Geezerhood and backpacking

1:17 a.m. on February 9, 2018 (EST)
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OK, I'm officially a geezer at 74 (75 on April 4). So listen up you young whippersnappers:

1. Use hiking poles when your are young to save your knees when you're older. (And learn to properly use the pole straps like cross country skiers do.)

2. TRAIN -> Keep up a regular (4 to 6 X a week) workout program. This helps you avoid taking 10 "maintenance drugs" by the time you are 60.

3. Do NOT delay Bucket List trips. Do them when you can, even if you can barely afford them.

4. Buy good gear (but you don't need "200 lbs. of lightweight gear" in your garage ;o)

5. Teach kids the joys of backpacking. They will thank you later, or even now.

6. ENJOY!  Eschew fast packing, speed hiking etc. Do stop to smell the flowers. Do let kids stop to play in the mud. Take yer dog along, even yer wife or husband or significant other! 

Eric B.

7:57 a.m. on February 9, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks for the wisdom, Eric! I hope I am still going strong at age 75.

Right now, I cave with a guy who is 64yo. When I met him in 2001, his goal was to cave until he turned 60 (Most cavers hang up the kneepads before reaching that age.). Now he's hoping to reach 70. Caving with Ralph destroys my excuses. 

12:12 p.m. on February 9, 2018 (EST)
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Good words winmag.  Year before last I went into the Ruby Mtns at over 10,500 feet with a group older than me. I am 67 and there were plenty of guys in their 70s, but they were smaller guys with histories of running marathons and bike racing.  I am not fast anymore, but just going out there is always a victory.  Training makes all the difference. You have to prepare your heart, lungs and quads for the big mountains with a pack. I love backpacking still and will be very reluctant to give up on it. Day hike today in the Sierras 2/9.

1:28 p.m. on February 9, 2018 (EST)
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respect

2:43 p.m. on February 9, 2018 (EST)
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At 63 going on 2^6, I am doing my best to follow your excellent advice. #5 is all taken care of, and the tables have turned -- my adult daughters actually invite me to join them on some of their trips. As far as #6 goes, I still like to go fast, but then that's part of #2. And +1 especially on #2 -- the weekend warrior approach stopped working in my 50's, with brutal leg soreness after hard early season hikes. I'm slowing down, not quite keeping up with some of my ski buddies that are anywhere from 10 to 40 years younger than me, but I've got many miles to go before I sleep. And I'm hitting the bucket list, at least for the American southwest, pretty hard this year. Stay tuned...

3:05 p.m. on February 9, 2018 (EST)
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Heck, I didn't expect this many replies. Evidently there are a lot more of we seniors backpacking than I thought. And that's a good thing.

As Goose mentioned, maybe our vitality and enthusiasm will inspire younger folks to stay with this hobby, sport, walking meditation, lifestyle or whatever it is to them.

My avatar photo here was taken 5 years ago so I'm not really decrepit (yet) and luckily I have good "aging genes" with good knees, heart, etc. But I was an XC ski racer and bike racer in my 30s through 50s so that helped a lot. I retired from alpine ski patrolling 4 years ago but still alpine and backcountry ski - just not as fast as before but just as enjoyably. 

Yeah, I've had shoulder and thyroid surgeries in recent years but it all comes under the heading of "routine geezer maintenance". 

"KEEP ON TRUCKIN'"

Eric B.

9:14 p.m. on February 9, 2018 (EST)
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Nice.  We've done most of those...or continue to do most of those.  But you have a few years on us.  We're only in our mid '60s...

9:47 p.m. on February 9, 2018 (EST)
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these are wise words. Personal favourite (as a father of a four and two year old) has to be number five

11:19 a.m. on February 10, 2018 (EST)
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I'm almost exactly a quarter century behind you Eric, but following your advice for the most part:

- Converting from a hiking stick to trekking poles made a world of difference to my knees and ankle injuries after 20 years of soccer

- Never used to train but now get on the elliptical 4 days a week and day hike twice on weeks where I don't have time to strap on a pack.

