Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 26
  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-01-2012
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    141
    Images
    1

    Default My JMT hike ended early, trail conditions, new fires, and bailouts.

    Well, my hike is over much sooner than planned and I’m typing this from a motel in Fresno. Meanwhile, my truck is on the other side of the Sierras in Mammoth, our car is at Whitney Portal, and my resupply bucket is still at MTR.

    We got a late start (around 4 pm), entering at Mammoth Pass to Red Cones as mentioned in the Ferguson Fire thread, and spent our first night at Deer Creek. It was nice and clear the whole way, no signs of smoke except what we could see over the mountains to the northwest. The next day took us from Deer Creek, past Purple Lake and up the climb to Virgina Lake, where we saw the smoke rolling in. It got quite noticeable and began to affect the lungs of my 20 yr old son, who I think was also not quite acclimated to the 10,500’ altitude yet. So we pushed on through past Tully Hole to Fish Creek which is right about 9,000’ altitude. That seemed to help and he started to normalize.

    We spent a smoky night there thinking it was blowing over us from the Ferguson Fire. We found out the next day that the smoke was actually from a new lightning strike fire south of Mammoth. Even worse was that my 17 yr old told me that he didn’t sleep at all that night due to his eye itching. I took a look at it......Pink Eye. He’s had it before, but it had been a few years. Our hike was now over and I had to decide on our bailout plan. I didn’t want him spending another sleepless night on the trail if possible.

    We were right at the base of Silver Pass, and after looking at the maps I decided that the best plan was to head toward VVR via the ferry at Edison Lake. It was a little smoky in the morning, but generally clear the rest of the day, The 17 year old, who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion, in tremendous physical shape and would normally hike circles around myself and his older brother, was dragging throughout the day and struggled to make it up Silver Pass. But he gave it everything he had, despite his eye being swollen and shut, and he made me proud. We finally came up wit his trail name....”Cyclops”. After 8 strenuous hours of pushing as hard as he could, we missed the afternoon ferry by barely 5 minutes (we heard the boat engine fire up and pull away) and had to spend the night on the beach at Edison Lake. That evening, the smoke rolled in over Edison Lake and our campsite.

    We caught the morning boat the next day and got to Vermilion. The rooms and trailers were all booked up as I thought they would likely be, but they did make us breakfast despite being past normal breakfast hours. I talked to Jim, the owner of VVR about how they normally handle bailouts from the JMT. He said he would arrange to get us a shuttle to Fresno for the next day (which is today). So we had a wonderful New York steak dinner last night, and other than a few incourteous drunks who wandered to their tents after midnight while laughing and talking at the top of their voices, apparently oblivious to those around them who were trying to sleep, we spent a nice night in the tents.

    This morning, there were several others who needed to bailout, so Jim asked me if my boys and I would be willing to give up our seats on his arranged shuttle and he would drive us out later that morning. We accepted his offer of a discount on breakfast and, after an outstanding omelette, he drove us down to Fresno in his truck. By the way, if you weren’t aware, the “road” out of VVR, while paved, isn’t really a road. It’s a one lane, pothole filled bump fest for 30 miles and 1.5 hours or so before hitting the main road for another 70 miles into Fresno. Jim is a great guy who told us stories about VVR, some of the interesting guests he’s had, and his experiences running the resort. Make sure you meet him if you go there.

    So anyway, my JMT hike ended sooner than planned, but we had fun and it was a good lesson on knowing your bailout options should one become necessary. We got drops for my son’s eye, and I expect him to get much better sleep tonight. I have to rent a car tomorrow, drive it over Sonora Pass (the 120 is still closed) pick up my truck in Mammoth, and drop the rental car off at the Mammoth Lakes airport. Then we need to pick up our car at Whitney Portal and drive both back down to Southern California. I may make this a 2 day thing.

    To those planning a JMT hike in the next couple weeks, you will almost certainly encounter smoke to some degree, regardless of where you start or your direction of travel. Most people we talked to on the trail just hiked on through it. They did not seem too bothered by it and did not intend to change their plans. It only bothered us on the climb southbound after Purple Lake, although it seemed to only bother my son when combined with the altitude. I personally didn’t find it too uncomfortable, although I’d certainly prefer to hike in the normally clean Sierra air.

    Temps are a little warm during the day on the northern half of the trail, mid 80’s, but not too chilly at night, with our nights mainly being in the low 40’s, possibly high 30’s at Deer Creek. My 25-35 degree JRB quilt was plenty comfortable, and I‘m generally a cold sleeper. I suspect it’s a bit chillier at night in the higher altitudes on the southern part of the trail.

