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JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:49 pm
by Satchel Buddah
hi all,
I hope your summer mountain season is going well. Been stuck behind a computer for months.
But! I managed to get both a JMT permit (little yosemite valley start) and a week off at the matching time.

I am starting on the trail on a sunday (sept 1). I need to exit the trail on the following sunday morning to drive back to my salt mine. My fitness level will be meh and coming from sea level, I will have at best one night acclimatization. So I am planning to take my sweet time and enjoy the views, and to exit at Devil's postpile or Reeds and catch my car back at Mammoth. Ideally the last camp would be about 4 miles from postpile to allow for an easy out and a long day of driving.

One of my side goals is to summit Banner Peak, if the conditions are right and I am feeling strong enough.

Here is my itinerary as of today. It is still very much in flux... I think my days 3 and 4 are maybe a bit too much (but spending the night at Tuolomne is not super appealing). Even the elevation change on day 2 might be tough without proper acclimatization, but Cloud's rest sounds like it would be worth it. If you have tips for lovely campsites (views, air, possibly less crowds), or a smarter breakdown or side trips I am all ears.

Also wondering if It's worth the hassle to mail a food box /ice axe / microspikes to tuolomne or if it's a headache. But a light bag on the first couple days might be nice.

PS I am a semi fit, decently experienced backpacker a half century young. I am fine going cross country on class 2/3.

Thank you for your wisdom and your knowledge,

Day 1
Trailhead to little Yosemite valley 4.43 mi (mandatory first camp)
2833 ft up 763 ft down
day hike to half dome 6.83 mi
2725 up/ 2725 down
(with elevation stacking this is not a perfect day 1, even if I do half dome with just water and a camera... Maybe better to start the hike late and do half dome at dawn on day 2, then maybe spend the second night on top of clouds rest ?)

Day 2
LYV to Sunrise meadow via cloud rest 11.3mi
4970ft up 1719ft down

Day 3
Sunrise to Lyell canyon 14.1mi 1749 ft up 2346 ft down. A few miles but mostly loosing elevation that sounds doable. Spending the night at Tuolomne is not super appealing...
Resupply/lunch at Tulomne? or just pack all the food and toys from the beginning.

Day 4
Lyell to Thousand island
14.8 miles
3594 ft up 2602 ft down
(Too long? Might be a better breakdown ?)

Day 5
Day hike Banner peak via glacier pass
maybe move camp to garnet ? or sit happily and enjoy the view...

Day 5
Thousand island to Garnet ? is that underachieving ? But then I can goof off and do some photography and reading :) maybe do Thousand to ediza ?
559 up 633 down

Garnet to trinity lakes-ish? is there a nice place to camp around that mileage from postpile ?
7.18 mi
+1,852 ft / -2,230 ft

OR Saturday
Garnet to Ediza lake
Distance: 5.14 mi
+967 ft / -1,427 ft

Trinity to Devil postpile
Distance: 4.90 mi
+2,012 ft / -254 ft


Ediza to Devil postpile
Distance: 10.1 mi
+1,588 ft / -3,291 f

Re: JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:29 pm
by Wandering Daisy
If you are starting Sunday, does that mean you are driving to Yosemite Valley on Saturday? Where are you driving from?

If you do not need the entire day to drive (assuming you are driving on Saturday), you could take food up to Tuolumne and put it in the bear boxes. I have done this before. I put the food in one of those small disposable coolers, put in dry ice or one of those ice pouches, tape it shut, and write your name and permit number on the lid, and when you will pick it up. Not sure this is 100% legal now. Otherwise, drop it off at the Tuolumne store. Maybe Marskor will keep it for you. If however you really do not want to go into Tuolumne, then skip this. I live on the east side of Sacramento so can drive to Tuolumne via Tahoe-Monitor Pass-395-Tioga. It really is not that much longer. You could even camp in the backpacker's CG in Tuolumne to acclimate. Then get up early and drive to the valley to start. As to the value of carrying 3 days less food, only you can decide if all the bother is worth it. Or mail a box to Tuolumne PO.

You have to get to LYV on Day 1. It really is not that hard. The trail is well graded and goes fast. So spectacular that you will hardly notice. Could be hot so a very early start is best. Take the Mist Trail; the mist will cool you off! It also is a lot shorter than the JMT. Second night no reason to go back to LYV. Haul packs to the trail junction, stash/hide the packs behind trees (take out the bear can and put it in shade away from the pack). After the Half Dome trip, just go another mile or so and camp on Sunrise Creek. That will shorten your long Day 3.

Days 3 and 4 are both pretty long, but do-able if you keep packs light.

Do you plan on climbing Banner on Day 5 AND moving to Garnet Lake? I am a bit confused; you called Thurs and Fri BOTH Day 5.

Re: JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:33 pm
by bobby49
How heavy do you expect your pack to be, assuming no resupply?

Re: JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:49 pm
by Satchel Buddah
Daisy - I am coming from LA on saturday (hope to drive to lone pine on friday if I can wrap up work early enough but that's a tough one). The plan is to sleep in a lodge in the valley with my better half (tuolomne would be better for acclimatization, but she does not dig tents ;)). I could always plan on a full bag and attempt a drop at the store and see where the chips will fall. :)
on day one, the hike to LYV is not scary - but if i add up the elevation/mileage to half dome and back it makes for only 11ish miles with is ok, but 5.5k up/3488 down which make me ponder bit. also I am wondering if it might not be better to do half dome on the next morning at sunrise where I would dodge crowds, but then the first day hike to LYV might feel short if I do not accomplish more :). but maybe that's what my body would need on day 1... if that is thew case and I do half dome at sunrise, then I could lower day 2 by sleeping that night on the summit of cloud rest which looks pretty cool (but dry)... and rejoin the JMT at sunrise meadow via sunrise lakes. but, if i do that that means sunrise meadow might not be far enough for night 3 and I should look at a campsite further down, maybe close to cathedral peak.that would push the lyell camp (night 4) to somewhere around potter's point, and lessen the hike to thousand island - (night 5) now only 11 miles ish.