- Bucket list trips are beginning in a few months with my walk across Scotland

- Now that I can afford it, my pack weighs mid-teens and costs mid $1,000s

Great advice I will continue to follow and I hope it keeps me on the trail for another quarter century!

12:41 p.m. on February 10, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks for the PM Eric. I will keep you in mind. 

11:05 p.m. on February 10, 2018 (EST)
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You forgot to tell them whisky is an essential BC food group.  Always bring in sufficient quantity to assure your fellow campers are not undernourished.

Ed

5:44 a.m. on February 11, 2018 (EST)
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I never slip on a pack that doesn't have a flask Ed, but I wonder if my preference for solo backpacking doesn't have something to do with lack of willingness to share my Scotch!

6:40 a.m. on February 12, 2018 (EST)
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Wise advise reminds me do do what we love when we plan for it.I been working so much and work trips I need to recharge the furnace soon...Oh the thoughts of a trip somewhere I haven't seen...

4:35 p.m. on February 12, 2018 (EST)
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New rules.

Go light, bring real food and bring a chair. 

I now consider my dog and my hiking companions as really important equipment. 

Some whiskey does not hurt a thing, but neither does some good tequila or some tincture of THC.  Small quantities of course. 

4:52 p.m. on February 12, 2018 (EST)
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My advice is for young people to live their lives backwards. So many of the 20+year old  men and women start in the working world with concern for retirement plans, building their IRAs, and managing their resumes. Where is the "sowing of wild oats"? A broadening life cannot be lived on chartered weekend excursions after 70 hour work weeks. 

So, young backpackers, I would suggest you retire now, enjoy your retirement for five or ten years of wandering and odd-jobs, and then, when you feel replete, re-enter the full-time workforce as a person who has met the real world and survived the experience. What good will it do you to have a wonderful bucket-list and expectations of adventure-filled golden years, when you find your health eroded at fifty and family responsibilities forcing you to stay working full-time until you are seventy? If you retire when young, your bucket is already full in your dotage, and the years can pass with no (fewer) regrets of life unlived.

Just the opining of an old hippy, YMMV.

5:21 p.m. on February 12, 2018 (EST)
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You received so many responses because what you said resonates with so many people.

Our kids (three of them between fourteen and twenty) all enjoy being outside today - hiking, running, kayaking - because we encouraged them to get out with us and enjoy it when they were younger.  Never pushed, just gave them the opportunity. 

11:51 a.m. on February 15, 2018 (EST)
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All these references to booze and backpacking unfortunately leave me cold, although I am pretty sure you guys know how to imbibe appropriately.  I have just done too many rescues/body recoveries (probably more than 100) where over consumption was involved that I am leery of bourbon in the back country.

i became an archaeologist because it combines combines scholarship with the requirement to get out into wild country.  Worked out well for me, although there are plenty of other endeavors that will get you out of the office regularly.

I would do it all over again, if I had the chance (just a few little tweaks)....

12:04 p.m. on February 15, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks to hikermor.  I am a forester, but had many job titles like hydrologist, soil scientist, and environmental scientist.  I was never an environmentalist.  My Dad asked me recently as a retired person if I would have chosen the same career if I had it to do over again.  "Absolutely" I replied. 

Being outdoors and seeing new places was part of the job.  I worked with lots of archaeologists and did some Class III surveys over the years.  There is a point when working in the field say around 60-70% of the time when being away from home becomes a struggle.  It is hard to have a normal life.  Then when you get time off the last thing you want to do is "go to the field" when you just came from there. 

Geezerhood allows reflection on the type of life we have lived, what our contributions have been and what kind of a legacy we leave behind.  I enjoy making presentations to the public at various types of forums.  Next month I am doing an hour long slide show on forestry, logging during the Comstock Era, fire and what to expect in the future.  It gives my life meaning to continue to contribute and help the public better understand some complicated issues. 

1:28 p.m. on February 15, 2018 (EST)
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hikermor said:

All these references to booze and backpacking unfortunately leave me cold, although I am pretty sure you guys know how to imbibe appropriately.  I have just done too many rescues/body recoveries (probably more than 100) where over consumption was involved that I am leery of bourbon in the back country.

i became an archaeologist because it combines combines scholarship with the requirement to get out into wild country.  Worked out well for me, although there are plenty of other endeavors that will get you out of the office regularly.

