Cake
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    • 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.

    • We backpack in the eastern Sierra every year and have never crossed a road. There are endless loops that are incredible. Check out South Lake to North lake Loop out of Bishop, considered one of the quintessential trails in the Sierra. You can approach the eastern Sierra through many different drainages off 395. There are so many options. As far a long one-way trails, the JMT is epic. There is also a high Sierra trail that is less active.

    • 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.

    • Agreed, JMT is very busy by its nature of being an extremely long through hike. However, it's entirely possible to piece together a route as long as the JMT through various Sierra wildernesses without much overlap on the JMT.

    • In terms of crowds, you might want to check out Emigrant and/or Carson Iceberg Wilderness. For some reason, I've found these to be much less busy than other Sierra backpacking areas despite its extreme beauty. Maybe it's the names of the wildernesses that deter people. I've gone for a week with only seeing three parties in the peak month of July.

    • OK, if you liked that, you have to do the full South Lake to North Lake loop. It is considered the best loop in the Sierra. 28 lakes, 5 rivers, 3 passes. Just incredible. Highly recco.

    • I just learned of the SHR, the Sierra High Route, which parallels the JMT, but much of it is cross country. Had no idea such a route has is established. I think it might be more epic / beautiful than it's tame counterpart, the JMT.