Snowpocalypse 2019: Expected “summer” conditions in the High Sierra & southern Rockies

Extensive snow coverage on the north side of Mather Pass, looking towards Palisade Lakes, after a very wet winter. Taken June 28, 2006.

California, Oregon, Nevada, and the Four Corners states have been drenched this winter, with snowpacks now about 150 percent of their normals. If you have scheduled backpacking trips in the High Sierra or southern Rockies in June or July, and to a lesser degree August, here is some reading for you:

1. Today on my Outside blog I just published a new article, “What Epic Snowpack Means for Summer 2019 in the West.” It details the snowpack, predicts likely conditions, and describes critical gear and skills.

2. When PCT and JMT hikers were losing their $hit in spring 2017, when the snowpack was negligibly greater than it is this year, I posted a six-part tutorial on backpacking in early-season conditions. I have not updated it since, but I’ve read it through and it’s just as relevant today as it was two years ago.

3. The snowpack was at similar levels in June 2017, when Sam Chaneles and his father thru-hiked the John Muir Trail. I interviewed Sam afterwards in a four-part series to document his experience and the conditions they encountered.

4. I have assembled a list and map of High Sierra creek hazards, which pinpoints known problem spots and potential workarounds. It’s applicable for all High Sierra itineraries, including JMT/PCT, HST, Rae Laes, and high routes.

Posted in , , on March 28, 2019


  1. Max on March 28, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    For real. There goes my plans for 4th of July week long Yosemite high route. I’ve got lower elevation ideas but not telling anyone for fear they’ll be packed full of you people!

  2. Jim on March 28, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    We are doing Rae Lakes loop starting July 5th. We will either try CW or CCW route depending on how high the rivers are running.

    • bmcf on March 29, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      FYI, South Fork Kings River Bridge at north end of Paradise Valley is still out, plan was to replace in 2019 has moved to 2020. This river crossing would be at approximately 9 miles CW and 32 miles CCW. This river crossing will be running pretty high that early considering the heavy snow this year. Might consider going in and out via Bubbs Creek, the start of the CCW.

      • Mikey da Hikey on March 29, 2019 at 1:47 pm

        Yea and I believe it was the 2017 melt that knocked it down originally — which is what everyone is comparing this winter to.

    • steve morrow on June 11, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      newby to that area. Have Rae Lakes permit starting july 2. Woods Creek likely impassable?

      • Andrew Skurka on June 12, 2019 at 3:49 pm

        Woods Creek will not be your only challenge,

        I’d say Rae Lakes is out until late-July. Note the one comment, saying that rangers won’t even be giving out permits for Woods until July 1. And, even, that South Fork is going to be a major obstacle.


      • Nicole Choi on June 27, 2019 at 3:14 pm

        Bubbs Creek is passable, Woods is not and apparently the Paradise Valley areas has “piles of snakes” that were flooded out from their dens. My friend and I started CCW and made it to Bullfrog Lake (a slight turnoff but I wanted to see a lake or two!) and ran into a couple people who had done or were doing Glen Pass over to Rae Lakes but they were experienced hikers with ice axes, crampons and most were doing the whole PCT.

        Based on your dates, there may be less snow but I would plan on going CCW to Rae Lakes and back rather than completing a loop.

        • Cole Darby on July 1, 2019 at 11:27 am

          piles of snakes! sounds awesome 🙂

  3. Mikey da Hikey on March 28, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Big Pine Lakes end of May will probably still be frozen over…hopefully trails won’t be too deep in snow…

    • Andrew Skurka on March 29, 2019 at 8:05 am

      I think that’s a safe assumption.

      • Brittany Allgaier on May 29, 2019 at 6:00 pm

        Hi I was wondering if anyone has any information on the High Sierra Trail up to bear paw meadow planning to be there third week in June for a backpacking trip

  4. Sean on March 31, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for the update Andrew. There’s been a lot of people over at Reddit who think they can hike in April/May in the Sierra backcountry and a lot of time is spent trying to explain conditions to them. I’m kind of amazed at people who don’t look at snow pack totals and weather patterns before planning a huge trip like that.

    I’ll be forwarding them to either this or your Outside blog.

    Another thing, if you prefer knits/merinos to woven nylon, you can ship garments to insectshield to get them professionally treated for the life of the garment. It’s about 10 bucks an item, cheaper if you do it in bulk. I’ve done it to a few shirts that I particularly like (those high sierra hiking polos you’ve mentioned in the past are all IS treated). I have the permathrin spray too but that requires re-application and I think may end up more expensive over the life of the garment. if you’re interested.

