View Full Version : thru hiking the john muir trail

04-07-2010, 22:10
ill be thru hikng the jmt this june and i wanted to know if i will be able to sleep in a hammock the whole way or will have to use my tent

GW Sears
04-07-2010, 22:40
Have you read The Thousand Mile Summer by Colin Fletcher? That should give you a good idea of the terrain and vegetation. IIRC, the southern portion was mostly desert, without that many trees. However, it's been about thirty years since I read the book.

I believe that Fletcher had some supplies and equipment sent to him via general delivery at points along the trail. You might consider shifting from tent to hammock in that manner, picking up the hammock and returning the tent courtesy of the USPS.

04-09-2010, 16:13
The JMT is above treeline in many places, so you will lose 'some' freedom of being able to stop whenever you feel like it... Plan ahead somewhat to camp 'low' when in the trees, hiking up & over a pass the next day and back down into the trees... Many have used a hammock/tarp the length of the JMT before you... Going in June, however, make sure you have sufficient bottom insulation for your hammock - though camping 'low' in the trees, you are still at considerable elevation and temps usually get down into the upper 20s and even into the teens at times... Enjoy the journey!

Happy trails!!!
Jim (PITA)

04-09-2010, 16:46
Carry a ground tarp and suitable tarp and insulation for both types and you'll be fine. Make sure you have a bear canister - can't remember if it's required now (I think it is).

04-09-2010, 18:31
thanks guys
ill being doing it unsupported so ill have use the hammok the whole way. i have a kelty lightyear 20 bag with a tr pad and im looking at uq so i think ill stay warm.
why would i want a tent from what i seen in pics and heard there is breath taking views, i just cant wait to see um from my hammock

Just Jeff
04-09-2010, 19:17
There aren't trees on top of the mountains where the best views are...so no place to hang a hammock!

You can send your extra gear to the Post Office via General Delivery and they'll hold it there for 30 days. You can even forward it on to the next post office for free if you don't open it...so you could start with a tarp/tent and ground pad, and swap out for your hammock gear at the post office when you're ready. No need for someone else to support your hike for that. Then just mail it back to your house when you no longer need it. Search the internet for "bounce box" for more info on how to do that.

If I were hiking the JMT, I'd have at least a torso pad (which I take on all my hikes now anyway) in case I saw a view or an alpine lake with no hanging spots that I just HAD to camp at. It's a different world out there than the forested mountains of the East coast and even most of the Rockies. Different kind of beauty, and I'd be tempted to go to ground a couple times. I wouldn't tell you guys about it :jj: but I certainly wouldn't rule it out.

Gotta have the right tool for the trip. I haven't camped on the ground in several years, but I'd be prepared to if I were hiking the JMT. Hammocks are supposed to help enjoy the wilderness, not constrain us by limiting what we experience.

04-09-2010, 19:30
my friend who will be joing will be bringing a tent so problem solved
the lakes look amazing and peaceful i think i might just go to the ground if the bugs aren't too much of a problem. im doing around 20 miles a day so i cant hang out anywhere too long. iwas only able to get two weeks off work

04-09-2010, 20:25
I hung at 10,000 feet - the trees can be spindly and too flexible but you can manage as long as the wind doesn't kick up too much.

The JMT is indeed alpine for some stretches but there is plenty below treeline. Instead of an underquilt take a pad or air mattress - the NeoAir worked for my JMT section last year. In June you will want the bugnet on the ground as well so plan on using the hammock net for a bug bivy. Take a heavy duty contractor bag for use as a ground cloth. Any tarp suitable for hammocking can be used on the ground - I used a flying diamond pitch with my MacCat. A trekking pole or two is very helpful in this....

Be prepared - after the Whitney summit you will either have a long hike out to the portal, or a night on rock at trail camp - pitching a tarp in rocks takes a little forethought and maybe some practice.

04-09-2010, 20:54
ill be bringing a pad with me, how many days did you spend on the trail?

04-09-2010, 22:06
I was out for about a week. We were loafing between Yosemite and Reds Meadow, fishing and chasing bears away from the canisters. We're going to do a longer segment this year.

You will probably benefit from reading some of the trail journals of JMT hikers at trailjournals.com.

