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JMT Questions.....

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JMT Questions.....

Postby Snowtrout » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:37 pm

After seeing all of the JMT hikers in Mammoth last July, my wife decided she wanted to hike the JMT in the summer of 2016. I said “let’s do it” and when we got back to Fresno, we ended up doing a 6 day 45 mile test trip through Bench Valley and Red Mountain Basin to see if we could do multi mileage days in a row at elevation. Trip went great with no real issues. So last fall I started reading lots of past JMT trail reports on this site and others, had my wife read the JMT book by Elizabeth Wenk and purchased the National Geo JMT map guide. We came up with a loose trip itinerary (TM to MTR in 8-9 days depending on if we stop at VVR and MTR to Whitney in 9 days), applied for a permit and got one of our days: June 19. Yes it is early and I am guessing that we will not know for sure if it is possible due to snow until around June 1st or after some trail reports from the PCT groups. Regardless, in my search for info, I have a few questions that I hope the community here at HST can answer (I can list our itinerary if that would help).

What areas would you suggest not to camp at due to high wind areas, high bug/animal areas, too many people camping, etc?

Besides the ford at Evolution Creek in Evolution Meadow, are there any other water crossings that might be high and possibly dangerous in late June/early July? I can’t seem to find too much on other fords we may face.

If we do decide to visit VVR, which trail would be a better option to join back up with the JMT: Bear Ridge or Bear Creek?

Blayney Hot Springs: definitely worth stopping at or more of a on the trail decision? (If we stop at VVR, not really as much of a “need” I’m guessing).

The no name lakes north, south and west of Forester pass, any fish in these lakes and/or would they be worth fishing?

Time permitting, I would like to fish the western Crabtree lake before making our last night camp at Guitar lake. Would we have to follow the trail back towards the Crabtree Ranger Station or is it possible to off trail it to Timberline lake, then up to Guitar? Or would Hitchcock Lake be a better lake to try and fish to finish out our last night?

Any other suggestions you would make for us?



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Re: JMT Questions.....

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:10 pm

Time permitting, I would like to fish the western Crabtree lake before making our last night camp at Guitar lake. Would we have to follow the trail back towards the Crabtree Ranger Station or is it possible to off trail it to Timberline lake, then up to Guitar? Or would Hitchcock Lake be a better lake to try and fish to finish out our last night?


Crabtree Lakes is worth skipping the Guitar Lakes area, unless you are ones that have to follow the official JMT, you could camp at Crabtree Lake instead and use Discovery Pass to hook up with the trail at Trail Crest, drop your pack, summit Whitney, descend and pick up packs, and head down to the portal.

Route from Upper Crabtree to Discovery Pass is in red, this a solid class 2, so only consider if you have the experience.
HST Map

What areas would you suggest not to camp at due to high wind areas, high bug/animal areas, too many people camping, etc?

Any exposed areas could have high winds, find natural wind blocks when looking for campsites. Most places that get high usage, are going to have animals, especially larger animals like deer and bear, and smaller critters like squirrels and marmots (in higher rocky areas).
Bear areas: Lyell Canyon, 1000 Is Lake, Lake Virgina, Rae Lakes, Vidette Meadow, and any other places large crowds of people camp, these are easily avoidable by hiking off trail for a short distance and away from organized campsites. For example camping at Dragon Lake instead of the main Rae Lakes, will give you more solitude. Camping away from the shores of 1000 Is Lake and in the forested areas north of the lake will also allow you to avoid crowds and bears.

Besides the ford at Evolution Creek in Evolution Meadow, are there any other water crossings that might be high and possibly dangerous in late June/early July? I can’t seem to find too much on other fords we may face.


All these can vary, making a moderate creek fall into the dangerous category depending on the melt and snow amounts in the upper basins feeding it.

Dangerous:
Bear Creek
North Fork Mono Creek

Moderate:
Evolution
Wallace
Wright
Silver
Tydall

Smaller:
Rush Creek (multiple fords)
Woods Creek
Rae Lake


If we do decide to visit VVR, which trail would be a better option to join back up with the JMT: Bear Ridge or Bear Creek?


VVR website:

South Bounders: To get back to the JMT (South) you can avoid going back on the lake trail to the switchbacks up Bear Ridge (7900’ to 9880’), by catching our vehicle hiker shuttle ($10.00) to either of the two alternative trails.