    • Andrew Skurka on April 2, 2019 at 8:54 am

      As a native East Coaster, I can vouch for it being really difficult to fathom the snowpack and the seasons in the West. My first summer in Colorado, I started backpacking the second weekend I was here, in mid-May. When I arrived at the trailhead, I wondered why I was the only car. And then about 400 yards into the woods I realized that everything was still completely snowbound.

      • Matt on May 22, 2019 at 8:03 pm

        I have read a couple different places about a “secret season” between April 1-May 1 where the melt hasn’t begun yet but the snow is hard packed. You have to be comfortable in crampons and with an ice axe but if you are is this a crazy idea? Worst case could you do it in snow shoes? I’m one of those naive East Coasters but in some of my research on it, it sounds like something that is feasible. I would defer to your knowledge however and don’t want to do anything stupid but I guess my question would be how different is it from just winter backpacking? If you have the right gear the risks can be mitigated.

        • Andrew Skurka on May 28, 2019 at 12:12 pm

          I don’t think this is a practical thru-hiking strategy. The snow may be supportive generally, but there will be plenty of places where or when it’s not, especially:

          1. Up high, like shaded and north facing slopes that need hot temps to start melting
          2. Down low, where the warm temps and sunshine are melting is 24/7, never giving it a chance to set up and crust over; and,
          3. In the afternoon, after the sun and warm temps has melted through the crust.

          I think it’s still a ski trip, not a hiking trip. I once hiked through the High Sierra in mid-May, and in the morning the snow was sometimes so firm that you could literally run atop it, as if it was pavement. But by noon it was posthole city. Skis would buy you extra time.

          The other consideration here is, What the heck do you do after May 1? If you kept pushing north, you’d be hiking in snow until you hit Oregon (and maybe beyond). And you’d be out of the “magical season,” too.

  5. Stephanie Shoot on April 1, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Thank you for the resources Andrew. I’ve been monitoring the snow pack but this will definitely help. I’m planning my first solo backpacking trip for this summer – JMT starting June 23rd. I’ve heard your opinion on that trail and it kinda got me bummed out and motivated at the same time. I conquer this then I move on to possibly one of your trips or learning enough myself to do a similar trips. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Andrew Skurka on April 2, 2019 at 8:45 am

      Thanks for the reminder to share additional content. If you are starting the JMT in June, you really need to read this, It will really help to set your expectations. The snowpack is a little bit less this year (maybe 5 percent) but your experience will be very similar.

      • Stephanie Shoot on April 2, 2019 at 8:03 pm

        I was already about half way through that write up 🙂 Thanks again for all the information. Next up the good stuff, the eats!
        Question though. My permit starts at Lyell Canyon, do you think hiking from LYV to Tuolumne in a single day is a posibility in the expected conditions?

        • dgray on April 3, 2019 at 9:03 am

          I ultimately to defer to Andrew on your question to him, but I would be wary of trying that as a day hike. It is challenging as a one day hike in dry conditions, mostly because of the combination of mileage and elevation gain. If you really want to experience the whole trail you could possibly do it in the other direction, i.e. from TM to Happy Isles with a small daypack and probably snowshoes, then take the shuttle back up to TM to start the backpacking trip. Note that navigation will also be a bit tricky with the snow cover and slow you down. I started the JMT at Happy Isles on July 8th in 2017 and several miles of the trail near Cathedral Pass were completely covered with no discernible path. If you are leaving your car at TM and shuttling back from Whitney at the end, you could also do the day hike at that point when the snow is largely gone after 2-3 weeks of melt off.

          • Stephanie Shoot on April 3, 2019 at 12:03 pm

            I like the flip flop idea, Tuolumne to Yosemite sounds much more attainable! Thank you. Any idea if leaving a car in Tuolumne safe?

        • Andrew Skurka on April 3, 2019 at 9:38 am

          That would be realistic for some, but not for many. When I thru-hiked the JMT in 7 days in 2011, we went from Happy Isles to beyond the minimum camping distance in Lyell Canyon, so it can be done.

          But assuming you start from LYV (not Happy Isles), it’s 18 miles and 4,800 vertical feet of climbing to reach Tuolumne, and then you’d have to get a few miles up Lyell Canyon before you can legally camp. For context, if you can 4,800 vertical feet of climbing in a day, I’d put you on one of my “very high” intensity guided trips, which normally fill with strong endurance athletes (e.g. 3:00 to 3:30 marathoners).

