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Re: [John Muir Trail] Early Season High Sierra travel

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  • Ned Tibbits
    How early can you hike the JMT? Why, I believe, it has been done as “early” as April (me), but I’m sure our friend, Mr. Dittli, will be able to add some
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 22, 2012
      How early can you hike the JMT? Why, I believe, it has been done as “early” as April (me), but I’m sure our friend, Mr. Dittli, will be able to add some earlier dates from those who have skied or snow-shoed it!
      Both Frank and Joe have truly nailed it, however. If you head up to do it “early” in the spring (when is this? Probably anytime immediately after the big storms stop dumping snow in the sierra, but for now let’s just say “early” is any time there is still scary snow on the trail), either go really early and cross the creeks on snow bridges while they are still strong and thick, go when the PCT thrus do, or wait till the whole mess is gone and deal with lots of people, mosquitoes, and low creeks.
      Many ask us (as instructors of wilderness skills and Search and Rescue Members) when we personally prefer to head into the high sierra and I’ll have to admit that we prefer the quiet and solitude of winter and early spring to the heat, dirt, bugs, bears, rangers, and crowds of summer. Snow is a delight, but not to be trifled with, ignored, pre-supposed, or mastered. Cold and wet conditions, whether with regard to the weather or just on your person, will quickly ruin your day and maybe your life. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and plan to act quickly when you sense something amiss and you’ll live long to see more days in the hills.
      Learn about snow. Practice the skills of mountain lore. Quicken your ears to the sounds of trouble. Watch. Notice when things around you are not quite right. Discover the smell of a storm. Most of all, learn to be quiet, especially the voice within, in order to hear what the mountains have to share. After all, isn’t that why you’re really there to begin with? Once you’ve gained the skills and wisdom of the mountain man, there’s no time too “early” to enter in, only situations and conditions worth avoiding.
      Ned Tibbits, Director
      Mountain Education
      Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 10:07 PM
      Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] New to the group, the group, thinking about a trip next year

      It depends on the snow pack and your experience travelling the mountains on snow.
      You won't know what the snow pack will be like until next spring.
      A target date for PCT northbound thruhikers is to start north from the southern Kennedy Meadows around mid June with an ice axe expecting to have snow on the passes. But there are always lengthy arguments about when to enter the Sierra and it changes every year.
      The stream crossings get harder as the snow melts and they can be a lot more difficult to deal with than the snow. This may favor an earlier start if you're experineced with snow travel.
      Don't take any advive from anyone who hiked this year which had an extremely low snow pack.
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