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Publisher's Summary

An honest account of a woman's trek on the John Muir Trail is captured in this lively trail journal. Celebrate her joy as the beauty of the High Sierra in California is slowly revealed, feel the comradery of trail friends she meets along the way, and sympathize with her when all she wants is for the trail to end. Along the way — hikers of all ages — but especially mature hikers, will see how she and her husband met challenges head-on, lightened their load, planned meals and managed daily logistics for more than three weeks on the trail. Written for those planning to hike the John Muir Trail, Sierra hiking veterans who want to relive the trail — and armchair adventurers, this is a story that brings the trail to life. A long hike has its ups and downs, both literally and figuratively, and the elevation changes on the John Muir Trail are legendary. With 84,000 feet of elevation gain and loss (more than twice the elevation of Mt. Everest) this popular trek shares a section of the Pacific Crest Trail widely considered to be the most picturesque and arduous.

©2015 Inga Aksamit (P)2017 Inga Aksamit

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I've hiked it 10 times yet enjoyed this book!

I listened to this book having hiked the John Muir Trail 10 times myself. I nevertheless found the book a very informative and entertaining telling of doing the hike. The narrator is very good and helps the story along. I am familiar with Inga's other writings as she is very active in the various High Sierra hiking groups (as so am I). Her book is as informative as her excellent writings but I must say the book is more entertaining on top of it, perhaps because she has more time to go over the material with the audience. I felt very much back on the trail listening to her book, she is able to place the reader on the trail with her writing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book that tells you what others don't!

I read the kindle version of this book some time ago, (actually, I've read it 5 times) and am thrilled it's finally available on Audible. Nothing like hiking while listening to one of your favorite hiking books!

There have been many, many, many books written about the John Muir Trail. Many have practical information relating to gear, strategy, planning, etc. BUT...this book provides a critical element that most are missing....the psychological factor. Anyone who has thru-hiked knows that the mental/emotional aspect is just as important as the physical preparation. This book hits on all of the aspects you need to really get a good feel for the trail, and prepare to succeed, and is a compelling story to boot! Reading this will prepare you in a way that most won't, and you'll be better equipped for what the trail will throw at you.

The writing is excellent, the story compelling, and is a must-read for anyone planning to hike the JMT.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Engaging book, poor choice of narrator

I think this book would be a better read than listen. If I experience this book again, it will be in print form.

The narrator is not a bad narrator. For some books I would not have a problem.
But for this book her performance caused me to think that the author was a whiny wimp. I think it was her sing songy presentation.

Once I realized the was older than the narrator sounds, I tried to imagine what the book might sound like without the sing song I realized she wasn't a whiny writer.

I think I liked this book. My problem is that I'm not sure because I can't really decide how much is whiny complaining and how much was the whiny sing song voice.

Many people liked the narrator. I'd say, if you're not sure yet, listen to the sample. If she appeals to you then absolutely buy this book.

I would have preferred Bernadette Dunne or even Pam Ward.

Going to try the book in print.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully done, Narration superb. Captivating

Having previously read "Highs and Lows on the John Muir Trail" It was a pure joy to sit back, put my feet up, hands behind my head and occasionally closing my eyes, listening to the storytelling by Inga Aksamit. Allie Wagner's narration was superb, bringing the story to life. I could actually visualize myself being there on the John Muir Trail as the story unfolded. I enjoyed every minute and on occasion found myself laughing out loud . Very entertaining.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Liked it a lot

Listened to it again as it made me feel as if I was on the trail with them. Very well written & narrated.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

On Second Thought...

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend this book to a reader interested in personal stories and social interactions along the JMT. The book wasn't to my liking, but it's very personal and clearly written, and I'm sure many others will enjoy it.

Would you be willing to try another book from Inga Aksamit? Why or why not?

I have her "The Hingery Spork". It is in an excellent and concise look on provisioning for the trail. I'm finding it very useful in my own preparation for the JMT this summer.

What didn’t you like about Allie Wagner’s performance?

I don't think she was a good fit for this book, but I've listened to her narration before, and wouldn't hesitate to do so again. She's fine.

Any additional comments?

The book is light on specific information about the Sierra and even the JMT itself. As just one example, a passing reference to the yellow-legged frogs near Muir Pass was a missed opportunity. Those frogs specifically are an indicator-species for the Sierra ecology and are the subject of current research. I listened to this book hoping for such bits of Sierra lore. There wasn't much of it.

