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#13332 - 04/27/11 03:38 PM Ultra Run - JMT
Mlaveson Offline


Registered: 03/02/11
Posts: 20
Loc: Bay Area, CA
I am planning an Ultra Run from Yosemite to Whitney Portal Via the JMT starting on 8/6. My original plan was the reverse, but with the rejection of a Permit to start at the Portal I have had to replan my trip. I have learned an immense amount of information from this discussion board on Whitney and am sure that the experience from others will lend itself useful as I plan for this expedition. I look forward to finishing my trip with a Beer and Burger from the Portal Store!

Goal: JMT in 5 days (w/ 2 days planned for contingency)

I would like to start a thread for folks to share any advise or opinions. I have definately done my research and have prepared myself as much as I can, as preperation is key to planning something like this in the wilderness. But what I lack is the experience of this particular trail (Sierra's in General). Any tips on terrain, camp suggestions, water sources, hazards to prepare for, and other general experience would be great.

Cheers to all those trail runners, hikers, and Climbers out there!

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#13333 - 04/27/11 03:57 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Mlaveson]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Highly recommend Wenk & Morey, "John Muir Trail". I am poring over it in prep for next year. Incredible route detail in booth directions, including where maps are wrong, which I think would be vital at the pace you are pushing.

SO what's next: a yo-yo"?
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#13334 - 04/27/11 04:02 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Mlaveson]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 989
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Mlaveson
But what I lack is the experience of this particular trail (Sierra's in General). Any tips on terrain, camp suggestions, water sources, hazards to prepare for, and other general experience would be great.

Better be well-acclimatized to altitude first:

With a JMT in 5 days, your first 40 mile day will climb from 4,000ft Yosemite to near 10,000ft Cathedral Pass area, down to 8,000 Tuolumne, back up to 11,000 ft Donahue Pass, then.....

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#13347 - 04/27/11 08:54 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Harvey Lankford]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Excellent point. I would look into staying a few days at Tuolumne, rather than in the Valley, to prepare and acclimatize. Its at about 8500 feet as opposed to 4000 in the Valley. Lots of higher day hikes from there. And if you want to really blitz that first 20 or so, you can leave all but essentials at Tuolumne, pick it up on on way back through. If you want to resupply, look at Muir Trail Ranch. Its about half way, adds little if any distance just a little up and down, unless you are a purist; quickest stop there does bypass a couple miles of the JMT.

This year, even in August, your only water (quantity) issue should be in the Whitney Zone, where you can expect to go from about Guitar Lake to trail Camp without a refill. That's about a 3 quart jaunt. Check Wenk for this, but I would be surprised if you need to carry more than a quart anywhere else. Water quality is another thing to look carefully at. More and more people are dipping and sipping, some still using filters, UV and/ or iodine.
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#13348 - 04/27/11 09:30 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: saltydog]
Mlaveson Offline


Registered: 03/02/11
Posts: 20
Loc: Bay Area, CA
SaltyDog,

Thanks for the input. I will need to checkout Wenk & Morey.

After I recieved my rejection from the Portal, I connected with Kevin R. in a few messages and started researching starts from Yosemite Valley. He gave me some great information and things to think about. I have already decided to leave "all but essentials" in TM for a quicker start, although i'm not quite sure describing that elevation gain as "quick" is right since it will be a day full of climbing.

I am planning on acclimizing at TM, but will only have one night. My first day is my shortest day, going from Happy Isles to just past Lyell Fork and stopping before I hit Donahue Pass. I have experience at higher altitudes and know what to expect with my acclimization plan since it is not perfect. If I had complete flexibility I would spend a few more days acclimizing. With my current plan i'm sure to experience some altitude effects, but from my experience will be manageable.

Also, thanks for the tip on water. It seems consistant with what I have researched, but will also check out Wenk.

Before a Yo-Yo, lets see how the Yo goes.

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#13349 - 04/27/11 11:58 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Mlaveson]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
I don't know if you have anyone driving and helping you, but you could do the first two days without any load: HI (Happy Isles) to TM (Tuolumne Meadows) and TM to RM (Reds Meadows).

The first leg is not bad (I've day hiked it, only the opposite direction). The second is a long day. I think AlanK and his son have done that one in a day. (Hoping Alan will describe his experience.)

I don't think the altitude will be an issue starting on the north end, since both passes are only about 10K.

No permit required to day hike out of Yosemite. But you would then need a permit out of Reds Meadow, and that would be the Inyo N.F. wilderness permit, so the Whitney Trail Crest exit permit would also be required. Best get a permit in Yosemite that will carry you all the way (whether you overnight on the trail or in TM.)

