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On trail crowds

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Re: On trail crowds

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Mar 13, 2016 9:35 am

I think the trail is more crowded in recent years than in 2008.

I walked a few sections of the trail in the last five years and when going south-to-north I never "waited in line" but did meet over 30 people coming the other direction. I think more people do it north-to-south so I was going against the flow. It will be interesting to see if the new permit limits out of Yosemite will reduce north-to-south hikers. If you hike faster than the average, you also will be passing people going the same direction. But, just about everyone you meet or pass is pretty polite and friendly about the encounter. I am probably viewed as the old grouch, since a "hi" or "excuse me" is about all I ever say when I meet someone. I feel no compulsion to strike up a conversation. If you like to socialize, fine, if not, fine too. It is your hike, do it as you wish.

The "crowd" issue is more of how much seeing lots of people during the day adds or detracts from your enjoyment than any actual delays. The only delay I have had is waiting a few minutes for a group to cross a stream on rocks. Tops of passes also can get quite clogged. The last few years I have seen more trail crowding due to day-use hikers and trail runners than actual JMT backpackers. Day-use is not controlled so as you near the trailheads it can get quite crowded. I have recently found the Minarets quite crowded. Early July could also see the tail end of the PCT hikers.

There is absolutely no reason to be crowded at camp if you are simply willing to move off the trail and avoid the established campsites.

I know a lot of people like the Hot Springs at Muir Ranch, but I thought the campsite was disgusting. I would get in and out of there as quickly as possible. That campsite really needs a solar out house.

Personally, I would only consider doing the JMT off-season. Particularly after Muir Ranch and Edison ferry close, there will be few people on the trail. But that is just me. All the chatty people I met on the trail seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

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Re: On trail crowds

Postby edhyatt » Sun Mar 13, 2016 12:17 pm

I agree with quite a lot of the above.

Certainly camping well away from 'guide book hotspots' is a good idea. I find other criteria help as well....but won't share those here being a selfish type :smirk:

I hit the JMT after 19 days off-trail last summer; somewhat amazed to find it was not that crowded (early August) - that said I was probably ready for some company after 6 weeks of being on my own on one trail or another! Even then by moving off-trail for even 100m it was easy enough to find evening solitude.

If work allowed and opportunity arose I'd be in the Sierras in September of any year of choice; sadly this will have to wait....a while..

...so I'll hit the Wind Rivers next year and embrace the solitude...

With a New Guidebook - Wandering Daisy :) ?
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Re: On trail crowds

Postby frozenintime » Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:42 pm

as the author of the post that maverick linked to above, i thought i might chime in on our experience after all of the good advice we received last year.

despite our worrying, the HST was quite solitary and lovely for us.
granted, we went after labor day and started from lodgepole on a monday (i think!).

we typically saw 2-5 people a day, most coming the other way. (all were kind and courteous i.e. no one jamming bob marley out of a solar powered jukebox or whatever.)

i'd recommend buck creek as a first night site.

moraine lake had a crowd of tents, but it would've been easy to avoid all of them by camping on the far side (i.e. south side) of the lake, or at sky parlor meadow, which was beautiful. ultimately, we elected to camp with the hoard that night.

kern hot springs also had some folks but we found a spot just to the north of rock creek and poof, we were alone again.

everywhere else we were alone, including at the tarn just above guitar lake.

have a great trip.
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