          And that’s not even accounting for the snow, which will slow you down even if you don’t have any navigation issues.

          • Stephanie Shoot on April 3, 2019 at 10:16 pm

            The distance and elevation don’t stress me too much, I’m not a 3 hour marathoner but I have done hikes of similar specs. It’s the snow/navigation that’s worrying me.
            What are your thoughts on flipping? Would going down hill from Tuolumne to Yosemite be a better option?

          • Andrew Skurka on April 3, 2019 at 10:34 pm

            Personally, it’s not worth it to me to endure such logistics just to say that I’ve hiked every step of the JMT. Plus, I think the miles between Happy Isles and Tuolumne are among the JMT’s least interesting.

            I’d either do the first few miles, to the top of Nevada Falls, as a warm-up and day-hike; or I’d pull a 1-night permit north of Tuolumne and go check out some of the enormous falls like White Cascade, California, and Waterwheel — they will be raging in June.

          • Barry on May 20, 2019 at 7:40 pm

            For $6 or so you can legally camp in the backpacker campground at Tuolumne

  6. Stephanie Shoot on April 3, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    You had me at raging! I’ve already been to Nevada Falls so if that was the highlight of that section of trail, I’ll go with your northern route. I just googled both falls you suggested & they look amazing! Thank you!

  7. Edgar P Woznica on May 21, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Hey Andrew and everyone else, I really appreciate the time and effort you put in to responding to questions. I will be hiking the JMT southbound starting on July 15th. I am not certain if I have the skill set for hardcore early trail conditions hiking and am wondering if the heavy snowpack this year will mean the snow will stick around until mid to late July. As this year’s snowpack (currently) is similar to 2017’s levels, I tried looking up trail reports and saw that May and June were intense and by August the trail was snow-free. Does anyone know what July was like and have any advice for that period? I plan on looking at what PCT hikers write about in early July but was wondering if anyone had additional thoughts that would help me plan. Thanks again!

    • Andrew Skurka on May 21, 2019 at 5:40 pm

      The high country will transition in July this year. At the start of the month, lower elevations will be snow-free but higher elevations will still be snowbound. By the end of the month, it will be mostly snow-free, except for where the snow really piles up (e.g. high shaded slopes on the leeward sides of ridges).

      What you must understand about the JMT is that it sees hordes of hikers, and there will be a very well established trail across all of lingering snow, and good boot tracks across all of the steeper snowfields. You will still have issues with high water, mosquitoes, and wet feet, but the navigation piece will have been mostly solved by someone else.

  8. Ivie Greenwood on May 21, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    I’m (theoretically) starting from the Sunrise Lakes trailhead on 6/26 this year. I say theoretically because I’m not sure Tioga Road will be open by then. I called the permit office and the ranger said if Tioga is not open, my permit will be cancelled. As a backup, I got a Rush Creek permit instead. Will I be missing anything spectacular if I bypass the first 40ish miles of the JMT? As in, is it worth flipping back after Whitney?

    I’m pretty anxious about the snow conditions as well. I’ve never been in the Sierras, but I do have a couple hundred miles under my belt in snowy conditions in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Reading all the fearful posts on JMT Facebook pages have got me questioning myself.

    • Josh Barnes on May 22, 2019 at 7:46 am

      The JMT Facebook group is incredibly useful for general logistics, weight-saving ideas, weather/precipitation trends, among other things. That being said, if you’re accustomed to extensive snow travel, take some of the fearful posts with a grain of salt. The recommendations are addressed to the full spectrum of backpackers, from experienced alpinists to first time backpackers. It reminds me of the NPS warnings (estimating Bright Angel Trail as a 12-14 hour hike comes to mind).

      A friend and I hiked the JMT in July-August 2017, and found an echo chamber of experienced backpackers who felt the concerns were overblown. That being said, a couple people died that year. Crossings were no joke.

      My main concern is with the Sierra getting hit hard in the last week, heavily increasing avalanche risk. A couple friends and I are attempting the SoSHR in mid to late June (with dedicated mountaineering gear). I am watching conditions closely, but don’t know the highcountry quite well enough to predict if the recent snow will be hard-packed by then.

