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Re: where to camp

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  • clairehiker
    That was an enjoyable video-thanks!
    Message 1 of 13 , Jan 3, 2010
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      That was an enjoyable video-thanks!

      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, robert shattuck <bobolonius@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > Amanda,
      > I'm sure you'll get plenty of (technical, like "wind blows up during the day and down at night") argument, advice on this, but . . . for the most part you won't have to worry about drastic temp variations.
      >
      > Once you leave Yosemite Valley, you've sort of left "the valleys"––the low spots––behind.
      > Sure, if you camp on the passes the nights are going to be colder and exposed, but most of the real passes, once you start with Mather, are fairly . . . they don't really lend themselves to camping.
      > There's a small spot on Mather . . . nothing much on Pinchot . . . I've stayed on Glen before (right on the trail) and if you wanted to stay on Forrester, you'd have to bivy right on the trail
      > But I don't think you really have that in mind (great if you do!!!) . . . once you start on the major passes, you're pretty much doing a pass a day––the idea being to get up below the pass in the evening. Go over it in the morning and plant yourself below the next one . . . AND you're always going to be high once you're into the Majors: mather, pinchot, glen, forester . . .
      > Bugs and bears . . . all depends on which month you hit the trail. June, july, you'll have the mosquitos––but they all but vanish if you do it in August or later.
      > I usually go in mid-august and that means I rarely have to deal with bugs. I don't even take very much bug juice and I never really put it on.
      > Bears––once you get out of Yosemite, or let's say, Red's MEadow––the bears seem to vanish until you hit VIDETTE MEADOWS.
      > There are alwys going to be bears on the trail and you should never relax in regard to bear procedure, but they really do vanish once you head over Donahue Pass.
      > Every time I've done it, I've had some ranger tell me that Thousand Island area has a bear, but NEVER seen on, or heard of any problems.
      > Both Lyell Canyon and Vidette Meadows are perfect places to practice your hi/lo thing.
      > My personal (experience) advice is don't camp in either Lyell canyon or Vidette, if you don't want to deal with bears.
      > In Lyell canyon, you can't camp anywhere before the vogelsang junction. Again my personal advice is . . . I usually come down from Sunrise or cathedral, hit Tuolomne Meadows about noon . . . pick up my food drop at the store/post office and spend the rest of the day (digesting all the junk food and beer I get at the store) up in the backpackers camp. You will no doubt see and experience bears here, but they are so trained and familiar with people, it's not a big hazard. They are lazy and not too aggressive/persistent. They know that a loud banging pot means, go away.
      > I get up the next morning and easily hike right up Lyell Canyon. it's what, eleven miles from the trailhead to Donahue? . . . . again, I'd hike right through the canyon. it's a flat speed-walk for the first eight or so miles and then . . . well, then you can choose to stay with the bugs and bears, or you can get up into the switch-backs.
      > Once you are in them, the first camp spot you will come to is where, the "horse bridge" is.
      > This place is loud, due to the water, and in the trees with the bugs, if not bears. I stayed in there once. no bears. loud. lots of bugs.
      > my advice––keep going . . . you'll do another 15-30 minutes of s-backs and then come to a nice meadow with a creek crossing. This is a nice place, but again, BUGS. lots of room for tents though . . . If you cross the creek and go up, I can guarantee that a person on crutches could probably make it up the next section in 30 minutes . . . you and me, give it about fifteen and you do about four s-backs and cross a few streams (tasty FRESH, no need to filter) . . . the trail levels out and makes a u-turn (just look on your map) around a large crop of rock, where you pass a tarn on your right and get to another crossing before heading up to Donahue––but wait!!! stop here at the crossing.
