View Full Version : Chaco sandals on the JMT

06-27-2010, 19:08
I'm doing 60 miles of the JMT in August. I am thinking I will do it in Chacos.

I'm trying to think back on my 2008 hike through the area and I can't remember anything that I couldn't have managed in Chacos except some of the snow, and that should be gone by mid-August when I plan to be there. Am I blocking anything from my memory?

I've been wearing Chacos on hikes around my area and have been surprised how well it works. I have never stubbed a toe or hurt myself in any way except chafing from the straps. I'll wear socks with them on the JMT.

What do you think? Bad idea? Good idea?

06-27-2010, 19:43
Record snow year, i imagine you'll still have some in August.
But, that's ok if you are used to cold feet.
My friend lost a shoe in the Sierras in '96 and it was A LOT OF SNOW and he just wore his sandals.
So, it can be done.

06-28-2010, 12:39
even without the snow, you're asking for trouble

enjoy the granite - sometimes for a mile or more, 4-6" diameter granite gavel, good for horse traffic, but even in my heavy duty mountain boots, I need to walk around these trail sections. For many miles, you can really go barefoot up there, but then you find sections where you will ask yourself what the trail builders were thinking when they "improved" the trail like this:


06-28-2010, 12:41
another good sandal section above Evolution Lake - 30 years from now, this may have eroded in to become a normal trail again...


06-28-2010, 16:26
I hiked part of the JMT (all but 60 miles) in trail runners. I don't need boots to hike there. I regularaly hike on trails like this one (including this exact trail) so I'm not really worried about the granite.

06-28-2010, 16:46
enjoy then. If you have experience with that kind of stuff, you will be ok. Snow will not be an issue in August and if you're only doing 60 miles - what could go wrong?

06-28-2010, 19:51
What could go wrong? I was hoping somebody who did wear Chacos could tell me!

06-29-2010, 15:09
What could go wrong? I was hoping somebody who did wear Chacos could tell me!

I recall last year - two old ladies climbing the last 200 feet over snow to the top of Silver pass in their Tevas. Took them almost an hour for the snow they said, scary slippery, but at least at Silver, the slide won't kill you.

Snow in late summer is a large grain hard mess, and if you can't put steps into it with your sandals, it will be sketchy to cross (avoid early mornings). If you have good poles for balance and are careful, even some 45 degree snow fields on the north slope of Mather can be ok. And you will find snow there in August this year, for sure. Not sure where you want to do those 60 miles, but if it's in the higher elevations of the southern half of the trail, you will definitely cross old, hard snow.

North of Muir Pass, you should be ok, though.

06-29-2010, 17:55
I plan to hike between Duck Pass and Bishop Pass. Do you think there will be lots of steep snow after August 15?

06-30-2010, 10:50
Don't know Duck, but Bishop Pass with snow should not be very difficult. It is the steep stuff on Mather and Forester you need to respect.

07-01-2010, 14:17
Duck Pass is a baby pass. It even has trees. Duck Lake is really pretty. If you ever have a chance to go in via Duck Pass I recommend it.

I've already hiked Forester and Mather. Mather was what sent me home from the PCT in 2008 (but I went back after I cleared my head). It was just too scary. I had crampons but took them when I got to the top because I couldn't walk over the rocks in them. It took 15 minutes to figure out how to even put the crampons on, so when I hit snow on the other side, I figured I would just try to be really careful. Well, I slipped and fell on ice and slid down headed straight for a big patch of sharp boulders. A person hiking below me stopped my fall so I was okay, but I had had enough of the snow by then. I bailed out over Bishop Pass and there was only one difficult patch of snow there.

It was June on the PCT thru-hiker schedule. Since I'll be there after August 15, and not doing Mather, I should be okay. Not sure about Muir. I'm hoping there will be a little snow but not too much. I'd actually like to see a little snow. Just not a lot.

I wanted to wear my sandals becasue I can't find shoes that do not hurt. I ordered some shoes that will be hand-made to a tracing of my foot, but they will be leather so I'm not sure if they would work on the JMT. Since my sandals only chafe a little and don't otherwise hurt, I figured maybe I can manage a 75 mile or so hike with them.

I'm very excited. I can't wait!

07-01-2010, 15:50
Mather July 14 2009 - much less snow than this year, but it was pretty scary for him on his slippery trail runners. The tread on those clogs up with the large grain wet snow crystals and you have absolutely no grip.


he will be wearing La Sportiva Trango GTX this year, just like me. Never had a problem with snow - in fact I love it that we have a ton of that stuff this year.

Snow conditions this year - let me give you something to contemplate:

This came in from Tuolumne Meadows this morning - JMT hikers coming up from the valley:

There was 70% to 100% coverage from the cathedral junction to Cathredral lakes. We made it to Cathedral lakes around noon and we saw day hikers and were pretty excited. We knew we could make it out that day. From the lakes on down it was 50% coverage and less and less as we got lower. Sometimes the snow got 5 or 6 feet high for 10 to 15 feet then back to trail.
There was lots of snow but not hard to navigate with a GPS and mostly down hill or small hills.

We did that very same stretch last year on June 30 and saw a tiny snow patch south of the pass at Cathedral Lakes, no snow anywhere else. The water crossing at Sunrise Creek was maybe 4" deep for us, but these guys had to take off shoes and wade through 2 feet of water.

We saw our first snow in Yosemite well above 10,000 feet last year, these guys have snow below 9000 right now. Will the season's temps make up for that by August?

Keep checking online what the conditions are through July and you should be fine. We're heading out this weekend, start the trail around 7/7 or a little later depending on how smooth our food cache setup runs go.

when there's not much snow left on Mammoth Mountain, you'll be good to go on most high passes:


I also like the "Minarets" webcam preset view. When you have snow only on the really high peaks at the very top, you should be good to go for the high passes in the Sierra. Right now you can still see large snow patches well below 9000 feet (apart from a lot of 4th of July weekend SKIERS!!!!)