Tony Krizan

Through decades of hiking, he’s collected friends, memories and Jeeps

Tony Krizan, left, with two of his hiking buddies, Fred Cochran, center, and Clem Bingham, right. They’re holding a piece of a Curtis Wright P-40 that crashed in the Sierra on Oct. 24, 1941.
Tony Krizan, left, with two of his hiking buddies, Fred Cochran, center, and Clem Bingham, right. They’re holding a piece of a Curtis Wright P-40 that crashed in the Sierra on Oct. 24, 1941. Special to the Sierra Star

Many of us for decades have hiked various locations of our majestic Sierra Nevada. We may have struggled climbing Mt. Whitney the highest mountain in the lower 48 states at 14,500 feet. Mt. Whitney has grown four feet in the last 30 years. Or maybe we attempted to hike the 112 miles of the John Muir Trail hoping to complete this wilderness adventure in 30 days.

tony krizan

During the past decade I’ve shared many trails and remote locations with my two hiking buddies Fred Cochran and Clem Bingham. Decades before I also shared these mountains with my two mentors, Tom Silver Fox Addison and Greg Winslow. All four of these individuals have a sixth sense for adventures and an overwhelming respect for our local mountains. I feel very fortunate that our paths crossed, and we shared many adventures together.

There were those occasions our free time was in conflict with each other’s schedules. Solo hikes during those early years were the normal for each of us. Occasionally many of these adventures were repeated and shared at a later date.

Not all adventures were strictly solo; periodically along these mountain routes I would meet another lone hiker. His pack also stuffed with provisions and equipment that offered his personal survival needs. Often we would exchange information; sometimes our routes would overlap which assisted my cross country route. Many of these remote areas are within the Ansel Adams, John Muir, Kaiser, Yosemite and the Kings Canyon Wilderness. Now don’t forget those exciting trails located along the eastern side of these Sierra Nevada.

Most adventures start with reviewing maps, obtaining a wilderness permit then physically start hiking from a trailhead. The exciting phase of most adventures starts when one departs from a trail. Now you will witness those remote canyons and cross high elevation saddles following your map and game trails. If you’re lucky you may even cross a remote Indian trail that leads to one of their forgotten campsites.

Through my many years of adventure I forgot to mention a very important subject of hiking. That is transportation! These adventures would not be possible if we could not get to the trailhead. Not all trails are located at the base of our mountains or at the corner of a parking lot. One major area of these mountains on the east side, one of my favorite areas is Death Valley. This remote area also has abandoned roads and trails. Once again the proper transportation is needed.

Through my many decades of hiking I’ve always owned a four wheel drive. Today most trailheads are accessible with our normal transportation vehicles. But trailhead locations change and reaching these remote locations a four wheel drive is required.

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Tony Krizan searched six months before finding his new wheels, this Jeep Wrangler. Special to the Sierra Star

Thirteen years ago I purchased a new Jeep Liberty. The short wheelbase with the two-speed transfer case and the comforts of a passenger vehicle. As time passed my Jeep accumulated many miles, now is the time for a replacement. Sticker shock was my new experience! After examining my options I decided to look for a used Jeep Wrangler with the short wheelbase. After six months of searching and with the assistance of Mike Salazar owner of Toy Hook Up along Highway 41 in Madera who specializes in Jeeps and 4x4s, located my Jeep Wrangler in San Francisco. Now I can continue pursuing my hobby of hiking and writing stories about our beautiful mountains without a transportation interruption.