      > turn around and walk up into that crop of rock behind you. Think of it as a boat and head up into the bow, which will not only give you a great view down into the valley you just came through, but there are two or three choice spots for pitching a tent.
      > If you get up to this spot and it's late or you just want as much light as possible then cross the creek and hike up five minutes or more . . . you'll get about another hours worth of light. Best thing. no bugs, no bears.
      > There are other spots along the trail that are buggy, but not many. The next bad spot (early in the season) is Tully Hole. And my advice there is to stay at Virginia Lake, which is awesome, and then in the morning you skip down the s-backs into Tully Hole and then head for the "indian lakes" just below silver pass. great place to spend the night.
      > As for Vidette–––you're in the pass-a-day zone, so . . . camp at Rae lakes, go over Glen, then down through vidette and get up below your next pass––the lovely Forester.
      > Again, Vidette is a "low spot" with bugs and bears. I've had two encounters of my own there and seen other peoples misfortunes.
      > I've done the entire trail a bunch of times and I know it rather intimately, I think, so if you have other questions about it, I'd love to tell you what I know.
      > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xSLpM8XPRQ
      >
      > I'll no doubt be out there again this summer. when are you planning on going?
      > BOB
      > sparklefart.blogspot.com
      > http://www.summitpost.org/plans/view_activity.php?post_id=6480
      >
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      > To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
      > From: aslive@...
      > Date: Mon, 4 Jan 2010 00:47:30 +0000
      > Subject: [John Muir Trail] where to camp
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      > I have been planning to hike the trail this summer.
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      > I have been planning to camp low and hike high. My thinking was that it will be wormer in the valleys at night due to the lower altitudes than it will be up in the passes.
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      > On the other hand, there should be fewer mosquitoes and bears at the passes or above the tree line. But, it should be windyer there too.
      >
      > Cold air flows down-hill. The sun sets sooner and rises latter down in the valleys than up in the passes, so now I'm thinking it's colder down below.
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      > Aughhhh! Suddenly the very simple has become complicated. What do most people do and why?
      >
      > Amanda
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      > _________________________________________________________________
      > Hotmail: Trusted email with Microsoft's powerful SPAM protection.
      > http://clk.atdmt.com/GBL/go/177141664/direct/01/
      >
    • hmdsierra
      I never gave it much thought when my son and I did the trail. we did what has been mentioned, figured out how far to go each day. We camped high and low.
      Message 2 of 13 , Jan 3, 2010
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        I never gave it much thought when my son and I did the trail. we did what has been mentioned, figured out how far to go each day. We camped high and low. Mostly tried to camp in the trees, I cook so need the cooking fire and enjoy the campfire in the evening. At Lk Marjorie we camped beside the trail and had wind all night. The next time I was there we went a little west of the trail and got behind a large boulder and slept in the cozy spots beneath some low growing trees. With a little looking you can find these cozy spots to keep out of the wind. Other times we were out in the open at the higher spots. Like someone said it's all good.


