Over fifty and hiking the John Muir trail – WOW!

We’re pleased to introduce you to Joan Griffin and her book Force of Nature: Three Women Tackle the John Muir Trail. It’s astonishing that she and her friends did this after the age of fifty – something we should all aspire to do.


Joan as also honored us with a guest post: “Why You Should Write Your Life Story.” There’s some very good advice in her words.

Here’s Joan:



Why You Should Write Your Life Story

by Joan M. Griffin


I have an antique wooden box filled to the brim with cherished old letters tied into bundles with faded satin ribbons. The box contains every letter my father wrote to my mother during World War II. A young man, he’s an officer in the Navy in the Pacific Arena. In the first letters, he sounds like the boy he was, kind of foolish, kind of full of himself, kind of shy. His later letters are serious, with his stress coming through between the lines of his attempted jokes. When the war was over and Dad came home, the written communications stopped, as my parents married and started a family.

I’m so grateful to have those letters, to have my father’s youthful voice telling the stories of his life. Both my parents are long gone, and other than these cherished letters, they left behind no written accounts of their lives. When I asked my mom to write down some of her stories about growing up in the 30s and 40s, she laughed and insisted her life wasn’t interesting. Despite my insistence to the contrary, she wouldn’t take up her pen.

Memoirs or autobiographies used to be the territory of the famous and the privileged. More and more, however, they are the realm of ordinary people, because ordinary people live through very interesting times and accomplish extraordinary things. Writing your life story can mean having it professionally published, or it can mean putting it into a three-ring binder and shared only with your family, or anything in between those extremes.

Whatever form it takes, writing your personal story can be a fulfilling endeavor for yourself and a priceless gift for your loved ones, and perhaps even to the larger reading world.

Seven reasons to write your life story:

  1. Preserve your memories of your unique life experiences for yourself and future generations and add to your rich family history. Leave your legacy.
  2. Share the wisdom and valuable life lessons you’ve learned over time. It may inspire or motivate others faced with similar challenges. Let others know they are not alone.
  3. Self-reflection while writing about your experiences can help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your life’s purpose. Writing can lead to personal growth.
  4. Healing can come from writing about challenging or traumatic events. It can help you process emotion and find clarity. Writing about your life can be therapeutic.
  5. Gratitude and perspective arise from documenting the highs and lows of your life’s path and the people you have known. Find a sense of balance and appreciation in the process.
  6. Enjoy Writing can be a fun and joyful way to spend your time. Writing a first story leads to a string of good ideas for more stories—memories of events worth recalling and sharing.
  7. Connect with others who are writing. Learning and growing as a storyteller or writer alongside others on the same path can result in lasting and meaningful friendships.

For all those reasons, writing your life story can be both a transformative personal experience and an opportunity to expand your circle of meaningful relationships. And perhaps you’ll decide to publish your story and share it with the world.


Book Summary

Three friends, women in their fifties, set out to hike “the most beautiful long-distance trail in the world,” the John Muir Trail. From the outset, their adventure is complicated by self-inflicted accidents and ferocious weather, then enriched when they “adopt” a young hiker abandoned by her partner along the trail.

The women experience the terror of lightning at eleven-thousand feet, the thrill of walking through a towering waterfall, and the joy of dancing among midnight moonshadows. For a month, they live immersed in vast natural beauty, tackle the trail’s physical demands, and find camaraderie among an ensemble cast of eccentric trail characters. Together, they are pulled forward toward the trail’s end atop the highest peak in the High Sierra, Mt. Whitney, and the culmination of their transformative journey.

Publisher: Black Rose Writing (September 2023)

ISBN-10: 1685132812

ISBN-13: 9781685132811


Print length: 396 pages

Purchase a copy of Force of Nature on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.


About the Author

Joan lives under the spell of wanderlust. She takes wing, whenever possible, for actual destinations near and far and for literary locales in the pages of books. A native Californian, Joan lives in the Northern California foothills of the majestic Sierra Nevada, a world she loves exploring. Joan navigated her way through two careers—marketing computers, then sailboats—before applying her love of storytelling to her dual passions for teaching and writing. In addition to working on her next book, Joan teaches women’s history and literature for the OLLI programs at Sierra College and UC Davis Extension.



  1. Thank you for highlighting my adventure memoir on your blog, Madeline! I hope your readers are moved to write and share their own life stories and to read mine!

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