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Thread: JMT Questions

  1. #1

    :banana JMT Questions

    Hey everyone. I am thinking about a Thru-hike (not this summer, but in years to come) and I was wondering what the trail is like. I am wanting to do it NOBO around June or July. I would like to do it by myself. Here are some of my questions:

    - How many people are on the trail at this time? I want to do it around the same time as the PCT people are going through.
    - Is it reasonable to do it alone? Is it safe? Or should I find someone to go with me? I'm wondering if I'll find a buddy along the way... or not.
    - How difficult is it to get a permit?
    - How would one train? I have never climbed a mountain before and I don't really want Whitney to be the first...

    Thanks, you guys!

  2. #2

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    If you don't know what it's like why do you want to do it? It's a trail. It's rocks. It's graded well for stock animals. Few trees and stuff. Nice scenery. Plentiful water.


    June is very early and depends on snow. In an average year no not possible to difficult. In some years it's not passable for most people till mid July. Snow will linger for a mile on each side of passes requiring postholing.

    Going nobo has its own concerns. Where you start where you end. You're not going to Buddy up with the PCT hikers. You'll be sucking wind and eating their dust. So plan on being by yourself. Prime JMT hiking is from early July through early sept most years.

    Training? Try getting a light pack and running 25 miles a week. There are no shortcuts to being in shape.

    Generally pretty safe people do die when they fall into water Crossings when there's a lot of snow and water is running fast. People die on Mount Whitney every year. Some heart attacks, some Falls, some altitude problems.
    Its sad. Most cases are preventable, poor judgement is used. Especially when there's snow in early seasonn can fall through into water underneath.

    If there's no snow getting a permit for standard season is not a given. Think 95% fail rate for conventional sobo. Nobo depends where start, how long food carry, where is open for resupply, etc. And how do you acclimate to sudden altitude.

    Imo , you need a little bit of experience to be able to plan how to do this especially Nobo and especially that time of year in average year. Get some gear and go out and get some experience whle you wait. Physical effort and logistics of walking and climbing Hills with a pack isn't that much different regardless of where you do it, as long as it involves 2000 to 4000 foot vertical a day.

    And just like the AT, even for Sobo and regular good snow free Trail, there's a pretty high failure rate. 25% of people can't make 200 miles after planning for a year. Which just baffles my mind. Anybody with any experience at all and some common sense should be able to make 200 miles of well graded open trail with abundant water. ... Unless maybe they focused too much on telling people what they were going to go do on facebook or trailjournals, and not preparing to actually go do it.....
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 04-23-2018 at 23:06.

  3. #3
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    A tad bit of Internet searching, like 5-10 seconds worth, found this. There’s a lot more. Start training yesterday. Day before maybe.
    http://johnmuirtrail.org
    Good luck. Enjoy!
    Wayne

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    Mid July is a good time to start, and there will be lots of other people on the trail. But that doesn't mean you'll fall in with a group. I was actually surprised by the number of nights on the trail I was at a camp site completely alone... but there was never a day that I didn't see scores of people thru out the day.

    For the classic Yosemite to Whitney, permits are extremely difficult to get. But it's free to try (you only pay if you get a permit) so you might as well try. Someone has to get the permits.

    You won't be "climbing" Whitney or any other mountain. The trails are well graded all the way to the top of each mountain pass. But SOBO makes dealing with acclimatizing to the altitude a bit easier.

    Training is just a mater of getting in shape and doing some sort of exercise every day. A year before my JMT thru, I was at least 50 lbs over weight. I was used to doing weekend hikes (never camped more than 2 nights in a row before the JMT). But I started eating sensibly and walking three miles per night in the neighborhood. After a while, I started walking with a pack and added more and more dead weight to it until I was routinely walking the 3 miles (with about 300ft of elevation change) every day with a 50lb pack. I was still worried that I would have issues sticking to a 21 day itinerary from HI to WP. But once I was on the trial, my short hikes EVERY SINGLE DAY (with occasional 10 mile hikes) made the trail a breeze. I finished in 17 days rather than the 21 I had planned.

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    Sobo is the way to go for acclimating reasons. Late August is the best time, no bugs, great weather. There will be plenty of people out there but not over whelming masses like you'll see in June & July. (I hiked it in 13' & 14')
    Take Time to Watch the Trees Dance with The Wind.....Then Join In

  6. #6

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    Just did the JMT last year (2017) and it is hands down the best. Went SOBO and ended at Whitney. The trail down from Whitney to Whitney Portal was the worst part of the trip. So a NOBO starting at Whitney Portal would work you out. The 99 swithcbacks up to Trail Crest Pass are legit, especially for the start of your trip. We went through spurts of hikers on the trail both going NOBO and SOBO. We started mid July so the snow was still an issue and the PCTers had just started to make their way through. So you'll meet lots of hikers.

    Permits are difficult to start in Yosemite or Whitney Portal. We got our permit starting at Rush Creek just south of Donahue Pass outside Yosemite. Had to divert to Agnew Meadow because snow melt was causing tremors and they were worried about the Dam breaking. So don't look just at the traditional starting points.

    As for training I'm an east coast guy so I was concerned about no ups and downs to work out on and altitude. So I started 7 months before my trip. Consisted of the gym, with the stair master (lots), lots of core work, and ankle and knee exercises. Finally I would hit my local trail in the winter and do 25 miles in 9 hours or less with my full pack, 2 times a month.

    As for altitude we acclimated for 2 days in Lee Vining, and I took Iron supplements starting 6 weeks before the trip. The hypothesis is the extra Iron helps your body build hemoglobin as your body adjusts to the altitude. Lots of fluids and Gatorade is your best friend. The one thing I would do different is double the Gatorade I brought, and I brought a lot. I never had any issue with the altitude, even humping up Whitney.

    I was very happy with my performance. By the way I'm early 40's with an athletic background.

    FYI, you cannot do the trail without trekking poles. They are your other best friend out there, besides Gatorade.

    Good luck. It is amazing.

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    When you hit the PCT NOBO crowd will depend on that yr's snowfall and how intrepid and Sierra snow travel experienced the class. PCT NOBOers tend to follow the suggested Sierra entry date. If you start a SOBO at Happy Isles TH around the third wk of June you can expect to meet PCT NOBOers going the other way. Good place to meet them will be Tuolumne Meadows Store. They'll be hanging out at the store commandeering the picnic tables picking up resupply, sorting it out, looking gritty with that 10 mile stare, and gorging at the cafe. Start a JMT SOBO too early in June in a normal or high snow yr going at a 15 MPD pace you can expect some travel on snow. Since you stated your experience level starting a JMT SOBO 3-4 th wk of June start would be my rec as by then some PCT NOBOers will have or be going through the JMT so they'll show the path if there's snow on the ground. Too early and it can be hard finding trail and passes if they are snow covered if you're not familiar with the JMT or PCT and not rocking GPS or navigational skills.


    June isn't yet that buggy a month.


    JMT SOBO permits are competitive to get. Many JMT permit threads and posts have been discussed ad nauseam here on WB and elsewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikearoo View Post

    - How many people are on the trail at this time? I want to do it around the same time as the PCT people are going through.
    When you meet a thruhiker don't make eye contact, treat them just like you do that crazy guy you see on a bus muttering to himself. It only encourages them to think you are interested in hearing every detail of their awesome hike on a trail. Seriously, it's interesting to talk to them for about 20 minutes. Any longer than that you'll be drenching yourself in gas and looking for a match.

  9. #9
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Meanwhile...
    Heather Anderson, Anish, crossed into Oregon recently according to the photo she posted on Instagram today.
    Wayne

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