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SOBO Permitting

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  • Ron Cordell
    Hi all, I m reading through the files on the Yahoo Groups site regarding entry points for JMT permits, and I m starting to put together some plans for a 2012
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 27, 2011
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      Hi all,

      I'm reading through the files on the Yahoo Groups site regarding entry points for JMT permits, and I'm starting to put together some plans for a 2012 thru hike.

      Some questions:

      In John Ladd's docs uploaded to the Yahoo Groups JMT site he states that one may have to use other entry points to gain access to the JMT, such as the Mirror Lakes option.
      What are usually the main constraints here? Is it by date, by size of party, or just entry point? I'd like to do the "traditional" SOBO hike from Happy Isles in Yosemite thru to Whitney Portal. I'm totally flexible on when I can start and end the hike. If number of hikers on the trail at a time is the primary constraint for issuing permits, how does one convey this to the ranger (I suppose I could just call them, but from what I've read the ranger office seems overwhelmed with phone calls)? Does having that kind of flexibility help in getting the permit for the entry point I'd like?

      How accurate do I need to be on the date of exit or a Whitney Summit?

      If I'd like to do Half Dome, what are the recommendations for first night camp location?

      I realize that winter is just getting started so it's impossible to predict the snow and that hiking equipment may need to change accordingly. :) That being said, I'm targeting a late June hike at this point unless we get slammed with storms galore starting in January. Any comments/observations...? 

      Thanks!

      -ronc
    • Barbara Karagosian
      A few comments! If you re starting in Yosemite you don t need to be very accurate in yr exit date, so I d recommend over-estimating by maybe 3-4 days. You
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 27, 2011
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        A few comments!

        If you're starting in Yosemite you don't need to be very accurate in yr exit date, so I'd recommend over-estimating by maybe 3-4 days. You don't need a WP exit permit when you start the JMT in Yosemite (or another National Park, like SEKI).

        When I did Half Dome, I camped in Little Yosemite Valley, but if you get a LYV "pass thru" JMT entry  permit then  you can camp further along the trail than that. 

        The main permit constraint is the entry quota per trailhead. So a group I'd of 1 may have better luck than a group of 4.  It's a lottery now, based on faxes received after office closing time and 7am (I think).  End of June is less popular than July and August. Some people (Bob S?), usually just get theirs by waiting in line the day before. The Happy Isles trailhead is the most sought after. Some people do the JMT from Tuolumne Meadows (TM) and do the TM -HI part immediately before on a separate permit. 

        Now might be a good time to call the rangers and see what they have to say. This can vary from ranger to ranger however. 

        As you probably know, the earliest application date is 24 weeks ahead. 

        Good luck!  Keep us informed!

        Barbara


        On Dec 27, 2011, at 12:25 PM, Ron Cordell <ron.cordell@...> wrote:

         

        Hi all,


        I'm reading through the files on the Yahoo Groups site regarding entry points for JMT permits, and I'm starting to put together some plans for a 2012 thru hike.

        Some questions:

        In John Ladd's docs uploaded to the Yahoo Groups JMT site he states that one may have to use other entry points to gain access to the JMT, such as the Mirror Lakes option.
        What are usually the main constraints here? Is it by date, by size of party, or just entry point? I'd like to do the "traditional" SOBO hike from Happy Isles in Yosemite thru to Whitney Portal. I'm totally flexible on when I can start and end the hike. If number of hikers on the trail at a time is the primary constraint for issuing permits, how does one convey this to the ranger (I suppose I could just call them, but from what I've read the ranger office seems overwhelmed with phone calls)? Does having that kind of flexibility help in getting the permit for the entry point I'd like?

        How accurate do I need to be on the date of exit or a Whitney Summit?

        If I'd like to do Half Dome, what are the recommendations for first night camp location?

        I realize that winter is just getting started so it's impossible to predict the snow and that hiking equipment may need to change accordingly. :) That being said, I'm targeting a late June hike at this point unless we get slammed with storms galore starting in January. Any comments/observations...? 

        Thanks!

        -ronc

      • robert shattuck
        Ron, Having done the trail a few times, I can tell you this––if you have the option of just showing up and not being in a great hurry, you ll do fine doing
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 27, 2011
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          Ron, 

          Having done the trail a few times, I can tell you this––if you have the option of just showing up and not being in a great hurry, you'll do fine doing the "trad route" with a start in the Valley from Happy Isles. 

          Last year was the first year I've ever not just arrived and got exactly what I wanted and I think this was due to everyone waiting until late August to do it, which is usually not the case. I ended up getting in there, via AMTRAK and had I been solo, would have been on the trail that very afternoon or the next morning, but I was with one other hiker. 

          We ended up having to come back the next morning and got a permit for the next day, so we spent some time in the valley, which kinda sucks when you are on a schedule and need to be here, here and then here . . . but that really sucks. Is that a vacation? 

          If you can't get Happy Isles, then go for Glacier point. Aside from getting up there (thumb or pay$$) it's an easier hike than Happy Isles, if not just a lot more scenic. 

