View Full Version : Help with JMT trip planning...

12-31-2009, 17:46
I am looking for some answers to the following questions and I'm getting some mixed information...I'm hoping some experienced folk can help me here:

1. WE are going to fly somewhere out of SouthWest Florida and not return for 30 days. Would it be better to get two one way flights or is better to go roundtrip with a delay this long between arrival and departure?

2. How exactly , hiking N to S, do I apply for lottery permits for a specific date on Mt. Whitney? I mean a storm or something else could set us back a day or two or we could end up hiking way faster than we plan...

3. What are my options for Flying into and out of access to the JMT, assuming a N to S hike?

What books and maps would you recommend for this hike?

12-31-2009, 18:03
John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail (http://www.amazon.com/John-Muir-Trail-essential-Americas/dp/0899974368/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262296866&sr=8-1) and the Harrison Map set (http://www.amazon.com/John-Muir-Trail-Map-Pack-Shaded/dp/1877689343/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262296866&sr=8-2).

12-31-2009, 18:32
I can't help so much with the flight aspect, but I think I can address the Whitney part. Just make your best guess. They don't seem to be as worried about the numbers per day vis a vis people going up Whitney from the Western side, possibly because there are fewer of them. They're more concerned with controlling the numbers of day hikers that go up from the East via Whitney Portal.

PCT hikers have to guess a date months later than when they start. I was off by two days for that. Didn't have a problem, and in fact I was surprised I came so close.

I would also definitely recommend the Harrison maps.

12-31-2009, 20:43
TopONomad, I can't give you all your answers but, I'll give you some suggestions and pieces of the puzzle. I think on another thread you mentioned you're thruing the JMT in Aug. I also assume when you say you are leaving out of SW FL you mean Naples/Ft. Myers AP. I used to live in Ft. Myers. This airport has become a major hub in this area of FL. I know you can get some good deals flying in/out of there, even one way. Some of the more economical airlines fly in/out of Ft.Myers. I'm also assuming you are not renting a car once in Cali. I have always been able to get to THs in the Sierras without my own car, but it's a personal choice based on time, comfort level, and finances.

1) Contact your choices of airlines and ask about which scenario is cheaper. Also, try different flight scenarios at one or more of the travel websites like Orbitz, Expedia, or Travelocity. Of the larger APs in the area that I know of, you could fly into Fresno, Reno, or San Fran to get to Yosemite Valley(Happy Isles, JMT Northern Terminus). I think San Fran will be the cheapest flight, but do check. A Reno flight will definitely be more expensive. When I thrued going SOBO I flew to San Fran from Hawaii one way. I don't remember the exact cost, but it was ball park $120. I considered it very reasonable in 2007. I took the Amtrak from San Fran to the town of Merced where I got on a YARTS bus that took me directly to Yosemite Valley and the Backpacker's Campground(good convenient inexpensive place for a day's rest recooping from the travel and taking in some of the amazing sights of YV, in Aug YV will be packed w/tourists but don't bypass it's beauty either!, there's lots to take in, especially for one who has never been there). As Jester said on another thread you can purchase the Amtrak/Yarts Bus leg at the same time on a combo ticket and save a few dollars. I only flew into Fresno once to hike the Sierras and that was to get to the southern of Kings Canyon and I hitched to get there. If you flew into Reno buses, including the Yarts system will take you to YV. Not sure what your itinerary is after the hike or whether you are going to have a car, but you may want to look at flying into one AP like San Fran and flying out of another like Fresno or Reno. Might make logistical sense.

2) Ditto what Jester said. I seriously doubt any ranger who sees you have your Mt. Whitney stamp and have made your best attempt estimating your summit date and that you are on the last miles of a JMT thru-hike will hassle you! Not only can you pick up your permit at the Backcountry Office in YV, which is within a short walk of the Backpacker's Campground and all other services in YV, but you could ask them this question yourself when you get there. I really don't think it's going to be an issue though! The rangers aren't hard ass types. They will understand your circumstances!

3) I think I covered that!

12-31-2009, 21:24
The Harrison maps are fine if you feel comfortable by hiking just w/ a map. The trail is well trodden, you are not hiking over any or much snow covered hidden tread in Aug, you will see many others out there, and you will come across SOME signage. However there are some junctions without signs and trail can get obscured by rockfalls, etc. Although unlikely, people have been know to get lost while hiking the JMT. If you like to hike w/ trail descriptions or want a little more info on the JMT and Sierras or just because you feel more comfortable, especially since it sounds like you have little or no experience on the JMT or Sierras, either the book Phreak recommended or Guide to the JMT by Winnet and Morey will do the job. The Winnet/Morey book is cheap, rather small, and can be made smaller by dividing it or taking out some of the pages not needed. This book also has maps that I followed along just fine on my first JMT thru-hike. You may want to check out www.backpack45.com (http://www.backpack45.com) for JMT info.

