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So Much for the John Muir Trail

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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby longri » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:40 am

Cross Country wrote:I think people do the JMT to tell themselves that they DID it. I think people bag peaks to tell themselves that they BAGGED them.

While this is probably true for some people it's a mistake to assume most people have these motivations. Perhaps you're projecting something from within yourself?

I think walking the JMT is great fun. It's why I've done it multiple times. From conversations I've had with others that seems to me to be the primary motivation.



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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby markskor » Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:47 pm

AlmostThere wrote:I would say that the majority of the people who reserved permits did not ever pick them up,

longri wrote:I'm curious, what makes you think that? I've stood in line before for no shows and it was never anything like 50%.

Asked this very question at the TM Permit shack last season. Ranger Greg told me someone up there did a 2-year study...22% and 24% not picked up. Thus, if you add those three/four "no shows" to the 10 slots open on the "next day" quota...average 13 spots still open each day.
Cross Country wrote:I think people do the JMT to tell themselves that they DID it.

People do the Muir for any of multitude of reasons. Bragging rights... Just long enough/ possible to do in a two-week vacation... Easily accessible (5 hour drive) for tens of millions...World famous...Social media exposure. Introspection possibilities...Pride...Having and completing a goal...Safety in numbers...Self-testing...Bucket list item?
longri wrote:I think walking the JMT is great fun. It's why I've done it multiple times.

Multiples here too, always fun, but sure glad I did it much earlier in life ...just a little too big now. Still, if hadn't done it already, can understand why others have the desire...for all the reasons listed above. Many of those who are successful eventually go on to figure it out.
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby powderhound » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:28 pm

Cross Country wrote: I think people do the JMT to tell themselves that they DID it. I think people bag peaks to tell themselves that they BAGGED them. I didn't go BP to tell myself or anyone else that i backpacked.
My message is to just enjoy the experience and the atmosphere because one day you won't be able to (like me) and they can be your fondest memories. Hard hiking (JMT) or hard climbing (peaks) was always just that for me - HARD. I just liked to enjoy myself Instead of showing myself - wow look what i can do (or did).


You have a point, and I have definitely met people who hike the JMT or bag peaks just for the bragging rights. Hiking with them can honestly get kind of annoying after a while...it turns into a race to get home without any spontaneity. For me, backpacking is about enjoying both the wilderness and the challenge. I've had a lot of hobbies, and something I've realized is that all of them involve challenging myself and taking something as far as I can, even if I don't get to tell anyone about it. I think some people are just like that--they get the same satisfaction from pushing themselves that others get from taking it slow. I still stop often to take in the sights or swim when I find a nice spot, but it's never as satisfying if I didn't work hard to earn it.
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby dave54 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:07 pm

I hiked it in the early 70s long before any permits were needed. No quotas at any trailhead either.

I try really hard to avoid anywhere that requires permits or has quotas. There are too many other great places to hike that have no such trappings.
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby zacjust32 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:59 pm

I'm not naming names or calling people out here, but I find it disheartening that many people think doing a trail for "bragging rights" or just to say they've done it is looked down on. That for some reason hiking the JMT in a week is wrong and that doing it in a month is the better way to do it, if to do it at all. Who are they to say that my personal way of enjoying nature is wrong? I personally don't care how people hike or what their reason is as long as they are out there enjoying themselves. Nature is too important IMO to deter people from enjoying it just because their hike may be too mainstream or not the best. Obviously PowderHound wants honest opinions here and just wants to hear all the options, but I don't want people (especially newbies) to skip experiences all together because it might not be the ideal view of backpacking some people have. I think (hope) that everyone here wants to find the best hike for PH, so I'll get off my soapbox now.
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby Cross Country » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:29 am

I never meant to imply that ANY reason is wrong. I was just relating what I think of it. Speaking of better, I think it's WAY better to hike the JMT anyway you do it than to not get out there. My point was that there are many ways to be in the backcountry and all of us have (good) reasons to be out there. For me, for someone to not get out there is a shame. There's so much positive out there and so many positive reasons to be there.
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby Cross Country » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:46 am

I don't ever remember hiking into the backcountry to accomplish anything - Not to do the JMT, scale Whitney or any other peak, or catch a big fish. I just wanted to enjoy being there and exploring. Now, because of the internet anyone can know about and see almost anywhere without going there. For me that would have been a shame to know that in advance of my trip. I could have only discovered less for myself than I did. I would have enjoyed it less than I did.
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby zacjust32 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:59 am

CC I don't mean to insinuate that you said something you didn't. As far as i can tell nobody here would say anything like that. We all just want people to appreciate the High Sierra for what its worth. Aside from giving out our favorite fishing holes or camping spots of course :D

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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby Hobbes » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:18 am

My brother and I are good examples of some different kinds of hiking/backpacking styles.

