John Muir Trail Trip Report

Tuolumne Meadows to Whitney Portal

19 Days

210 Miles

August 20 to September 7, 2011

This is a fantastic elevation profile.

With permission from the author, Brian O'Kelly!
JMT Profile
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Links to my documents and other helpful links Profile of the 19 day trip

Complete gear list with weights: HTML, Excel

Original Itinerary

Garmin route data - includes my 2011 route and a combined 2010 and 2011 route that has Happy Isle to Whitney Portal
.gdb, Excel, HTML, .gpx

Yosemite Web Site (

JMT Wilderness Permit

John Muir Trail elevation profile
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Getting There: Planes, Buses and hiking buddies!

Since I was hiking with my father in law for the first section of the trail, and he was exiting at Reds Meadow, it made sense to meet him in Mammoth. There are some flights into the Mammoth Lakes airport, and I was able to fly from Minneapolis to LAX, and catch a connecting flight from LAX to Mammoth. As it turned out, I really liked this option of entering Yosemite.

I flew into Mammoth around 5pm on Friday, and Vic picked me up at the airport. We drove to the Shiloh Inn and I got checked in. There are less expensive places to stay in Mammoth Lakes, but the YARTS (as well as the CREST) bus stops right next to the Shiloh. Next on the agenda was to walk down the street to Mammoth Mountaineering Supply. We could have driven but the short walk was perfect after a day of airplanes and airports. I picked up some canister fuel at the gear shop. We then walked to Roberto's Mexican Cafe for dinner. Huge portions and great food!

After we walked back to the hotel, I got my backpack loaded and my drop box packed and ready to ship. The dropbox contained my duffle bag, tennis shoes, etc. Basically everything with me that I was not going to carry on the trail, as well as a change of clothes for when I exited the trail. I was going to mail the dropbox from the Post Office at Tuolumne Meadows to the hotel in Lone Pine so it would be waiting for me when I was done with the hike. Instead, Vic offered to put my drop box in his truck and hand deliver it to the Dow Villa Motel in Lone Pine for me! My secret for the drop box was that I had carried it with me on the flight from Minnesota, labeled with the hotel address and ready to ship. I broke the box down and lined the bottom of my duffle bag with the flat box. I carried some packaging tape with me, so it was super easy to re-assenmble the box at the hotel and get it packed and sealed.

Since Vic is going to exit the trail at Reds Meadow, he left his car in Mammoth and will take the shuttle from Red's Meadow back to Mammoth Lakes to get his car.
Reds Shuttle
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The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, and waited outside for the bus to show up. Vic went back inside the hotel at one point, and a hotel bus from a different hotel screeched up to a stop. Out jumps several hikers. They said the YARTS bus stopped at the previous stop a few minutes early and did not wait! They missed the bus by just a couple of minutes, so their hotel shuttle raced them to the next YARTS stop. They JUST made it. Sure enough, a few seconds later, the YARTS bus pulls up. 10 minutes early. And he was NOT planning on waiting until the normal stop time of 8:30. I told him he had another rider showing up! I was worried since Vic was nowhere in sight. Vic was back before all of the backpacks were stored, but the bus still left at 8:25 so the moral of the story is get to the bus stop early!

Map showing where the CREST and YARTS bus stops near the Shiloh Inn
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It was a short (1 hr 45 minute) bus ride to Yosemite. What a beautiful ride! We arrived in Tuolumne Meadows at 10:15am. The bus continues down to Yosemite Valley, so you can take the East side YARTS bus whether you are starting at Happy Isle or Tuolumne Meadows. The first bus stop in Tuolumne Meadows is at the Store / Grill / Post Office, bypassing the Wilderness Center. To get your permit, you need to hike back up Hwy 120 about 1/2 mile to the Wilderness Center.

YARTS Tuolumne Meadows

Part of the permit process is listening to the Ranger explain the backcountry rules and regulations. This time, once the Ranger knew I had done the JMT last year, rather than give me the full speech, she gave me a verbal 'test'! She asked me half a dozen questions to see if I remembered the rules, and I passed. I actually don't mind hearing the rules. The regulations are necessary to protect this amazing place for next year, and the year after, etc. The less we follow the rules, the more negative impact we have on the ecosystems and wildlife in the backcountry, and the more restrictive the quotas will be. I want my kids and grandkids, and even the guy behind me on the trail, to enjoy the Sierra with the same wonder and awe that I was blessed to experience. "Leave no trace" is not just a snappy slogan.

After getting our permits, Vic and I hiked back to the Grill and ate lunch. It was around noon, and I was anxious to get started. Partly because we had a lot of miles to cover, but more because I was excited to finally be hiking the JMT!!!!

Vic in front of the TM Grill and store
Yours truly in front of Lembert Dome

Next Day

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