APRIL 28, 2021
The Nüümü Poyo or John Muir Trail (JMT) is arguably the most pristine high altitude trek in the contiguous united states. Spanning 211 miles from Yosemite to Mt Whitney its elusive beauty is often sought but seldom discovered due to difficulty to obtain permits- about 70% of applicants are denied annually.
For 2022 hikers the lottery application period is midnight November 14th, 2021 through 11:59 pm Pacific Time May 7, 2022. This year things are changing a little but don't worry, we have you covered!
Planning a backpacking trip here can seem daunting, so here is where to start..
CHOOSE A DIRECTION
While most PCT hikers will be headed Northbound (NOBO) for this section, many JMT hikers choose to start their adventure in Yosemite Valley and head south so that they can get their “trail legs” before summiting Mount Whitney. This particular blog is focused on how to apply for a southbound permit!
Permit availability for the many different trailheads varies, however if you're looking to hike the classic SOBO (south bound) route things are changing this year! Instead of applying through the wilderness permits offices you'll be directed to recreation.gov to obtain your permits!
60% of wilderness permit reservations are available by lottery 24 weeks (170 days) in advance. After the lottery runs each week, any remaining reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you don't score your permit in advance you can try again by heading to one of the wilderness canters one day before your hiking start date. 40% of wilderness permits will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Here is an example of the permit schedule:
You will need to know the following when you apply:
Which trailhead you want to start at
Your desired entry date
Your first night’s camping location
Your trip length
Your exit trailhead
The number in your party
Whether you also want to apply for a Half Dome permit
We will cover all of this below
Check here for more PERMIT DATES
The new system means you'll have to apply more often!
While you can choose a more specific time frame in when you apply, being flexible on when you start can help you get a permit. Set aside time to apply every week to increase your chances of getting your ticket!
There is a reservation fee for each permit application ($10/application) which is nonrefundable.
If you score a permit you will be required secure your permit by the following Thursday. Cost is an additional $5 per person on the permit.
Half dome Permits, that can be added to your trip, are an additional $10/person
In addition you will be asked to provide the number of people in your party. What we love about this is that you can be flexible with a maximum and minimum number of permits you want. We applied for 4 permits, with a minimum of 2. This means that if 4 permits were available and we wanted to hike with friend we could, but if only two permits were avaible we would accept it. If you get 4 permits and no one can make the dates work, which happened to us, you can easily release your extra permits later.
CHOOSING A TRAILHEAD
There are 5 options for starting points and you'll need to know where you'll be camping the first night for each.
Happy Isles: (1st nights camp: Little Yosemite Valley Camp) 4.5mi 2,100ft elevation gain *GOLDEN TICKET* If you're looking to hike the full trail, and hoping to score half dome permits this should be your top choice! The climb out of the valley is brutal but worth it! We chose to hike in early on our start date, set up camp at Little Yosemite and then made our way up Half Dome in the early afternoon.
KNOW YOUR PACE
You’ll have to pick an exit date/number of days on trail. While you can complete the trail before, you can't be on the trail longer than what your permit allows. Average hiking time is 3 weeks or 10-12 miles/day. Keep in mind you will be hiking difficult terrain at high altitude- If you want to take your time we recommend counting in a few days to hike into town, grab some grub, resupply or relax.
If we were to do this again, We would go for a longer permit 20-25 days would have been perfect to enjoy some of the places we passed by a little more and treat ourselves to some zero or nero (low milage) days!
CONNECT WITH OTHER HIKERS
If you're on facebook we recommended joining the current year's JMT hiking group. The moderators have a wealth of knowledge and can be super helpful with planning. In these groups you'll find plenty of gear recommendations, trail updates and more.
If you're like us, you'll probably receive hundreds of denied emails before getting lucky so don't forget to keep reapplying every week!
You can also check HERE to see what dates aren't full yet!
We are so excited for you to embark on the most epic adventure! If you have any questions we are more than happy to help! You can send us an email or join us on Instagram HERE