I’m planning a 2014 JMT thru-hike and have been reading your trip log, which has been informative. I’m trying to navigate the permits right now, and just had a question about the backpacker’s campground you stayed at in Yosemite the first night. Do you need a reservation for that? Or does the wilderness permit one gets allow one to stay there? Thanks,
Mark, the Backpacker’s Campground is a no-reservation walk-in campground that is open for backpackers to use the night before their permit allows entry at the trailhead (or the night they exit). There is a per person fee, and you’re supposed to be limited to one night. Not sure if this is strictly enforced.
For what it’s worth, I’ve used this campground twice and never had any problem. Driving up from SoCal, picking up my permit (for next day entry) at the ranger station, parking the car and hiking into backpacker’s campground. Not saying it never fills up, just my own experience both in late July and in late August.
I’ve also used the backpacker’s campground at Tuolumne Meadows as part of our most recent JMT thru-hike. Technically-speaking, this is against the rules (it’s supposed to be before or after your permit dates, not DURING), but no one complained or said one word. And there were plenty of spots.
Of course, the official line will probably different, but this has been my experience.