Thursday, November 19, 2015

Opinions and Hiking Solutions

I received this e-mail recently and thought I'd share it with you. Thank you very much for your kind thoughts and words. Below the bold text, I offer the remedies I've found work for me.

Sent from my iPad.   
Brawny, I read your blog to get real common sense advice about hiking.

I'm 54 and always wanted to hike more but life always kept me too committed to others. Raising a family, caring for elderly parents, caring for elderly pets and now working days and sitting evenings for my first grandchild.

I day hike, mostly on the Long Trail. I live in Vermont and have beautiful places to hike all around me. They are not Grand like the PTC or CDT but I have to work with what I have and Vermont is beautiful. The fact that you are an older woman and have a ton of trail time under your belt, makes your advice much more valuable for people like me! There are a lot of Baby Boomers wanting to hit the trails but not sure if they can handle the challenge. Your experience and advice could help a lot of people. Screw the Hollywood types, they are all idiots anyway. I need advice on foot wear. The pads on the bottom of my feet are thinning out and I can't seem to find a hiking shoe with enough padding. At the end of a long hike it's extremely painful to walk. 

On a more personal note, my hormones ( after menopause ) are all screwed up and I can't seem to take the heat and humidity. Any suggestions? I have snowshoes and cross country skis for the winter, but it would be nice to enjoy summer hiking too.  Thanks for reading my long winded message. I sincerely hope you will reconsider giving up your blog. Although I do get it that you just want to be left alone to find some peace. You are the real deal and have the experience to prove it. All the normal people out here could really use your advice. Just something to think about!                  Stay Happy😊

It is disconcerting that our bodies start giving out, especially as we look at retirement from full time jobs and caretaking. But never give up. I spent a summer Ridgerunning in Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness (a paid position in 2014)  and met people in their sixties, seventies and one turning 80, out there loving it, in spite of the pain. I also met 'kids' who couldn't take it anymore and quit.

I no longer can get by with trail runners for mountainous terrain. My Keen hiking boots weigh about twice what my Nike Airs did, but I now need a high-top, light hiking boot and extra padding, which I obtain by utilizing a secondary, serious insert. So, when shopping for a hiking boot, I go in the afternoon when my feet are "swollen", if ever, so I can get the boot that feels like home. Comfortable the second I lace them up. Also, I bring the extra inserts I plan to use to be sure the boot is large enough.

I still wear trail runners for light excursions.

Not everyone deals with heat and humidity the same way. Some folks are definitely more susceptible to heat exhaustion. I've met many long distance hikers who take a long break during the heat of the day to hunker under a shady spot, even if it means a simple Joshua tree. Then, instead of camping by 5 p.m, they'll hike into the evening, perhaps even after cooking supper along the trail. So they still get their miles in, but break it into spurts.
I rise with the sun and hike in the cool of the morning. Its amazing how many miles you can get in before noon.
While doing the Wonderland trail this past summer, I rose with the sun, ate as I hiked and had to press on during the heat. Several times, upon reaching a trailside stream or waterfall, I took off my  hat, filled it with water and soaked my shirt. Very cooling and refreshing.

And surely, if there ever was a time to lose the extra pounds, either gear or body, its now as we age. The critical things we can't do without: sleeping pads, sleeping bags, good shoes, reasonable calories and plenty of water, weigh enough without extra pounds of non essentials.

Body weight is a hard one, especially with the holidays coming up. I've learned to take half portions and savor it. That little bit of pleasure one feels while eating hearty can in no way offset the grueling effort it takes to remove the extra pounds.

In closing, thank you so much for your kind words. Its not so much wanting to be "left alone" as sort of running out of stuff to talk about. It seems its all been said and done.

Maybe not.
Happy trails.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What To Do With Nine Months

A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She smoked for thirty years then quit this fall, on her birthday. Two months later,  after a great deal of pain in her gut, she went to the hospital, demanding answers. She got hers.

Nine months to live.
What would you do with nine months?

Every day I go to work and cook for special guests, I ask myself, if I was given that diagnosis, what would I do.

I sure wouldn't be cooking a line.
I'd go hiking.

And visit family.

And dance every night I could.

Maybe there is reincarnation. Great minds believe its not over when this body gives up.
I don't know. Some hope they don't have to deal with all this again. Maybe we'll get to be wild animals or a tree.

Nine months is nothing.
It is enough time to hike a long trail. In the end, they say, its not the things that we did that we'll regret, its the things we didn't do.