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One of my goals for 2010 was to backpack the entire John Muir Trail. The official JMT trail runs 211 miles from Yosemite Valley in the north to the peak of Mt. Whitney — the highest mountain in the lower 48 states at 14,505 ft. It’s a three week wilderness adventure that requires plenty of planning, preparation and training.

I had thru-hiked the JMT before, way back in August 1980. My second thru-hike on the JMT in 2010 marked the 30th anniversary of that first trip. I thought it made a fitting milestone. Maybe I should plan to hike it every 30 years.

Hike the John Muir Trail was one of the big reasons I got back into hiking and started SoCal Hiker. I’ve always enjoyed hiking, but having a significant goal like the JMT motivated me to hike more, and with purpose.

I’ll be updating this section of the site with details on the planning, training, gear lists and more. Partly this is for my own selfish use; I need to do it, so why not do it here. But it’s also here to share with other hikers and backpackers who are thinking of hiking the JMT as well. If that includes you, please share your knowledge as well. That’s what comments are for!

After the trip, I’ll post a detailed trip report and photos.

Note that the bulk of the content on this page has yet to be written, but I’ll be fleshing it out soon. Here’s a rough outline of what you can look forward to:

Let me know if I left anything out!

25 Responses

  1. Good luck to you. Browsing through your website made me itch to do JMT again. I did it in 2007 for 14 days. We planned on 17 days but after 5 days, we decided to cover more miles for more challenge. Luckily, we mailed our resupply earlier! Bring a lot of duct tape – you will be surprised on its many uses – we used it to cover blisters, cover seams of shirt (after days of walking with the heavy backpack, those seams digging against your shoulder can be painful). We took a dip in the lake every day at noon as soon as we are used with the weather.

    Have fun!

  2. I through hiked the JMT in August 2011 (including Half Dome) and have my permit to do it again beginning July 31, 2014. I’m so psyched. After the first trip, I thought, “If I’m going to spend a month backpacking, I should go someplace new … where I’ve never been.” But the JMT is so unbelievably beautiful, I decided to do it again, exactly as I did the first time. Twenty-six days is a moderate pace, giving me plenty of time to stop and smell the roses. Thanks for this page … it’s very helpful!

  3. Hi Jeff! Love this site! After watching the documentary Mile…Mile and a Half, my wife and I decided that the JMT is a must on our list. Two summers ago, we backpacked the High Sierra Trail (70 miles) from Sequoia National Park to Mt. Whitney. Had an amazing time, but were unable to summit Mt. Whitney (got to the fork at the top and headed down to the portal) because of a freak snow/ice storm. It was end of July and we had had beautiful weather the entire trip up to that point. So, I am determined to summit Mt. Whitney and another trip is a must!

    I think I’m shooting for summer 2016 for our trip – this year’s is already planned (Zion). Are you able to share any of your meal ideas for the trail? I struggled with putting together a diverse menu for an 8 day trip – can’t imagine a 25 day on. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks again for this fantastic guide!

    1. Ryan, the High Sierra Trail is on my to-hike list!

      As for meals, this probably deserves a full post, but I’ll give you some quick advice. My favorite breakfast was oatmeal. We did NOT use those tiny instant oatmeal packets; instead we assembled our own with powered milk and/or whey protein, nuts, dried fruit, brown sugar, etc. Delicious and filling.

      We also assembled our own no-cook lunches. Tuna, jerky, bars, cheese, and hard salami were all staples.

      Dinners were where we had the most variety. My favorites were actually the Mountain House or Backpacker’s Pantry meals (there are even more alternatives out there now). It’s more expensive than making your own, but it’s easy. Find a variety that you like, and remember that everything tastes better after backpacking all day (in other words, they don’t taste as good at home). 😉

      Finally, add in a few treats. We scavenged some ramen from a hiker barrel. We didn’t bring any, but it was so good. Our bodies were craving the sodium (or something like that).

      I’ll work on a longer post with more details when I get some time.

  4. Hi Jeff,

    Just wondering when exactly you started your trip featured in the day by day itinerary? I’m trying to plan an early season trip this year and am wondering about the time of year/snow in your photos. Love the site, very helpful!


    1. Hi Jenny! The dates on the day-by-day posts are the actual date we hiked, but exactly three years later. For example, July 27, 2010 was our first day hiking the JMT.

      I posted the detailed guides in 2013, but on the three year anniversary of the hike.

  5. Hello everyone! I am planning a 2016 thru hike of the JMT. I used to be a guide so experience is not an issue. The issue I am having is how much I can plan on getting the permit out of Happy Isle for the day of departure that I want. I see there are new regulations like the Donahue Pass limit. Is there really permit preference to thru hikers of the JMT? My plan is end of June/ early July depending on the snow pack.

    Also having issues finding a companion for the journey. Any ideas??? I have three resupplies planned where they will be packed into me. My partner though had to bail so as of now Im solo…

  6. Jeff,

    I really enjoyed your posts about your thru hike on the JMT. It is defiantly on my to do list one of these days. I’m just got back into backpacking after being away from it for many years. You mentioned you were going to put together a gear list for this trip. I was wondering if you were still planning on doing that. I would love to see what kind of gear you brought. Thanks for all the great info you shared.


  7. I want to say Thank you for this website and advise on training for the JMT. I am a goal setter and just finessed my first Ironman 70.3 and needed a new goal. So that goal has become to do the JMT in 2018. I am looking forward to referring to your site for tails and training advise for the next two years.

    Thank you for all of the info you have giving to us in this site.


  8. This website is amazing and has been a real big help in planning my JMT hike in August 2016. It answered pretty much all my questions about everything when it came to planning the trip. Daily mileage, resupply stations, addresses, lodging, elevation gains and losses, food options, etc… Thanks again!

  9. I have a question, I am wondering if I will be able to shower or go in the hot spring baths at MTR even if I did not have cabin for the night? They are fully booked and I am on the waiting list. I had planned on taking a “zero” day here.

  10. Elizabeth, I know in the past the policy has been that the baths were for guests only, but you might be able to make arrangements with them. I would contact MTR directly and see if they can accommodate your request.

  11. Love this site and learned a ton for my planned JMT trip later in Sept this year, very helpful info and really enjoyed reading your well done day by day reports and photos! 38 weeks in the lottery but finally got one for 9/26. Bit late in the season but no worries. Flying in from Orlando, Fl to Fresno and have a good friend that will get us to the trailhead (Glacier Point) but I am concerned about getting from Lone Pine to an airport. I did read the transportation recommendations but it wasn’t clear on if we can get from Lone Pine to either the Reno (preferred) or Frenso airports. Any recommedations for this time of the year and what do we do with our trip luggage? None of the airports have locker storage that I could find. We’re planning on 10 miles per day so should be done by 10/19 or so. Thanks again for developing such a great site!!

  12. Hi Jeff, thank you for sharing your experience and helpful tips. I completed the JMT last September 2016 and have just now begun to reflect on how much I benefited from the information that I received from your website and others alike. It gave me confidence that I could complete a thru-hike (13 days) and it certainly proved helpful while on the trail. Thanks again and keep at it. Cheers.

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