      Andrew, do you have any insight on this? We were planning to leave the mountaineering boots at home and go with Bushido 2s, crampons and Petzl Literides. Since we won’t have a boot pack, I’m not sure if this line of thinking is in error.

      • Andrew Skurka on May 22, 2019 at 7:44 pm

        The most significant impact of this most recent storm is the loss of several days of melt, and the reversal of some melt that has already taken place. I don’t think that it will affect the snow composition — Sierra snow is generally homogeneous (not a layer cake like it is Colorado), and the recent snow will probably bond very well to what was there already. And now it has four weeks to bond further.

        Wow, SoSHR in mid- to late-June. Bring your sunscreen and full-coverage clothing! As well as axes, K-10 crampons, and a healthy dose of respect and humility. Sounds like a great trip though!

  9. Rae Taylor-Burns on May 22, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    Hey everyone,
    I have permits to do Rae Lakes loop from Bubbs Creek on June 27. I am going with a group of folks who are experienced backpackers but not experienced with mountaineering. What will be the major obstacles be aside from the south fork of the King’s River bridge being washed out? Will crampons suffice? I’ve been watching conditions closely on the park service website but the information they give is limited and any other tips or words of wisdom would be appreciated!

    • Andrew Skurka on May 22, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      I don’t think I’d consider the washed-out South Fork bridge a “major obstacle.” This year, it’ll be a deal-breaker into July — unless you can find a natural spot to cross (e.g. log jam, slow and deep meander) further down Paradise Valley, the Rae Lakes Loop will be a one-way out-and-back up Woods Creek.

      Early-season traction discussion,

  10. Justin on May 24, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I have a trip over Kearsarge Pass, starting June 15th. Planning to stay in vidette meadows with a hike up to Forester Pass. Do you think it will all be covered in snow, as the snowline is still around 8000′?

    • Nicole Choi on June 14, 2019 at 3:12 pm

      I’m assuming you are up there already so this may be too late, but I’ve been emailing with SEKI today – this is what they said: ‘Snow levels around the park are currently around 8500 feet. Glenn pass tops out just below 12000. You will likely need ice ax, crampons, and excellent winter cross country navigation/mountaineer skills to attempt anything beyond that point (e.g. Rae Lakes).’ I am supposed to do Rae Lakes June 21-24, I am now looking at alternatives.

      • Laura B on June 28, 2019 at 8:54 am

        Hi Nicole, Planning to head to Rae Lakes from Onion Valley next week. What were the conditions on Glen pass, if you went?

  11. Terri Foley on May 25, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Our group of four have a NoBo permit out of Mt. Whitney for July 17. This is our first trip to the Sierras. I didn’t think our dates were too early, but I guess they are. Sounds like we are in for a lot of snow. Will crampons be needed? Will it just be a matter of slow and steady travel? I’ll look over your other articles. Thanks for publishing.

  12. Scott on June 5, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Looks like the snowpack, more specifically, the snow water equivalent in the Winds is >300% of the median this year. As an easterner with little-to-no snow/glacier travel experience hoping to hike Loop 1 of the WRHR at the end of July/beginning of August, should I be concerned about going that early? I anticipate intense bugs, swollen creeks, and snow coverage on high passes, particulary in the North end of the Winds. But looking at Loop 1 in the South, it seems like that should be a little less of a concern?

  13. Marc Gadelin on June 6, 2019 at 2:15 pm


    I have a permit for Bear Lakes Basin for late July / early August… What do you think? Should I keep that permit or should I postpone it until late August?

    Thank you,


    • Andrew Skurka on June 7, 2019 at 8:49 am

      I wouldn’t change your dates. There will definitely be snow, but mostly just where it really piles up (high, shaded, leeward slopes). There will be plenty of snow-free hiking, and you shouldn’t need to camp on snow.

      Prepare for mosquitoes.

      • Marc Gadelin on June 7, 2019 at 10:24 am

        Thank you Andrew, that helps a lot!


  14. Katharine Warren on June 9, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for all of this helpful info. It’s been great. I have a 5-day trip planned from Agnew Meadows to Happy Isles during the first week of July. I’m a somewhat inexperienced backpacker. I’m preparing for an onslaught of mosquitos, but I’m wondering if you think I should anticipate any issues with snow/melt on that route?
    Thank you!!

    • Andrew Skurka on June 10, 2019 at 9:49 am

      The upper elevations of that route will still be snowbound in early-July this year. Probably patchy above 9,500 feet, transitioning to full snow at some point.

