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John Muir Trail, CA
mini location map2022-06-30
73 by photographer avatarrcorfman
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John Muir Trail, CA 
John Muir Trail, CA
Backpack197.00 Miles 40,521 AEG
Backpack197.00 Miles11 Days         
40,521 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
We played the JMT permit lottery and were fortunate enough to snag a permit for seven, starting at Lyell Canyon in Tuolumne Meadows, and exiting at Whitney Portal.

We had great weather the whole trip. Temps were nice most of the time and the skies were almost always clear. We had no storms to deal with.

Mileages and AEG were calculated by the FarOut app (formerly Guthooks), John Muir Trail, configured for southbound travel.

June 29th, we started our adventure early, driving first to Whitney Portal and dropping vehicles off there, then heading to Lee Vining where we spent the night. Two were able to just make it to the permit office in Tuolumne Meadows to get the permit so we could get an early start the next day.

Day 1, June 30: (23.5 to 43.9) 20.4 miles, 3481' AEG
Another early morning and we were able to get on trail around 6 at Tuolumne Meadows. It was brisk to start. We met several north bound PCTrs throughout the day. Though I didn't count, they seemed to be a lot more women than men. We climbed Donohue Pass, then waited for everyone to catch up. And waited, and waited. One never showed. We went back down a ways, and got a message from some hiker that the man we were waiting for turned around. We continued on. I thought the plan was to camp on Island Pass, so another and I stopped to wait for the last two. Two were ahead. when the two behind caught up and reached a campsite, they said they had enough and stopped. Another and I continued to relay the information with the lead two. The four of us ended up camping at Emerald Lake. Not a great way to start the trek. All the mosquitos at our campsite didn't help either.

Day 2, July 1: (43.9 to 62.1) 18.8 miles, 3304' AEG | 39.2, 85, 6785'
My sleeping pad leaked all night. I inflated it several times. Amazingly, in the morning, I was able to find the hole and patch it. It was fine the rest of the trip. We had a lazy morning as we were waiting for the other two to catch up. They did, and everyone was happy. We found a couple of geocaches that we passed by, one was at Garnet Lake and the other was near Shadow Lake. After that, we climbed up to Rosalie Lake. Around there, the two that camped on Island Pass, decided that they were going to camp earlier today (mile 55.5) and bail at Reds Meadow tomorrow. One of them was saying he never intended to finish. Mismatched expectations I guess. The four of us that were left, continued to Reds Meadow where we had some food and met the one who bailed the day before. His wife and daughter were meeting him at Mammoth Lakes where they were going to spend a couple days. After Reds Meadow, we continued a few more miles and camped at Crater Creek. Again, we met several nobo PCTrs.

Day 3, July 2: (62.1 to 80.0) 17.9 miles, 4173' AEG | 57.1, 10,958
As the first two days, we met several nobo PCTrs. As I was passing a group of four of them, one looked really familiar. She was looking at me funny too. It turns out we met on the PCT in 2018. She's a Kiwi and her trail name is Heaps and her Insta is @wilderbound. She's out hiking it again, for her 3rd time. We talked for several minutes which was really fun. I love the view from Virginia Lake and was excited to see it again. After that, there was a large descent to a creek where we stopped for awhile. From there we descended a bit more before starting the last ascent for the day. I left my hiking poles back at the creek and had to backtrack 3/4 of a mile or so to get them. That was a pain. We ascended up to Squaw Lake were we spent the night. It was windy all night but there weren't any bugs to worry about.

Day 4, July 3: (80.0 - 98.1) 18.1 miles, 3507' AEG | 75.2, 14,465'
From Squaw Lake, we climbed over Silver Pass, then worked our way down. It's a long and at times, steep descent. After most of the descent, I met Kyle O'Grady and his hiking partner Flossy. They're nobo on the PCT. Kyle has a podcast, Trail Tales Pod, that I've been on twice (episodes 14 & 114). He also has the YouTube channel, Kyle Hates Hiking. It was fun to meet Kyle in person. Even farther down, near the bottom of the descent, a man passed and said, "Russell in the Bush." That's my YouTube channel and he actually recognized me after following my daily Vlog of the PCT in 2018. We ended up camping where the trail crosses Bear Creek.

Day 5, July 4: (98.1-111.7) 14 miles, 2198' AEG | 89.2, 16,663'
The first order of business was crossing Bear Creek. Beer Creek can be perilous during the melt, but it was not an issue for us. I crossed barefoot easily enough. The second order of business was ascending to Selden Pass. Before the last push, I took a dip in Lake Marie to rinse off. That was cold but refreshing. After Selden Pass, there's a big descent where we detoured to Muir Trail Ranch to resupply. For Independence Day, MTR was serving complimentary burgers and cokes. That was really nice surprise! After getting our resupply all sorted out, including figuring out what to do with the resupply for the three others, we went to the nearby hot spring to relax for a bit. You need to cross the S Fork of the San Joaquin river to get there. It's a fairly wide crossing but wasn't deep or swift and I went barefoot. From there, we went a few more miles down the trail and camped a bit past where the trail crosses Piute Creek. For 4th of July, we had a dance party at camp which entailed a small string of flashing lights and music from a phone. One of our party developed a shin splint on the descent to MTR. MTR had a scale for weighing your pack. After resupply, mine weighed about 32lb with a liter of water.

