51 Comments

  1. Darryl
    Darryl January 22, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Without minimizing the significance of the changes, I’d like to point out that the only option isn’t to thru -hike the JMT. There are many other portals and loops that are equally thrilling and enriching.

  2. Ravi
    Ravi January 22, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    It will be interesting to see how many hikers intending to do a complete thru hike will consider a NOBO hike starting at Horseshoe Meadows. Of course that brings its own set of issues but could end up being the only option if walkup permits are eliminated for SOBO hikes.

    1. Jill
      Jill January 30, 2015 at 2:25 am

      That’s what I was thinking as well, Ravi. I’m *already* planning to switch my hike to NOBO just because I’m having so much trouble getting the permit I want going SOBO (I have only a two week window where I can start the hike if I want to go this year). Getting a Horseshoe Meadow permit right now is easy, so I’m snagging one in case I don’t get my SOBO HI permit…and then releasing it if I do. I figure, hey, if I don’t use it, that’s a $15 donation to Inyo. I can live with that. All of these regulatory changes might deter some people but people who are serious about doing the JMT will find another way…unless they go to a JMT only permit system.

  3. Kate
    Kate January 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    If requests are up 240% from last year, it doesn’t sound like I have much of a chance of scoring an advance permit for the end of July (I start the fax game in a week). Like others, I’ll be searching for other trailheads to leave from. I’m considering entrance at the White Wolf and intersecting the JMT via the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. I have done many other loops as Darryl suggested. However, I’d like to cross this one off my bucket list.

    1. Gary P
      Gary P January 23, 2015 at 5:13 am

      Kate, I would call too. I did both and by doing that, I increased my chances and they even helped me find a alternate at one point. I had to change my date which worked out better for me and they were so helpful in helping select an alternate trailhead.

  4. Bob Welch
    Bob Welch January 22, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Interesting stuff, Ray. Thanks. In the late 1800s, John Waldo — Oregon’s answer to John Muir — was decrying that the wilderness was being trampled to death. He was right. And the JMT folks are right, too. But my hike on the JMT last year and my research for “Cascade Summer: My Adventure on Oregon’s Pacific Crest Trail” (http://amzn.to/YOmq7q) suggest that, from generation to generation, despite constantly having to adapt regulations to fit changing times, both wildernesses are remarkably wild. And we are privileged to walk them.

  5. Trinka
    Trinka January 22, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    A decrease in JMT hikers would really be unfortunate.
    If people don’t learn to appreciate the wilderness, they won’t consider it worth saving. As California becomes more populated and interest in backpacking increases, we need to provide more opportunities for people to get outdoors.
    Has Yosemite considered charging more for permits, a lot more? They could use that money to fund the work needed to ameliorate the impact of so many visitors.

  6. Rob
    Rob January 22, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    As someone who had to delay my Jmt departure by one day due to an emergency, I’m sad to hear the proposal to end walk-up permits. I would have been really bummed if I had to cancel my dream trip last year because I needed to delay my departure by one day.

    I understand the exit quota and I think that sounds like a good idea. It eliminates the issue of people obtaining alternative permits to hike out. I don’t see how making all permits available for reservation helps with the problems identified.

  7. Scott
    Scott January 22, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    As a local person that goes to Yosemite a lot, it is disturbing to see the huge uptick of people in the park.
    What I continue to see is more and more buses entering the park with foreign travelers on the SF to Yosemite to Vegas to LA and home trip.
    Rather than charge more for hiking permits, why don’t we charge more for these folks entering our national treasure. Use this funds to increase maint and efforts to fix wilderness problems and reverse some of the issues. Save a specific amount of the permits ( most or all) for Americans, if not we won’t be able to get a permit to hike any easier than lodging in the valley in the middle of summer.

  8. DrS
    DrS January 22, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    The regulation of the very free PCT thru-hiker permits that allow you to hike and camp anywhere along the trail – as in National Parks and everywhere else – will have to follow for this to work, or anyone capable of internet research will know they just skip the whole entrance problem entirely and start at Tuolumne, or Kennedy Meadows, or Whitney Portal(walk ups are usually available) whenever you feel like.

  9. Byron Nevins
    Byron Nevins January 22, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Another reason to start in the middle!

    http://bit.ly/JMTMoBo

    1. Betty
      Betty January 23, 2015 at 6:25 am

      Byron – what a terrific plan! Thanks so much for the creating and sharing the PDF with all the key details clearly spelled out.

  10. Jenraffe
    Jenraffe January 22, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I had the opportunity to hike the JMT as a walk up last year. I have full respect for the park service and I understand the need to contribute in order to preserve this wilderness. However, charging or bidding on these permits seems pretty unfair. The random lotto is at least sort of fair. I do not have a lot of money, I worked really hard to earn enough to enjoy this wilderness. I am confused as to how charginga a lot of money would help the fact that some folks do not respect the LNT practices. Everyone deserves to enjoy nature, not just the highest bidder.

  11. Matthew Antoniou
    Matthew Antoniou January 23, 2015 at 4:47 am

    Just a thought. Instead, Change the times the thru hikers can start their entrance into the trails. Limit the times of access for them to, say, between 6:00-8:00am. Whenever we hike, we’re always trying to get an early start anyways. Then, allow day hikers access from 9:00am on. These staggered start times would alleviate the congestion on the trails.

