So Much for the John Muir Trail

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powderhound
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by powderhound » Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:20 pm

Whelp, I forgot to convert my fractions to percents...so I guess I was off a couple orders of magnitude. You guys are right, it isn't nearly as bad as I thought. Still not great odds, but not 'rafting in the grand canyon' bad, which I guess has also switched to a lottery system so it's not as bad as it used to be.

The funny thing is, I was staring at maps for a couple hours before someone pointed out my mistake on here, and I came up with a few ideas for hikes. One is starting at Courtright Reservoir and hiking over Hell for Sure pass, through Goddard Canyon to Evolution Valley, and then hiking South and doing either the western or eastern half of the Big SEKI loop and exiting at Crescent Meadow. I don't mind repeating parts of the SEKI loop, especially the north-west portions or heading over Colby Pass, and I've never been near Courtright Reservoir or Hell for Sure Pass (the name caught my attention, as did disappointment lake--it made me wonder if someone was hoping to keep that area a secret or if it really is hell).

Also, there are the walk-up permits at TM as has been pointed out, as well as Parker/Mono Pass which would let me join the JMT just south of Donahue. I remember passing a few conga lines when I hiked a portion of the JMT in 2015, and I'm trying to decide if the crowds are worth it now that people are reminding me of them. Finding a site near Rae Lakes was a problem even at 3pm that year. I could also do the big SEKI loop but start/end at Crescent Meadows and day hike Whitney if the weather is nice.

In the back of my head I know I'm still nervous about all the bears in the more remote regions of Kings Canyon, but I also realize I should get over that fear. I've just seen so many every time I've gone off the heavily trafficked trails, and it really is comforting to have another hiker along when mama black bear and her cubs stroll across the trail 100 yards in front of you...this summer I expect it will be just me out there. I guess there's a section on this forum for that too though.








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wandering_biped
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by wandering_biped » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:24 am

I hiked the JMT last July SOBO. I only had a permit for HI > TM via Illiloutte. There were 5 of us for this stretch. When I went to pick up the permits the day prior I asked if they happened to have any permits for HI > TM but staying at LYV. They had 5 so I grabbed those.

At TM 3 of my friends were going home so it'd be just 2 of us left to finish. Our plan had always bee to get walk ups from there. I got in line at 5:30am and was the first person in line. By 8am there were about 30 people in line but only one other person was trying for the same permit as us. TM > WP over Donohue Pass. 10 walk ups are available. They start handing them out at 11am but at 10am the ranger said someone cancelled so 2 became available today. I know its a little scary but I had lots of success last year with walk ups for other extremely popular hikes (Trans-Zion and Rae Lakes Loop).

I agree with others though. Many other places to see. Lots of friends ask me if I'll do it this year. "Nope! Did that, done that." Maybe in 10 years or so.

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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by Oubliet » Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:53 pm

Consider doing the Theodore Solomon's Trail. Among the many other choices out there. I did a segment from Clover Meadow to Courtwright Reservoir several years ago. It was nice to not encounter anyone until we got close to Florence Lake and the Dinkey Lakes.

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AlmostThere
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by AlmostThere » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:06 pm

I would say that the majority of the people who reserved permits did not ever pick them up, and that people who had groups surrendered several spots to put them up for grabs, every single day.

If one or two people were all I had, I'd go walk in. I bet you would get something particularly if you show up midweek.

Actually... I wouldn't do the JMT at all. I get permits for other trailheads and do 5-14 days elsewhere in the Sierra, every year. I don't need to watch bears take people's food any more.

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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by AlmostThere » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:09 pm

Oubliet wrote:Consider doing the Theodore Solomon's Trail. Among the many other choices out there. I did a segment from Clover Meadow to Courtwright Reservoir several years ago. It was nice to not encounter anyone until we got close to Florence Lake and the Dinkey Lakes.

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Do part of it... be really careful of the part where it supposedly descends into Tehipite. The switchbacks are no longer maintained. And the sections of trail in Crown Valley area were heavily damaged by the Rough Fire, no doubt there are a zillion burnt up downed trees throughout and the trail crews haven't even gone out there in years. Also do not time that so that you reach the Kings River and are unable to cross it, ie early spring, and then have to backtrack over "the b*tch" -- people get rescued out of Tehipite each year when they go down there.

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longri
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by longri » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:01 am

AlmostThere wrote:I would say that the majority of the people who reserved permits did not ever pick them up...
I'm curious, what makes you think that? I've stood in line before for no shows and it was never anything like 50%.
AlmostThere wrote:I don't need to watch bears take people's food any more.
Is the JMT really the place to see bears in the Sierra? I've never seen a bear on the JMT and I've walked it a bunch of times, including seven times in the last seven years.

I've seen bears so rarely in the Sierra that I often think of them as mythical creatures.

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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:23 am

Oh, we were harassed every night by bears on the JMT. One bear came back four times. Had to start going way off somewhere random in the forest to avoid it. We picked up much trash that was obviously someone else's shredded food supply - people don't usually tear up their stuff with their teeth. Camping near other people only meant the bear went from them to us, or vice versa.

I never fail to get walk up permits in Yosemite. One summer I got walk ins three times running, for three weeks. Stayed in the backpacker camp for a night, showed up in the morning around ten, got another permit, went back out on the trail. Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Parker Pass, and Lyell Canyon going south.

I do see on the Yosemite website that the requests for JMT permits skyrocketed last year though - I don't think I would bother, that just means that even if 2/3 of them show up it'll be that much more crowded.

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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:28 am

I've seen bears everywhere -- Sonora Pass, all over Yosemite, in Kings Canyon we nearly hit one on the road and saw several hiking up to Paradise from Road's End. There were bear tracks through the campsite and a tooth mark in my little Plano full of lures in the morning once. We met a bear in the middle of a trail as I came around a corner - almost shook his hand. That was almost as much fun as the time I stepped on a coiled up rattlesnake - the adrenalin just surges through you like lightning. But the bear shook his head and walked away to tear up a pine tree across the river.

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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by powderhound » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:08 pm

Good tip about the Theodore Solomons Trail! I was just looking at that actually. It seems like a good option to get off the beaten path.

I didn't see any bears on the JMT in 2013, but I did encounter people who saw bears at the end of Lyell Canyon just before it starts climbing to Donahue Pass. A bear actually got someone's food there when I was camped higher up, as they packed too much and decided to hang what wouldn't fit into the canister. I wouldn't be surprised if more bears were becoming habituated along the trail now that it's seeing so many people though.

I've seen bears in Yosemite Valley and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River (the Pate Valley area is full of both bears and rattlesnakes), but I've never seen as many bears as I have in Kings Canyon/Sequoia NP. On the drive in to Crescent Meadows one year I saw 3 just crossing the road. In 2015 I hiked the Big SEKI loop clockwise from Road's End and saw at least 5 before meeting up with the JMT at the end of Le Conte Canyon.

I got a late start on my first day of the SEKI loop and didn't reach Granite Lake until the sun was setting. My friend and I set up our tents and were about to start cooking with headlamps on when a giant, golden-colored bear with cubs wandered out to the lake for a drink, about 50 yards from us. I was really glad to not be alone then, even if it was just a black bear...a really, really big one...with cubs. We just kept seeing more bears, especially around Simpson Meadow, until we hit the JMT. We didn't see any bears after that.

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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Post by schmalz » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:59 pm

Hiked the JMT nobo last year in early June. That permit is easy (cottonwood pass), and there were barely any people out there and I did not see one bear. It's still doable in the modern era to experience the trail and get a feeling of wilderness.
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