Training to Hike the John Muir Trail

Training for the John Muir Trail

I love spending time in the outdoors but honestly, most of those experiences are day hikes, quick trail runs and weekend car camping trips with my family. A few times each summer I’ll hike 15 miles in a day but rarely do I get up and do more hiking the next day. This is all about to change as I have recently accepted an invitation to join a group of 5 guys in backpacking the John Muir Trail. With the trip less than 6 weeks away, my training to hike the John Muir Trail is in full swing.

I accepted the invitation from Paul to join him and a small group of guys who all know each other from our social media profiles. A simple series of tweets led to my acceptance of the challenge to hike roughly a 200 mile stretch of trail from Yosemite National Park south to the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states. As you can imagine, this is a stretch for a guy who struggles to string together hikes between a 40 hour per week job, my wife’s business which requires some of my free time and two daughters who enjoy having their dad coach their soccer games and being active in their daily lives.

Training to hike the John Muir Trail

Settling into my 30’s, I’m carrying a bit more extra weight around my midsection than ever before but here’s a chance of a lifetime to take a major adventure, reach outside of my comfort zone and do something I’ve always dreamed of doing. So I’m committed. I’ve got the gear, I’m studying the route and I’m working hard to be in the best shape possible.

I recently shared some tips on how to get into shape for a backpacking trip here on the Sierra Social Hub and I’ve been working hard to find enough time to hike on weekends or squeeze in a quick run after work. As the trip gets closer, my fitness level is becoming more of a priority. Check out this video from a recent training hike:

A few months ago, I’d call a 20 minute walk with my dog around the neighborhood an acceptable workout for the day, but now I’m running 4 or 5 miles in the evening after work. Even spring showers haven’t slowed me down as I’ve enthusiastically hopped on the treadmill, cranked up the elevation gain and started climbing. Accepting this adventure has led to many positive changes in my daily life including the loss of 9 pounds already. Here are some of the things I’ve been doing to train for this hike.

Training to Hike the John Muir Trail

  • Squeezing one 7 to 10 mile hike in each weekend
  • Running 4 to 5 miles three days a week
  • Walk the dog a few extra blocks and squeeze a 30 minute walk into my lunch break
  • Adding a little extra weight into my backpack for each hike

Check back to the Sierra Social Hub to follow the story of Chris Martin and I as we head out to hike the John Muir Trail. We’ll have video and blog updates before, during and after our adventure. Leave a comment below if there is anything you’d like to know about this adventure or how we are training to hike the John Muir Trail.

Click here for more tips on how to train for a backpacking trip or to learn more about our trip click here: John Muir Trail 2013.

You can follow updates about the trip on our John Muir Trail page.

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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains with his wife and daughters he shares his adventures here on the Sierra SocialHub.

2 comments on “Training to Hike the John Muir Trail

  1. Jeff Hester

    Andy, I’ve hiked the JMT twice. The first time I was 18 and at the peak of my fitness. The second time I was 49.
    Your training plan sounds good, but I would make a couple of adjustments.

    First, plan for LONGER weekend hikes. You’ll probably average more than 10 miles a day (we averaged just under 13 miles/day for a 22 day trip with one zero day). Those 14+ mile hikes will make a difference.

    Second, incorporate some higher altitude hiking with your training. You didn’t mention this, but there’s a big difference between hiking at sea level and hiking above 10,000 feet.

    Finally, hike with your pack weight. I carried one gallon jugs filled with tap water. You can dump the water when you reach the high point of your hike — it’ll be easier on your knees on the way down. Carrying the weight makes a HUGE difference in training.

    Lucky for me, in Southern California we have a plethora of trails that fit the bill. I created what I called the “Six Pack of Peaks” — each higher and a bit more difficult: http://socalhiker.net/2010/05/a-six-pack-of-peaks/

    Reply
    1. Andy HawbakerAndy Hawbaker Post author

      Thanks Jeff. You are correct. Elevation and weight are both important factors to take into account. I’m lucky to live on the Colorado Front Range where reaching elevations over 10,000 feet is pretty easy to do on short hikes. Thanks for the feedback.
      Andy

      Reply

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