        --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "clairehiker" <clairehiker@...> wrote:
        >
        > That was an enjoyable video-thanks!
        >
        > --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, robert shattuck <bobolonius@> wrote:
        > >
        > >
        > > Amanda,
        > > I'm sure you'll get plenty of (technical, like "wind blows up during the day and down at night") argument, advice on this, but . . . for the most part you won't have to worry about drastic temp variations.
        > >
        > > Once you leave Yosemite Valley, you've sort of left "the valleys"––the low spots––behind.
        > > Sure, if you camp on the passes the nights are going to be colder and exposed, but most of the real passes, once you start with Mather, are fairly . . . they don't really lend themselves to camping.
        > > There's a small spot on Mather . . . nothing much on Pinchot . . . I've stayed on Glen before (right on the trail) and if you wanted to stay on Forrester, you'd have to bivy right on the trail
        > > But I don't think you really have that in mind (great if you do!!!) . . . once you start on the major passes, you're pretty much doing a pass a day––the idea being to get up below the pass in the evening. Go over it in the morning and plant yourself below the next one . . . AND you're always going to be high once you're into the Majors: mather, pinchot, glen, forester . . .
        > > Bugs and bears . . . all depends on which month you hit the trail. June, july, you'll have the mosquitos––but they all but vanish if you do it in August or later.
        > > I usually go in mid-august and that means I rarely have to deal with bugs. I don't even take very much bug juice and I never really put it on.
        > > Bears––once you get out of Yosemite, or let's say, Red's MEadow––the bears seem to vanish until you hit VIDETTE MEADOWS.
        > > There are alwys going to be bears on the trail and you should never relax in regard to bear procedure, but they really do vanish once you head over Donahue Pass.
        > > Every time I've done it, I've had some ranger tell me that Thousand Island area has a bear, but NEVER seen on, or heard of any problems.
        > > Both Lyell Canyon and Vidette Meadows are perfect places to practice your hi/lo thing.
        > > My personal (experience) advice is don't camp in either Lyell canyon or Vidette, if you don't want to deal with bears.
        > > In Lyell canyon, you can't camp anywhere before the vogelsang junction. Again my personal advice is . . . I usually come down from Sunrise or cathedral, hit Tuolomne Meadows about noon . . . pick up my food drop at the store/post office and spend the rest of the day (digesting all the junk food and beer I get at the store) up in the backpackers camp. You will no doubt see and experience bears here, but they are so trained and familiar with people, it's not a big hazard. They are lazy and not too aggressive/persistent. They know that a loud banging pot means, go away.
        > > I get up the next morning and easily hike right up Lyell Canyon. it's what, eleven miles from the trailhead to Donahue? . . . . again, I'd hike right through the canyon. it's a flat speed-walk for the first eight or so miles and then . . . well, then you can choose to stay with the bugs and bears, or you can get up into the switch-backs.
        > > Once you are in them, the first camp spot you will come to is where, the "horse bridge" is.
        > > This place is loud, due to the water, and in the trees with the bugs, if not bears. I stayed in there once. no bears. loud. lots of bugs.
        > > my advice––keep going . . . you'll do another 15-30 minutes of s-backs and then come to a nice meadow with a creek crossing. This is a nice place, but again, BUGS. lots of room for tents though . . . If you cross the creek and go up, I can guarantee that a person on crutches could probably make it up the next section in 30 minutes . . . you and me, give it about fifteen and you do about four s-backs and cross a few streams (tasty FRESH, no need to filter) . . . the trail levels out and makes a u-turn (just look on your map) around a large crop of rock, where you pass a tarn on your right and get to another crossing before heading up to Donahue––but wait!!! stop here at the crossing.
        > > turn around and walk up into that crop of rock behind you. Think of it as a boat and head up into the bow, which will not only give you a great view down into the valley you just came through, but there are two or three choice spots for pitching a tent.
        > > If you get up to this spot and it's late or you just want as much light as possible then cross the creek and hike up five minutes or more . . . you'll get about another hours worth of light. Best thing. no bugs, no bears.
        > > There are other spots along the trail that are buggy, but not many. The next bad spot (early in the season) is Tully Hole. And my advice there is to stay at Virginia Lake, which is awesome, and then in the morning you skip down the s-backs into Tully Hole and then head for the "indian lakes" just below silver pass. great place to spend the night.
        > > As for Vidette–––you're in the pass-a-day zone, so . . . camp at Rae lakes, go over Glen, then down through vidette and get up below your next pass––the lovely Forester.
        > > Again, Vidette is a "low spot" with bugs and bears. I've had two encounters of my own there and seen other peoples misfortunes.
        > > I've done the entire trail a bunch of times and I know it rather intimately, I think, so if you have other questions about it, I'd love to tell you what I know.
        > > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xSLpM8XPRQ
        > >
        > > I'll no doubt be out there again this summer. when are you planning on going?
        > > BOB
        > > sparklefart.blogspot.com
        > > http://www.summitpost.org/plans/view_activity.php?post_id=6480
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > > To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
        > > From: aslive@
        > > Date: Mon, 4 Jan 2010 00:47:30 +0000
        > > Subject: [John Muir Trail] where to camp
        > >
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        > > I have been planning to hike the trail this summer.
        > >
        > > I have been planning to camp low and hike high. My thinking was that it will be wormer in the valleys at night due to the lower altitudes than it will be up in the passes.
        > >
        > > On the other hand, there should be fewer mosquitoes and bears at the passes or above the tree line. But, it should be windyer there too.
        > >
        > > Cold air flows down-hill. The sun sets sooner and rises latter down in the valleys than up in the passes, so now I'm thinking it's colder down below.
        > >
        > > Aughhhh! Suddenly the very simple has become complicated. What do most people do and why?
        > >
        > > Amanda
        > >
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        > >
        > > _________________________________________________________________
        > > Hotmail: Trusted email with Microsoft's powerful SPAM protection.
        > > http://clk.atdmt.com/GBL/go/177141664/direct/01/
        > >
        >
      • Jack Young
        We found it best to be over the pass by noon. The one time we didn t do this we got hammered by a 4 hour hail storm with high altitude lightening. Lightening
        Message 3 of 13 , Jan 4, 2010
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          We found it best to be over the pass by noon. The one time we didn't
          do this we got hammered by a 4 hour hail storm with high altitude
          lightening. Lightening is one of the biggest risks in the sierra so so
          staying low after noon is most important. By late after noon the
          danger is usually gone and we camp in a protected area as close to the
          pass as possible and are usuallyover it by 10 am