    Now to plan for next years JMT hike.....

  2. #2
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,088
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Well, thats unfortunate.

    My son is about the only person I normally hike with.
    You illustrate an unfortunate fact though that many newer hikers dont appreciate. ..Additional people increase chances of problems that can end a hike, if your tied to them. This is why LD hiking is solo activity mostly imo.

    Yep, always smoke /fire somewhere in CA. You cant let that stop you or youll never be able to go.

    Walk around lake at VVR is a nice walk. Trail is mostly flat shady, pine needle cushioned trail with just one small rocky rise you climb. No need to let 6 mi (2 hrs )of easy walking keep you from good food. VVR is great, in fact its perfect. Off grid , hard to get to, oasis . Great food. I think Jim is trying to sell it. Come in for near-0, dinner, bkfast, lunch, shower, bed and leave refreshed.

    You may or may not have realized it, but you could have a gone right to goodale pass before Silver pass and gotten to VVR easier. VVR promotes this route.....especially when ferry isnt running.....so people arent discouraged by the distance and trail to get there. Same reason they promote an easy shuttle out and skip bear ridge.....they want to make it easy for lazy people to get there and back to trail. People that they otherwise wouldnt get their business. Completely self-serving reccomendations. They reccomend persons hiking JMT....skip 12% of it.

    Better luck next time.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 08-05-2018 at 09:14.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  3. #3
    imscotty's Avatar
    Join Date
    11-13-2011
    Location
    North Reading, MA
    Age
    58
    Posts
    1,130
    Images
    7

    Default

    Sorry to hear of your travails, hope the boys had enough fun to want to come back and try to do this again with you sometime.
    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


    John Greenleaf Whittier

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-01-2012
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    141
    Images
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    My son is about the only person I normally hike with.
    You illustrate an unfortunate fact though that many newer hikers dont appreciate. ..Additional people increase chances of problems that can end a hike, if your tied to them. This is why LD hiking is solo activity mostly imo.
    Agreed. My sons are the only ones I normally hike with as well, the majority of my hiking is solo. In this case though, my sons were actually the ones pushing to hike the JMT again, and I was glad to join them to spend time with them in the backcountry.
    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    You may or may not have realized it, but you could have a gone right to goodale pass before Silver pass and gotten to VVR easier.
    I was aware of Goodale Pass, but had never been on it and wasn’t sure of it’s conditions, if it was easier or more difficult than sticking to the JMT to the Edison Lake cutoff (which I’ve been on several times), and I was inclined to stick with the more populated trail in this case, as my son was was altogether not feeling well, not just in his eye. I’m a big believer in self reliance on the trail and I’ve never needed assistance in my 40+ years of hiking, but under the circumstances, I felt that assistance would be more readily available on the JMT should it become necessary.


    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Walk around lake at VVR is a nice walk. Trail is mostly flat shady, pine needle cushioned trail with just one small rocky rise you climb. No need to let 6 mi (2 hrs )of easy walking keep you from good food.
    It is a nice hike, and I did think about it. When I last did the JMT in 2012, we did the hike around Edison Lake to VVR, as the lake level was low and the ferry wasn’t running. The boys were 11 and 14 at the time, and had no problem with it. This time, the 17 yr old had little left but courage when we arrived at the ferry landing. After the day he’d had, I wasn’t going to push him to try to go another 6 miles or so. We just set up camp, had a nice dinner (albeit from a bag), and the older one swam in the lake. We were among the first on the ferry the next morning.

    Funny that you mentioned the shuttle from VVR back to the trail that skips Bear Ridge. We saw it on the sign in the store at VVR and that was one of the first things that I thought about, that it skips Bear Ridge. Section hiking can be quite enjoyable, and I’ve done numerous sections of the JMT over the years. But I would recommend to anyone actually thru-hiking the JMT to do as much of the actual JMT as possible. I can see how it would be tempting to skip sections like Bear Ridge, but I would recommend skipping sections only when you have no choice (can’t get permit to start from Yosemite Valley, etc.) or when safety dictates (lightning storm approaching on your Whitney summit day). Otherwise, I feel you’ll get much more satisfaction by not skipping sections, all of which are quite beautiful.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-01-2012
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    141
    Images
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by imscotty View Post
    Sorry to hear of your travails, hope the boys had enough fun to want to come back and try to do this again with you sometime.
    Thank you. There were certainly some travails, but it was overall a very positive experience and we had fun. We had some quality time together, and they’re already saying that they want to do it again.

