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[pct-l] Re: Successful JMT Hike

>My 2 partners and myself began in Yosemite
>Valley and hiked 150 miles which included leaving the JMT
>at the Bishop Pass Trail.

Did you have to leave the trail because of the fire burning near LeConte Canyon
and Dusy Basin?  I know the SEKI rangers were turning people around for a time.

>I am already planning next year's
>finish at Whitney...In thinking about next year, what does
>anyone know about Onion Valley?  The JMT books I have do
>not talk about what is available there, but the maps show a
>pack station and a campground.  Anyone know what the
>campground is like?...
>I also see that the books say that the Kearsage Pass Trail
>is 9 miles long and the maps show it to be 7.7. I did find
>post mileage information to differ a bit from the JMT guide
>book to the data book. I finally decided that the maps were
>most accurate and relied on them for mileage data.

Kearsarge to Whitney is a common trip for a lot of hikers.  From Onion Valley
to Kearsarge Pass is about 5.5 miles.  From Kearsarge Pass to the Whitney
Summit is about 31.3 miles.  From the summit to Whitney Portal is 10.7.  That
brings the trip total to about 47.5 miles (or 50 miles to round it off).  Most
people tend to take 4-6 days (but for an experience JMT'er could it be done in

As for Onion Valley itself, the campground has the usual - Water, Pit Toilets.
In my opinion, it's one of the prettiest camps in the Southern Inyo National
Forest.  The area is high on bear activity, so make sure to use the numerous
trailhead bear boxes.  I don't remember if the camp has metal campfire rings
(pretty much the only thing you can have a campfire in anymore).  I think the
campsites cost around $15/night

In the summer, it's best to time your trip to avoid the weekend.  Monday or
Tuesday may be a good day to start, plus it's easier to get permits.  Speaking
of permits, remember that you'll need a forest service wilderness permit to
start in Onion Valley (pick one up at any Inyo Natl. Forest RS).  Kearsarge
does have 40% of its permits set aside for walk-ins.  Walk-ins are give out as
early as 11am the day before.  You can also reserve permits.  Check the Inyo
Forest website for more info.

Also when timing your trip, remember that exiting on Whitney also is an
enforced quota (it's the only Inyo trail that does).  Have a few exit dates in
mind, just in case.

Lastly, everybody's favorite word - bear canisters.  Right now, Inyo requires
canisters on the Kearsarge Pass Trail, even if you are entering the park the
first day (Note: an Ursack is not a canister and counts as improper food
storage).  Why?  Well, bears are a big problem north of forester pass.  This
Labor day weekend, some hikers I was talking to on Kearsarge said that bears
got or tried to get backpacks at Vidette Meadow and Kearsarge Lakes.
Sequoia/Kings Canyon (SEKI) expanded their canister requirement to included not
just the Rae Lakes loop, but also Charlotte Lake, Kearsarge Lakes, 60-Lakes
Basin, Center Basin (basically anything on or within 20 miles of the JMT within
Kings Canyon).  Canisters are also required on the Inyo Side of Whitney.
Hanging anything with a scent is NOT ALLOWED in the following areas:  Kearsarge
Pass Trail and Whitney Main Trail in Inyo, North of Forester Pass in SEKI.

HOWEVER!!!, there are some bear boxes back along the JMT from Kearsarge to
Whitney.  If you are a thru hiker (JMT or PCT), you get priority to use the
boxes.  When you get your permit, tell the Ranger station that you're finishing
the JMT and ask about the bear boxes in SEKI.  North of Forester Pass, all
hikers must use canisters or

I reccomend taking a canister though for many reasons.  First, what if the bear
boxes are full?  Second, bears can be problems in areas where hanging is still
allowed (like near Crabtree Meadow).  Third, you can camp anywhere you want
along the Kearsarge to Whitney Route (if you don't have a canister, you can't
camp in Inyo National Forest along the route - the rangers could ask you to
leave if you don't have a canister or even cite you...doh!)

Hope that clears up some things.  Remeber, check Inyo National Forest's Website
and contact SEKI wilderness for more info about the route.