          Be well,
          Jack Young


          Sent by iPhone
        • Roleigh Martin
          I agree with Jack s position here and it s route-planning approach I ve followed too. Very, very common approach as well.
          Message 4 of 13 , Jan 4, 2010
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            I agree with Jack's position here and it's route-planning approach I've followed too.  Very, very common approach as well.

            On Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 8:25 AM, Jack Young <auctionjack@...> wrote:
            We found it best to be over the pass by noon.  The one time we didn't
            do this we got hammered by a 4 hour hail storm with high altitude
            lightening. Lightening is one of the biggest risks in the sierra so so
            staying low after noon is most important.  By late after noon the
            danger is usually gone and we camp in a protected area as close to the
            pass as possible and are usuallyover it by 10 am

            Be well,
            Jack Young


            Sent by iPhone


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          • John Ladd
            I really like camping above treeline. I love the stars. In my view, the freedom to camp above treeline is one of the reasons to carry a somewhat warmer
            Message 5 of 13 , Jan 5, 2010
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              I really like camping above treeline.  I love the stars.  In my view, the freedom to camp above treeline is one of the reasons to carry a somewhat warmer sleeping bag / tent or bivy combination.  Wind stability is important if you want to camp high.  Some of the tarp-shelters make a lot of noise in the wind.  A bivy or a tight-stringing tent will help with wind.  (I like a hooped bivy, myself)

              If you are troubled by mosquitoes (I'm usually not), camping high helps.

              Also, you probably harm the environment a bit less by camping high.  Less sensitive vegetation to disrupt.  (But see if you can take care of your higher-impact toileting needs while you are still low.  Or carry a WagBag.)

              My favorite: There are a couple of small cleared tentpads about 20 yards South of the Hut at Muir Pass that are good on clear nights.  I wouldn't recommend it if it looked like lightening might come in.  (Don't be tempted to retreat into the Hut -- it attracts lightening and is not grounded.  I hear that somebody got killed in it once.)

              Another nice high spot is on the first lake just South of Selden Pass (or the one just North of Selden - not as high, but with sparse trees).  I've never camped high just North of Pinchot Pass, but there is a high lake there. There is a nice (dry) campsite to the East of the trail in the first stand of large trees South of Forester Pass, with a partial sky view.  Or try the last tarns just southwest of Whitney (1/4 mile or so above Guitar Lake). 

              It is colder up high, but worth it, in my opinion. 

              The "cold air flows downhill" is true on a small scale (e.g., it's be warmer 100 feet above a slot canyon floor than 20 ft above, and snow campers sleep on a shelf where possible) but not on the scale we are discussing here.  Just avoid sleeping in a local depression.

              One way to sleep high is to eat a early dinner at or below treeline and then walk higher in the fading light.  Get up early and walk down before breakfast.  That way you don't need a watersource near your campsite.

              Why don't you try it both ways early on your trip - plan to camp a night in the trees and then a night above treeline and then decide which you prefer.  Adjust your hiking schedule accordingly.

              I small footprint tent is also helpful when looking for high campsites - cleared sites are typically small. That's another reason to like bivies.

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


              On Sun, Jan 3, 2010 at 4:47 PM, amandahiker <aslive@...> wrote:
               

              I have been planning to hike the trail this summer.

              I have been planning to camp low and hike high. My thinking was that it will be wormer in the valleys at night due to the lower altitudes than it will be up in the passes.

              On the other hand, there should be fewer mosquitoes and bears at the passes or above the tree line. But, it should be windyer there too.

              Cold air flows down-hill.  The sun sets sooner and rises latter down in the valleys than up in the passes, so now I'm thinking it's colder down below.

              Aughhhh! Suddenly the very simple has become complicated. What do most people do and why?

              Amanda


            • Peter Burke
              let me add a few of my favorite high camp sites ... been there many times. Only problem is that in late season, these spots start smelling like urinals, but in
              Message 6 of 13 , Jan 6, 2010
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                let me add a few of my favorite high camp sites

                John Ladd wrote:
                >
                >
                >
                > My favorite: There are a couple of small cleared tentpads about 20
                > yards South of the Hut at Muir Pass that are good on clear nights. I
                > wouldn't recommend it if it looked like lightening might come in.
                > (Don't be tempted to retreat into the Hut -- it attracts lightening
                > and is not grounded. I hear that somebody got killed in it once.)
                >

                been there many times. Only problem is that in late season, these spots
                start smelling like urinals, but in July they are still clean and fresh
                from the snow melt.
                >
                > Another nice high spot is on the first lake just South of Selden Pass
                > (or the one just North of Selden - not as high, but with sparse
                > trees). I've never camped high just North of Pinchot Pass, but there
                > is a high lake there. There is a nice (dry) campsite to the East of
                > the trail in the first stand of large trees South of Forester Pass,
                > with a partial sky view. Or try the last tarns just southwest of
                > Whitney (1/4 mile or so above Guitar Lake).
                >
                The first lake south of Selden is called Heart Lake. Much nicer than the
                usually crowded Sally Keyes Lakes below.

