RE: [John Muir Trail] Newbie
- "How bad will the mosquitoes be likely to be the first three weeks of July?"Pete,Mosquitos will no doubt be rather hungry and it looks like the snow will be sticking around, making, if not not the passes, but a few other spots rather interesting to navigate through on a first-time trip.There's nothing as much fun as being slightly lost, post-holing up to your crotch and fighting off a swarm of mosquitos . . . all the while thinking, I coulda gone in August.Usually, after about mid-august, the mosquitos as well as the hordes of summer hikers are gone, making your "retirement" a lot less work. And if there's snow on any of the passes, it has been well packed and almost easy to navigate, although the many boot-packed routes are often all misleading––if you find yourself out there, up there, in the snow––I vote Donahue and Muir as the two most misleading passes, as well as Forester.Forester, if only because I've done it and seen it––that when you get up on the long ridge, before hitting the last few hundred feet of switch-backs to the summit––the trail goes off to the right, but most people kinda make a straight line through the snow . . . and all the while the trail is actually, over there, and easy to follow.Getting up on top of Donahue can really be a challenge––especially if there are lots of meandering tracks and the "summit" marker/boundary sign is down. On the south side descent, if you go too far, hugging the left slope, you'll eventually end up having to navigate and cross a lot a lot of deep water (why would I know, hmmmm) . . .Anyway, I won't get anymore carried away with details . . .Bob
Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2012 17:33:41 +0000
Subject: [John Muir Trail] NewbieI am a new member here. I am retiring from my full time job in a few days but will work part time until the end of June. Sometime following that I plan to do a thru hike on the JMT.I am a long distance self supported bicycle tourist, having gone coast to coast a couple times as well as doing some other long trips. I have also done a good bit of canoe camping but have backpacked less, mostly only a few days at a time. I like to travel pretty light and expect a base gear weight of about 11 pounds. I am thinking of something in the 16 day range, but plan to keep it flexible.I am unsure about when I will start my trip. Depending on the snow pack this year, I would like to go fairly early in the season. How bad will the mosquitoes be likely to be the first three weeks of July?Pete
I lived in the sierras Truckee for 15 years and have seen how unpredictable the snowpack can be from drought years, even though all the snow fell in April and may and left deep snowfields until late July, as well as above normal snowpack that never melted. And normal years where in July at 10k the north faces require some advanced skills and even lower if the snowpack came late in the season.
I'm not an expert but from my experience living and monitoring it I would say based on what I see this year the snow pack will be deep at 10k later than normal this year.
We're above normal now and the forecast is for normal from here for the rest of the season leaving us with possibly above normal snowpack. I'm not an expert or a meteorologist but have a good feeling about our needed above average snowpack this year.
It's very dangerous traversing a steep snowfield with a full pack and without experience. Even the relatively flat sections in the trees covered in snow. If you don't know what your doing it will probably take you three times as long to hike a mile. And if you aren't a good navigator you might get lost or at least off track.
Mather, Pinchot, and south of Muir pass would require a lot of caution. Glen pass will be dangerous as will Forester especially the south face, not to mention Guitar lake to trail pass. Descending is when most accidents happen, so going NOBO in early season is even more dangerous.
- Southbound is safer to a certain degree because you willl hit the highest passes later in your trip. Still, June can me pretty hard.Snowpack is quite variable year to year. Not particularly high so far -- a bit below normal even though the rain has been heavy in the lower parts of CA -- but March snow and the rate of melt is quite variable year to year so that even years that look below normal on March 1 (or even April 1) can be problematic if there is late season or Spring snow or if the melt is slower than usual. People do hike in June every year but the failure rate seems to be high. I had a friend, tough guy just returned from a Special Forces stint in Afghanistan, who hiked the PCT northbound earlier than usual until he had to turn back at Forester Pass.I'd certainly think, if I was you, of starting as late as possible in June (or shifting to July) and of hiking Southbound.In the chart below (or at the link), 2014/15 is the short line to the left. Recent years, the average and the max and min lines are also shownJohn Curran Ladd