055370
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
>"If the meeting cannot occur for any reason, then the contingency plan is that each team must turn around and return to their own vehicle. "
My way works for both (1) you meet, and (2) meeting doesn't occur and you turn around. But it also allows you to not meet and yet finish your trip. The contingency plan when leaving keys with the vehicles would be: if you return to your vehicle (let's say, to take someone to the hospital) you must return that vehicle to the trailhead for the other party's window of exit times or ferry their vehicle around.
If you're doing an on-trail key swap and you've gone 60% of the route, do you assume the other party is slower and continue on, double back to your car (perhaps being a bit short on supplies), or send a runner back in case they slipped past you?
Either way works almost all the time. Having a well-established contingency for either approach deals with most all remaining eventualities.Dec 18, 2013 at 9:51 am #2055558
Joe LynchBPL Member
@rushfanLocale: Northern California
46 miles, loop. Busy relatively speaking but beautiful scenery. There's another recent thread on a longer SEKI loop hike that looks great.Dec 20, 2013 at 11:23 am #2056318
Valerie EBPL Member
@wildtownerLocale: Grand Canyon State
No Question — South Lake to North Lake Loop! About 60 miles, you spend about 50% of your time on the JMT (includes the stunning Evolution area, plus John Muir Pass), but you also have time away from the constant crowds. Easy access from the town of Bishop, CA to the trailheads. Just gorgeous — google some trip reports with photos.
Did it last summer, and had the BEST time. I think it meets 100% of your needs.Dec 20, 2013 at 11:36 am #2056322
Larry SwearingenBPL Member
@larry_swearingenLocale: NE Indiana
I would second the Sout Lake to North lake Loop except I would run
it in the opposite direction. North lake to South Lake. If you are
concerned about elevation that direction starts out a little more
gradually going up over Piute Pass.
That's the first real backpack I ever did back in 71 or 72.
It is beautiful and I would recommend a start right after Labor Day
if you have the time. All the Boy Scouts are back in school and
the mosquitoes are mostly gone by that time. It is a little colder
but worth it.
Hoosier DaddyDec 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm #2056658
Thanks everyone!! I'm guessing permits are required. Will do the research….Dec 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm #2056683
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
You might want to look at the Big SEKI Loop. It has options for longer and shorter trips, depending on preference. I'm considering it or the JMT for the upcoming summer.
P.S. The griz aren't really that bad. A few basic skills will get you through 99% of the potential issues if you're careful and prepared.Dec 21, 2013 at 5:36 pm #2056688
A Wilderness Permit is required for just about all trips in that part of California, either in the National Parks or in the Wilderness areas outside the parks.
Now, a permit can be easy or it can be difficult. If you are trying to get something for a group of people, for the prime season, for a Friday or Saturday start, then you might run into a quota problem. Therefore, a permit reservation costs a few bucks, but it is worth it in reduced headaches. By contrast, if you are trying to get a permit for only one or two people for a mid-week start, then it isn't nearly so hard. A reservation still would not be stupid, but it isn't always that essential.
I often go to the permit station in Bishop, and I make a point of being the first person standing in line for when they open the office on a summer morning. That way, I have never been aced out of the permit. If I show up at 9 a.m., then there is a waiting line and the daily quota is already gone.
I've gotten excellent results out of the on-line permit reservation system. You still have to go to the permit station to pick up your permit, but at least you will know that you will get it.
–B.G.–Dec 22, 2013 at 11:37 am #2056849
I dont think the west is any different from the east for solo hiking, at least not if you are not in grizzly country. There you might want a group of about 5 at least. (I recall reading that statistically, there are no grizzly attacks on groups of 5 or more)
A favorite part of my hiking trips, is actually the people I meet. I meet more, and spend more time talking to them….when solo. Solo hikers are less intimidating than groups to others I suppose.
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