          When you get your (walk-in) permit they will "suggest" where you should stay while in Yosemite and they'll give you a roundabout exit date, depending on what you ask for . . . if you say you'll be out there thirty days, when they'll put that down––likewise, if you think you're going to blitz the entire trail in ten days, then they'll go with that . . . but once you are out there, there are no hard rules and no need to be worried about whether you are a day late or a few days under your permit––you might have it all squared away and know exactly what you are going to do, but don't depend on it and again, if you are a few days over the exit date, you'll be fine. 

          BOB
          http://www.summitpost.org/plans/view_activity.php?post_id=6480




          To: JohnMuirTrail@yahoogroups.com
          From: ron.cordell@...
          Date: Tue, 27 Dec 2011 12:25:54 -0800
          Subject: [John Muir Trail] SOBO Permitting

           
          Hi all,

          I'm reading through the files on the Yahoo Groups site regarding entry points for JMT permits, and I'm starting to put together some plans for a 2012 thru hike.

          Some questions:

          In John Ladd's docs uploaded to the Yahoo Groups JMT site he states that one may have to use other entry points to gain access to the JMT, such as the Mirror Lakes option.
          What are usually the main constraints here? Is it by date, by size of party, or just entry point? I'd like to do the "traditional" SOBO hike from Happy Isles in Yosemite thru to Whitney Portal. I'm totally flexible on when I can start and end the hike. If number of hikers on the trail at a time is the primary constraint for issuing permits, how does one convey this to the ranger (I suppose I could just call them, but from what I've read the ranger office seems overwhelmed with phone calls)? Does having that kind of flexibility help in getting the permit for the entry point I'd like?

          How accurate do I need to be on the date of exit or a Whitney Summit?

          If I'd like to do Half Dome, what are the recommendations for first night camp location?

          I realize that winter is just getting started so it's impossible to predict the snow and that hiking equipment may need to change accordingly. :) That being said, I'm targeting a late June hike at this point unless we get slammed with storms galore starting in January. Any comments/observations...? 

          Thanks!

          -ronc

        • John Ladd
          Unfortunately, mid-January reported snowpack doesn t tell you much about whether a late June start will commit you to a lot of snow on passes or a lot of
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 27, 2011
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            Unfortunately, mid-January reported snowpack doesn't tell you much about whether a late June start will commit you to a lot of snow on passes or a lot of meltwater on stream crossings.  Most of our snow falls in January February and March and even when the April 1 snowpack is substantially different from "normal" (over or under) the April-May-June ratio of new snowfall to snowmelt can make a huge difference.

            I'd say you are pushing your luck a bit with a late June permit.  You could get the permit for then, but try to leave yourself a "Plan B" option so that you can push back your start date into July if we get a lot of late-winter or early-spring snow or if cold weather and clouds delay the melt.  The Bob Shattuck strategy of a walk-in permit is often a good Plan B if your work schedules will allow you to change your vacation dates as the summer approaches.

            But if you work situation is such that you need to commit now to a particular month for a vacation, I'd suggest that a July start date is considerably safer than June.

            If you are comfortable navigating without visible trails, walking a lot on consolidated snow, and not particularly intimidated by stream crossings, however, late June is fine.  It certainly can be done in late June most years (even in fairly high snowpack years) if your skill set is up to it.  Mosquitoes are likely less of a problem in late June and permit reservations will be easier to score.

            Wildflowers are probably better in July or August than late June, though you will have them at some of the lower elevations in late June and early July.

            I personally like the Glacier Point entry options.  Your faxed request can list alternative preferences and I'd suggest including options other than Happy Isles for a entry TH, especially if you have a larger group.

            First night campsite will largely be determined by your permit.  Camping at  Little Yosemite Valley is just fine (though a bit too overpopulated) but if your permit requires you to go past there, you will also find good spots not far past the cutoff trail to Half Dome.  If you come from Glacier Point there are good options as well.

            This link will give you a rough idea whether permit quotas are getting filled up

            http://www.yosemiteconservancystore.com/DSN/wwwyosemiteassociationorg/Content/Webcam/original/rptFullTrailheadDates.htm

            As I look at it today, it reads in part:


            Glacier Point->Little Yosemite Valley

            May26

            June5

            Happy Isles->Little Yosemite Valley

            May26

            June5

            Happy Isles->Sunrise/Merced Lake (pass through)

            May24

            That means that permit quotas got filled for June 5 to camp at LYV on night 1 from either the Happy Isles or Glacier Pt trialheads, but were unfilled for other first night destinations from those THs in early June (listing is current only through about June 10 at best since later June dates are not yet opened).  As we get into the more popular start dates, you will see a very high percent of "full" dates on the popular entry points.

            John Curran Ladd
            1616 Castro Street
            San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
            415-648-9279


            On Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 12:25 PM, Ron Cordell <ron.cordell@...> wrote:
             

            Hi all,


            I'm reading through the files on the Yahoo Groups site regarding entry points for JMT permits, and I'm starting to put together some plans for a 2012 thru hike.