      I don’t think I’d worry about it too much. There will be an excellent boot track showing you the way, and there are no steep pitches to be worried about.

      There is one notable crossing, Rush Creek. Info,

      • Katharine on June 10, 2019 at 11:33 am

        Good to know. Thanks a lot!

      • Steve Morrow on June 16, 2019 at 12:03 am

        Any thought on evolution creek in the first few days of July? Waist high water? Go north and cross at evolution meadow?
        Thanks Andrew

        • Andrew Skurka on June 16, 2019 at 12:25 am

          Refer to this,

          Do not cross at the trail in early-July this year. The meadow is MUCH safer.

          • Steve Morrow on June 18, 2019 at 9:44 am

            Thanks Andrew. Based on 2017 levels, do you feel that the meadow will be passable in 2 weeks?

          • Andrew Skurka on July 1, 2019 at 10:29 pm

            It’s pretty much always passable.

        • Stephanie on July 5, 2019 at 8:44 am

          Evolution creek did not look too bad at 7 am a couple days ago but we did the alternate thru the meadow just to be safe. It was very easily passable, just be ready for mosquitos and some cold water!

      • Katharine Warren on June 27, 2019 at 3:04 pm

        Hi Andrew,
        Supposed to start our hike in a few days, but just found out the road to the Agnew Meadows trailhead is closed. Do you have any familiarity with the hike from Mammoth to Agnew Meadows? Any idea if this is something we could handle, with some basic navigational skills and snowshoes?

  15. Ben Costello on June 14, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    What do you think of the Mineral King area? Specifically, the snow conditions at Timber Gap and Sawtooth Pass in mind-July? I have a backpacking permit for July 12-16.

    • Andrew Skurka on June 15, 2019 at 11:50 pm

      Timber Gap might be melted out, Sawtooth definitely not.

  16. Wendy on June 24, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    We are hiking Agnew Meadows to Happy Isles starting on July 14… anything we should know or be aware of? We have done Florence Lake to Happy Isles before, but not with these “summer” conditions.
    Thanks Andrew!

    • Wendy on June 24, 2019 at 3:01 pm

      I read your post above and saw that river conditions will be updated July 2-10. I have three kids and one more adult with me. We have all backpacked, but the kids have not in snow. Just FYI. Thanks for any additional info.

    • Andrew Skurka on July 1, 2019 at 10:17 pm

      Use the resources linked, including the high water list and map (which has been posted). Did you have specific questions?

    • Katharine Warren on July 9, 2019 at 6:05 pm

      I just completed this route a few days ago. You will be in snow for the first 2 days, so make sure you are able to navigate without seeing the trail. I used the GAIA app. The only tricky part was Donohue Pass. I recommend doing it in the morning — we descended late in the day (6pm’ish) and it was difficult — slushy snow, waterfalls and slippery boulders. I would bring microspikes. We brought snowshoes as well but found them to be not very useful.

  17. Allison Johnston on June 27, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Hey everyone, any beta on getting into the Cirque of the Towers early next week (~Jul 1)? We’re definitely packing the snowshoes, but have not decided about skis.


  18. Cole Darby on July 1, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Did JMT and HST in 2015 (low snow year). I have a Rae Lakes Loop Permit July 9 – 14 for this year (high snow year). Looking for all info I can get. Contemplating a CCW adjustment for a possible out and back, or maybe coming in from Kersarge instead. Anyone have info to share?! Thanks in advance.

  19. Nicole Choi on July 2, 2019 at 9:27 am

    I would do CCW out and back as long as you have an ice axe and crampons for Glen Pass. My friend posted an update from a guy who did the whole loop yesterday and you still need that gear and being able to navigate without being able to see the trail in several places on the loop.

  20. Michael Cole on July 4, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Did out and back along Bubbs Creek up to Glenn Pass. (6/30-7/3)

    Water crossing at Bubbs creek negligible. Ankle high. Trail clear and beautiful up to Charlotte Lake area.

    A few snow crossings up to Glenn Pass. Some hikers had crampons, but most did not. (I did not make it over to the Rae lakes, so I’m not sure if snow conditions on other side of pass.)

    I cannot comment on crossing at south fork. But I did talk to a few hikers that completed the loop. They said the log crossing was not too bad.

    So, people are completing the loop, and the trail is in pretty good shape. It’ll probably be mid to late July before it is an “easy” trip. Stay safe!

