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  1. #1
    Registered User Mr Liberty's Avatar
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    Question 2016 JMT Thru-Hike?

    I'm looking to do a thru hike of the JMT next summer (July and/or Early August): is it still doable, or am I too late to plan it? I was originally going to do the Colorado Trail, but due to recent developments in my own life, I'm fairly sure I won't be able to get enough time off work next sumer to be able to do it completely.

    I know there are some permits I'll have to apply for in order to do the JMT, but since it's only a bit over 200 miles I can do it in just 2 weeks, so it's an attractive alternative to the CT. Where can I check to see if there are still spots available? I would like to do a SOBO, so I'd want to check the number of permits open for that route.

    Aside: Yes, I've read the faq. I'm just looking for input on my specific situation.
    http://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/john-muir-trail/jmt-faq/


    If this works out, I'll edit this post with a gear list and let all you experts tell me what I'm doing wrong . I've never backpacked in California, and I'm sure there are some unique challenges that accompany the unique climate.
    Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.
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  2. #2

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    Can you still do a walk-in to get a next-day permit or has the backcountry office gotten rid of that option? If still available, plan arriving an extra day or two on top of that 2 week hiking window. Also, consider getting your permit at Tuolumne Meadows, blowing off Yosemite NP. It is scenic to start at Happy Isles but not terribly essential to the JMT experience if you can easily get in at Tuolumne w/o any hold-ups. Thing is, if you like the JMT like I have learned to like it, you will be back to hike it as often as you can arrange the time and expense to go. I have a hiking friend in California that I go with when I hike the JMT. No joke, I could hike that trail every summer and never get bored with it.

  3. #3
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    I believe permitting has changed for next year but best of luck with it. I planned it only a few months out with no issues as long as your open to alternative itineraries. By far my favorite hike to date. I asked many of the same questions as you, search the forum and you'll find lots of great info! 13 days was a good bit of night hiking for me which I enjoy but it would be nice to have a few more days as there are so many unbelievable spots along this trail.


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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    I believe permitting has changed for next year but best of luck with it. I planned it only a few months out with no issues as long as your open to alternative itineraries. By far my favorite hike to date. I asked many of the same questions as you, search the forum and you'll find lots of great info! 13 days was a good bit of night hiking for me which I enjoy but it would be nice to have a few more days as there are so many unbelievable spots along this trail.


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    Has the permit process changed so much you have to reserve a spot almost 8+ months in advance? I commented to the OP that they should start at Tuolumne ( Lyell Canyon). If they have they means, they could day hike the Happy Isle to Tuolumne section in two parts as it is a section that is ~25 miles long. Break that section hike up into 2 days of day hikes where they need to do about 25 miles round trip per a day.

    Apparently walk-ups for the Happy Isle permit are only for cancellations for 2016. The Lyell Canyon permit quota allows maybe 10 (?) permits reserved for walk-ups. That is why i suggest the OP blow off the Happy Isle to Tuolumne section. IMHO, it is an OK section but hot and dusty and crowded just the same. IF they have enough time, they can day hike the Yosemite section and then cue for the permit for Lyell Canyon. This is probably not a great idea if they are really tight on time. Alternatively, if the OP can leave in late August, they may have less competition
    getting a permit. BTW, the FAQ says you have to apply 168 days in advance for the permit leave date. I think the OP has plenty of time according to this:

    http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisi...ermitdates.htm

  5. #5

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    To go sobo you will have very slim chance of getting traditional permit. I think the system for next yr may be undefined right now, there was mention of electronic, then mention of same of lottery 24 wks out. In any case, you need to be flexible on dates for sucess. The alternatives are now publicized by the people on jmt page, and you can expect it to be much much harder than in recent past for ANY permit.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Liberty View Post
    I'm looking to do a thru hike of the JMT next summer (July and/or Early August): is it still doable, or am I too late to plan it?
    Quote Originally Posted by jacob_springsteen View Post
    Can you still do a walk-in to get a next-day permit...
    Dang it, ya'll scared me.

    I too am planning a JMT thru in the summer of 2016 and I thought I had until some time in December to start applying for permits.
    So I double checked the website and confirmed I have some time before I have to start applying for permits.

    While I don't know what their sources are, the website jmtbook.com is claiming that there will be no changes to the JMT permit system for 2016.

    So for a 2016 July hike, you've got to wait until mid January to begin faxing in permit requests.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Dang it, ya'll scared me.

    I too am planning a JMT thru in the summer of 2016 and I thought I had until some time in December to start applying for permits.
    So I double checked the website and confirmed I have some time before I have to start applying for permits.