I think you also mentioned something about needing a bear canister on another thread. I have the one you desire. I would loan it to you, but I'm going to be using it this Aug on the CDT. Here's an easy solution. Rent one rather cheaply(credit card needed) in YV at the Backcountry Office; the same place you can pick up your permit and get trail info. Drop it off at the end of your hike at the Cafe/Store at the parking lot at the base of Mt Whitney.

12-31-2009, 21:34
What books and maps would you recommend for this hike?

I lile Cicerone Press guide books. They publish a good one for the JMT.


12-31-2009, 22:07

Lots of very helpful and experienced JMT hikers in this group.


01-01-2010, 18:48
However there are some junctions without signs and trail can get obscured by rockfalls, etc. Although unlikely, people have been know to get lost while hiking the JMT. . .

The only junction that seemed to be a problem when I was hiking was the place where the JMT and PCT split at Thousand Island Lake. Poorly signed for Southbounders, and you need to take a hard right to stay on the JMT.

It's the one spot I noticed where it would seem that going straight would mean you are on the same trail, and the sign at the juncture is easy to notice if you're northbound, but not as easy if you're southbound.

Worst case scenario there would be that you're on the PCT rather than the JMT, and they reconnect farther south, so it's not that big a deal.

01-01-2010, 21:21
Thanks to all in this thread... thanks Dogwood also for thinking of loaning me the canister! This has been very helpful.

01-02-2010, 01:41
This summer going NoBO on the PCT, the only place on the trail that I thought was confusing (outside of loosing the trail in the snow fields on the pases) was a sign pointing to Red's Meadow that went west from the JMT down through a valley the day before I arrived at Reds. I remember being confused for 5 minutes while I went through my maps and realized that I needed to ignore this sign to stay on the JMT. Other PCT hikers followed this sign though they still ended up at Reds via a different trail. Going SoBo, this junction wouldn't be an issue.

01-04-2010, 13:03
I think the rule about the permits is that when you start outside of Inyo National Forest trail heads (and Yosemite is well outside of that area) you don't need an exit permit for the Mt. Whitney Trail. I double checked last year when we had a yo-yo trip with re-entry at the Portal planned. Even that is fine without a special permit if you start in Yosemite.

01-06-2010, 20:23
You can also fly into Reno and hop a bus from the airport that travels down 395 and Lone Pine with earlier stops that can link you to Yosemite via Tuolumne (Lee Vining, Mammouth).
From Lone Pine you can also take that same bus line to link back to Amtrak that takes you to LA. Right at the Amtrak station in LA walk upstairs to street level and catch a 20 min bus directly to LAX. ( I left Lone Pine and through LAX ended up back in Boston on the same day.) The CREST bus (Eastern Sierra Transit Authority) does not run on week-ends, however.

From Lone Pine one can bus and Amtrak back to Fresno, too, or Bakersfield.

From Boston I flew to Fresno, then rode Amtrak to Merced where I had to spend a night before busing via YARTS to Yosemite.


01-07-2010, 18:23
........Of the larger APs in the area that I know of, you could fly into Fresno, Reno, or San Fran to get to Yosemite Valley(Happy Isles, JMT Northern Terminus). I think San Fran will be the cheapest flight, but do check. A Reno flight will definitely be more expensive. ...

There are advantages to flying in to Oakland rather than SF. I got a reasonably cheap flight for my '06 hike (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=4830) and AMTRAK serves Oakland more easily than SF i.e. you don't have to get across the Bay. You can take AMTRAK to Merced with a connecting bus to Yosemite.

01-10-2010, 09:53
Yes. From the east coast it is usually a bit cheaper to fly into Oakland rather than San Fran. However, I found that htere was not a timely connection with Amtrak to get you to Merced in time for the YARTS bus, so you might want to fly to Fresno.

A good website for comparing flight prices is:


Keep an eye out for credit card promotions that offer cheap or free flights. Be careful with these, but bargains can be found.
I have a Capital One Card that accumulates miles that can be used on any airline or just credited for cash back. No annual fee
US Airways recently had a promotion for a free flight anywhere in USA and 2 $99 Flights with companion annually thereafter. Annual fee $79.


01-10-2010, 15:19
Folks are probably already aware, but do check all the connection/transfer times to make sure they make sense/jive to avoid costly time delays and unnecessay expenditures if one is planning a trip w/ many transfers! Sometimes, it can be costlier in the long run, both in time and financial resources, when one plans a trip this way!