Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

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Does the JMT suck?

Yes
5
18%
Yes!
5
18%
Cake.
18
64%
 
Total votes: 28

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Lumbergh21
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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by Lumbergh21 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:53 pm

mckee80 wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:35 am
I do wonder about the generally accepted belief that those new to the wilderness treat it worse than those before them. There is certainly more awareness now, with signs at trailheads, videos you watch before you backpack in national parks, etc. It would be interesting to see some numbers on amount of garbage/misuse per number of people.
I agree. There are a lot of trail veterans or self-styled trail gurus who do a lot of destructive stuff. The few times I've said anything, I've gotten the "you don't understand, when you've been out on the trail as long as I have..." type of response. It seems to me that most of the young people who are out on the trail miles from the nearest trailhead really do want to do what is right and are very receptive to well meaning suggestions and advice.








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levi
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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by levi » Wed Mar 20, 2019 1:40 pm

Agreed, Lumbergh21. I can't help but think of Edward Abbey, who was a much better writer than LNT adherent. If he were alive I'm sure he'd still defend every abandoned beer bottle as a just middle finger raised against every mile of pavement. In his writings, he mostly mentions tossing beer bottles and cans out of car windows, but he must've abandoned plenty of them in wild campsites, too.

Leave No Trace should become Leave Negative Trace (pack out even more than what you packed in)... though it's not ideal when the prior generations' trash tends to be rusted-over, sharp, tetanus-causing cans :(

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by rightstar76 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 2:57 pm

Then there was the philosophical and eloquent Colin Fletcher:
...there is nothing like a wilderness journey for rekindling the fires of life. Simplicity is part of it. Cutting the cackle. Transportation reduced to leg - or arm - power, eating irons to one spoon. Such simplicity, together with sweat and silence, amplify the rhythms of any long journey, especially through unknown, untattered territory. And in the end such a journey can restore an understanding of how insignificant you are -- and thereby set you free.
River: One Man’s Journey Down the Colorado, Source to Sea, 1997, Page 7

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LonePine
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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by LonePine » Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:58 pm

I'm a little late to the party but after reading all the comments, I have some thoughts. I finished the JMT 6 years ago - hiking in sections over the course of several years. Every person I met (or group) on the trail was gracious and special. I attribute that to the backpacker mentality. People who enjoy backpacking have a special bond with one another. While on the trail, I always found spots where I was not bothered by crowds.

Once I ran into a group of students from an East coast college - at lease 15 people hiking the same direction I was going. They were just so happy to be out doing this "adventure." I hated constantly getting in front (when they would stop for a break) and then being passed by (I'm a slow hiker) but I haven't forgotten them - they are part of my fond memories of that trip. Just some thoughts ...

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by gdurkee » Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:45 pm

Well, I'm late to this also. Worse, I didn't read the entire thread so I'll probably repeat someone else's brilliant observations. As I've said elsewhere, my first year on the JMT (not hiking the whole thing...) was 1966 or so. By 1971 I was working in Little Yosemite Valley as a ranger. I'm extremely happy to report things are much, much, much better. Also, your original post isn't at all an unpopular opinion. I heard that by the mid 70s. It's true that there are more people now on the JMT, and hiking in general, than there have been since the 70s which, I think, was the high point -- fewer restrictions on party size and the baby boom generation began hiking.

Good news: hikers today are way better at minimum impact -- they make fewer fires, leave less trash and, generally, are more respectful of the landscape and their fellow hikers. Sure, there's teeth-grinding exceptions but it gets better. This is borne out by actual field studies. Campsite surveys have been done since about '75. There's fewer campsites, they're smaller in impacted area, they're farther from water, and there's less trammeling of meadows and other fragile vegetation (except by stock/horses, which itself is pretty outrageous. Their impact has changed not at all).

You may have misread Derlet & Carlson's paper. They didn't speculate on how much total manure -- from any source -- makes up the Sierra. They were just looking at pathogens in manure -- mostly horse and mule. Bob Derlet has done extensive work on pathogens in lakes and streams (which I've helped him with). Those studies show lakes with high stock use as having high pathogen loads when compared to lakes with only hikers or no hikers.

If I may modestly say, these improvements, both in behavior and in physical impacts, are due in large part to the decades of work by backcountry rangers, permit issuers, and researchers. All slowly educating hikers; plus the buy-in (so to speak) of outdoor companies like REI & Patagonia; and, of course, the mostly cheerful (with a few citations and unpleasant arguments) cooperation of the hiking public. The latter mostly, mostly, pretty much all the time, want to do right.

And, that's not to say there's not a lot more to do, but I'm just supplying perspective. The JMT is all right. I'm pretty happy people are out hiking and enjoying parks and forests vs. playing video games in a dark basement.