He's the classic (medium) heavy packer, hikes lower miles per day, likes to wander around and explore 3rd class x-country routes with nothing particular in mind, doesn't really plan what or where he's going (other than how many days he's out), doesn't take a map (other than maybe a generic 15 minute of the area), doesn't leave an itinerary, and thinks getting stuck in class 3-4 situations is 'fun'. His hiking partner from his 20s & 30s (with whom he had many adventures) was even more core, and has done the north-west face of Half Dome (with ropes), as well as Rainer and other NW alpine volcanoes.

Here's a good anecdotal story: Around 7-8 years ago my brother was coming down the Kuna crest towards Lyle, and came across a young couple coming the other way. Turns out they were staffers @ Vogelsang out for a hike on their day off and had taken an x-country path over the Cathedral divide. Well, he thought that sounded fun, so they gave him a basic description and off he went. His traverse route covered many of the areas described in these TRs:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2405
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14805#p110640

What makes this interesting from the standpoint of differences in styles and preferences is he did it on a whim, rather than as a planned hike. He didn't study the route, didn't have a good map, but rather relied on his experience and comfort level. He had enough food, had enough time, knows how to read the terrain, and is just generally comfortable with himself.

Me? I'm the complete opposite, but we both like to hang out, so there's really no right or wrong. Our younger brother is (slightly) decompressing a little bit from his exec career and has expressed interest in taking a short backpacking trip this summer. He's more like me, so my x-country brother just smiles and says "have fun guys". LOL
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:59 am

Seeing something on the internet, no matter how impressive the video or photo presentation, is 2-dimensional, even if presented in 3-d, it is still on a screen. The actual experience is totally different. Researching and looking at an area digitally, before actually going out there, in no way detracts from my personal experience. In fact, I enjoy it more, because I can target those areas that really appeal to me, cutting down on the trial-and-error method. The older I get, the more I want to see, and I do not want to spend too much time and effort on trips that would not appeal to me. Information on a route is very useful and helps me prioritize my trips. I love to spend hours on Google Earth; and I love to go out there too.

As for climbing, one becomes hooked on it simply because of the experience. A good climb on a no-name peak was just as satisfying as a climb on a big-named peak. Not better, not worse. A good climb is a good climb. A good backpack is a good backpack, regardless of bragging rights, or what ever else. It took me a while to get to this point. For a long time I would only do backpacking in the mountains. Now I have expanded into coastal hiking and other environments. I thoroughly enjoy these too.

No matter what the initial reason, or method of hiking, completing the JMT is an accomplishment. Whether I ever want to do it or not, I do not lessen the value of others who want to do it. They have every right to be proud of what they did.
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby Snowtrout » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:47 pm

I think there is lots of great advice and discussions here. Everyone has different motives and expectations about hitting the trail, just need to find out what works best for you or your group. I tried the JMT last June and quit after 5 days: it was not the experience I was used to nor the way I liked to enjoy the outdoors. Took that trip to really figure out what type of hiking experience my wife and I like. I will say preparing for that trip (logistics, food, gear, etc), really changed my approach to trip planning though.

If you really want to hike the JMT (exact route), stand in line at a ranger station and hope to get a permit from there. As some said, quite a few permit holders never show up. If you want to hike the JMT but are willing to start from a trail head off the main trail, plan it that way and try to get a permit. Or don't limit yourself and create your own trail through the high Sierra, choosing the staring point, resupply areas and ending point. There are lots of trail heads that have permits always available and beautiful areas that are seldom traveled. Just need to decide what you really want to do.....ultimately that's what matters most.
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Re: So Much for the John Muir Trail

Postby creekfeet » Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:16 am

Everyone hikes for different reasons. I've personally never been into peak-bagging because every time I find myself sitting on top of some exposed, sun-cooked mountain, all I can think about is how I'd much rather be swimming in one of the many alpine lakes or creeks I'm gazing at.
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