I was put off by all the worrying. The author is a very accomplished skier, paddler, backpacker and writer who also has a professional carer in medicine. She is an impressive person, and it just never stopped seeming odd to me that she expressed such a high level of worry at so many times along the journey. The JMT lies almost entirely in Yosemite, King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The trail is long, and it's up-and-down all the way, but it is also well-maintained and easy to follow. For the experienced backpacker in top physical condition it really is just a walk in the park.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • C
  • 12-20-17

Excellent. Add it to your JMT reading list!

I really enjoyed listening to this in the gym, on the stair climber when I couldn’t get out to hike. I learned a lot about what to expect on the JMT in format that was more fun than yet another guide book. I liked that the story wasn’t just about what was great about the experience but that it also revealed some of the hardships. That made it very real. Highly recommended! Thank you, Inga!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tami
  • Arizona
  • 12-09-17

Great Book about the JMT and hiking!

I read the kindle version of the book when it first came out. I did the trail with my husband the year before Inga so when the book came out, I was very interested in reading it. It brought back so many memories that had become a blur. When you are hiking a trail over two weeks, the days start to blend together.

I am planning another long distance hike for 2018 and repeating the JMT is one of the options so I was going to re-read her book but then I saw the audio book was available. Allie does an great job at the narration.

This is a great book if you are planning a JMT hike, completed the JMT or just want to listen to a hiking adventure. It isn't a guidebook but a story about the hike and the day to day difficulties along with unexpected surprises.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Smiles abound

Where does Highs and Lows on the John Muir Trail rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This was my first audio book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Highs and Lows on the John Muir Trail?

The reaction by Inga from being offered Whiskey at MTR.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I smiled A LOT.... so much so, people would tap me and ask me what I was listening to.

Any additional comments?

This book made me smile and laugh, miss the trail and the people I met this past summer. Funny thing about the title: What were the, Lows, on the trail are actually now the, Highs, and my fondest memories.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good account husband and wife hiking

Liked: This book kept a good pace and didn’t drag on with unnecessary hyperbole. I liked the accounts and stories of interactions with other hikers.
If you like a husband and wife hiking experience this book is for you.

Disliked: The descriptions of the passes and “dangers” on the trail were a little to dramatic for me, but They weren’t too bad. I realize that others probably do feel like the trail is a “life or death” situation. I always feel safe and tranquil in the mountains.
If you’re into speed and miles this book isn’t for you.

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  • Dean McCabe
  • 11-22-17

Guaranteed to Brighten Up Your Day

There are hundreds of blogs and video diaries out there, detailing other people's journeys on the JMT, so why read/listen to Inga's?

Well, Inga succeeds where 99.9% of blog writers miss the target - she effortlessly conveys what it feels like to be on the JMT. This isn't just a "we hiked, we saw this" story, you are transported to the trail and dropped into the shoes of a JMT hiker.

So you might know the trail has epic vistas, alpine lakes and Mordor-esque passes - Inga gives us a glimpse in what it feels like to walk through, around and over these.

Anyone considering the JMT or any long distance hike should read this book - it is up there on the essential reading list with Lizzie Wenk's guide. Where Lizzie describes, in fantastic detail, what the trail is like and what you will see, Inga's book lets you know how it feels to be there.

There is also lots of practical information woven into the story - good places to camp, difficult sections, as well as planning and kit tips.

I listened to the audiobook over the course of about a week, mainly on my commute to work and it definitely brightened up my mornings and evening car journey, not an easy feat in damp, dreich Scotland in late November!

The book is read by Allie Wagner and her performance is one of the best I've heard on Audible - she has a wonderful musical quality to her voice, and every sentence is delivered with enthusiasm. It's almost as if she was on Inga's shoulder the whole trip.

I heard about the audiobook from one of Inga's posts on Facebook, and while I've never met Inga I have exchanged a couple of messages related to JMT and altitude acclimatisation stuff with her over the last couple of years. I used my own audible credit for this book.

I'm also in love with the Sierra Nevada despite living 6000miles away and hiked parts of the JMT in 2016 - Inga's account of Glen Pass made me smile, but that's another story.