    While I don't know what their sources are, the website jmtbook.com is claiming that there will be no changes to the JMT permit system for 2016.

    So for a 2016 July hike, you've got to wait until mid January to begin faxing in permit requests.
    I wouldn't hold my breath for a traditional sobo permit out of LYV. I tried several times for a mid sept hike with no luck. Muddy, Dogwood etc had great advice. Search all the questions I asked....sorry I was full of them! The flipflop out of Devils was perfect for many reasons.


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    Its worth applying, but on avg you may need to 20 times to get sobo permit last yr. This yr will be worse.

  9. #9
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    While at this point I'm hoping for a 2016 hike, I can also try in 2017. Exact dates are not important, so I figure I can try for start dates all summer long.

    My only concerns regarding dates is that I would like to try avoiding major issues with snow, snowmelt swollen rivers, and freezing temperatures. I realize that with the elevations involved, snow and night time lows below freezing might occur at any time of year. But I would appreciate any input based on historical averages as to what dates I should attempt to apply for a three week hike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Its worth applying, but on avg you may need to 20 times to get sobo permit last yr. This yr will be worse.
    I'd assume a July start vs mid sept would be way worse...i tried probably a dozen dates at different times.


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  11. #11
    Registered User Mr Liberty's Avatar
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    Question

    After doing a little more research, I think I'm going to look into doing it NOBO. That may mean I'll have to get into better shape before going and starting a little slower, as the trail is a little more rugged in the south, but what is life without a good challenge every now and again?


    My new question is, should I apply for a permit from Inyo National Forest, or Sequoia National Park? Cursory googling suggests that I'll fly into Reno, NV and take a bus from there to Lone Pine, CA, and then go from there to Whitney.

    (Bus: http://www.estransit.com/)
    Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.
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  12. #12
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    I can't comment on Nobo but next time I hike the JMT it will be Nobo if I have a day or two to acclimate from sea level...that climb from the portal would be a ball buster! I would definitely plan on more than 14 days.


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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    I would definitely plan on more than 14 days.
    I've been trying to build a tenative 19 day schedule.

  14. #14
    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    Based on my experience getting a sobo permit in 2014 and a nobo permit in 2015, getting the nobo is WAY, WAY easier. You need to start at either Cottonwood Pass or New Army Pass to make it easy. You can do a Whitney climb without a hassle, just have to declare it when you get the permit. Starting at one of these passes instead of trying to get a Whitney Portal permit adds about 20 miles or so to your hike, but is by far the easiest way to get your permit - you are not competing with all the day hikers. You can just go to recreation.gov and do it all online, no waiting to see if you get it or not. Make sure you fill in most of your planned itinerary when making the reservation, you will save yourself a lecture when you pick up your permit. Ask me how I know. :-) You are not committed to these camp sites, but they want a general idea of what your plan is.

    Also, if you can, plan to spend at least a couple of nights at either Cottonwood Lakes or Horseshoe Meadow camp sites. Easy to do, first come first serve sites. The posted rules say one night only, this is not enforced unless there is a problem group, this is per the rangers - unofficial policy. Plenty of folks stay multiple nights. These are at 10,000 feet, so they give you a good opportunity to acclimate. If you want any more info on these two possibilities, or a suggested route to Whitney, let me know. I spent 8 days hiking around that area last summer, and could give you some insight - there are a couple of decisions to make.

    As Saltysack said, the climb up to Whitney, from either side is a ball buster, but from Whitney Portal would be the worst - another good reason to start at one of the passes instead.

    Even 19 days would be too few for me. I would rather plan to do half one year and half the next instead of "rushing". Getting permits from entry points other than Yosemite, Lyell Canyon or Whitney Portal is pretty easy via the recreation.gov site and you know when you log out of the site if you have your permit or not, and for what dates.
    Last edited by Lyle; 12-01-2015 at 11:07.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    I've been trying to build a tenative 19 day schedule.
    Should be plenty of time. When we go back id like a similar schedule.


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    I hiked the JMT SOBO in 2013 and the southern half of the JMT NOBO this year (part of a PCT hike starting at the Mexican border). I don't think that it is too late by any means to plan a SOBO hike since the reservation window is 24 weeks out. You can try for a permit. The new Yosemite regulations are more stringent but not impossible. Read up on it and try your luck. The main issue is now the Donohue exit quota leaving YNP but there are alternate routes that are possible SOBO. Check out the Yahoo JMT group for all the details on SOBO alternates. As for NOBO, I did the entry at Horseshoe meadows over cottonwood pass after a break and resupply. It is a nice trailhead and, I've heard that permits are easy (not an issue for me due to my PCTA permit). Also keep in mind that Kennedy Meadows, about 60 miles south, is a non quota trailhead. You still need a permit but there are no limits on number of permits. That's a good fallback for anyone with a few extra days to spend on trail and it is a nice hike.

