Transportation is always a tricky subject, and there are seemingly millions of different “best ways” to get transportation to/from the JMT. I’ll admit that I was definitely overwhelmed looking at my options! I’m going to let you know the option that I chose and that worked best for me, but first I will list out some of the other ones that I found, that YOU may find helpful.
Driving might seem like the most obvious option, but this is actually one of the most complicated options! Why? Well, you’ll be driving into one park (either Yosemite or Whitney Portal depending on the direction you take) and then walking 200+ miles away from your car! –oh yeah– The complicated part isn’t the driving, its how to get back to your car once you’ve done the thing and completed the walking! Which leads me to the next option….
There are shuttles that exist between the parks, however, they can get expensive and kind of difficult to schedule and plan based on the timing of the routes. But if this is the kind of thing you’re into, then you can check out these links for some more information about shuttle services to/from the valley!
Friends and family are great! If you practice your puppy dog eyes and do a lot of nice things for them throughout the year, they may even be willing to drive you where you need to go! (teenage siblings who have just gotten a license and want to drive anywhere for any purpose are really great for this option — unless of course you value your life and don’t want a 16-year-old driving you around mountain roads) All jokes aside, getting family and friends to drop you off or pick you up from the trailheads is a great option, if that option if it is available to you!
This option may not be as appealing to you if you listened to your parents when they told you not to talk to strangers, but hey strangers are only strangers until they’re friends right! For this option, you can utilize many different social media groups where people collaborate their JMT plans. One of the biggest ones can be found on Facebook. (Note: This link is to the JMT 2018 page, they make a new one every year to stay relevant!) There is another pretty large community on Reddit. Other sites, like backpackinglight.com and socialhiker.net also have great forums where you can collaborate with other JMT hikers!
On the Facebook and Reddit pages, there are a lot of ways to connect with other hikers and collaborate who needs cars where and when, but more on this topic later 😉
Another way I was able to reach out and meet some really cool people was through hashtag searching on Instagram! Yes, really. I just looked up some key hashtags like #jmt2018, #JMT, #JohnMuirTrail2018, #JMTBound, and others like that, and then I direct messaged people who used those hashtags! Getting replies worked around……maybe 5% of the time, but I still met some cool people who are hiking the JMT this year!
If all else fails, you could always just hike from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney, then turn around and go back to Yosemite, and turn your JMT trip into a Yo-yo JMT trip! I’m mostly kidding, but hey it has been done before!
My Way (Or the Highway…jk)
I kind of opted for a mixture of the above options that I have listed. I started out by scouring the Facebook groups and looking for people who were hiking at about the same time I was. I didn’t have much luck there, I did find a few people that may have worked, but I wasn’t about to let total strangers drive my car around a mountain!
The next thing I did was reach out to friends who knew people who were hiking the JMT this summer and BINGO!
I found someone who was going NOBO, and finishing in Yosemite the same day I would be arriving! And he was trustworthy, verified by someone I trusted, perfecto!
If things don’t fall into place as easily for you, don’t worry. I have heard that there are many helpful people in the thru-hiking community and I am sure you can find a way that works well for you and helps alleviate this stressful but neccesary thing.
Let me know in the comment section below if you have found another great way that works!