    As for overuse. That’s a whole other ball of wax.

  12. Gary P
    Gary P January 23, 2015 at 5:12 am

    I still think that it would be better if only one agency handles all the permits. Set the rules and every one abide by them.

    I am doing a section hike in June. From Happy Isles to Reds Meadows. I am forced to stay the first night in Little Yosemite so we are hiking to Little Yosemite, dropping our gear, and heading straight for Clouds Rest. http://www.hikecalifornia.org/places-to-hike/yosemite-national-park/clouds-rest.html

    By forcing us to stay in Little Yosemite, they are definitely creating a problem. For those of us who can hike more than 4 miles a day they are forcing us to hurt the environment more and more just by population alone. In a way they created a problem. We hikers found ways around it, however by forcing 1st nights in certain area’s we have created a greater impact in one area.

    I know most people going over the pass will not be utilizing a fire ring due to having to carry the weight of fire wood. So that is not a JMT hiker adding to the fire rings. I don’t know about you but the shipping of fire wood would be expensive and heavy to carry. That would be the weekenders who don’t know much who are adding to the fire rings.

  13. Fred Brockman
    Fred Brockman January 23, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Excellent summary and interpretation Ray.
    Since the restrictions being considered at this time seem to effect only the Yosemite end of the JMT, for someone dead-set about hiking the full JMT, it would seem they can avoid both the Yosemite and Whitney permitting issues by starting at the THs that access the passes south of Whitney (for example, Horseshoe Meadows). They can still do the full JMT by going to Whitney from Crabtree, backtracking to Crabtree and then proceeding north. Yes, that a thorough acclimation strategy and/or being in better shape initially, but it can be done. I suspect that in the long-term these type of work-arounds will also have to be addressed in a coordinated way by the agencies if the intent is to put a cap on the number of JMT hikers.
    I support the changes Yosemite is considering. I understand it’s sometimes tough to accept change, but having the JMT go through the Yosemite valley and Lyell areas, where millions visit annually, is a competitive situation that is not sustainable. John Muir himself was intimately connected to the Yosemite valley, so yes it’s unfortunate that things have to change But in the long run, leaving the Yosemite valley area, Tuolumne Meadows, and Lyell to the millions of visitors (including us when we’re not hiking the JMT), and re-defining the primary northern trailhead for the JMT as, for example, Dana Meadows is something that makes a lot of sense to me.

  14. free
    free January 24, 2015 at 9:37 am

    i wouldn’t get a permit for any of it if they paid me to do it. we do not need permits to enjoy this earth.

    1. Scott
      Scott January 24, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      I bet you don’t need a bear canister either, you can throw the rocks from your fire ring at them when they come looking for the candy in your tent……

  15. Rich
    Rich January 27, 2015 at 6:55 am

    Ray,

    Thanks much. Thinking about this summer and walk up permits, I wonder just how bad it could be. Could we see the line form not at 2 am but the day before? Is the NPS concerned about lines and thus are happy to go to all reserved permits?

    Rich

  16. Arla Hile
    Arla Hile January 28, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    As a hiking community, it would be nice if we could suggest other thru-hikes that would attract people away from being fixated on the JMT by offering equally satisfying/challenging/beautiful experiences. Maybe promoting specific sections of the PCT? Also, there’s a problem with the terminology: we call the JMT a “thru-hike”, yet we call long sections of the PCT a “section-hike”, even if they’re longer than the JMT. And everyone wants to be a thru hiker, don’t they?

    I realize it’s hard to steer people away from something that’s so iconic, but there sure is a whole world of other great hikes out there. Some creativity is in order.

  17. Roleigh Martin
    Roleigh Martin January 29, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Ray, after you posted this, I emailed and subsequently talked to Ed Dunlavey. I got additional clarifications from him. One, the thru-pass quota does not deal with those whose permit are issued outside of Yosemite. It deals with the Sunrise-Merced pass-through trailhead quota. I was worried if those who get a permit from Humbolt-Toiyabe could have their permit basically voided as they went through Yosemite. That is not in the works however in the longer run, they do want to work with Humboldt-Toiyabe so there could be changes from Humboldt-Toiyabe. The same is likewise with any of the other federal agencies along the PCT north of Yosemite.

    Also, they intend to alter the PDF reservation application so it is clear where one intends to exit Yosemite on the desired permit. This way those who want to go to Illilouette Basin and subsequently south of Yosemite near Clover Meadow will not be impacted by the Donahue Exit Quota that is planned. That is good too. (Same with those who intend to join the JMT in at Rush Creek south of Donahue Pass but start in Yosemite at the Mono Pass TH).

    1. Alex
      Alex March 1, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      As of last week, this has changed. Hoover wilderness is no longer issuing ANY permit to those that plan on cutting through Yosemite to join the JMT.

  18. Van Lotus
    Van Lotus November 18, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    As a former YNP ranger and veteran of over a dozen JMT through-hikes, plus the PCT plus every summit in Yosemite and every trail in Yosemite, it’s way too easy to circumvent these draconian measures. I will be doing the JMT again in 2017 and as usual I will pull no permit and as usual I will never be caught because I cross-country past the obvious exit points from YNP. I’m old school, been mountaineering since the 1960s — the good old days — and I will never succumb to this madness. Let the lemming masses play this game.

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