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John Muir Trail for a Week

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John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby slowlytherage » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:24 am

Looking for suggestions!

I am planning to get on the trail for a week in early August and have had trouble finding permits (obviously). I anticipate heading to Rush Creek in hopes of securing a walk in permit me and one other person. Is Rush Creek a good spot to attempt to get a walk in? Any other spots come to mind?

In this scenario Id be entering Rush Creek, refilling Muir Station, and exiting Le Conte Valley Ranger Station...Anyone have thoughts on this section of the JMT? Alternative entry points or sections?

Thank you for your help, it is greatly appreciated!



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Re: John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby markskor » Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:43 am

Ambitious itinerary for a week...Kudos!

Assuming your intended Rush Creek TH is the one off the June Lake Loop?
Yes, this would be an easy, walk-up permit to obtain. August...hot, North-facing, no shade, 2,000 feet straight up in the first 2 miles, just starting out, packs full...new legs - at altitude...sigh. (Obviously, you are a better man than me.) IMHO, that time of year, that trail serves better those who are coming down.

However, lots of interesting trail relics to be seen, here and there - rusty machines/cables/etc... tramway/penstocks along a good stretch of Rush Creek upper. Nice little store at TH...YARTS bus stop convenient too.

Personally, I would try for a "next day"/walk up out of Tuolumne Meadows (Parker/Koip Pass) or Mammoth (Reds Meadows area), but be assured, you will see little competition in the permit line for that intended TH.
Good luck!
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Re: John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby maverick » Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:13 pm

Hi Slowlytherage,

Welcome to HST!

Mark is absolutely right in his recommendation, you should considering an alternative to Rush Creek/Silver Lake in August.

Parker/Koip Pass is a good one, especially since you will not have any of the issues associated with the quota system of JMT/ Donohue Pass, but this is only if you can add a day or two to your trip.

Since the two of you are getting walk-in permits, Agnew Meadow, Shadow Lake, Minaret Lakes, and Reds Meadow are some alternative starting points that do not excluding to much of the Minarets. The Agnew Meadows trailhead start, in via the High Trail or River Trail, would ensure that you did not miss 1000 Is Lake or Garnet Lake.
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Re: John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:16 pm

Just be sure to get a crack-of-dawn start and you should not have problems with heat. You WILL be sorry if you start late! I kind of like Rush Creek TH. I never considered it all that difficult. It is a very direct link to the JMT via Waugh Lake. Look at the current Google Earth images- is shows the lake above Gem Lake as depleted, nearly empty. Was that emptied for repairs? Is it going to be filled this spring? Prettier if it gets some water, but not a big issue if your objective is simply to connect with JMT quickly.

There is a smaller trail that goes up to Summit Lake from Gem Lake and then drops to Thousand Island Lake. THAT trail is really steep! Although longer, with a starting heavier weight pack, the main trail past Waugh Lake is better.

If you go in from Tuolumne via Parker/Koip passes, it will likely take another day. That route is beautiful, but much harder than just biting the bullet and going up the hill from Rush Creek. Even though you start at a higher elevation, you still have to go up and then down considerably (hard on knees).
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Re: John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:57 pm

Sorry - the steep trail to Summit Lake takes off from the outlet of Agnew Lake, NOT Gem Lake. I believe it is Waugh Lake that is low to empty on the Google Earth images.
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Re: John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby balzaccom » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:31 pm

Sorry - the steep trail to Summit Lake takes off from the outlet of Agnew Lake, NOT Gem Lake. I believe it is Waugh Lake that is low to empty on the Google Earth images.


That's right, Daisy. And that's another trail that really needs an early morning start, when it is in shade. Once the sun hits it, that trail is just steep trail and heat reflecting rocks!

But Clark Lakes, at the top, is a nice place to camp...
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Re: John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby maverick » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:50 pm

Sorry - the steep trail to Summit Lake takes off from the outlet of Agnew Lake, NOT Gem Lake.


Yes, the steep trail is the southern branch leading up to Spooky Meadow, which can have carpets of wildflowers, but your trip will be way past the height of wildflower season, and even with a great showing, that trail is very steep, especially with a full pack and on your first day.

IMO the Agnew and Gem Lakes areas are some of the least scenic in the Minarets, the only positive part of that trail, is that it connects with the JMT , if you go the Waugh Lake route, which then takes you to Island Pass, it has some sublime views of 1000 Is Lake, otherwise the High Trail out of Agnew Meadow, which puts you at the outlet of 1000 Is Lake, is much more powerful scenery wise.

Rush Creek>Clark>1000 Is Lake (this is the fastest) 9.7 miles/2560 ft
Rush Creek>Waugh 12.7 miles
Agnew Meadow>1000 Is Lake (High Trail) 7.6 miles/1500 ft
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Re: John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:18 pm

There are also permit and trailhead access issues.

Agnew Meadow is harder to get a permit and you have to take the shuttle or go before 7AM (still have to pay the entry fee) and cannot retrieve the car after 7AM or before some time in the evening (cannot remember exact time). The route is pretty and has less elevation gain, but I have usually "wasted" an hour or so just with the shuttle logistics. Perhaps it would be best to try to reserve a permit for Agnew, and if not possible, either get a walk-in or cancelled reservation (becomes available 11 AM) at the Mono Lake visitor center (if coming from the north) or the Mammoth Lake visitor center (if coming from the south). If this also fails, then a Rush Creek permit has been in the past, almost always available. With the new permit regulations for the JMT, it is hard to say exactly what will happen this year. Could be a lot of people are doing just as you are trying to do. And with each approach, only the reserved permit lets you do a night box pick-up. If you have to get the permit the same day, you will not get a very early start.
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Re: John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:23 pm

If coming out South Lake (I assume that is what you mean by exit at LeConte RS), why not just reverse the route? Less permit problems, perhaps? You may even be able to get a permit all the way to Tuolumne or even Yosemite Valley.
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Re: John Muir Trail for a Week

Postby Ikan Mas » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:24 pm

Here's a trip that includes entering on Rush Creek.

http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6841

Yes, it is hot if you go up later in the day, but you the well-hydrated backpacker will be just fine (really, its not that bad). What is bad, is that you will pass any number of day hiking families whose children have no water and will be on the verge of heat stroke! Kind of grinds my gears to see kids in such sad shape.
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