Quick Ref for Planning

Ask any of the blistered 20 year olds rushing the JMT malnourished on Lipton sodium soups, they can tell you convincingly... there's no substitute for planning.
People hike at different rates and with different brains, so do your own planning, but feel free to download our waypoints, tracks, verified late-season H20 sources, and campsite recommendations as a .KMZ file that can be opened in GoogleEarth, Garmin Mapsource, or really any GPS app. Edit them to your liking and upload to your own GPS device. Note: On the trail, we marked only campsites and springs not already obvious on the Garmin 24k National Parks Topo Map or Tom Harrison paper maps. Besides the sites we camped at, we have marked some good lookin' alternate sites as Camp 2.1, Camp 2.2, etc...
One of the most useful early planning references is this elevation chart. The red lines indicate stops for a 21 day itinerary. We aimed for a 30 day itinerary and still felt rushed.

A similar chart for the entire PCT including possible food+fuel resupply points can be found here:http://www.bearcant.org/elevation.php

Spreadsheets and maps
in addition to ours, found here
Stats and Facts to orient your planning...
Total miles= 218.5 Miles
20-30 minutes per mile
+ 2-3 minutes per 100 feet (below 10,000 feet elevation)
+ 3-4 minutes per 100 feet (above 10,000 feet elevation)
1 mile = 5280 feet

When: Snow-safe window = early July thru mid-Sept
early July = warmer, flowers, higher streams (potentially dangerous), mosquitoes
late Aug= fewer mosquitoes by mid-August, fewer flowers, fewer hikers
Largest number of hikers start mid July thru end of August.

Permits issued for the trailhead and date where you start. No need to re-permit if you exit to resupply.
Yosemite -      6mos in adv
InyoNF -         6mos in adv
Whitney -        Feb 1st by lottery
SierraNF -        1 year
Sequoia/Kings - March 1st 

Reserve as soon as you know your start date (have alternate start days in case permits not avail)

In February, get a permit for whoever will pick you up from Whitney Portal!
Otherwise you'll be expecting them to just sit in the parking lot waiting for you. We had Stin-G drop a car at Whitney Portal then hike in at Onion Valley (via Kearsarge Pass) and finish the final six days with us. 

Take BART to Richmond, AMTRAK to Merced, YARTS to Yosemite Valley
Eastern Sierra Transit Authority to Ridgecrest, Kern bus to Mojave, another Kern bus to Lancaster, Antelope Valley airport express to LAX

Estimated cash needs on the Trail
  • Tuolumne campsite? $5/person
  • Reds meal $15 Red's cabin = $79/night Reds resupply pickup ? $7 in hold charges
  • VVR Ferry $18 roundtrip per person Yurt? $95 (2nite minimum) tent-cabin $55/night
  • Resupply pickup $18 Package ship-out $10 plus postage Bkfst+lunch $8, dinner $13
  • showers $6/person laundry $6/load (incl soap) Internet ??
  • Whitney Portal $8 each Lone Pine Hostel $25 each Shuttle bus $30 each
Gear articles

Gear discussion

Hiking with kids? Consider pack llamas


Trail condition reports 

Daily reports in 3D GoogleEarth!
List of Snow Pack + Water resources


PCT hiker reports for sectionH (Whitney to Tuolumne)
HighSierra Topix - Snopack and Stream Flows



Mammoth Mountain Cam

Snowpack database

State Dept of Water Resources - Database
Sierra Snowpack database

Half Dome -          4mi     4hours     1800ft
Clouds Rest -        5mi     5hours     2500ft
Donahue Peak -     3mi     3hours     1300ft
Red Cones -         .5mi     1 hour       400ft
Volcanic Knob -     3.5mi   4-5 hrs    1400ft
Mt. Spencer -       2.5mi   3-4 hrs     1500ft
Mt. Solomons -     1.2mi   2-3hours   1100ft
Black Giant -        3mi      4-5hours   1600ft
Split Mtn -           5mi      6-7 hours  2400ft
Crater Mtn -         2mi      3-4hours   1400ft
Painted Lady -      1.2 mi   2hours       750ft
Mt. Bago -           3.3mi    4hours     1850ft
Caltech Peak -      2mi     3-4hours    1800ft
Tawny Pt -          1.5mi    2hours         900ft
Wotans Throne -   1mi     2hours         700ft

Early Season Fording Techniques:
If you are a PCTer, you will have a number of fast deep crossings requiring extreme caution. Evolution Creek is the deepest, sometimes chest high at the normal crossing point, but not very fast. Others are not as deep but fast and dangerous. Usually its best to cross in early morning - may be 12 inches lower than late afternoon. Tyndall Creek, Bear Creek, south fork of Kings River, Rush Creek, Kerrick Canyon (northern Yosemite) are some of the others. Consensus from PCT-L forum is to use hiking poles or sticks to get 4 points of contact, keep body facing the opposite shore, angle upstream to keep the force of water from collapsing your knees, wear synthetic fast drying clothes, take off long pants, unfasten waist belt. If shoes and boots are already wet leave them on. Walk between rocks, not on them. If wearing trail runners leave them on - some people take socks off. During dry weather if you have to cross in your boots, remove socks and boot liners, wipe out boots after crossing and reinsert liners. You will walk dry quickly. You need something to protect your feet (I have gone barefoot in midsummer and it is painful. I have carried lightweight kayak shoes for camp and river crossing - better than bare feet. I don't want the weight penalty of Tevas). With normal sierra weather you will dry as you walk fairly soon. If chilly, put on fleece after crossing.
Early season hint: Temperature Change with Elevation: If you carry a thermometer, it is sometimes useful to estimate expected temperatures at higher elevations. There is a normal temperature drop of 3.6° F for each 1000 feet increase in elevation. i.e. if you are at 10,000 feet, the temperature is 40° F and it is raining, expect snow at 13,000 feet.

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