    There was one kid up there who was flown out by helicopter for a sprained ankle, while his parents walked out. Now I don’t know the severity of the injury, etc. so it’s not something I can accurately assess, but I think I would have been more inclined to fashion a splint using the triangular bandage that I always carry, and something somewhat rigid (possibly my Ursack wrapped around it), and some crutches from our trekking poles and made it out on our own. Certainly, there are times when assistance may be necessary, but self reliance is much better if it’s an option, as you may find yourself in a situation where such aid is not readily available and if you don’t have the skills, you could find yourself in big trouble.

    Although relatively minor, I was able to teach my boys at least a little self reliance, as well as being willing to bail out when necessary.

    I take a light hearted attitude toward the whole trip, the troubles we had were no big deal in the big picture of things, and I am thankful for the time that we had. We’ll plan to come back next year.

  6. #6
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,088
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DaFireMedic View Post

    Funny that you mentioned the shuttle from VVR back to the trail that skips Bear Ridge. We saw it on the sign in the store at VVR and that was one of the first things that I thought about, that it skips Bear Ridge. Section hiking can be quite enjoyable, and I’ve done numerous sections of the JMT over the years. But I would recommend to anyone actually thru-hiking the JMT to do as much of the actual JMT as possible. I can see how it would be tempting to skip sections like Bear Ridge
    Im quite amazed that anyone hiking entire JMT would skip Bear Ridge, but VVR has convinced them too. People hear 2000' and switchbacks and decide to skip. Some people are easy to convince. Like women i met on CT at twin lakes, dead set on not doing collegiate west due to minor snow. Snow wasnt even close to being issue. Couldnt convince them otherwise....they missed one of two best parts of CT.

    I met another hiker a few days south of there, and discussed it. We both found rhat the bear ridge switchbacks were as easy as switchbacks could be. Low angle, soft pine needle trail, mostly shaded.

    We both described the switchbacks as ... pleasant. Especially coming recharged out of VVR .
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  7. #7
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,088
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Double post
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 08-06-2018 at 09:54.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  8. #8

    Default

    DFM, I'm sorry about your son's pinkeye but so glad you were able to still salvage some fun and enthusiasm for another trip. Good luck with the vehicle retrieval - and know that this will be a week that you and your sons look back on and laugh about for years, the trips where the crap hits the fan always make the best stories!

    In particular I wanted to say thanks for the detailed conditions report from Mammoth pass to VVR; my wife and I will be on that section in less than two weeks and it has been hard to get first-hand reports on conditions while actually hiking that stretch - so much appreciated.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-01-2012
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    141
    Images
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HighlandsHiker View Post
    DFM, I'm sorry about your son's pinkeye but so glad you were able to still salvage some fun and enthusiasm for another trip. Good luck with the vehicle retrieval - and know that this will be a week that you and your sons look back on and laugh about for years, the trips where the crap hits the fan always make the best stories!
    In particular I wanted to say thanks for the detailed conditions report from Mammoth pass to VVR; my wife and I will be on that section in less than two weeks and it has been hard to get first-hand reports on conditions while actually hiking that stretch - so much appreciated.
    Thank you HH. We will indeed remember it fondly, and are already talking about doing the JMT northbound next year. We’ve never attempted it NB before.

    We were able to pick up the vehicles with no problems, and had the opportunity to produce a final bit of “trail magic” for 4 hikers who had finshed their hike and were looking for a ride down from Whitney Portal to Lone Pine in the late afternoon. Someone had done the same for us 6 years ago.

  10. #10

    Default

    Thank you for taking the time report on your trip. Sorry to see your leaving early but glad that yall enjoyed yourselves.

    I fly into Mammoth tomorrow evening, starting our nobo thru attempted on Sunday.

    THanks for the real time info on smoke conditions. I am a little concerned about the combination of elevation and smoke especially since we are starting at the highest elevations of the trail.

  11. #11
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
    Join Date
    02-25-2007
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Age
    51
    Posts
    3,645
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Im quite amazed that anyone hiking entire JMT would skip Bear Ridge, but VVR has convinced them too. People hear 2000' and switchbacks and decide to skip. Some people are easy to convince...
    ...We both found rhat the bear ridge switchbacks were as easy as switchbacks could be. Low angle, soft pine needle trail, mostly shaded.
    We both described the switchbacks as ... pleasant. Especially coming recharged out of VVR .
    That's what I was thinking... yea, bear ridge is a 2,000' climb, but 2,000' is a typical day along JMT.

    Looking at maps, I assume this alternate path is Bear Creek Trail. If so, you still have to climb back to the JMT. That means the only thing you're saving is that 1,000' difference between the top of Bear Ridge and the Bear Creek Tr intersection.

