Kearsarge Pass

Inga Aksamit and her husband Steve atop the last pass of their JMT hike.

I just finished reading a book I think you’ll really love. It’s called Highs and Lows on the John Muir Trail  by Inga Aksamit. The book is a great read for:

•  Backpackers planning to hike the John Muir Trail and want to know what you should bring and what could go wrong.

• Day hikers who want to know what’s beyond your final destination in the Sierra.

• People who like a good story about a person who overcomes challenges to meet a goal.

An Enjoyable Non-Fiction Narrative – A Must Read For Anyone Hiking The JMT

I bought this book partly because I’d love to start backpacking since there are many places I want to see in the Eastern Sierra that you can’t reach with a day hike. Plus, I’ve hiked in Lyell Canyon as well as to Thousand Island Lake and up and over Kearsarge Pass down to Kearsarge Lakes all as day hikes and I’ve always wondered what it’s like beyond the point I was able to reach.

Highs and Lows on the John Muir Trail is written as an engaging first person non-fiction narrative. Like any good story, it shows rather than tells what it’s like to take this famous trek. Also like any good story, it starts out with conflict—the author has to overcome a major health problem on the first day of the 23-day JMT hike she took with her husband Steve.

Interesting Characters Along The Way

In addition, the book describes the really interesting characters that the author and her husband met along the way. I laughed out loud at her telling the story of the two JMT hikers living off of peanut butter and Nutella. Inga and her husband also experience a surprising coincidence along the way, meeting someone they never expected to meet. I won’t spoil the surprise by giving away who it was in this review.

Practical Information And Beautiful Descriptions

For anyone who plans to hike the JMT, this book will make your trip so much easier. You’ll learn from what the author and her husband could have done differently. Inga also prepares you not only for the physical challenges of hiking the trail but also for the psychological obstacles.

Highs and Lows of the John Muir TrailThe end of the book features four useful appendices: Gear List, Meal Planning, Keeping Clean, and John Muir Trail Itinerary, which will give you an idea how long it will take you to hike the trail if you follow the same pace.

In addition, Highs and Lows on the John Muir Trail features some beautiful descriptions of the scenery. For example, the author writes, “A wall of water thundered toward me, dropping hundreds of feet into the gorge we had just climbed up, hurling its load into the San Joaquin River far below. Gossamer mist hovered over the drop, creating sun-kissed sparkles in the sky. The ethereal film contrasted mightily with the cacophony boiling up from the lathering river.”

This book is a pleasure to read, whether you plan to hike the John Muir Trail or you want to live the trail vicariously through the author.

Highs and Lows on the John Muir Trail is available on Amazon.

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