Re: [John Muir Trail] late may to mid june hike
- It is important to underscore what Ray just said,“If you are willing to prepare and equip for the environment, go for it. But if you are starting on the trail in May with the same gear, and MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY, the same set of skills that you would bring in August, this might not end well.”When we teach our Basic Snow Skills Course, although we emphasize that our students need to bring winter-specific recommended gear (except on our April courses when the ambient temps are very warm), they typically bring the gear and clothing for summer-typical, Ultralight style and, subsequently, suffer for it.This is our recommendation for all of you who are becoming bored of the summer-trail,Learn about the snow – this means taking some form of an avalanche course anywhere you can find one. It is extremely important that every snow traveller understand the surface and snow pack construction you are trusting your balance on. Flat surfaces are very different to negotiating a sloped surface, traversing, or ascending/descending.Go out on short trips – this means extensive exposure time testing your clothing, food, and gear under easy-at-first snow conditions within a mile or two of your car. Picnics, day-hikes, general close-in explorations on flat routes with snowshoes (if on powder) or boots with traction-aides (if on consolidated or freeze-thawed surfaces. Don’t wander off onto sloped snow unless you know the condition of the layers of snow beneath you (avalanche awareness), whether they may not be adhering well to each other and may slide.Practice the physical skill sets needed to remain savvy and safe – these are very different from summer skills! Unless you’ve been out there, you will not realize this. If you are a quick learner and a sports-minded individual, you might be able to gather the info you need from TrailJournals and winter guide books, then go out and practice what you think they’re talking about, but be aware of yourself and your environment more than you’ve ever done before during summer conditions. These skill sets apply to mundane activities like getting water and maintaining your balance to exposure awareness and over-snow travel skills like route selection and knowing where the trail is.Take a Wilderness Skills Course – these can be found at your local wilderness retailer, community college, and up near mountain resorts. Watching an instructor do what he or she is teaching you tells you much more about how to do it than any Journal could ever. Then, doing that activity under an instructor’s watchful eye to learn the nuances of it will make you even better at it. When push comes to shove in the snowy backcountry (during a storm or after you realize that you’re too cold and exhausted to think straight), your health and safety can be quickly compromised and your awareness of it and response must become automatic and reflexive to keep things fun.Ned Tibbits, Director
www.mountaineducation.orgGood day,One of the great things about the John Muir Trail is that just about anyone can do it. There is very little exposure, there are good resupply points (at least in the first half), if you were to be injured on the trail you would probably see someone within hours, and the navigation is easy, easy.Typically, very little of that is true in May and early June.In my book, after pointing out that falls and drowning are the two most frequent causes of deaths in the backcounty, I list four other things to worry about. Here are two of them:
- Starting a trip too early in the season when the streams are fast moving and swollen with frigid snow melt.
My understanding is that people have done this trip mid-winter, so it isn't a question of IF it can be done, but it is an entirely different undertaking.If you are willing to prepare and equip for the environment, go for it. But if you are starting on the trail in May with the same gear, and MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY, the same set of skills that you would bring in August, this might not end well.
- Walking with substantial amount of snow still on the ground, which can obscure the trail and make navigation difficult. Don’t consider doing this trail if it has significant amounts of snow without plenty of winter backpacking training.
Good hiking, Ray
Author, Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail
Follow me at: www.twitter.com/JMTBookOn Sat, Dec 15, 2012 at 9:14 AM, Kim Fishburn <animalfarm99@...> wrote:
We just had a new member join that is planning a late May to mid June hike. Anyone want to comment on their plans.
My thoughts are that while its still early to plan for that time period, its generally a pretty snowy/wet time to hike, and they might want to change their plans.