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balzaccom
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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by balzaccom » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:49 pm

Another note to put this in perspective. In the summer of 1972, a friend and I decided that we wanted to hike the length of the Sierra from Yosemite to Sequoia while avoiding, as much as possible, the hordes of people on the JMT. In 1972. We crashed out after a few days because my friend got really sick--turned out he was trying to do the hike with bronchitis. That was a long, slow hike back out.

The point being even back then people were considering options to the JMT...
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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rightstar76
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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by rightstar76 » Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:29 am

George, an insightful, thoughtful post. A light of reason. As always. Thanks. :thumbsup:

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yosehiker
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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by yosehiker » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:56 pm

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the increased use of the JMT. There are 10x or maybe 15x as many JMT hikers as 20 years ago, and for PCTers it is 20x, in addition to general increase of use of all backpackers in the Sierra. There is just a lot more people on the trail and that creates more impacts. It seems obvious and lots of folks mentioned the lack of solitude. But maybe no one wants to talk about it as the solutions are mostly unpalatable. Maybe that's why some people just wanted to talk about dogs instead. Easier to do the cliche of blaming it on the moral decay of youth.

The other thing that surprises me are all the comments along the lines of its ok as people are still getting out there and having fun. Don't get me wrong, of course that's fine, but that shouldn't be the standard we have for the trail. I can be in the campground with beautiful scenery and have a great time. I could be in Yosemite Valley and awed by the natural beauty of it, but I doubt anyone wants the JMT to become the valley. Hell, I can even be in Disneyland with tons of other people and have a great time.

I think what gets lost in comments like that are the people like me, who now try to avoid the JMT because of the crowds and other impacts on the trail. Then there are the other commenters on this thread who don't try to avoid the JMT, but lower their expectations of what type of trip they'll have on the JMT.

I think the question shouldn't be if the JMT sucks, but rather if it is still wilderness experience. It seems to be more a wild-like experience now.

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sekihiker
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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by sekihiker » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:06 pm

yosehiker wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:56 pm
I think the question shouldn't be if the JMT sucks, but rather if it is still wilderness experience. It seems to be more a wild-like experience now.
Here's my take on the wilderness experience: http://www.sierrahiker.com/WildernessExperience.html

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rightstar76
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Re: Unpopular Opinion: The JMT sucks

Post by rightstar76 » Sun May 12, 2019 4:11 am

gdurkee wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:45 pm
Well, I'm late to this also. Worse, I didn't read the entire thread so I'll probably repeat someone else's brilliant observations. As I've said elsewhere, my first year on the JMT (not hiking the whole thing...) was 1966 or so. By 1971 I was working in Little Yosemite Valley as a ranger. I'm extremely happy to report things are much, much, much better. Also, your original post isn't at all an unpopular opinion. I heard that by the mid 70s. It's true that there are more people now on the JMT, and hiking in general, than there have been since the 70s which, I think, was the high point -- fewer restrictions on party size and the baby boom generation began hiking.

Good news: hikers today are way better at minimum impact -- they make fewer fires, leave less trash and, generally, are more respectful of the landscape and their fellow hikers. Sure, there's teeth-grinding exceptions but it gets better. This is borne out by actual field studies. Campsite surveys have been done since about '75. There's fewer campsites, they're smaller in impacted area, they're farther from water, and there's less trammeling of meadows and other fragile vegetation (except by stock/horses, which itself is pretty outrageous. Their impact has changed not at all).

You may have misread Derlet & Carlson's paper. They didn't speculate on how much total manure -- from any source -- makes up the Sierra. They were just looking at pathogens in manure -- mostly horse and mule. Bob Derlet has done extensive work on pathogens in lakes and streams (which I've helped him with). Those studies show lakes with high stock use as having high pathogen loads when compared to lakes with only hikers or no hikers.

If I may modestly say, these improvements, both in behavior and in physical impacts, are due in large part to the decades of work by backcountry rangers, permit issuers, and researchers. All slowly educating hikers; plus the buy-in (so to speak) of outdoor companies like REI & Patagonia; and, of course, the mostly cheerful (with a few citations and unpleasant arguments) cooperation of the hiking public. The latter mostly, mostly, pretty much all the time, want to do right.

And, that's not to say there's not a lot more to do, but I'm just supplying perspective. The JMT is all right. I'm pretty happy people are out hiking and enjoying parks and forests vs. playing video games in a dark basement.
George, I was reading about the JMTF when I came across this. Are you familiar with this study? Do you know if the public will be involved in any way?

https://johnmuirtrailfoundation.org/project/w3-study/

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