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Help me pick start date for JMT thru hike!

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Re: Help me pick start date for JMT thru hike!

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:35 pm

cahiker wrote:The camps on Sunrise Creek by the junction to Clouds Rest won't avoid "madness". When I was there last summer we chatted with a volunteer who was camped in the area so she could shoot the bears who came through the campsites every night with beanbags. Sure enough, about an hour after dark a bear came through our campsite, knocked over my bear canister (but not the other 4 we had) and wandered on. A few minutes later we heard a bunch of commotion as the bear apparently entered the next campsite...

The only time I ever camped at LYV was 2 years ago. Everyone was friendly and well-behaved, and there were no reports of bear activity. Someone near us had camped near the Clouds Rest junction the night before, and he said a bear had gotten into a Bear Vault. He showed us his Garcia canister which the bear had played with, but not gotten into - It was pretty scratched up, but was a rental so I'm not sure how much was from that bear.

I was talking about the crowds in LYV - not the bears. It was the noisiest "backcountry" (actually more like front country) place I have ever stayed, and people walked through our site with impunity.

As for the bears, they range the area widely looking for people to take advantage of. The ranger walked around warning us not to turn our backs on our food as the bears in the area have developed the habit of darting out and snatch food that's within your arm's length, and be gone almost before you turn back around. While hiking toward Bunnel's Cascade a few miles from LYV, we saw a bear and cub - moments later we saw a park employee who was following the bear. He explained that he was tracking the bear and encouraging her to depart the area as she is a big problem and wants to make sure she leaves. The bears are not always so active in any single area, but they are definitely a frequent problem in LYV. In any part of the area between Tuolumne Meadows all the way to Yosemite Valley I would anticipate a problem and be happy if none materializes. In the Tuolumne backpacker camp, there is a note on the sign instructing you to put even empty packs in the lockers as some of the bears will steal them to tear them up looking for food. A hammock camper had his pack attached to his hammock there - he was awakened by the bear yanking on it.

It does not surprise me at all that a Bear Vault was compromised in Yosemite. There was a bear famous for knowing how to get the lid off in the Adirondacks, and another in Kings Canyon that had developed yet another way of getting them open.

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Re: Help me pick start date for JMT thru hike!

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:45 pm

I looked on the CDEC snow site and the graphs shown that we are only at about 20% average snowpack now. The NOAA report (heard it on the radio so may have missed something) must have referred to 50% predicted snowpack even if we get a wet spring. In normal years mosquitoes are pretty much over by third week in July. If it is dry this year, you may miss the wildflowers if you go late. And if snowpack is 50% or less, peak flows in the rivers will be over well before July 1. Anyway, I would definitely skip the 4th July holiday period- Valley is a crowded mess then. But I do not think starting July 15 would be too early if you did not get your later choices and had to take an earlier one. I know a fellow who started July 1 last year and it worked out fine for him. Last year was a REALLY dry year. One potential disadvantage of a late start is forest fires. I was out last September, and actually saw the start of a fire in Yosemite (billowing smoke on the horizon). The JMT hikers were not allowed to go past Tuolumne because they closed the trail. In many years forest fire smoke has marred the beauty of the Sierra in late August. I believe there is less chance of forest fires earlier. Correct me if I am wrong about that. One other thing I like about early season is that the trail and camping areas are still fresh - they get really trampled by late August. I suspect you will have to take what you can get. But even a July 1 start permit this year should not be a deal breaker. I am sure you will have a great time no matter when you get that permit.
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