Woman solo hikes through Sierra Nevadas

AMHERST – Go to Disneyland someone told her. Other people said she didn’t have nearly enough gear to hike the trail by herself.

Allison Nadler was in no mood for Mickey Mouse and didn’t let negative comments discourage her from making a solo hike of California’s John Muir trail, through the backbone of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

"I just wanted to hike and get into the wild," she told a full house at the Amherst Town Library recently, still excited to share tales of her two-week adventure in the summer of 2014.

During her six months of preparation, people on Facebook told her she simply could not do this hike, which begins at Yosemite Valley and ends at Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states. Some said a woman shouldn’t attempt it alone.

On the trail she heard remarks focused on her gear. "You can’t possibly have everything you need in there," or, her favorite, "skinny girl, skinny pack," referring to the 12 pounds of base weight she carried before food and water were added – and that included a 2.9 pound bear canister.

"I was surrounded by day and overnight hikers who were carrying 35-65 pounds," she wrote in her trail journal.

But Nadler knew what she was doing. She’s 26 and has been an avid peak-bagger for years. She has hiked each of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains four times and is the founder of a meet-up group called Northeast Baggers and edits a website called Trail to Summit.

John Muir was by far her most ambitious hike. The a 221-mile footpath includes a 47,000 foot elevation gain.

The hike started with anxiety the first night after teenagers camping next to her were busted by a park ranger for having cocaine. Would people dumb enough to bring hard drugs to a national park have the sense to put their food and toothpaste in a bear canister, she wondered.

"I lay in bed that night in fear of bears. Or maybe just the stupidity of others." she wrote.

But she had no anxiety about her equipment. She works for Gossamer Gear, a company that makes ultralight hiking and backpacking gear and she was careful to bring as little as possible.

Nearly everything had two uses. The floor liner was her pack liner, for example, and she didn’t carry a stove, relying on snacks of high-calorie food like Nutella, tortillas and beef jerky when she wasn’t sharing meals with trail friends.

Nadler’s slide presentation showed the highlights of the glorious scenery John Muir is famous for: Devils Postpile, Thousand Island Lake and Marie Lake, and her story told the ups and downs.

No hiking story is complete without a disaster, and Nadler’s came in the form of an empty bear canister that was supposed to be returned to her stocked, in exchange for a $70 fee. The canister came back empty, without the 10 days worth of food, extra socks and marked-up maps she was counting on.

"I cried for five minutes," she said, and then went looking through resupply buckets that hikers had left behind and found some beef jerky and a whole set of maps.

The John Muir trail ends near Death Valley, and she had planned to hike for 16 days and made it in 15. She encouraged the audience to take ambitious hikes and "make sure you see it through, and push yourself to see what you’re made of."

In her trail journal she wrote:

"I didn’t realize how much hiking in New Hampshire would prepare me for this high altitude trail. The terrain,
elevation gain, and monsoons were not seen as an obstacle because I had prepared so much. Some may argue that you can only be successful if you’re a seasoned Sierras hiker. Others say it’s a trail for everyone. With enough research, preparation, and the right mind set, you’ll be fine."

People in the audience wanted to know about her preparation – unlike the Appalachian Trail, hiking John Muir requires a permit – and the basics of water, food and clothing.

As her photos show, the trail is full of water "and you can get away with one liter" and water filtration equipment, she said. She detailed her clothing – mostly thin layers of wool, a down jacket, rain gear, a skirt and long underwear. When clothes got washed (without soap) they were spread out to dry or hung on her backpack.

First-aid items were few and there was no need for a geographic positioning system, she said, because trails are well-marked.

And the feared bears never materialized during the 15 days – the wildlife she saw was mostly marmots, mule deer and elk.

"Hiking the John Muir Trail" was the fifth program in Amherst library’s "Minds Wide Awake" summer series for adults.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Woman solo hikes through Sierra Nevadas

AMHERST – Go to Disneyland someone told her. Other people said she didn’t have nearly enough gear to hike the trail by herself.

Allison Nadler was in no mood for Mickey Mouse and didn’t let negative comments discourage her from making a solo hike of California’s John Muir trail, through the backbone of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

"I just wanted to hike and get into the wild," she told a full house at the Amherst Town Library recently, still excited to share tales of her two-week adventure in the summer of 2014.

During her six months of preparation, people on Facebook told her she simply could not do this hike, which begins at Yosemite Valley and ends at Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states. Some said a woman shouldn’t attempt it alone.

On the trail she heard remarks focused on her gear. "You can’t possibly have everything you need in there," or, her favorite, "skinny girl, skinny pack," referring to the 12 pounds of base weight she carried before food and water were added – and that included a 2.9 pound bear canister.

"I was surrounded by day and overnight hikers who were carrying 35-65 pounds," she wrote in her trail journal.

But Nadler knew what she was doing. She’s 26 and has been an avid peak-bagger for years. She has hiked each of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains four times and is the founder of a meet-up group called Northeast Baggers and edits a website called Trail to Summit.

John Muir was by far her most ambitious hike. The a 221-mile footpath includes a 47,000 foot elevation gain.

The hike started with anxiety the first night after teenagers camping next to her were busted by a park ranger for having cocaine. Would people dumb enough to bring hard drugs to a national park have the sense to put their food and toothpaste in a bear canister, she wondered.