You'll need a bear can big enough to get you over that last hundred miles without resupply. Rent one from Wild Ideas (Bearikade) - they are lightest for the volume and will mail it to you a few days before your trip. You could also buy one and resell it for almost as much as you pay - everyone routinely hiking the Sierras looks for bargains on those things.

Your resupplies will need to be planned and you can mail yourself food/hygiene items, and buy fuel, at Vermillion Resort, Muir Trail Ranch, Reds Meadow, Tuolumne Meadows. There is a fee for them holding your package. Fuel can be expensive at the resorts.

Bear Rider above is thinking of the PCT. There is no desert on the JMT, it's only just over 200 miles of the high Central Sierra Nevada.

04-09-2010, 22:51
i already have a bear vault i can almost fit all my food in there for 7 days, im not picky ill be eating oat meal and dried meals. i rebag them in zip lock bags to save room. ill be doing fishing when i can but ill be carring in most of what ill the whole trip. a will be getting a food drop from a family member on the trail.
whats the half way point n is there a place i can a food drop near there

04-09-2010, 23:03
You are doing half the trip in seven days? Doesn't give you much time for enjoying the fishing. I hope you are aware that you will be doing multiple 9-10,000 foot high passes per day to manage that. It's a lot of elevation gain and loss every single day. We did Donohue Pass (11,000 feet) in a day and barely made it over. If you're doing the entire trail from Happy Isles I hope you already have a permit, they are difficult to come by....

You need to study the California fishing regs and get a license - there will be rangers on the trail. You'll need to know what you need to release, what lures you can use, and what you can keep (mostly browns and brooks which are not indigenous species).

I heard from someone that stashing a food drop is not cool with the forest service - you might ask about that. Part of the problem with the bears is people stash food in not-bear-proof containers and compound the problem by giving the habituated bears easy access to food.

04-09-2010, 23:14
i have my permit
ill be doing close to 20 a day i plan on have 1 or 2 light days to enjoy myself. i was only given 2 weeks off from work for vactoin. i hike every other day with a 30 pound pack i feel ready, im doing The Silver Moccasin Trail as a test its ony 54 miles but it will give me feel for 20 miles a day

04-09-2010, 23:33
.....I haven't camped on the ground in several years, but I'd be prepared to if I were hiking the JMT. Hammocks are supposed to help enjoy the wilderness, not constrain us by limiting what we experience.

Blaspheming Hieratic!!! :scared:

Sounds like a burning at the stake is required! :lol: :lol:

04-09-2010, 23:34
Well... good luck. If I were not able to hike at higher elevations each weekend, I would not feel up to doing even a week on the JMT with 10 mile days.

I strongly suggest doing more reading on people's trail journals. Also remember that there are stores and hiker boxes (where thru hikers drop off extra meals they are tired of, and sometimes spare gear like sporks or gloves) at the usual resupply spots. I think you will find your food needs change as you are on the trail longer.

Don't forget water treatment. Yosemite is one of the few places where the water does test positive for giardia, and with all the livestock and people on the JMT, I would not be surprised at all if that is true of the other streams/rivers along it.

04-09-2010, 23:58
...and I just noticed you're doing it in June?

I hope you have some significant snow skills? There are a lot of high passes that will still be covered in it. Crampons and an ice axe, and the ability to use them without shredding your ankles or stabbing yourself on a self arrest, might be necessary particularly further south.

04-10-2010, 00:12
dam really i dont even have an ax ill have to get
sounds fun though why is backpacking such expensive sport im sure crapons and ax will run me a few pretty pennies

04-10-2010, 00:38
You can really hurt yourself with those... there's a reason I don't go that high til July/August, I don't want to buy gear like that, and then a class in using it so I don't stab myself fifty miles from any road and bleed out in the wilderness.

Keep doing your research and think about finding people to go with who have mountaineering skills to help you learn on the fly, if that's what you really insist on doing.