By the way, that's a huge elevation gain the first day out of HI, so staying near TM rather than below Donohue Pass might be in order.

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#13353 - 04/28/11 01:55 AM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Steve C]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 989
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Steve C
I don't think the altitude will be an issue starting on the north end, since both passes are only about 10K.
Agree, but only because he says he has some altitude experience. There are plenty of newbies who find that 10,000 is plenty high and get Mountaineer's Foot (can't put one in front of the other)

PS: you might Google up some Dave Horton info. On his record-setting run of the PCT, he was averaging over 40 miles a day, but in a high snow year 2005 had slower pace than that going through the JMT sections/High Sierra. 2011 looks to have that factor, but your starting date should avoid most of that problem.


Edited by Harvey Lankford (04/28/11 02:13 AM)

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#13355 - 04/28/11 05:18 AM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Harvey Lankford]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Cathedral Pass = 9570
Tuolomne ~ 8650 +- (mile 22)
Lyell Forks = 9000 (mile 32)
Donahue Pass = 11,060 (mile 36)

OF course, M's one day itinerary is 3 -4 times mine, but if its me I am looking forward to ending the first stretch with that long flat cruise out of Tuolomne and getting as much of the 40 miles as I can, starting Donahue fresh the next day. I have a little different take on the altitude as well, and definitely with Donahue at over 11K, getting over it and back down in the 9 - 10 K range.
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#13389 - 04/28/11 04:57 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: saltydog]
Mlaveson Offline


Registered: 03/02/11
Posts: 20
Loc: Bay Area, CA
One thing that I have been trying to get a better understanding of is exactly how many river crossings during August will there be, which ones to keep an eye out for, and specific tips from those who have experienced them for... i.e. upstream crossings, etc...

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#13391 - 04/28/11 05:42 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Mlaveson]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 989
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
some observations having gone through on high and low snow years, always for me in July , Aug, or Sept, never in June.

Unnamed lakes at 10,000 feet just north of Donahue Pass -the high snow year will likely make the crossing tricky on the rocks with the small cataract just below. If you can't see the rocks, options are to wade across where it is stiller, but wider and thigh to waist deep, about 50-100 feet or so upstream, versus going all the way around the lake and crossing two smaller inlet streams uphill. This may be eco-ok only if still snow covered, but if not snowy it would mash the off-trail vegetation, so don't.)

Further south, both Evolution and Bear Creek may be the high-snow-year wading-problems even into August, otherwise the others should be okay to hop, skip and jump with boots on. If Evolution is high, you can go upstream of the crossing where it is slower, but I have not resorted to that. Others may chime in that it is significantly deeper there. As for downstream, there is a hole downstream so don't do that(these directions for southbound as you are doing). Not sure about any Bear Creek options as I have only gone straight across there.

Even further south there are some more crossings of note, but by your arrival should be okay.

I have tried flip flops (get sucked off), bare feet (ouch, ouch, and dangerous), neoprene socks-only (keeps feet warmer but still ouch on sharp rocks), or just keeping boots on with or without socks and of course changing to dry pair on other side (this worked better than I expected). Better yet is take a pair of those ugly clogs, or beach shoes.

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#13434 - 04/29/11 10:06 AM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Barbara Offline


Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 34
Loc: LA, CA
Have you checked out the JMT@yahoogroups site? Also Trailjournals has some fast people from previous years - Phreak comes to mind! Good luck.

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#13437 - 04/29/11 02:54 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Barbara]
Mlaveson Offline


Registered: 03/02/11
Posts: 20
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Harvey, thanks for the inform. I'll look into these sections a little more (maps and books).

Barbara, thanks for your note. I'll check these resources out.

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#13442 - 04/29/11 07:38 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Mlaveson]
AlanK Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 583
Loc: Glendale, CA
Originally Posted By: Steve C
I don't know if you have anyone driving and helping you, but you could do the first two days without any load: HI (Happy Isles) to TM (Tuolumne Meadows) and TM to RM (Reds Meadows).

The first leg is not bad (I've day hiked it, only the opposite direction). The second is a long day. I think AlanK and his son have done that one in a day. (Hoping Alan will describe his experience.)

My son and I did the JMT in late July, 2006. We did indeed do HI to TM the first day and TM to a bit before Red's Meadow the second (we took a bus into Mammoth to pick up supplies and permits -- that was our only supply stop). The first day was about 8.5 hours on the trail -- a bit short because we wanted to stop at TM. The second was our longest -- about 12 hours on the trail. But we were hiking, not running (although Eric would probably have agreed to run at any moment). Our overall time was 9 days, not 5. If you want to average 40+ miles per day instead of 25, you won't want to stop at TM for a night.