Bear Ridge trail on southern side of lake, trail head is at the spill-way. Mileage is 5.7 to junction of PCT/JMT. (elevation is 7665’ to 9880’) This is a great trail to use if you are north bound (PCT) and want to get to the resort; the trail is sandy and puts you out right at the dam. Simply walk on top of the dam (concrete) till it ends then walk up the shoreline to the lodge. (About 2 miles). We do not recommend this trail to hikers who want to join the PCT/JMT southbound (loose, dry and steep)
Bear Creek Cut-off trail to Bear Creek trail is the recommended trail for South Bounders to get back to the PCT/JMT. Very pretty trail runs right up the canyon along Bear Creek, picturesque and elevation gain is minimal. (7560’ to 8985’) Mileage total is 10.2.

If you go back the same way you came in using the lake trail your mileage to this junction is 12.4 miles. So, you save time, a couple of miles and a whole lotta switchbacks (Dry & Steep) by using this alternative.


The no name lakes north, south and west of Forester pass, any fish in these lakes and/or would they be worth fishing?


Post this question in the "Fishing Hole". :nod:
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Re: JMT Questions.....

Postby LMBSGV » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:59 pm

these are easily avoidable by hiking off trail for a short distance and away from organized campsites.


It's possible to experience solitude at your campsite on the JMT by following this simple advice. When you and your wife have a good idea of where you might be going each day, even if it's each morning of the trip, make your best estimation of where you'll end up that day, look at the map and see what looks like a good possibility a quarter to half-mile from the trail. Whether it's hiking further along the shore or to the other side of the lake, following the creek a little ways, or walking to the nearby off-trail tarn, you'll have a richer, more rewarding wilderness experience. You may run into a lot of people on the trail, but (hopefully) you'll be able to watch the sunset in silence and solitude.
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Re: JMT Questions.....

Postby Snowtrout » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:40 pm

Maverick, thank you for the info. Breaking down the water crossings was exactly what I was looking for. Having that info will give us a better awareness of where and what to possibly expect. I heard that the Rae lakes area was busy so I choose Dollar lake as our stop in that area. Lyell Canyon, being our first night out area, means we need to be very bear aware if Yogi and his buddies like to hang out in there. Crabtree is somewhere I hope we can go but Discovery Pass is beyond our abilities so it sounds like we would have to backtrack if we went there. It's looking like we are going to stop at VVR, going over Goodale pass, so thank you for the info on what trails VVR suggest to get back on the JMT. And yes, I will post a question about the Forester pass lakes on the fishing board. :D

LMBSGV, thank you for the advice. We had been told by others to do the same thing so it re-enforces that great point. Some of our nightly stops on our itinerary are slightly off the trail for that reason. :)
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Re: JMT Questions.....

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:53 pm

I thought Dollar Lake was disgusting. When I walked past it there were actually soap bubbles on the lake. I thought Arrowhead Lake was a bit better. I saw some camp sites on the northwest side, off the trail. In the case of Rae Lakes, I may be inclined to put up with more people because of the more scenic location. All of the lakes are highly impacted, it is just a matter of degrees. Might as well choose the most scenic location.
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Re: JMT Questions.....

Postby balance » Sat Apr 02, 2016 2:46 pm

Greetings Snowtrout

First of all, you're lucky to have a wife who will hike the JMT with you. That's pretty cool.

When I begin a new adventure (parachuting, sailing, yoga, whatever) it's always an advantage to thoroughly read up on the subject. It helps to be well informed and prepared. Then I like to be around experienced people and learn from them, which is what you're doing here.

However, in this case, you might skip all that reading stuff. Just watch "Jeremiah Johnson" and "The Revenant", and you'll be totally prepared to handle anything that might happen in the mountains. :^o

Peace.
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Re: JMT Questions.....

Postby wildhiker » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:40 pm

As for Blayney Hot Springs...

It's nice if you can get there early in the day before the crowds. But on your early season hike, you may not be able to get there at all. You have to ford the South Fork San Joaquin River to get from the trail to the hot springs. This was about a 40 foot long knee deep ford when I did it in August 2004. I suspect it will be running too deep and too swift to ford in late June or early July.

-Phil
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Re: JMT Questions.....

Postby ericZ » Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:29 pm

I'd hike up Bear Ridge from VVR. then you can tell people how you hiked those crazy 17 bazillion switchbacks through stands of quaking aspen without stopping and their jaws will drop. always good at parties. :)

eric
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