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6691Re: [John Muir Trail] where to camp

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  • Peter Burke
    Jan 6 7:30 AM
      let me add a few of my favorite high camp sites

      John Ladd wrote:
      > My favorite: There are a couple of small cleared tentpads about 20
      > yards South of the Hut at Muir Pass that are good on clear nights. I
      > wouldn't recommend it if it looked like lightening might come in.
      > (Don't be tempted to retreat into the Hut -- it attracts lightening
      > and is not grounded. I hear that somebody got killed in it once.)

      been there many times. Only problem is that in late season, these spots
      start smelling like urinals, but in July they are still clean and fresh
      from the snow melt.
      > Another nice high spot is on the first lake just South of Selden Pass
      > (or the one just North of Selden - not as high, but with sparse
      > trees). I've never camped high just North of Pinchot Pass, but there
      > is a high lake there. There is a nice (dry) campsite to the East of
      > the trail in the first stand of large trees South of Forester Pass,
      > with a partial sky view. Or try the last tarns just southwest of
      > Whitney (1/4 mile or so above Guitar Lake).
      The first lake south of Selden is called Heart Lake. Much nicer than the
      usually crowded Sally Keyes Lakes below.

      My favorite places to camp above treeline, some slightly off the JMT on
      alternate routes:

      Whitney Summit (not great to camp, but hey, it's Whitney! Bring your wag
      Bighorn Plateau (better have very stable weather - it doesn't get much
      more exposed)
      Clouds Rest
      Island Pass
      Silver Pass, south of pass, anywhere flat near the top will do, a little
      lower you have two lakes before treeline.
      Marie Lake north of Selden Pass
      Goodale Pass (if you go that way to get to Vermillion Resort without the
      Alger Lakes (coming over Koip Peak Pass from Yosemite, rather than Donohue)
      Upper Basin (right on the small lakes east of the trail just south of
      Lake Marjorie north of Pinchot, or somewhere above it - forgot the exact
      place we used
      Wanda Lake north of Muir Pass (north end)
      Potluck Pass (alternate Sierra High Route to Mather from Dusy Basin,
      right on the top of the pass)
      Anywhere in 60 Lakes Basin (detour near Rae Lakes, but highly recommended)
      Plateau north of Forester at 11,200, just after you leave the trees
      behind. There are sites right at the point where you reach the plateau.

      Stay away from Guitar Lake if you can - totally overused. The tarns
      mentioned above Guitar Lake are a pretty decent site with some water in
      early season. I would not use the water there in late season. There is
      fresh water running into Guitar lake north of it, and you cross that
      small stream. It was flowing well even in late September.

      There are some small camp sites near trail crest on the way up to
      Whitney, too, but I never camped there. These spots are barely enough
      for a 1 person tent and there's no water, but has a great view and
      you're within 2 miles of Whitney's summit in the morning. If in a bind,
      you can probably sleep right on the trail (not legal, but who's gonna
      check late at night up there anyway?) at the intersection between JMT
      and Mt. Whitney Trail, a place that during the day becomes a virtual
      backpack parking lot for those finishing the JMT but not willing to
      carry their packs all the way to the top. The ground there is rather
      rough, though, and you'll have traffic on the trail starting at 5am for
      sure). I mention these sites because if you want to bag Whitney during
      monsoon season, you will probably be able to safely reach these places
      after the day's storms have ended and before darkness kicks in, giving
      you a great head start in the morning, so you can get to the top and be
      well off that rock before 11am when lightning activity will most likely
      pick up again.

      One year when we reached the western base of Whitney late in the day
      after storms hit us on Forester, we just hiked through to the summit
      under the light of a full moon, reaching the top at 3am. There we just
      sat in our sleeping bags near the summit hut and snoozed until sunrise,
      then headed down to the Portal, cheating the storms of that day and got
      the most memorable hike of our lives out of that approach. I'll never
      forget the eerie light and the strange silence that night, but it was
      bright enough to walk without any lights. It's not camping above
      treeline, but night hiking. I've been considering to do that again on
      one of the higher elevation sections if the moon cooperates. Perhaps
      this summer we can pull off something like Forester or Pinchot under the
      moon and then sleep in wherever we end up. **

      Full Moon – June 25
      Full Moon – July 25
      **Full Moon – August 23

      Looks like the July 25 night is something I have to work into our plans
      (we'll be heading north at that time, probably around Muir Pass). Full
      moon starts at 6:37pm that day, moonrise is at a perfect 7:50pm,
      moonset happens at 6:36am - just perfect as long as there are no
      clouds at night, but usually there are none, even after stormy days.

      great place to check what the moon will do in certain places of the world:

      If you like to see stars at night - search for the new moon dates and
      see if you will get those perfect start-dotted skies when you are up high.
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