Am I missing out if I skip a camp at sunrise meadow ?

Then one night a thousand island, take off at 4 am with a light pack for Banner peak, leaving camp in place. Not sure if I will have juice to move to Garnet in the afternoon maybe staying at thousand island and relaxing/exploring sounds good after the (maybe) summit (night 6). - Is it even a good idea to spend the night at garnet after thousand island ? maybe I should head for ediza lake instead...

Then the last night, night 7 - I'd rather keep it wild than finish at Reed's, so I need to find a proper campsite that would not be too far but still pretty. if possible. first world problems :)

Bobby, fully packed with 7 days of food/fuel/1 liter of water, ice axe and micro spikes I would be around 31 pounds. (Sadly I will lug between 4 and 5.5 pounds of camera gear). I probably can trim the food a bit once I get to the meal counting. A drop of food/fuel/ice axe/microspikes at TM would save me 4 pounds.... which is not a whole lot. arh. Maybe I should just haul everything. :)

Re: JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:40 am
by Wandering Daisy
I climbed the route from Catherine Lake in a high snow year late season and found that the snow was very icy in the early AM. I camped up at Catherine Lake. I used crampons since that is all I had at the time. I recall getting into the chute from Catherine Lake was tricky, but cannot remember details. Then I went back to Thousand Island Lake, took the High Route over to Nydiver Lakes. Then climbed Ritter as shown on the map. I liked the Ritter climb better than Banner. Too bad you cannot do both but you probably do not have time.

Re: JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:31 am
by Satchel Buddah
Thank you Daisy! Yupp that is the route I was looking at for Banner peak. I did not consider Ritter because from the intel gathered so far, it sounded a little more exposed/difficult. What do you think?
Did you climb these on boots or trail runners? I am tempted to stay on trail runners but the big old zamberlans would be safer/easier for the little glacier gulley to the saddle. But then that means hiking the whole thing in big boots which will not make me faster. :)

Re: JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:02 pm
by Wandering Daisy
Boots do not make sense since the climb is only a small part of a longer trip where shoes would be better, unless you have already done long hikes in the boots. Boots would be hot and not very good on Half Dome. But be sure your microspikes fit well. And bring an ice axe. The route on Banner is steep enough that under some conditions, microspikes may not work. So be ready and willing to turn back if needed. Retreat, if needed, before you get into a situation where you cannot safely retreat. A day-hike up to Catherine Lake is very scenic and a wonderful destination in itself.

Re: JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:28 am
by c9h13no3
Lots of people have climbed both from the Ritter-Banner saddle. Muir route goes from the saddle up the north face of Ritter. But I'd want real crampons.

Re: JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:20 pm
by Satchel Buddah
Thank you c9h13no3 will study Ritter more closely. :)

After some mulling this is what I am thinking now. Moving Day 2 night to Cloud's rest summit (weather permitting) allows me to bounce all the other camps. Just not quite sure about night 4 close to the End of Lyell - from the topo map that looks shady/canyony/cold/humid. If I can push up a couple extra miles to the feet of Donahue it probably would be nicer/more open, but it becomes a pretty long day at 15 miles-ish.

Day 1
Yosemite Valley to Little Yosemite Valley
Distance: 4.43 mi
+2,833 ft / -763 ft

Day 2
Little Yosemite Valley To cloud’s Rest summit via Half Dome
Distance: 11.4 mi
+5,591 ft / -2,857 ft

Day 3
Cloud’s rest to Cathedral Lakes via Sunrise Lakes
Distance: 10.6 mi
+2,060 ft / -2,410 ft

Day 4
Cathedral lakes to Donahue pass approach
Distance: 13.1 mi
+1,175 ft / -1,825 ft

day 5
Donahue pass approach to Thousand island lake
Distance: 12.0 mi
+3,239 ft / -2,382 ft

Day hike banner peak
Distance: 6.04 mi
+3,368 ft / -3,347 ft
Maybe: Move camp to Garnet Lake
Distance: 3.17 mi
+559 ft / -633 ft

Day 7
Garnet to Trinity Lakes, maybe Emily Lake
Distance: 7.18 mi
+1,852 ft / -2,230 ft
Thousand island to Trinity Lakes
Distance: 8.85 mi
+2,221 ft / -2,723 ft

side trip to Ediza Lake
Distance: 3.30 mi
+531 ft / -533 ft

Day 8
Hike out to Devil Postpile
Distance: 4.90 mi
+2,012 ft / -254 ft

Re: JMT tips for Yosemite to Mammoth ?

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:44 pm
by sambieni
Judging by this itinerary, looks like you're trying camp at Cloud's Rest. Its actually against park rules. I did it a few years back, eventually got caught, and nearly was ticketed. It was my first time visiting and after hearing my detailed story, Ranger just let me off w/ a warning. There was a thread somewhere here that did further research - I believe it was @maverick and indicated that yes, the Ranger was correct.

Its definitely one of those fun evenings w/ some fair bit of element/rule risk, but also a reward.