I would do it all over again, if I had the chance (just a few little tweaks)....

 As a winter hiker, alcohol (despite the warm feeling it might give you) enhances your risk of frostbite and hypothermia. in excessive quantities, it can adversely affect your judgment year-round. i'm much more apt to go for beer and pizza at the end of a trip than bring a flask along. to each their own, of course.  

5:10 p.m. on February 16, 2018 (EST)
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overmywaders,

My good friend's son is a very bright kid in a hot field related to algorithms and computers.  He is in Patagonia for 3 months just taking a break.  He is confident he will quickly find a job when he returns. 

You are right that the trips we took as young people have great staying power.  I moved to the West Coast in a VW bus after college and spent 6 weeks getting there. One of the great trips. 

8:12 a.m. on February 17, 2018 (EST)
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ppine,

There was something exhilarating about waking up under junipers beside the highway knowing that you might hitch north, you might go south, but either way you would meet new friends and enjoy new experiences. You were free. You might be hungry or thirsty, cold and wet, but those were just interesting conditions to overcome. 

In Canada in 1970, IIRC, Pierre Trudeau told the college students of the nation that "there are no jobs for you this summer, but Canada is large, get out on the road and see it". Trudeau set up a chain of youth hostels from coast to coast, staffing them with youths. Thousands of young people spent the summers hitchhiking from one hostel to the next. The cost of a night's stay was a nominal 25 cents; if you didn't have that, you still found shelter there. This provided an excellent education in real life, IMO. The government subsidized the hostel system until 1976.

I was on the road year-round for a number of years, so I had the opportunity to freeze beside the highway outside of Thunder Bay in Feb., and sweat building a baseball diamond in Florida on 100 degree days in July. I never seemed to match the seasons to the latitude. :) All the skills I learned through the sundry jobs I did have served me well over the years. 

My heart went Afib at age forty and I haven't been able to climb a hill in the 28 years since. I'm not complaining, life is good; but if I had waited to enjoy an outdoor life...

11:16 a.m. on February 17, 2018 (EST)
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The accumulated experience of the people just on this thread could fill many volumes.  We have to consider ourselves the lucky ones.  We have been out there a lot and often gotten paid for it.  We have had plenty of odd jobs, and know what it is like to get paid in sunsets.  Then for fun we had all kinds of experiences. 

The trick for me is to keep it going.  I am back on the weights again which I do every winter. I met a guy working out yesterday that was 95 year old.  He had straight posture and walked with an easy gait.  He could hear fine and was fun to talk with.  He was a 1922 model. 

3:51 p.m. on February 17, 2018 (EST)
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"He was a 1922 model." Hee, hee

Well, this "1943 model" still has a few miles left in it. 

The only time I've gotten paid for being outdoors was in the summer of 1980 when I made $12.90/hour as a trail builder for the Snow Peak section of the PCT. Tough manual labor and we all lived in tents and cooked on backpacking or 2 burner Coleman stoves and kept our beer in Snow Creek, right near our tents. Every 7 or 8 days we would make a trip into the LA area for resupply and R&R.

We were constructing (i.e. from scratch) a 9 mile section of the PCT north of Palm Springs and head Wildwood, CA from 7,800 ft.down into a wilderness area of Joshua trees and live oak - and lots of rattlesnakes.

As you say, the trick is to "keep on trucking'".

Eric B.

 

10:38 p.m. on February 17, 2018 (EST)
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hikermor said:

All these references to booze and backpacking unfortunately leave me cold, although I am pretty sure you guys know how to imbibe appropriately. 

I have know some who could not hold their liquor, and ended up in minor mishaps, fortunately nothing the likes you describe.  Perhaps they were lucky, as stumbling in dark miles from a car can still turn out to be an ordeal, regardless what nature has and the elements may throw at you.  I do not like that kind of company anyway, drunk companionship is not nearly as rewarding as that of folks with clear minds.  In any case I was never a fan of the tipsy feeling; I sip for the flavor not for effect, and share my spirits for the ceremony and bonds it reinforces.   

overmywaders said:

My advice is for young people to live their lives backwards...