04-10-2010, 07:12
My 2 cents worth on some comments...
Your plan of 20 mile days in June is indeed ambitious, but it can be done - but 20 mile days will mean you must 'camp' wherever you happen to be at the end of the day, thus you might not be able to hammock every night - thus must have backup (groundcloth & pad) if you have to go to ground (sounds like you do)...
There is no sense in having an ice axe if you don't know how to use it - and it does absolutely no good if it's strapped to your pack at the 'wrong' time... It is more essential to recognize the potential dangers ahead of time and adjust your route and/or strategy for ascent/descent...
The 'secret' for the passes is to not be on them too early nor too late when they might have icy crust surface conditions - yet if you go up too late in the day, one can have much postholing which is very tiring and time consuming...
Forget the fishing - it's nice for a 'camping' trip, but your itinerary makes your trip all about the hiking and making miles...
Instead of reading JMT journals, might I suggest you read PCT journals instead - though the majority go nobo, their normal high Sierra time is June (read 2005 & 2006 for high snow years - 'worst case' scenario)...
The Sierra snowpack really isn't extreme this year, only near average to slightly above - and it's a long time until June - the spring temps will dictate what June is like... See <http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/swcchart.action>, look at the 'Central' & 'South' charts for the Sierra from Tahoe area to southern Sierra (and can compare to previous years, also)...
Caching food is verboten, but meeting someone is not - but you might pick up some supplies at Reds Meadow (Mammoth if the bus is running) or VVR, a good 'meeting' point is to have your friend come in over Kearsarge (or you go out to them - Kearsarge is a beautiful trail!)... On a long trek 'hiker hunger' doesn't usually set in until 3 weeks or more, so you shouldn't need excessive amounts of food - select foods high in calories per ounce...
Sorry, gotta get back to work! That's all for now...
Good luck & enjoy the journey!

Happy trails!!!
Jim (PITA)

04-10-2010, 21:58
thanks jim
i will just have to get there n see for myself. ill just be prepared as possible and wing it. my friend will be going in a tent so ill just bunk with her when cant hang
i almost have everything i need just got to pick up my jetboil

12-07-2010, 00:15
All this usefull information and ive just ben worried about what flys to put in my fly box when i finally get a chance to attempt thruing the JMT. Hope you have a great safe trip cant wait for a trip report

12-08-2010, 20:55
If you have any flexibility on your trip dates you might consider waiting till May to finalize the dates for your trip. You could get another permit for later in June in case the snow load is too much, or too dangerous.
I agree that if you go early while there is still a lot of snow and hope to do the kind of miles you are planning for, you won't have much flexibility in where you stop for the night.
I would guess that MTR would be the closest resupply spot to the middle of the trip but if we have a heavy snow winter, they might not even be open yet, depending on when you get there. Another plus for having an alternate start date.
Are you planning to start in YV and hike south?
No matter what, you will be amazed at the stark beauty of the High Sierras. Good luck with your adventure!

12-08-2010, 21:47
Good luck on your trek. The JMT is an wonderful trail through some of the most breath taking yet rugged country you will ever come across. The time of year you are going will bring about new challenges and many words of wisdom have been passed along to help counter them. I was able to hang all but one campsite along the norther 2/3 of the trail. The southern part has some really high passes and will require additional skills to hang on rocks, etc. and the snow will be present on most of the passes but with good planning and preparation you'll have a great time. I hope you have a fantastic trek and never have a need for SAR...

Happy Trails

Caribou Bentspoke
12-26-2010, 23:22
The Sierra is not my turf, but I do know they got 18 ft of snow last week, and an earlier storm was 7 ft. So the Sierra may be bad in June this year unless the late winter and spring is dry. Even last year I saw some trail journals of people floating across streams on neo air pads.:eek:

02-14-2011, 20:17
How did you make out on your trip with the hammock?

01-21-2015, 20:52

I'm planning to hike the JMT this summer. I was sure I had to use a T-word. I'd much rather hang it. How'd it go?

01-21-2015, 21:04
I'm sure it went fine. People often use hammocks on the JMT. You just camp below treeline - easy to do, if you break the trip into segments that land you between passes each night. In the last part (Vidette to Whitney) I could have hung the hammock above 10,000 feet due to the incredible numbers of foxtail pines present. Nice long tree straps help when you have the bigger pine trees to hang from.

You'll also note that the OP posted all the way back in 2010 - that was a good snow year. The drought is making us miserable here, not enough snow for a good snow pack. :( By July the waterfalls will be pitiful and some of the smaller creeks dried up. Poor fish and wildflowers.

01-21-2015, 21:24
I've got a HI. LYV permit reservation for a SOBO JMT leaving on 6/15.

