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Wilderness permits for the J.M.T.

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Wilderness permits for the J.M.T.

Postby Elwood » Sat May 23, 2009 8:41 am

I'm planning on starting the JMT from Happy Isles mid-week, in the middle of June. How difficult is it going to be to obtain a solo walk-up permit. The reserved permits are totally blocked-out for the whole summer, so I was hoping to get lucky with a first come permit?



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Re: Wilderness permits for the J.M.T.

Postby copeg » Sat May 23, 2009 9:15 am

I wouldn't think you'd have much of a problem but you never know - even so you could probably get a permit for the following day. I had no trouble getting a walk-in permit in 2002. Because Little Yosemite Valley (LYV) is such a popular destination, the park issues (at least at that time they did) 'pass-through' permits allowing you to use the trailhead, but you must hike beyond LYV. I mention this because when I first tried to get my permit they said no because the trailhead was full (even though I specified a JMT permit). When I questioned them they realized I could receive the 'pass-through' permit and that there was plenty of room.
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Re: Wilderness permits for the J.M.T.

Postby fishmonger » Sat May 23, 2009 10:41 am

I've never had a problem getting walk-in permits - although the last time I tried for Happy Isles was in 1989. Back then we got 4 permits on June 27 no problems.

I plan on getting 3 walk-in permits this June 30 for Happy Isles. If there's a problem, we'll just wait a day and try again. We'll apply for a LYV pass-through, with either Sunrise Creek or Sunrise High Sierra Camp as day 1 destination. We'll be staying in Tuolumne Meadows and apply for next day walk-in permits up there, so if we have a problem obtaining it, we have a place to stay that night. Once we get the permit, we'll head into the valley and stay in the backpacker campground the day before the start. That way we can be at the trailhead early in the morning.
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Re: Wilderness permits for the J.M.T.

Postby maverick » Sat May 23, 2009 11:41 am

You should be all right I have done the JMT twice and both times they were walk-ins and
if for some reason you cannot start the same day than get a permit for the next day and
stay at the backpackers camp in the Valley like the others said, and get a nice and early
start beating the heat and crowds.
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Re: Wilderness permits for the J.M.T.

Postby Elwood » Sat May 23, 2009 3:26 pm

Thanks for all the info. It was a little disappointing to see the whole summer full for reserved permits & planning something this big without knowing if you can even get started, was beginning to bother me. This is one of the reasons I'm going a little early in the hiking season, to insure I can get into & out of Yosemite Valley before it gets too crowded by mid-summer. I realize there will be alot of snow over the passes, but I'm better prepared for that, than the huge crowds!
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Re: Wilderness permits for the J.M.T.

Postby fishmonger » Sun May 24, 2009 10:02 am

Elwood wrote: I realize there will be alot of snow over the passes, but I'm better prepared for that, than the huge crowds!


I doubt you'll have much trouble with snow in mid June. Myabe slightly deeper Bear Creek and Evolution Creek crossings, but nothing serious. Low snow now, melting fast.
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Re: Wilderness permits for the J.M.T.

Postby markskor » Sun May 24, 2009 12:57 pm

“How difficult is it going to be to obtain a solo walk-up permit...The reserved permits are totally blocked-out for the whole summer.”

YNP uses the Starting Trailhead method - the 60% “reserved”, 40% “next day only” policy for wilderness permits. (BTW, a must-have item)

Here is how it all works: Hypothetical 24 permit slots/night available for trailhead.

The 60% (16 slots) - Up to six months in advance, wishful dreamers, from around the world decide they want to hike Half Dome. They send in (way back in January), requests for 7, Happy Isles, 2-night, July wilderness permits – (BTW, always a good idea to reserve ahead, especially for large parties). Any open dates are posted, and always sell out/reserve fast.
The 40% (8 slots) - YNP marks these as “next day only” status…all trailheads…just walk up the day before and pick one up any Permit Office, in the park.

However, when making plans 6 months in advance, invariably some in the reserved 60% party will drop out, and even though the reservation asked for/ said 7 to hike Half Dome - LYV, now only 4 actually show up. The YNP rangers have no way of knowing the true number coming until the party (now 4) shows up in the park the night before…leaving 3 permit slots now open.

To the 40%, (8-slots), they add in the new, 3 from above, (and 3 for the next night too). So, when you figure in all the no-shows, etc, ~50% of all the trailhead permits are available, not reserved. This explains the paradox of why when you call, or e-mail, they always show as being 100% filled, (blocked out) but in truth, are not close to full and usually fairly easy to snag.

I believe the Permit Offices open at 8….get in line before 7 and, if a small party, you can usually get what you want for that day…often, hiking by 10:00.

Finally, about a JMT solo permit. Admirably, YNP seems to respect the Big Ticket hike…, and has been known to favorably accommodate with next day permit requests …
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Re: Wilderness permits for the J.M.T.

Postby MountainMinstrel » Mon May 25, 2009 4:55 pm

Sometimes even a big group can get walk-ins for the JMT. Two years ago, while doing Rae Lakes loop I ran into a group of about 15 who had gotten a walk-in permit from Happy Isles. That was late July. I wouldn't worry about getting a single.
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