Trekking the John Muir Trail

Krissa Bolton in the High Sierra Mountains

Krissa Bolton in the High Sierra Mountains

Roberta Arpan

Imagine this: You are hiking high in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Wilderness late in the afternoon; thunder echoes in a nearby canyon, the wind is picking up and darkness is approaching when you finally reach your campsite. A steady rain is beginning to fall and you quickly put up your tent. Ah but, before you can relax, you notice water coming into your tent because your backpack is sticking halfway out the flap. In your haste to pull your pack into the tent, your solar charger and some of your clothes dump out into a puddle. This was only one of the challenges faced by Sun Lakes Hiking Club member Krissa Bolton and her two hiking companions when they hiked the John Muir Trail this summer.

The John Muir Trail passes through the High Sierra Mountains with peaks ranging from 13,000 to 14,000 feet. Visitors are blessed with sights of over a thousand lakes, canyons and granite cliffs. Krissa had long wanted to hike in the High Sierras so when two friends asked her to join them on the 220 mile John Muir Trail, she jumped at the opportunity. The adventure began in the summer of 2014 when this threesome hiked the first 100 miles leaving the harder and longer part of the trail for the summer of 2015.

Krissa had previously climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,600 feet) and hiked the Inca Trail (15,000 feet). Even with this awesome experience, training for the John Muir Trail was necessary. Having endured arthroscopic surgery on her knee in April, training presented a unique challenge and Krissa signed up with a personal trainer who devised a program that focused on strengthening her knees, core and legs with balance exercises. Toward the end she was training with a full size pack weighing 36 pounds. That too was a challenge since Krissa weighs only 105 pounds!

Krissa averaged 13 miles a day hiking for eight or nine hours. She admits her diet was pretty sparse; breakfast consisted of a packet of oatmeal and a cup of Starbucks Viva, a pita with tuna sufficed for lunch and for dinner she had something hot like ramen soup with miso, macaroni and cheese or split pea soup. Protein bars and energy gels provided snacks. Camaraderie with other hikers on the trail proved essential when Krissa’s group had problems with their water purification systems.

Krissa stated that being able to climb the passes with a heavy pack was amazing and a major accomplishment for her. She added, “It goes without saying the incredible beauty of the wilderness and being in a place that is not accessible to very many” was a definite highlight.

The Sun Lakes Hiking Club will resume a normal hiking schedule in November. Plan to attend one of the Open Houses: Cottonwood on October 17, Oakwood on October 31 or Sun Lakes One on November 14. For more information about SLHC contact club President Brian Hill at 612-875-1946 or [email protected]. You can also visit the club’s website at