  12. #12
    Rain Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    08-07-2003
    Location
    Nashville, Tennessee
    Age
    67
    Posts
    5,990
    Images
    620

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    That's what I was thinking... yea, bear ridge is a 2,000' climb, but 2,000' is a typical day along JMT.
    Meanwhile, my practice hikes in the Smokies have been in the 3,000' to 4,000' range. Baxter Creek Trail up Mt. Sterling (two weekends ago) was right at 4,100'.

    I set foot on the JMT at Happy Isles (fingers crossed right now) on August 28th.
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

    www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker

    .

  13. #13
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
    Join Date
    02-25-2007
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Age
    51
    Posts
    3,645
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    Meanwhile, my practice hikes in the Smokies have been in the 3,000' to 4,000' range. Baxter Creek Trail up Mt. Sterling (two weekends ago) was right at 4,100'.

    I set foot on the JMT at Happy Isles (fingers crossed right now) on August 28th.
    Praying that the smoke from the fires clear up for you.
    Hiking the JMT was the greatest adventure of my life.

  14. #14

    Default

    I leave for Mammoth in 2 hours. Im being challenged before I even walk out of the door...

    Apparently my package with my trekking poles, stove, stakes and knife have been bounced back to my home. The Mammoth PO is closed on the weekends making an overnight return almost impossible.

    Looks like Im buying some near gear in Mammoth!

    This is gonna be some kind of adventure for sure.

  15. #15
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,088
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    That's what I was thinking... yea, bear ridge is a 2,000' climb, but 2,000' is a typical day along JMT.
    .
    Always depends on pace
    You can have a 5000' + day in shenandoah
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  16. #16

    Default

    I leave for Mammoth in 2 hours. Im being challenged before I even walk out of the door...

    Apparently my package with my trekking poles, stove, stakes and knife have been bounced back to my home. The Mammoth PO is closed on the weekends making an overnight return almost impossible.

    Looks like Im buying some near gear in Mammoth!

    This is gonna be some kind of adventure for sure.

  17. #17
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,088
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by blue indian View Post
    I leave for Mammoth in 2 hours. Im being challenged before I even walk out of the door...

    Apparently my package with my trekking poles, stove, stakes and knife have been bounced back to my home. The Mammoth PO is closed on the weekends making an overnight return almost impossible.

    Looks like Im buying some near gear in Mammoth!

    This is gonna be some kind of adventure for sure.
    Curious how long it was there.
    Packages are often not held long at some po . They are not required to hold 30 day like mail
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  18. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-01-2012
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    141
    Images
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by blue indian View Post
    I leave for Mammoth in 2 hours. Im being challenged before I even walk out of the door...

    Apparently my package with my trekking poles, stove, stakes and knife have been bounced back to my home. The Mammoth PO is closed on the weekends making an overnight return almost impossible.

    Looks like Im buying some near gear in Mammoth!

    This is gonna be some kind of adventure for sure.
    Mammoth Mountaineering is a good store there that will have everything you might need, and there are several other sporting equipment stores with hiking gear as well. There are two pretty good thrift stores in town also. My son forgot his trekking poles so we picked up a pair of composite ski poles that were his size from 2nd Chance Thrift (right near the Vons) for $10.

  19. #19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by blue indian View Post
    I leave for Mammoth in 2 hours. Im being challenged before I even walk out of the door...

    Apparently my package with my trekking poles, stove, stakes and knife have been bounced back to my home. The Mammoth PO is closed on the weekends making an overnight return almost impossible.

    Looks like Im buying some near gear in Mammoth!

    This is gonna be some kind of adventure for sure.


    I just tracked my package and it is in the process of being returned by the Mammoth post office as well! It was to be delivered to a hotel in town, I even called the hotel while standing in my home post office to re-verify the address - very frustrating. Luckily I don't fly out for a week - hopefully my gear will make it back to me before I leave. Was hoping to avoid having to check bags

  20. #20

    Default

    Just an update: I talked with the personnel in the Mammoth Lake PO, there is no mail delivery in Mammoth Lakes, everything is POB only. When I called my hotel last week (and told them I was mailing a package) I was given their street address; I used USPS Priority Mail and when my package was received at Mammoth Lakes PO they saw only the street address and without hesitation (same day) immediately sent it back to me. It would've been nice for them to look up the hotel's POB - the hotel's
    name was clearly labeled - but that didn't happen.

    Lesson here: either send to yourself at the Mammoth Lake PO as "General Delivery" or if staying in town use UPS to send your box.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
++ New Posts ++

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •