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  • John Muir Trail

    Anyone have any unusual tips or insider info?

    The trail, which one internet expert observed "has been hiked by everyone in California," is luring me. The self same internet is a pretty incredible source for information and I'm creating a strategy pretty easily.

    Anyone have any firsthand experience with the walk up option for obtaining a permit in Yosemite? At the moment I'm thinking of going north to south and so I can go first-come-first-served at 10 AM the day before at any Yosemite Permit Station. I could burn a day or two at YNP, but I don't want to get skunked at America's busiest park on my first visit. I'll be going later in the summer after kids are back in school so I'm hoping that won't be the case.

    Anyways, since there are a slew of you Californians around these parts I thought I'd ask. I'm planning on going pretty light (as light as possible with a 3 pound bear canister) and fast (as fast as possible for a middle aged couch potato). I'm not necessarily set on the whole thing although at this early stage in the planning I'd prefer to try.

  • #2
    Permits shmermits!

    Best advice: Take nothing but a loincloth and a buck knife, and go off-trail as much as possible.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by revloren View Post
      Permits shmermits!
      Don't listen to him!

      Minimum, you're gonna need shmermits shpray and a shmermits shafety triangle.

      Click image for larger version

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      • #4
        "Mile... Mile & a Half"
        A group of artists leave their daily lives behind to hike California's John Muir Trail, the 219-mile stretch from Yosemite to Mount Whitney.

        Streaming on Netflix

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        • #5
          I'd get a sturdier canister. The bears there can weigh over 300 pounds.

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          • #6
            I have no knowledge about the JMT permit situation but here are some miscellaneous thoughts.

            If you are willing to be flexible in your routing and not stick to the exact trail, or go in at a trailhead other than the starting point, you will greatly increase your odds of getting a permit on your first try.

            In the range of light, I would much rather hike with the sun usually at my back.

            There are a lot worse places to wait out a few days than Yosemite Valley.

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            • #7
              Last August I showed up at the Whitney ranger station at the prescribed time for "lottery" and I got to head right out backpacking on one of the most coveted trailheads anywhere. I even got a good parking spot. So go and try. Get there an hour earlier than they open for first-come-first-served permits, and then come back later (early again) if there's a time slot for cancellations.

              The alternate approach is to go in on a less popular trailhead. For example, you could go in Dana Meadows, taking in the sublime Alger Lakes, then joining the John Muir Freeway at Thousand Island. Or hike out of Yose Valley to TM via Snow Creek.

              Re bear canisters, the problem is that going long means that you'd need multiple canisters. Study the route and you might find that you can do most of your camps outside of where canisters are required. Also, in some areas, there are metal bear boxes available, sometimes reserved for JMT hikers. In areas where canisters aren't required, a competent counterbalance job should do the job. In much of Yosemite, however, the local bear culture will laugh and get your food if it's protected by mere cord.

              I'm a big advocate of getting off the JMT rather than being on it. But if you want to do JMT proper, I get that too (and tried that once, shin-splints, oh well). Either way, have fun.

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              • #8
                Another permit idea: Get your permit out of Tuolumne Meadows, for Lyell Canyon, which should be an easier get than Little YV out of Yosemite Valley (and you'll have an easier time getting a campsite, legal or otherwise, in and around TM than in YV, while you're hanging out playing the permit game). The part of JMT between YV and TM is 25 miles and can be done as a dayhike, without a permit. That's a long day to be sure, but hardly herculean.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by bobs View Post
                  Another permit idea: Get your permit out of Tuolumne Meadows, for Lyell Canyon, which should be an easier get than Little YV out of Yosemite Valley (and you'll have an easier time getting a campsite, legal or otherwise, in and around TM than in YV, while you're hanging out playing the permit game). The part of JMT between YV and TM is 25 miles and can be done as a dayhike, without a permit. That's a long day to be sure, but hardly herculean.
                  This is exactly what I've been thinking. But, if I can't get one out of TM then I'll probably just move on and try another access skipping the sections in the park entirely. I'd know by a little after 10 AM and wouldn't be stuck in the park. Kinda tricky as I've gotta send food ahead, but leaving a bunch of granola in a box at the PO isn't the worst thing to ever happen to the world.

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                  • #10
                    Tabitha and I hiked to the Whitney summit about 8 years ago from the Horseshoe Meadows trailhead connecting some trails. No need for a summit permit which worked out great since we came under some "backdoor" policy by starting elsewhere. The common route which is a highway. Excellent campsites and cool mountains. Took a few days via "Army Pass" and then looped back to Horseshoe M via some other way. I think we were on and off the JMT at points along the route. We also did Toul. Meadow to Yo Valley via Cloud's rest as an overnighter on that Sierra road trip.

                    One thing I recall was walking miles of sandy trail that can really slow you down on the busier trekking routes.

                    Would like to return someday and traverse the Sierra to the east beginning at Kings Canyon.
                    Last edited by Valdez Telehead; 29 July 2014, 08:57 PM.

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                    • #11
                      I'd say make a plan based on taking your best shot on a hard-to-get permit (like Lyell out of TM), and have another plan (based on a permit you're pretty sure you can get) in case you don't get the first choice.

                      To complicate your logistics, check out fire closures and areas that might be smoked out downwind. For example, right now, you can't drive between YV and TM, due to the fire north of El Portal. But then, that might be what you need for lots of permit cancellations!

                      Here's my aborted JMT trip from a decade ago, for your amusement. It's a story of excessive ambition, but also a story about some pretty good logistical planning, which worked out even though plans completely changed.

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