Oct in Sierras, Permits, JMT, …
Aug 13, 2023 at 10:36 pm #3786590
Early in covid I found I could get self issue permits via some of the national forests when the national parks were closed. I got used to the simplicity and for the last fews years have started all my hikes at national forest trailhead.
My October and early Nov just opened up and I thought…. “It was more than ten years since I did the JMT, it would be fun to do it in fall rather than summer”
But it seems like the permit for it, and really all of Yosemite is now by lottery which happened months ago. Am I reading the NPS pages correct… that you can’t get walk-in wilderness permits until Nov for any of Yosemite?!
If you have several weeks in Oct to hike somewhere in the sierras were you can get a permit, where would you go?Aug 13, 2023 at 11:19 pm #3786592DWR DBPL Member
I would think it would be relatively easy to get permits almost anywhere in the Sierra in October… except maybe the Whitney trail, or maybe Happy Isles… I believe there are walk up permits at Yosemite that are not put up on the lottery… email these guys and ask… [email protected] or read the Yosemite web site…
Anything on the east side other than Whitney should be easy to get a permit… Inyo National Forest… I believed they release the ‘walk up’ permits two weeks in advance on recreation.gov… even pretty easy to get these in the summer if you are not trying for the most popular trails. You can start the JMT south of Whitney with easy to get permits… but I don’t think I would try the JMT in October as the days are short, the weather can get cold, and there is some chance of snow… which is why permits are easier to get in October…Aug 14, 2023 at 3:04 am #3786594Dave GBPL Member
SEKI self issue, non-quota season starts on 24th September, be aware that Cedar Grove and Mineral King are inaccessible due to road damage.
DaveAug 14, 2023 at 10:44 am #3786604
I guess I shouldn’t post when I am discouraged and tired :). I looked at the standard entries / permits for JMT and found I was out of luck, which when combined with finding permits hard to get these days in locations that it didn’t use to be an issue sort of bummed me out.
Yosemite’s website had an indication “don’t expect to walk up and get a permit”. I now understand that was a warning to people showing up in the middle of summer, not that everything had been moved to reservations and/or lottery which are already full. walk up permits are still a thing and 40% of the permits get released 7 days before entry date on the website. I guess I need to get better at using rec.gov.
Useful to know SEKI moves to self issue Sept 24. I haven’t been in SEKI for several years. Thanks for the warning of Cedar Grove and mineral king road closed. Checking trailhead accessible from the east side now.
Appreciate the warning about short days and unpredictable weather. Bring back memories of a trip that started with 71F mid day, and the next morning it was 12F and snowing and it didn’t get above 45F the rest of the trip. The forecast had predicted days in uppers 50s / lower 60s and lows in the 20s and little chance of rain :)Aug 14, 2023 at 12:15 pm #3786612jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I think “don’t expect to walk up and get a permit” pertains to folks who wander in mid day and think they’ll get one. Or even in the morning, depending.
I used to always attempt for a walk in permit out of Tuolumne, but I knew how this works. 90% of the time I’d get on one the same day that I arrived, BUT:
–I was solo
–I’d arrive before noon at the 120 entrance permit station
–I’d come in on a Thursday or other non-weekend day
–I got to know the rangers.
The few times I was denied, I simply stayed at the backpackers campsite and putzed around Tuolumne meadows, which is not a bad way to spend a day. Then in the very early morning I’d walk to the permit station and wait a half hour for it to open. I was never out of luck. However, things may have changed!!
It’s also possible to get permits at the Mono Lake station if you’re coming in from the west over 120 and want to hike further south. This includes the JMT.
I would usually arrive too late in the day to get a same day permit out of Bridgeport, but after a long drive I’m not all that anxious to head out into a long climb anyway. I could always get one for next day.Aug 14, 2023 at 1:01 pm #3786614
@jscott Pre covid I followed a very similar gameplan and results except I didn’t get to know the rangers (should have) and when nothing was available was go in saddlebag lake which had no quota.
It’s seems like what used to be purely walk-in (for for some stations fax) are now the “40% released 7 days before entry”… but I don’t know for certain. I will enquire next time I am there.Aug 14, 2023 at 8:32 pm #3786646Murali CBPL Member
I use the 7 day before entry process. If you are open about your plans – then you should be able to snag one without too much difficulty. Also, if you do show up at Tuolumne or Happy Isles, you can also snag it without too much trouble. I did have that permit I snagged 7 days prior and then at Happy Isles, I was also able to get one for the next day – at around lunch time last July. This year should be easier because of the snow levels.Sep 6, 2023 at 11:20 pm #3788548Steve ThompsonBPL Member
For the JMT, seriously conside consider S to N. Very easy to get Cottonwood Pass or Cottonwood Lake/New Army Pass permits. Will add one or two days to your JMT hike, but damn near guaranteed you’ll be permitted.
The October challenge will be resupply, and risk will be weather delays. MTR and VVR will be closed. So you’ll depend on Mt Williamson/Onion Valley with a long stretch to Reds Meadow. And for Reds Meadow, you may need to access yourself and cache a resupply (road only open weekends after mid-Sept). South Lake may also work for resupply though, depending on Parchers season, you may also need to do you own cache in the bear boxes at South Lake.
Weekish long alternates to the JMT worth looking at are North Lake to South Lake, South Lake to Onion Valley, and loops over Cottonwood or New Army Pass in the Golden Trout Wilderness. I suggest these area as late season traffic is higher than other locations, trailhead will likely reopen should a snow front move through, and route variations will let you plan “push it to the limits” (should the weather participate) along with several scaled back Plan B and Plan C routes.Sep 7, 2023 at 9:32 pm #3788595
Thanks for the suggestion Steve. South Lake to North Lake is one of my favorite hikesSep 8, 2023 at 8:35 pm #3788653Steve ThompsonBPL Member
Mine too. South Lake to North Lake alternates: bolt on the SHR from Dusy Basin to S Palisades Lake, skip Muir Pass by routing through Ionian Basin, skip Evolution Basin & Valley by routing from Wanda Lake to Davis Lakes and down Goddard Canyon, out and back from Sapphire to McGee Lakes or follow the creek to Evolution Valley, exit over Lamarck Col or over Alpine Col or the Keyhole or Snow Tongue Pass, etc.
In short, no two hikes along this main route need to be the same. That’s w he at makes it awesome to me.Sep 8, 2023 at 9:59 pm #3788660jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Agreed, South lake to North lake and all of its variants are spectacular. And lots of off trail that even I can handle.
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