That is perhaps the best advice posted herein.

Fortunately I had an old wise guy tell me the same thing when I was young.  He said not to put off living and smelling the flowers too long - otherwise your pier may collapse by the time your ship comes in.  Indeed!  I still can get out and about, but most of my compatriots have been forced long ago to "retire" from many of their past times because they are unable to participate.  Perhaps it is age, but me thinks too much time spent "taking care of business" was done at the cost of not enough time spent keeping fit and healthy.

Ed

10:31 a.m. on February 18, 2018 (EST)
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Great words by Ed.  I have far too many friends that think an adventure is staying at the Holiday Inn and playing golf, or going wine tasting and going out to dinner. 

As many people age, they lose their not only their vim and vigor but their will to seek adventure.  They get lazy and complacent.  I go on more trips solo now because people are "too busy."  I am down to a couple of friends and a brother really that still like to get out there. I will be going out there until the day I die. 

7:01 p.m. on February 18, 2018 (EST)
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Its always good online to throw a warning about the dangers of alcohol in the wilderness when you never know who might be scrolling through for information.  I agree with the cautions and dangers.

I'll not be found without my flask of Scotch except in the absolute coldest trips (it gets too cold to taste the flavor!).  As with most of the experienced folks here who mentioned alcohol, I don't over indulge - in fact only have enough to get a taste of it and celebrate another great day on or off the trail.  As with anything (over-indulging with alcohol, over-exerting yourself, over-estimating your skills/abilities), the best thing to do is pack along a hearty amount of common sense.

7:17 p.m. on February 18, 2018 (EST)
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Phil.

Good idea to avoid alcohol in bitter cold weather. (avoid alcohol?!) The drink can be so cold it freezes your tongue and throat lining. 

There's a warning and cartoon against this problem in the little (but great) paperback "Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book". IF sub-zero gasoline can freeze a blister on your hand alcohol can do the same in yer mouth/throat.

Eric B.

12:45 a.m. on February 21, 2018 (EST)
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Great advice Eric as I am just approaching 60 and hope to be doing as good as you are when I hit my 70's.  I hike with a couple of geezers in their early 70's that can still run guys into the ground who are half their age and I have to get after then to slow down a bit so we can enjoy the hikes we go on.

I have always lived a frugal life which enabled me to retire at 57, but the real driver for me to get out was finally realizing that if I didn't get out to do the things I wanted to do, there was a good chance something physically would change and I would forever regret delaying doing the things I enjoy most.  

I 100% agree with you that people shouldn't delay their bucket list trips because life is too unpredictable.  If you do the trips now, you'll be able to enjoy the memories for the rest of your life...

6:13 a.m. on February 21, 2018 (EST)
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iam taking yalls advice...I made friends with a guide out of California that does international Trips...I mentioned Everest basecamp looks like I might be going next year.I put a lot of things off this year do to work...Next year will be my year to do more trips...I am financially ok so why not

3:32 p.m. on February 21, 2018 (EST)
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Go for it denis! I spent  New Year's Eve 80-81 in Everest Base Camp drinking Khukri rum with some of the members of a British winter Everest expedition (others were already up on the west ridge). That's a night I'll never forget. Having said that, I expect Everest Base Camp is more of a zoo than ever in season and you might want to consider alternatives. I also went around Annapurna shortly after the Marsyandi Khola valley opened up to trekking, and that was much further out there... but, yeah, I "wasted" a chunk of my 20s traveling and working around the world and ski bumming and have no regrets.

9:33 p.m. on February 21, 2018 (EST)
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Good idea to avoid alcohol any time of the year hiking-I guided a guy, as a favor no less to my landlord, up to the summit of a peak where the guy pulled out a 6 pack of St Pauli's Girl and tho I asked him not to and didn't have one myself, he proceeded to drink all 6!

