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    • That indeed is the tragedy of the JMT in the last few years. It's so popular that it takes years to get permits, kinda like rafting the Grand Canyon. However, if you are persistent, you will get a permit.

      No permits needed if you do it in the winter with nearly inevitable avalanches and subzero temps. Some crazy people have, not just the JMT but the whole PCT (the JMT is a subset of the PCT).

    • I was just reading about another trail: the High Sierra Trail. Its general direction of travel runs perpendicular to the JMT, and crosses the Sierra instead of paralleling the summit. It's much shorter than the JMT, only 50 miles, but it has less red tape and is a major journey because you pass over the major subranges of the Sierra. You can easlily get permits a few months out, unlike the JMT where you might have to wait years to get one.

      It's also the road (trail) much less traveled. If you don't like crowds this could be a good start. I want to try it in September.

    • There are many options that are not the JMT and easier to arrange. You can get permits online or half the permits are held for same day release at the ranger stations. We often go the station in an area we are interested in, get a permit that is available and go exploring for a few days. These have been great trips. JMT is actually quite a busy route in the Sierra. Others are much less travelled. One of our favorites has been South Lake to North Lake out of Bishop. We also really enjoyed exploring Shadow Lake, Ediza Lake, Garnett Lake, etc out of Mammoth. This year we are doing the high country (lake Italy, etc) out of Pine Creek trail head. We don't have any set plans, just will go exploring for 6 days. I hope you get out there. The eastern Sierra is spectacular and considered among the best backpacking in the world.