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[pct-l] JMT status 7/30/98

John Muir Trail Conditions (North to South)

As of a week ago two [only two!!!] JMT hikers reported in at Mt Whitney
Store. This trail is difficult, dangerous and almost impassible in some

In general, the snow level is retreating but all passes have some snow
coverage. Also, while stream levels have subsided somewhat all water
crossings are considered "difficult and dangerous". If I were leaving Happy
Isles today I would carry an ice axe and a 100' of rope for watercrossings.
Crampons are optional but might make life much easier. I would NOT hike

Conditions are improving quickly. Snow level is retreating at the rate of
about 500' [vertically] and water is subsiding at the rate of 20%
[compounded] per 5 day period. These are average conditions. This doesn't
mean that you won't face local conditions much worse.

1. Yosemite is reporting low snow levels and high water levels. A tourist
reported that the Mist Trail is not accessable due to excessive water. A
backpacker reported multiple serious water crossings in Lyell Canyon where
none normally exist. There is still snow on Donahue Pass but people are
doing it without special equipment. Since there are a couple of tairns at
the top, route finding is critical.

2. The Mammoth Area is still full of snow. They skiied there on July 4th. I
would expect Tully hole to be a lake. However, the passes north of Muir are
lower and easier. Evolution Valley is a lake. There is plenty of snow on
Muir Pass and the LeConte Canyon descent is narrow, shaded and close to
water. I would expect this area to be seriously dangerous and time
consuming. There are a couple of campsites on the third lake down from the
pass for whomever doesn't want to push to Big Pete.

3. Past LeConte Canyon the trail is subject to flooding and the Golden
Staircase is shaded. Probably the camping area at Lower Palisade Lake is
flodded. Mather Pass has a large cornice on it and has been reported as
'hairy'. Pinchot is easier. This entire section will undoubtly have
multiple difficult water crossings that aren't shown on the map. Crossing
the Kings may be unbelievable. The discription of the lower crossing at
Paridise Valley [not on the JMT/PCT] made my hair stand on end.

4. Past Woods Creek the climb to Rae Lakes will entail many water
crossings. There is a report of Glen Pass being "dangerous, even with the
proper equipment". The trail on the south side was wiped out a couple of
years ago. It was being rebuilt when I went through. If there is snow on
the south side dangerous may be an understatement. Charlotte Lake was under
snow until a couple of weeks ago[ as were Kearsarge Lakes {not on JMT}]and
Vidette Meadow is sure to be a lake.

5. Forrester Pass is nearly unpassable. I have rerouted my personal trip
away from Forrester and Shephard Pass [and Harrison Pass]. PCT through
hikers found an impassible cornice on the pass and used Ski Mountaineers
Pass instead. Unfortunatley Ski Mountaineers Pass is loose shale and very

6. The Guitar Lake is 60% snow covered as of a week ago and there are
several rockslides on the climb to Trail Crest. The route to the summit is
clear except for the last few yards. The switchbacks from Trail Crest to
Trail Camp are barely passable. Until this week the snow field, complete
with ice axe and crampons,  was the indicated approach. Remember this with
a full pack.

This is my last transmission. I am leaving Saturday for a leasurely jaunt
on the High Sierra Trail from Crescent Meadows to Mt. Whitney [I was going
over Forrester pass but . . . ]. After a couple of days acclimating I start
out on my usual 5 miles a day pace. [Ray Jardine is an idiot. Enjoy the
walk!] If I don't get washed down the Kern I will rejoin you August 18.

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