            Some questions:

            In John Ladd's docs uploaded to the Yahoo Groups JMT site he states that one may have to use other entry points to gain access to the JMT, such as the Mirror Lakes option.
            What are usually the main constraints here? Is it by date, by size of party, or just entry point? I'd like to do the "traditional" SOBO hike from Happy Isles in Yosemite thru to Whitney Portal. I'm totally flexible on when I can start and end the hike. If number of hikers on the trail at a time is the primary constraint for issuing permits, how does one convey this to the ranger (I suppose I could just call them, but from what I've read the ranger office seems overwhelmed with phone calls)? Does having that kind of flexibility help in getting the permit for the entry point I'd like?

            How accurate do I need to be on the date of exit or a Whitney Summit?

            If I'd like to do Half Dome, what are the recommendations for first night camp location?

            I realize that winter is just getting started so it's impossible to predict the snow and that hiking equipment may need to change accordingly. :) That being said, I'm targeting a late June hike at this point unless we get slammed with storms galore starting in January. Any comments/observations...? 

            Thanks!

            -ronc


          • Ron Cordell
            Thanks for the replies, all - that helps quite a lot. -ronc
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 27, 2011
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              Thanks for the replies, all - that helps quite a lot.

              -ronc

              On Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 3:50 PM, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
               

              Unfortunately, mid-January reported snowpack doesn't tell you much about whether a late June start will commit you to a lot of snow on passes or a lot of meltwater on stream crossings.  Most of our snow falls in January February and March and even when the April 1 snowpack is substantially different from "normal" (over or under) the April-May-June ratio of new snowfall to snowmelt can make a huge difference.

              I'd say you are pushing your luck a bit with a late June permit.  You could get the permit for then, but try to leave yourself a "Plan B" option so that you can push back your start date into July if we get a lot of late-winter or early-spring snow or if cold weather and clouds delay the melt.  The Bob Shattuck strategy of a walk-in permit is often a good Plan B if your work schedules will allow you to change your vacation dates as the summer approaches.

              But if you work situation is such that you need to commit now to a particular month for a vacation, I'd suggest that a July start date is considerably safer than June.

              If you are comfortable navigating without visible trails, walking a lot on consolidated snow, and not particularly intimidated by stream crossings, however, late June is fine.  It certainly can be done in late June most years (even in fairly high snowpack years) if your skill set is up to it.  Mosquitoes are likely less of a problem in late June and permit reservations will be easier to score.

              Wildflowers are probably better in July or August than late June, though you will have them at some of the lower elevations in late June and early July.

              I personally like the Glacier Point entry options.  Your faxed request can list alternative preferences and I'd suggest including options other than Happy Isles for a entry TH, especially if you have a larger group.

              First night campsite will largely be determined by your permit.  Camping at  Little Yosemite Valley is just fine (though a bit too overpopulated) but if your permit requires you to go past there, you will also find good spots not far past the cutoff trail to Half Dome.  If you come from Glacier Point there are good options as well.

              This link will give you a rough idea whether permit quotas are getting filled up

              http://www.yosemiteconservancystore.com/DSN/wwwyosemiteassociationorg/Content/Webcam/original/rptFullTrailheadDates.htm

              As I look at it today, it reads in part:


              Glacier Point->Little Yosemite Valley

              May26

              June5

              Happy Isles->Little Yosemite Valley

              May26

              June5

              Happy Isles->Sunrise/Merced Lake (pass through)

              May24

              That means that permit quotas got filled for June 5 to camp at LYV on night 1 from either the Happy Isles or Glacier Pt trialheads, but were unfilled for other first night destinations from those THs in early June (listing is current only through about June 10 at best since later June dates are not yet opened).  As we get into the more popular start dates, you will see a very high percent of "full" dates on the popular entry points.

              John Curran Ladd
              1616 Castro Street
              San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
              415-648-9279



              On Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 12:25 PM, Ron Cordell <ron.cordell@...> wrote:
               

              Hi all,


              I'm reading through the files on the Yahoo Groups site regarding entry points for JMT permits, and I'm starting to put together some plans for a 2012 thru hike.

              Some questions:

              In John Ladd's docs uploaded to the Yahoo Groups JMT site he states that one may have to use other entry points to gain access to the JMT, such as the Mirror Lakes option.
              What are usually the main constraints here? Is it by date, by size of party, or just entry point? I'd like to do the "traditional" SOBO hike from Happy Isles in Yosemite thru to Whitney Portal. I'm totally flexible on when I can start and end the hike. If number of hikers on the trail at a time is the primary constraint for issuing permits, how does one convey this to the ranger (I suppose I could just call them, but from what I've read the ranger office seems overwhelmed with phone calls)? Does having that kind of flexibility help in getting the permit for the entry point I'd like?

              How accurate do I need to be on the date of exit or a Whitney Summit?

              If I'd like to do Half Dome, what are the recommendations for first night camp location?

              I realize that winter is just getting started so it's impossible to predict the snow and that hiking equipment may need to change accordingly. :) That being said, I'm targeting a late June hike at this point unless we get slammed with storms galore starting in January. Any comments/observations...? 

              Thanks!

              -ronc



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