  17. #17
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    I've been trying to build a tenative 19 day schedule.
    Sounds about right, we did 18 days NOBO a few years ago, kinda wish we had an extra day or two just to enjoy ourselves along the trail, but 18 days was entirely doable, I guess when we redo it we'll budget 20 days.


    I swear I just never get why most go SOBO on the JMT, when NOBO is so much easier for many reasons. I know, I know, the acclimation thing, going to 14K feet right out of the box, is probably the #1 reason, but really, I betcha almost everyone can get through this little issue. I know it can be controversial, but for low altitude dwellers (most everyone on here), I recommend small amounts of Diamox for a couple days to ward off that pesky AMS that some folks get. the recommended dose by docs, who generally know zero about high altitude medicine, is 250mg twice a day. Well, that dose will create a bunch of side effects, like tingly fingers/toes and the need to pee every 5 minutes. turns out a quarter of that dose is still effective for AMS, and this dosage generally does not create those side effects, or if it does, they are much reduced.


    Anecdotal story: A buddy of mine who I climbed about twenty 14ers with in Colorado moved to San Diego maybe 10 years ago. this guy is an ultra athlete. Well when I met him to climb Whitney a couple years after he moved to CA, he did, in fact, get AMS climbing Whitney. He made it, but puked his guts and felt like hell. So, next trip out to CO and we climbed Pike's Peak (14,112') together, which is very similar to climbing Whitney (nearly 8000 vertical gain, up and back in a day, 25 miles roundtrip), I talked him into taking a small dose of Diamox (half a 125mg tablet a couple times), and he had absolutely zero AMS symptoms. all ti does is very slightly adjust your blood's PH level which somehow affects CO2 gas dispersion in your blood, something like that, google it.

    I swear by this stuff. Cheap and for almost everyone, easy to take, but of course you need to check with your doc and a small percentage of folks cannot tolerate sulfa drugs.


    Anyway, go NOBO, take 18 days and enjoy the most b-e-a-UUUUUUU-tiful trail in the USA !

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    Sobo preference is the acclimatization thing, but also the trail gets more dramatic as you go, with a great finish. You are also in better shape for the long stretch without resupply.

    I wouldnt hesitate to nobo though. But, imo, yosemite seems like disneyland, it doesnt even feel like jmt until you leave the park. Finishing there seems a little anticlimatic. A flip flop preserves the feel of the ending. Its a lot like nobo vs sobo on at in some ways.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 12-01-2015 at 13:00.

  19. #19
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    ... But, imo, yosemite seems like disneyland, it doesnt even feel like jmt until you leave the park. Finishing there seems a little anticlimatic. A flip flop preserves the feel of the ending. Its a lot like nobo vs sobo on at in some ways.
    Yeah, good point about finishing in Yosemite. But: just before Yosemite was some of our favorite places on the trail, like the Ansel Adams wilderness area, thousand island lakes, cathedral spire/peak whatever (in Yosemite), and of course Half dome. OTOH: guitar lake might have been our all-time favorite place to camp, basically the first or second night. Really, the whole dam trail is fantastic, except for the last few miles in Yosemite, so yeah, again, good point. But the last few miles going SOBO ain't much to write home about either. So even though you technically "end" the JMT on top of Whitney and on top of the continental USA (going SOBO), you're still hiking 11 more miles down and out, mostly gorgeous miles until the last few.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Yeah, good point about finishing in Yosemite. But: just before Yosemite was some of our favorite places on the trail, like the Ansel Adams wilderness area, thousand island lakes, cathedral spire/peak whatever (in Yosemite), and of course Half dome. OTOH: guitar lake might have been our all-time favorite place to camp, basically the first or second night. Really, the whole dam trail is fantastic, except for the last few miles in Yosemite, so yeah, again, good point. But the last few miles going SOBO ain't much to write home about either. So even though you technically "end" the JMT on top of Whitney and on top of the continental USA (going SOBO), you're still hiking 11 more miles down and out, mostly gorgeous miles until the last few.
    Those last 11 miles to the portal seemed like an eternity! I hate to say it but Yosemite was my least favorite part of the trail! Too damn crowded even in mid sept....can't imagine how packed it would be mid summer. The highlight of being in Yosemite was watching the faces of the tourist when I walked by the on the bus.....stank!!!


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