Originally Posted By: saltydog
This year, even in August, your only water (quantity) issue should be in the Whitney Zone, where you can expect to go from about Guitar Lake to trail Camp without a refill. That's about a 3 quart jaunt. Check Wenk for this, but I would be surprised if you need to carry more than a quart anywhere else. Water quality is another thing to look carefully at. More and more people are dipping and sipping, some still using filters, UV and/ or iodine.

I agree. We each carried 2 half-liter bottles the whole time. We filled them directly from streams without UV or filtering. We had platypus bags for extra water at camp each evening. We also used them to take an extra 1.5 liters each up Whitney, from somewhere before Guitar Lake.

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#13449 - 04/30/11 06:18 AM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: AlanK]
Mlaveson Offline


Registered: 03/02/11
Posts: 20
Loc: Bay Area, CA
As AlanK mentioned, stopping in TM would cut my miles shorter than needed to complete my goal so I currently plan on running through.

I plan to stop before Donahue pass since the day will already be a grueling climb out of the valley and would like to get my legs rested for my long day two plan. I have read many different things about camping before Donahue pass. Any reccomendations on where the best place to stop would be?

AlanK, thanks for the info on water supply. I am planning on bringing a standard 1 liter bottle for water and am packing x1 nalgene bladder for areas where I would like to have some extra water/electrolyte drink available. Any experiences with the Nalgene bladder vs. Platypus bladder? I've read mixed reviews for both.

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#13459 - 04/30/11 01:58 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Mlaveson]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Marc, I am curious... how much will your pack weigh? Have you tried jogging with the pack loaded like you will take?

I am a jogger, and find that even one or two pounds causes my breathing and heart rate to skyrocket. So I am wondering how you will be able.

Regarding stream crossings: I got an 8-ounce pair of knockoff gardening clogs from Target several years ago. They work great for the water crossings. These are from the Crocs website:

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#13463 - 04/30/11 07:52 PM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Steve C]
Mlaveson Offline


Registered: 03/02/11
Posts: 20
Loc: Bay Area, CA
My pack will weigh in at about 20lbs. Trying to keep it as low as possible, but won't be able to go much lower and still have the items I need to feel safe in the backcountry.

I am a log distance runner and am working on trail runs with my pack. My pace is much slower with my pack and am still building up mileage with it. I have been seeing good progress. Of course, I have to slow my pace down considerably to maintain my endurance with the pack.

I am bringing two pairs of shoes, so I am planning on forging rivers with the shoes I am wearing. I'll be able to run the water out of them a bit after I exit the river and then switch. I thought about it, but it just doesn't make sense to carry the extra weight with an additional pair of crocs/other river crossing shoes.

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#13464 - 05/01/11 02:17 AM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Mlaveson]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 989
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Mlaveson
camping before Donahue pass. Any reccomendations on where the best place to stop would be?


many people stop at Wooded McClure Creek. Go a little farther to the more alpine-area unnamed lake at 10,180 feet. Camp on the north side on sand above the lake, not on the grass. Next day cross the stream as shown here (note crossing would be tricky if water high/rocks submerged)


or, a perspective from above and looking back north. You can see the trail




Edited by Harvey Lankford (05/01/11 02:22 AM)

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#13465 - 05/01/11 05:47 AM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Mlaveson]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 780
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Evolution Creek stream crossing "should be" do-able by mid-August; it's one of the deeper crossings. When approaching the crossing on the trail, don't go straight across (sometimes waist deep), but go upstream about 100 yards to the shallow section and cross there.

I'll try to contact some of our local (Bishop, CA) ultra-marathoners to get their input.

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#13466 - 05/01/11 06:06 AM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Bob West]
Mlaveson Offline


Registered: 03/02/11
Posts: 20
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Harvey/Bob, This is exactly what I was looking for with respect to setting the location for my first day's camp site. Thanks for the input, I'll take a look at this.

Bob, very interested on what some of the ultra runners from Bishop have to say in general about the run. Nutrition is a big thing that I am currently playing around with to make sure I'm fueled for the run.

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#13469 - 05/01/11 10:02 AM Re: Ultra Run - JMT [Re: Mlaveson]
trail runner Offline


Registered: 06/30/10
Posts: 51
Loc: Florida
I for one would love to hear more about what you plan to carry and especially see a trip report after the fact. I am a marathoner, so your trip is very interesting to me. I applaud your effort.

Kent Williams

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