I know CA is suffering from a drought but it looks like this will be a good year for me to do a June start. My work forces me to be back home by ~ July 10 each year.

I'm not sold on hanging this trip. I will be with my 12 year old son and it might be better for us to have the security/flexibility of a tent so that we don't have to push to the next hanging spot. I'm concerned about bugs in June and the whole hammock on the ground in a bugnet under a tarp thing sounds complicated. It might be easier to just give in and do the tent thing.

I'll spend some time tonight looking at the maps. We are pretty much planning on doing the climb high / sleep low thing so we might be under the tree line most of the time anyways.


01-22-2015, 07:57
I've got a HI. LYV permit reservation for a SOBO JMT leaving on 6/15.

I'm jealous. Sounds like a great trip with your son. Enjoy yourselves.

01-22-2015, 08:18
I'm vibrating it's excitement. I can hardly concentrate on work. 144 days until the trail!

04-12-2015, 01:10
I'm also thinking about doing the JMT this year, probably early June if I can get away from work. No permit so I'll be trying my luck at Tuolumne Meadows, 10 per day on a first come first serve basis. Makes it hard for planning and shipping food to the Ranch. But I don't think they will even be open until the end of June.

What's your resupply plan clean?

04-12-2015, 09:11
We are packing light out of Happy Isles, with out BV500s with bulkier (enjoyable) foods like Packit Gourmet. Then we will pick up a couple things at the store in TM. We will mail a box to Red's Meadow with for from there to MTR + about 4 liters of extra food. Our big result is MTR with 20 liters in a single bucket. That plus the extra from Red's will fill our 23 liters as we exit MTR, hopefully with a little extra from the hiker barrels there.

We really don't know what our pace is going to be like. We are fine with the weight and can do 15 mile days without a problem but we've not done them more than three days in a row and never at altitude, so we want 10-11 days of food leaving MTR. I suspect we are taking too much food but I'd rather that then running out.

64 days until Happy Isles! I'm suuuuuuuuper-excited.

04-12-2015, 09:13
As much as it kills me to say it, we are leaving the hammocks at home. My ZPacks Duplex should arrive in about a week...

Perhaps I will hang it the second time...

07-18-2015, 09:54
Well, Mr. Clean-

How was your trip? I spent some time down in the Golden Trout Wilderness in mid June and water levels were low. Quite warm even at 9k'. I hope you had a successful hike.

07-18-2015, 15:04
Hey! It was a great hike other than each night I thought "this would be a great spot to hang at..." If I do the JMT again, I'll definitely take hammock rather than a tent.

We had plenty of water on our trip. I understand they've had a lot of precipitation in the couple weeks we've been off the trail. Lots of snow!

08-04-2015, 13:32
Thanks for the info Clean. Were there any spots where you camped (or wanted to camp) where you couldn't have hung? The two spots where I am a little unsure are up in the Evolution Valley area and then the night before going up Whitney. Any info or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. We leave from Tuolumne Meadow on September 12 and are in the final planning stages. Still going back and forth between the tent and hammocks.

08-04-2015, 14:13
Evolution Valley should not pose a problem if you plan your stop right. Most camp at or near Guitar Lake before heading up to trail crest, then left to the summit of Whitney and that will be tough hanging for sure. I recommend getting an early start from Guitar Lake so as to get off the summit before the afternoon which is known for electrical storms. The sign at trail crest is rather amusing though.

08-04-2015, 14:25
Yep. Evolution and Guitar are the two problem spots. There are trees near Evolution Lake. We spent the night a bit higher at Wanda Lake and there are no trees there.

There are some very nice spots to hang just below Guitar, maybe halfway between the ranger station and Guitar Lake.

When I do this next, I'll bring half of a ZLite pad as a huge, comfortable sitpad and be ready to use that going to ground. Or maybe I'll bring a shorty XLite pad. Either of those would be ~.5 pounds. Spending a couple nights on the ground is not the end of the world, particularly after sleeping on the ground for 3 weeks this first time. :)

08-04-2015, 14:27
Heads-up: there's another discussion about hanging the JMT going on in the West subforum.

08-04-2015, 15:02
Thanks! Sounds like you had a great trip.

08-05-2015, 08:24
It was a fantastic trip and I think about it constantly. I'll definitely do it again.