Re: South to North
- I've hiked the JMT several times, late winter to late fall, and in both directions. My vote is definately for South to North. Here are my reasons:
1) Yes, Whitney is grand. But I would rather end my trip in the spectacle of Yosemite Valley than by hiking through a desert (or semi-desert) region. Sure, there are a lot of trees on Whitney, but the days leading up to the summit of Whitney, when coming from the north, take you through some very barren regions. (Big Sandy Meadow, the climb up the west side of Whitney, the Alabama Hills and desert at the base of Whitney, and the long, dry drive out of the Owens Valley.) I would rather end my trip in the lush greenery of Yosemite Valley.
2) The climb up Whitney is the hardest (physical) part of the trip. Once that is over, it is all down-hill from there. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.) By the time you get to Forester Pass, in a few days, you will have covered the two highest passes in the entire trip. You will be full of energy at the start of the trip, as well as excitement. If you have packed light and prepared yourself, that excitement should get you over these passes.
3) If you have problems with AMS, you can skip the Main Mt. Whitney Trail and enter the wilderness at Horseshoe Meadows or New Army Pass. This keeps you at a lower elevation for a few days, and then you can climb Whitney from the west. Yes, this does mean that you will "back-track" the few miles from Crabtree Ranger Station to the summit, but it is a pretty nice section to hike through.
4) Logistics. It is much easier to get public transportation from the Yosemite area than it is from Lone Pine. Have someone drop you off at Lone Pine, and then you can get back to them from the Yosemite area.
5) Solitude. The majority of non-PCT hikers on the trail will be going north to south. By heading North Bound, you can stop and talk to them, or not. You can spend more time enjoying the solitude of the wilderness and less time "chatting" with other hikers.
6) In a previous response, someone mentioned that knowing that the you were hiking parallell to the Owens Valley would detract from the sense of Wilderness. HogWash! That valley is 20-30 miles away, on the other side of a very large mountain range. It may as well be a thousand miles away, as you will never even know it is there. Once you leave the summit of Whitney, you won't be able to see it.
7) Resupply. There are easy resupply points all along the JMT. One that is often overlooked is the Ranger Station at Cedar Grove in King's Canyon. Yes, it is a day's hike in each direction to get there, but so are all of the other "off trail" hikes. Contact the Ranger Station for details on using this as a food drop. They are quite nice, and the trip out and back is beautiful.) And by the time you get to Vermillion Valley Resort, after a couple of weeks on the trail, you will REALLY enjoy the food and especially the PIE!
8) The climb to the passes are shorter, albeit steeper, on the south side of the passes. This makes for shorter climbs up, and easier on the knees descents. Instead of spending an entire afternoon "slogging" up Forester Pass, you can spend just an hour or two to reach the top, and then leisurely stroll down the northern side. This is true for most of the passes along the way.
Those are a few of my reasons for a north-bound hike. Like everyone else has said, though, take them for what they are. Just someone else's opinion.
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>From: "colleen beach" <beacher987@...>
>Subject: north to south or south to north?
>those of you who have done it which way would you reccommend for a
>first-timer? im planning on summer of 07 after i graduate from
>college...should be awesome!