It was late spring time in the ADKs so there was some snow left and the nights were cold and damp and of course as I led the way off the mountain, he behind me maybe a 100ft missed a turn on the trail and promptly walked off a ten ft. ledge!

So as I ran back to him as he lay there in a heap I wondered what that cool night would bring us and how badly he was hurt...and actually for a few moments I thought he was dead...and then miraculously like a Pokey and Gumby Character he rose up and said, 'I'm ok' and walked on down to the car!

No doubt his drunkenness kept him limp when he fell and kept him from getting injured but he wouldn't have stepped off the ledge in the first place if he hadn't drank... and I know he was very bruised and sore the next day. Not my idea of fun and I've drank my share of booze over the years.

There is a time and place for everything.

4:17 a.m. on March 1, 2018 (EST)
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thankyou soo much for this. Informative 

8:49 a.m. on March 1, 2018 (EST)
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The St PauliGirl brew I am familiar with is a non-alcoholic beer.  Are there different varieties?

12:06 p.m. on March 1, 2018 (EST)
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If you're looking for good NAB try the new-ish Clausthaler dry-hopped (with the gold label). A new taste for us teetotalers, and my current favorite (I've tried 'em all...).

10:10 a.m. on March 2, 2018 (EST)
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I like the Kaliber by Guinness. The Buckler by Heinekin is a tad too sweet, but otherwise tasty. I'll try the Clausthaler. Thanks.

12:05 p.m. on March 2, 2018 (EST)
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Yes

3:13 p.m. on March 3, 2018 (EST)
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I was really pleased to see your post.  I am going to try hiking for the first time.  I will be starting out slow and I may never get very good at it, but I love the outdoors and exercise is needed.  You wisdom was much needed for me to get started.

Thanks

7:58 p.m. on March 3, 2018 (EST)
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SharBear said:

I am going to try hiking for the first time.  I will be starting out slow and I may never get very good at it

 If you're doing it then you're good at it ;-)

7:27 p.m. on March 4, 2018 (EST)
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SharBear,

I listened to an NPR piece yesterday that said women, unlike men, are raised not to be risk-takers.

I encourage you to take the "risk" of getting outdoors and enjoying it as much as you can. Live a bit of life for yourself. You will find that with every day you get outdoors you will become more comfortable with it and feel more healthy. 

Later, as you have accumulated some experience you can encourage other women of all ages to join you in this pursuit. Search out others with your interest, learn from them and enjoy their company. The online "MEETUP" site is a good place to find hiking groups where you can join these people.

Let us know a couple of times a year how you are doing. And if you ever get to Las Vegas I'd be happy to hike with you. I'm in Henderson, southern suburb of Sin City.

5:54 p.m. on March 5, 2018 (EST)
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I agree, if you can walk and enjoy the outdoors and make it back to your starting point

you did fine. Distance doesn't matter. Enjoyment and safety do.

 

JRinGeorgia said:

SharBear said:

I am going to try hiking for the first time.  I will be starting out slow and I may never get very good at it

 If you're doing it then you're good at it ;-)

 

5:44 p.m. on March 10, 2018 (EST)
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Thank you so very much for your posting. After two strokes I can only wish that I could take my grandchildren into the backcountry -hiking, X-C skiing or, backpacking. After two strokes I can only watch from the sidelines, I can truly appreciate your efforts to remain in condition to go into the backcountry. I'm officially a geezer also, at 73 (I'll be 74 on April 11). "Geezer Power -Hip hip Horah"

Adrian_S

6:15 p.m. on March 10, 2018 (EST)
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Hip Hip - oh my hip!

Ed

10:39 a.m. on March 11, 2018 (EDT)
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Use it or lose it. I had great trouble with my knees in my 50s after playing basketball seriously for 40 years, plus all of the pounding from carrying a pack in the bush with no trails. I had a mule with a bowed tendon, that needed to be walked every day.  Rain or snow I would be out walking. Within 6 weeks my arthritic knees felt much better.  Now they hardly give me any serious trouble.  I have bolt in my hip, but a soft track allows for some running. 

May 22, 2018
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