Day 6, July 5: (111.7-125.2) 13.5 miles, 3327' AEG | 102.7, 19,990'
I Felt tired today, maybe because of yesterday's resupply and a heavier pack. We climbed up to the Evolution Valley. Crossing Evolution Creek was easy. Again, I went barefoot. There was lots of bugs so we put on bug spray and our headnets waiting for everyone to regroup. We went slow, lots of fishing. We stopped at Evolution Lake and went for a quick swim. We Camped near the outflow of Lake Saphire. I decided to cowboy camp. I also decided that after six days, it was time for a clean pair of socks.

Day 7, July 6: (125.2-144.5) 19.2 miles, 2188' AEG | 121.9, 22,178'
I rinsed my dirty pair of socks out in Lake Saphire's outflow. Thankfully, the water wasn't too cold. We went over Muir Pass today. The climb wasn't that bad from Lake Saphire and there wasn't much snow at all to deal with. There really wasn't any snow at the pass. Long descent to Palisade Creek and Le Conte Canyon. We stopped and took pictures at Monster Rock. The day ended as a trudge along Palisade Creek and we camped a bit below the Golden Staircase, setting up to climb it and Mather pass in the morning.

Day 8, July 7: (144.5-159.2) 14.7 miles, 4380' AEG | 136.6, 26,558'
Climbing Mather Pass was a tough way to start the day. The climbe was split in two, first up the Golden Staircase, which is a nice bit of trail construction, then past Palisade Lake and then the final push over the pass. The descent is steep to start out but then is a more level trail down to the S Fork of the Kings River. The water was low enough that it was a fairly simple rock hop across. From there there was a tiring climb up to Lake Marjorie, where we found a nice campsite near its outlet. The lake was deeper and colder than others and the fish were stunted with big heads and small bodies. A ranger stopped by and checked our permit.

Day 9, July 8: (159.2-179.5) 20.3 miles, 4672' AEG | 156.9, 31,230'
The day started climbing Pinchot Pass, the highest for us to date. We were on the pass within two miles from camp. Then we descended down to the suspension bridge over Woods Creek. The plan was to camp at Rae Lakes but there were murmers of going over Glenn Pass instead. The climb up to Rae Lakes was warm and seemed never ending. A boy scout troop passed us the other direction. They were doing the Rae Lakes Loop. I talked to the two adults for a bit. I stopped to get water and there was a rainbow in some clouds. The clouds below looked all roilly. It was very strange, I'd never seen anything like it before. Now I think it had something to do with the Washburn fire in Yosemite, but that's just a guess. I got to Rae Lakes and the decision was made to go over Glenn Pass and camp near the Kearsarge Pass trail junction. I hadn't been eating for that, so started a Clif Bar; they look just like bear poop. I made it over Glenn Pass and worked my way down to the last water before camp, where two of the others were waiting. The one that had a shin splint was really hurting. His knees were bothering him too. I let him use my poles the rest of the way to camp (I only use them on uphills and creek crossings anyway), which helped his balance. He was really despondent. I think two passes was too much. I know I was pretty shattered by the time we reached camp.

Day 10, July 9: (179.5-199.8 ) 20.3 miles, 4695' AEG | 177.2, 35,925'
Our injured party felt it best to exit Kearsarge as he was worried about being able to descend off Whitney. That was probably a good call, but it was sad to see him go. Now there were three of us, though we picked up another man way back on day 3. Today's mission was to go over Forester Pass, though it started out with a nice descent before reaching Bubb's Creek where we started climbing. This part of the trail is very pretty and the climb is gentle enough. Finally, the push over Forester came in earnest. Forester is the final pass before Whitney and is the highest at 13,200'. There was no snow to worry about at all. Quite the difference from when I was last here. At the pass, I was eating Fritos, and a marmot was scheming to get some for itself. On the southside, the infamous snow chute was non-existent. At the base of the pass, I stopped for water and ate some before continuing. From there, the descent to Tyndall creek is good tread and easy walking. We made good time. We were going to camp at Tyndall Creek but decided the next day would be super short staging for the climb up Whitney, so we continued on about a mile past Wallace Creek where we were about ten miles from the Whitney summit.

Day 11, July 10: (199.8-210.4-Whitney Portal) 19.8 miles, 4596' AEG | 197.0, 40,521
We got an early rise to be on trail early as we wanted to get to beer at Whitney Portal. We also wanted to be able to poop enough where we wouldn't need to use the wag bags we'd been carrying this whole trip. We made it to the Crabtree Meadows turn off when the climbing really starts. It was nice and brisk in the morning and didn't warm as we climbed. At the Guitar Lake inflow, we stopped for water as there was no more until the other side of Whitney. I took two liters. Just after Guitar Lake the climbing really begins. It was in the shade and cold, I really wanted to reach the sun, but was always just ahead of it. At trail junction, two miles from the summit, I stopped to eat some, then continued. I hoped to summit by 11, but missed by five minutes or so. It was calm and really nice on the summit. I put on my windjacket and was very comfortable. There were lots of people on the summit. I didn't stay at the summit very long, maybe 20 minutes before heading down. I wasn't expecting the climb from trail junction along the Whitney trail. After that, it was a never ending set of switchbacks down. All exposed and it was getting warmer the lower we got. The trail has no flow to it and it was very difficult walking. The heat didn't help. I think the four miles from the descent were the toughest of the trail. Finally, with about three miles left to portal, the tread improved and I could walk normally again. I made it to the Whitney Portal about 5pm. Burgers and beer awaited.
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 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Mount Whitney 14,505
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