I hiked the whole John Muir Trail in my youth (25 years ago) and am still a fit hiker, but not wanting to take on the whole trail again. We would like to do 3-5 night backpacks along selected portions, and since I remember how beautiful the Rae Lakes Basin is, that would be our first choice.
I under stand the permit application window opens March 1 so I am preparing for that. Our hike would be in early September. I have two questions now, and maybe more later.
I read that the bridges over Woods Creek were destroyed by the heavy snow last winter, so in 2017 it was difficult ( and perhaps impossible) to cross, particularly early season. Thus many were doing the hike as an out-and -back on the trail used to enter for a counter-clockwise loop hike. We would not want to do that.
Have the bridges been replaced so they are ready for the 2018 season? And if not, would the creek crossings be a problem in September? We do not mind getting wet, but I do mind a strong current in deep water as I am small.
Second, assuming we can cross the creek, is there any reason we could not do an out-and-back on the Woods Creek trail instead of continuing on the clockwise loop after Rae Lakes? Everyone seem to talk about “the loop” but is it “traditional” or actually required? I am a bit concerned about the elevation of Glen Pass, together with the long descent ( more than 3500 feet if I read correctly). Oth my husband and I are much happier hiking uphill than down, due to foot and knee issues. Also, I know from frequent recent experience that I do not like hiking above 11,000 feet. I can do it, but I won’t be happy.
So we would much prefer to do an out-and -back that avoids Glen Pass and that steep descent. If I enter this itinerary on the permit form, will it decrease our chances of getting the permit? Or do they care?
Thanks for your help.