Reports from the John Muir Trail thus far this year indicate that finding water has generally not been a problem. There are number of factors that contribute to our good fortune. First – and this is something hikers not familiar with the Sierra Nevada often find surprising – there is just a LOT of water. Although there are dry stretches, the sheer number of streams, creeks, tarns, lakes and springs is pretty amazing.
Much of the trail is also high. It’s cooler up there, which means the snow melts slower and hikers don’t need quite as much hydration as they do when the mercury is topping 100 degrees.
Last, it has been an amazingly wet summer thus far. During the first week of July a number of groups had to exit the trail because of too much SNOW falling in the southern passes (mainly Glen and Forester). The weather pattern known as El Niño appears to be back, and it may be back with a vengeance. Some are predicting an episode as bad as it was in 1997 and 1998. During the spring of ’98 the state averaged 22″ of rain a month!
If El Niño continues we are in for a wet summer (not so good for hikers) and a huge snowfall this winter (which would be great for just about everybody). Unfortunately, El Niño is often associated with flooding in parts of the world least prepared to deal with it.
My first day on the trail is about six weeks away. I’m not too worried about finding water, but you can bet I’ll be carrying good rain gear!
Good hiking, Ray