    • Paul Erickson on July 31, 2019 at 12:33 pm

      Did the Rae Lakes Loop clockwise July 22-27, 2019. Rangers at Roads end said Glen pass would be 90% snow so we brought Ice axes. It was more like 10% there are maybe 3-4 switchbacks that you have to cut due to snow on either side of Glen and I didnt pull out Ice ax. Snow field traverse was pretty easy even for newbies. Its pretty much gullied and there is only a short section with any risk of sliding. There’s water coming down the hill but for south fork kings at washed out bridge there is a log crossing 0.4 mile upstream. Its a significant bushwhack especially on east side of river but just costs time. My 6’3 son waded across river and back just upstream of the bridge location no poles no pack. Bushwhack cost the group about 1.5 hours. A few timid people were turning back due to obstacles (both log crossing and glen pass snow and lightning on pass) and the hype on internet really doesn’t help assess the reality of the situation which is really doable. We had more trouble on the deep crossing between Dollar lake and Arrowhead lake than on the other obstacles talked about here.

      • Jenny on August 3, 2019 at 7:19 am

        Glad to see this report! My start date is 8/16 and I’ve been having a hard time finding any good info. I’m still planning to go CW at this time, and just found someone’s video of the small log crossing a South Fork, so that makes me feel better! If you have any other helpful info I’d be happy to take it!

  21. Stephanie on July 5, 2019 at 8:41 am

    I just hiked the JMT SOBO from Happy Isles & exited Bishop Pass (June 23-July 3). Lots of snow and navigation required thru that point. We bailed at Bishop because conditions going South through Mather and Glen Pass sounded too risky. NOBO PCT’ers all said it would be challenging and dangerous, we heard of many people having to self arrest.

    Any questions on the first 137 miles of the JMT SOBO, feel free to ask.

  22. Zvi on July 13, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    I plan on visiting Yosemite in mid August with my young children. I would like to do some day hikes around tuolumne. I know my kids will not have a good time if there will be a ton of mosquitos still. Do you think there will still be at this time of year?

    • Andrew Skurka on July 14, 2019 at 9:04 pm

      There will not be bad bugs then. Maybe mild, but completely manageable.

      • Zvi Bloom on July 15, 2019 at 12:08 am

        Thanks very much!

  23. DismalDave on July 14, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    We are planning on doing a loop in Mineral King. First couple of days are on the HST.
    There is a section of trail that is out by Hamilton Lake west of Kaweah Gap, according to Forest Service site. Anyone have any info on that?

  24. Deb on July 16, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    We are planning to hike over Burro Pass (from Twin Lakes/Mule Pass) and then down Matterhorn Canyon and then out via Virginia Lakes the first week of August. Do you think snow/water crossings will be reasonable by then?

    • Andrew Skurka on July 29, 2019 at 9:23 am

      I was in that area two weeks ago. Conditions were already fine, and things will be even more normal for you.

  25. Marshal Kline on September 9, 2019 at 7:59 am

    My wife and I plan to hike the JMT in 2020. We’re east-coasters with a fair amount of long-distance and high elevation hiking experience, but nothing with snow/mountaineering conditions. Initially, I was hoping to obtain permits for an early July departure, but as I read/research all the challenges I now ask the question why not shoot for early to mid August instead? This would seem to mitigate, among other things, weather/snow pack and bug issues. What then are the downsides to being on the JMT in August and, perhaps, into early September? Thanks in advance for any insights.

    • Andrew Skurka on September 10, 2019 at 3:27 pm

      After a normal winter, August poses none of the issues that can plague June and July, including snow coverage, high water, and intense bugs. You’ll probably see some bugs in the beginning of the month, but overall they very manageable. There are only two issues with August: (1) hordes of people on the JMT, and (2) the risk of monsoon storms.

  26. Eric B. on July 11, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Looks like my northern Nevada Ruby Crest Trail backpack will not happen until early September due to snowpack in some areas.
    That’s OK because now I have more time to train on our treadmill with a 30 lb. pack and ankle weights. (It’s 112 F. today here in Las Vegas, thus the treadmill.)
    And by August I’ll train in my nearby Spring Mountains at 8,500 ft. to 11,000 ft. to acclimatize.

    With a 22 oz. Notch Li solo tent (incl. stakes) and Osprey EXOS pack with 3 season WM down bag and 15 oz. 3 season mattress I’ll be just fine for base weight. All clothing is synthetic excepting a light down jacket.

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