There is so much to share from a trip like the JMT. To give you an overview of the entire JMT hike you can follow the timeline here. This tells the story from Horseshoe Meadows to Yosemite Valley. Click on a photo to find out more details on any day. Here are the complete details of our JMT hike.
The second day was to get us to Crabtree Meadows. This is the setup for the side trip to the top of Mount Whitney. The eastern panoroma was a growing set of jagged mountain tops, one of which we would be ascending tomorrow. We are starting to get used to our new homes for for next 2 weeks!
Distance: 10.7; Ascent: 2060′; Descent 1876′
We started early. Passing iconic Guitar Lake we began the long climb up tight switch backs to Trail Crest. The switchbacks pulled us high above the lakes we had passed earlier in the morning. The 1.9 miles from Trail Crest to the summit were long and hard. The trail was mainly talus, with canyons and couloirs dropping off precipitously. Eventually we ascended the final crest and the famous hut came into view. Standing on the summit of Mount Whitney – the start of the JMT.
Distance: 14.4; Ascent 4990′; Descent 4993′
Below Forester Pass
An early afternoon thunderstorm set-in. This would be a pattern for the next few days. We set off on the major portion of our journey, our next target being Muir Trail Ranch, over 100 miles to the north. We transitioned out of lodgepole pine forest, passed through the Bighorn Plateau, until we had to shelter in mid-afternoon for another thunderstorm.
Distance: 12; Ascent: 3005′; Descent: 1404′
Forester and Glen Passes
We were up early to climb up to Forester Pass – the highest pass on the JMT (and PCT) at 13’200 feet. The ascent was a brutal set of switchbacks tight into the rock wall, with the trail sometimes blasted into the rock itself. The top of Forester Pass marked the transition from Sequoia to Kings Canyon National Parks. From the top, looking north, was a sea of mountain peaks and high passes – many of which we would need to cross.
Distance: 14.8; Ascent 3503′; Descent 5219′
Setup for Pinchot Pass
An early morning start had mirror lake reflections on Rae Lakes. Today we had a long ascent to set us up for Pinchot Pass. However the trail took us by the beautiful Rae Lakes, Arrowhead and Dollar Lake. Rangers mentioned bear activity but we had seen none. We descended following the south fork of the Woods Creek until we came to the single person suspension bridge.
Distance: 11.2 miles; Ascent 2545′; Descent 2194′
Pinchot and Mather Passes
Another 2 pass day! We used our set-up position to clear Pinchot Pass early in the day and then drop down by Lake Marjorie. We followed the creek down passed the Bench Lake and Taboose Trail intersections and then on its long ascent to Mather Pass. From the top of Mather Pass we had a clear view down to the Palisade Lakes and headed down to camp by the north lake.
Distance: 15.9 miles; Ascent: 3690′; Descent: 3982′
Setup for Muir Pass
From the Palisades it’s a steep drop into Le Conte Canyon. The first part of this is down the Golden Staircase. A set of 50 tight, stone-step switchbacks that cut their way down through gullies. There was the beautiful aroma of wild herbs as we wound our way down. The steep descent ended and we followed Palisade Creek until it joined the middle fork of the Kings River. Heading north we had lunch at the Bishop Pass Trail turn off and were back on familiar ground from last year’s hike. We knew now we had the long ascent towards Muir Pass, leaving the meadows and rising through the forest and back above the tree line.
Distance: 15.3; Ascent: 3375′; Descent 3277′
After a short hop to Muir Pass we reached the iconic Muir Hut. From there we started our traverse through the amazing Evolution Basin. This stretch is possibly the most beautiful part of the entire journey. Both Keenand & I completed this last year and the area never ceases to amaze me!
Distance: 16.1; Ascent 1574′; Descent: 3772′
Evolution Creek joined with the South Fork of the San Joaquin River and as we passed the Piute Pass Trail we were once again in new territory. After 10 days of hiking through the wilderness we arrived at our resupply point – Muir Trail Ranch. We had sent a bucket of food here. Since the start of our journey our packs had lightened from about 40lbs to under 30lbs. A much lighter load! Working out the resupply only took a couple of hours and then we were off again, with heavier loads, to set-up for Selden Pass.
Distance: 10.7; Ascent 2732′; Descent 921′