The best map for the JMT is Tom Harrison’s John Muir Trail Map-Pack: Shaded Relief Topo Maps. They’re widely available (online, REI, etc.) and are easy to use 😉 An alternate for those who are trying to keep it cheap is Section H of Halfmile’s Pacific Crest Trail maps 🙌 They’re not quite as clear as the Harrison’s maps, but contain a mountain of information on water sources, trail markers and camp sites 🙌 I didn’t use a guidebook for my trip, but I’ve heard good things about Elizabeth Wenk’s John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America’s Most Famous Trail.
FIRST NIGHT CAMP OPTIONS – To break up the climb of the Mount Whitney Trail, you can spend your first night at Outpost Camp 3.8 miles in or Trail Camp at 6.3 miles. Many northbound trekkers prefer Trail Camp for its incredible views, though temperatures can dip below freezing and it can be windy. Outpost Camp offers better weather protection and a chance to start acclimating to the high elevation you’ll encounter along the JMT. The tree canopy here also provides wind relief, plenty of campsites, and water. Around mile 8.8, you have the choice to either do the out-and-back side trip to summit Whitney (you definitely should) or continue on the JMT as it descends west towards Guitar Lake, which is a great (yet busy) place to camp as well. (edited by Dong Chow on November 7, 2020)
Long term parking is available at both ends of the trail. In Yosemite Valley, use the backpacker’s lot near Curry Village, a half-mile from the Happy Isles trailhead. At the southern end, parking is available at Whitney Portal. Both locations may be full. You might have to wait for a spot to open up. In Lone Pine, long-term parking may be available in the overflow parking lot of the Dow Villa Motel (ask before you park) and at the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce (for a small fee). At all parking sites near the trail, be sure to remove all food and scented items and conceal anything that would look like food to a bear (e.g., coolers). (last edited 37 days ago by Romeka Upton from Wuxi, China)
We laugh, because the nickname’s funny and appropriate, and because our packs weigh in at only six pounds, and because the four of us have trained and trained some more for the insane undertaking we’ve just begun—so we’re practically running uphill effortlessly, feeling as fit as racehorses. But mostly we laugh because we are only at the beginning of an odyssey that seemed impossible when we first contemplated the idea. We haven’t yet entered the zone of constant pain, so it’s easy to delude ourselves into believing that we aren’t pursuing an ambition of fools. (we really appreciate Eugena Comer for telling us).
Thebigoutside.com goes on to describe how want to save a lot of time and ensure your JMT hike goes as well as possible? See my Custom Trip Planning page to learn how I can help you plan a JMT hike. At the bottom of that page you’ll find many comments from people who’ve received my custom trip planning service, including a reader named Lauren who wrote: “Michael helped me plan my solo JMT thru-hike, and the process was beyond what I expected. He provided personal tips and perspectives from his own experiences as well as insight into what he’s seen others try and buy. He has amassed a wealth of detailed information about gear, training, trails, permits, regulations, transit, and all the details I knewnown would be a nightmare to suss out alone. Michael proactively circled back a few times to ensure I had had everything I needed. It’s really like having a wilderness coach. Excited to plan another trip with him soon!” (nice one to Rafik Hutton from Huzhou, China for telling us about this).