                My favorite places to camp above treeline, some slightly off the JMT on
                alternate routes:

                Whitney Summit (not great to camp, but hey, it's Whitney! Bring your wag
                bags!)
                Bighorn Plateau (better have very stable weather - it doesn't get much
                more exposed)
                Clouds Rest
                Island Pass
                Silver Pass, south of pass, anywhere flat near the top will do, a little
                lower you have two lakes before treeline.
                Marie Lake north of Selden Pass
                Goodale Pass (if you go that way to get to Vermillion Resort without the
                ferry)
                Alger Lakes (coming over Koip Peak Pass from Yosemite, rather than Donohue)
                Upper Basin (right on the small lakes east of the trail just south of
                Mather)
                Lake Marjorie north of Pinchot, or somewhere above it - forgot the exact
                place we used
                Wanda Lake north of Muir Pass (north end)
                Potluck Pass (alternate Sierra High Route to Mather from Dusy Basin,
                right on the top of the pass)
                Anywhere in 60 Lakes Basin (detour near Rae Lakes, but highly recommended)
                Plateau north of Forester at 11,200, just after you leave the trees
                behind. There are sites right at the point where you reach the plateau.

                Stay away from Guitar Lake if you can - totally overused. The tarns
                mentioned above Guitar Lake are a pretty decent site with some water in
                early season. I would not use the water there in late season. There is
                fresh water running into Guitar lake north of it, and you cross that
                small stream. It was flowing well even in late September.

                There are some small camp sites near trail crest on the way up to
                Whitney, too, but I never camped there. These spots are barely enough
                for a 1 person tent and there's no water, but has a great view and
                you're within 2 miles of Whitney's summit in the morning. If in a bind,
                you can probably sleep right on the trail (not legal, but who's gonna
                check late at night up there anyway?) at the intersection between JMT
                and Mt. Whitney Trail, a place that during the day becomes a virtual
                backpack parking lot for those finishing the JMT but not willing to
                carry their packs all the way to the top. The ground there is rather
                rough, though, and you'll have traffic on the trail starting at 5am for
                sure). I mention these sites because if you want to bag Whitney during
                monsoon season, you will probably be able to safely reach these places
                after the day's storms have ended and before darkness kicks in, giving
                you a great head start in the morning, so you can get to the top and be
                well off that rock before 11am when lightning activity will most likely
                pick up again.

                One year when we reached the western base of Whitney late in the day
                after storms hit us on Forester, we just hiked through to the summit
                under the light of a full moon, reaching the top at 3am. There we just
                sat in our sleeping bags near the summit hut and snoozed until sunrise,
                then headed down to the Portal, cheating the storms of that day and got
                the most memorable hike of our lives out of that approach. I'll never
                forget the eerie light and the strange silence that night, but it was
                bright enough to walk without any lights. It's not camping above
                treeline, but night hiking. I've been considering to do that again on
                one of the higher elevation sections if the moon cooperates. Perhaps
                this summer we can pull off something like Forester or Pinchot under the
                moon and then sleep in wherever we end up. **

                Full Moon – June 25
                Full Moon – July 25
                **Full Moon – August 23

                Looks like the July 25 night is something I have to work into our plans
                (we'll be heading north at that time, probably around Muir Pass). Full
                moon starts at 6:37pm that day, moonrise is at a perfect 7:50pm,
                moonset happens at 6:36am - just perfect as long as there are no
                clouds at night, but usually there are none, even after stormy days.

                great place to check what the moon will do in certain places of the world:
                http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=137&month=7&year=2010&obj=moon&afl=-11&day=1

                If you like to see stars at night - search for the new moon dates and
                see if you will get those perfect start-dotted skies when you are up high.
              • John Ladd
                Thanks to Peter for the detailed listing other high spots to camp - great list! ... The other strategy for good night skies is to look for late moonrises. This
                Message 7 of 13 , Jan 6, 2010
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                  Thanks to Peter for the detailed listing other high spots to camp - great list!

                  > If you like to see stars at night - search for the new moon dates and
                  > see if you will get those perfect start-dotted skies when you are up high.

                  The other strategy for good night skies is to look for late moonrises.
                  This last year in mid-July there was a series of nights when moonrise
                  was at least an hour after sunset, giving an hour or more of great
                  stargazing.

                  There are tables available on the Groups' files area that gave sunset
                  and moonrise times for 2009. I'll update them for 2010 and let the
                  group know when they are available. They make it relatively easy to
                  find the nights when you'll have darkness after sunset. (Also helps
                  for planning the kind of moonlight hiking that Peter mentions.)

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