"I lay in bed that night in fear of bears. Or maybe just the stupidity of others." she wrote.

But she had no anxiety about her equipment. She works for Gossamer Gear, a company that makes ultralight hiking and backpacking gear and she was careful to bring as little as possible.

Nearly everything had two uses. The floor liner was her pack liner, for example, and she didn’t carry a stove, relying on snacks of high-calorie food like Nutella, tortillas and beef jerky when she wasn’t sharing meals with trail friends.

Nadler’s slide presentation showed the highlights of the glorious scenery John Muir is famous for: Devils Postpile, Thousand Island Lake and Marie Lake, and her story told the ups and downs.

No hiking story is complete without a disaster, and Nadler’s came in the form of an empty bear canister that was supposed to be returned to her stocked, in exchange for a $70 fee. The canister came back empty, without the 10 days worth of food, extra socks and marked-up maps she was counting on.

"I cried for five minutes," she said, and then went looking through resupply buckets that hikers had left behind and found some beef jerky and a whole set of maps.

The John Muir trail ends near Death Valley, and she had planned to hike for 16 days and made it in 15. She encouraged the audience to take ambitious hikes and "make sure you see it through, and push yourself to see what you’re made of."

In her trail journal she wrote:

"I didn’t realize how much hiking in New Hampshire would prepare me for this high altitude trail. The terrain,

Woman solo hikes through Sierra Nevadas

AMHERST – Go to Disneyland someone told her. Other people said she didn’t have nearly enough gear to hike the trail by herself.

Allison Nadler was in no mood for Mickey Mouse and didn’t let negative comments discourage her from making a solo hike of California’s John Muir trail, through the backbone of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

"I just wanted to hike and get into the wild," she told a full house at the Amherst Town Library recently, still excited to share tales of her two-week adventure in the summer of 2014.

During her six months of preparation, people on Facebook told her she simply could not do this hike, which begins at Yosemite Valley and ends at Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states. Some said a woman shouldn’t attempt it alone.

On the trail she heard remarks focused on her gear. "You can’t possibly have everything you need in there," or, her favorite, "skinny girl, skinny pack," referring to the 12 pounds of base weight she carried before food and water were added – and that included a 2.9 pound bear canister.

"I was surrounded by day and overnight hikers who were carrying 35-65 pounds," she wrote in her trail journal.

But Nadler knew what she was doing. She’s 26 and has been an avid peak-bagger for years. She has hiked each of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains four times and is the founder of a meet-up group called Northeast Baggers and edits a website called Trail to Summit.

John Muir was by far her most ambitious hike. The a 221-mile footpath includes a 47,000 foot elevation gain.

The hike started with anxiety the first night after teenagers camping next to her were busted by a park ranger for having cocaine. Would people dumb enough to bring hard drugs to a national park have the sense to put their food and toothpaste in a bear canister, she wondered.

"I lay in bed that night in fear of bears. Or maybe just the stupidity of others." she wrote.

But she had no anxiety about her equipment. She works for Gossamer Gear, a company that makes ultralight hiking and backpacking gear and she was careful to bring as little as possible.

Nearly everything had two uses. The floor liner was her pack liner, for example, and she didn’t carry a stove, relying on snacks of high-calorie food like Nutella, tortillas and beef jerky when she wasn’t sharing meals with trail friends.

Nadler’s slide presentation showed the highlights of the glorious scenery John Muir is famous for: Devils Postpile, Thousand Island Lake and Marie Lake, and her story told the ups and downs.

No hiking story is complete without a disaster, and Nadler’s came in the form of an empty bear canister that was supposed to be returned to her stocked, in exchange for a $70 fee. The canister came back empty, without the 10 days worth of food, extra socks and marked-up maps she was counting on.

"I cried for five minutes," she said, and then went looking through resupply buckets that hikers had left behind and found some beef jerky and a whole set of maps.

The John Muir trail ends near Death Valley, and she had planned to hike for 16 days and made it in 15. She encouraged the audience to take ambitious hikes and "make sure you see it through, and push yourself to see what you’re made of."

In her trail journal she wrote:

"I didn’t realize how much hiking in New Hampshire would prepare me for this high altitude trail. The terrain, elevation gain, and monsoons were not seen as an obstacle because I had prepared so much. Some may argue that you can only be successful if you’re a seasoned Sierras hiker. Others say it’s a trail for everyone. With enough research, preparation, and the right mind set, you’ll be fine."

People in the audience wanted to know about her preparation – unlike the Appalachian Trail, hiking John Muir requires a permit – and the basics of water, food and clothing.

As her photos show, the trail is full of water "and you can get away with one liter" and water filtration equipment, she said. She detailed her clothing – mostly thin layers of wool, a down jacket, rain gear, a skirt and long underwear. When clothes got washed (without soap) they were spread out to dry or hung on her backpack.

First-aid items were few and there was no need for a geographic positioning system, she said, because trails are well-marked.

And the feared bears never materialized during the 15 days – the wildlife she saw was mostly marmots, mule deer and elk.

"Hiking the John Muir Trail" was the fifth program in Amherst library’s "Minds Wide Awake" summer series for adults.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.