I've been backpacking since the 60s, slowed down with the arrival of kids, then several years ago my back went out on me. I figured my backpacking days were over.
Recently I came across ultralight backpacking, and saw a glimmer of hope. I picked up a few items, and got my total weight down to 28 lbs (I don't think I've ever carried a pack under 50 lbs previously).
This past week, my daughter and I did an easy 4 miles in, 4 miles out overnight, just to see if my back could take it...
And my back is fine! Now my legs complained a lot about not having done this for awhile, but no problems at all with the back!
I can't tell you how good it felt to be in the mountains again!
Good for you! Now just get the kids to carry more stuff too! I just love the Sierra for us older folks- day after day of sunny weather. (But here I go again, spending the entire summer in the Wind Rivers in Wyoming!) Good luck and get out as much as you can. Life is short.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Hooray for you! With me, it was a bum knee rather than my back, but the story is the same. After I injured it (tore most of the ligaments X-C skiing), I was basically unable to backpack any more with 40-50 lb. loads. Lightweight gear has allowed me to return to backpacking. My fully-loaded pack for an 8-9 day trip is now down to about 25 lbs. There are always a few more ounces you can shave. The "27-lb, 7-day gear list" on the home page of this site (left column) and other articles there deserve nearly all the credit!
Some of the most exciting trips I've been on have involved introducing my grandkids to backpacking. It's a real thrill and, IMHO, one of the best contributions we can make to the future of our country's wild and scenic places.
It's important at our ages to keep moving and keep physically fit (use it or lose it!). Finis Mitchell, pioneer outfitter and wilderness advocate of Wyoming's Wind River Range, said it best: "We don't stop hiking because we get old; we get old because we stop hiking." (I hope I got that right; I didn't look up the exact wording.)
Edited by OregonMouse (06/21/0903:31 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I am so with you on this. I've been backpacking on and off for forty years. Now in my mid 50s and having an incomplete spinal cord injury for the last 35, I thought I was nearing the end of the line. It just wasn't fun anymore. Like you, I discovered lightweight gear and have been really excited about shedding pounds and ounces. I took my new Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian out for a spin over fourth of July, loaded with my new Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 man tent, stove, water, etc and couldn't believe how comfortable I felt after a brisk 5 mile jaunt through the woods. Going to Glacier in a couple of weeks and am really pumped! Still have weight to shed but I'm making progress.
I am over the hill and well into the canyon so I like the light stuff without giving up basic comfort. A tarp that can be completely closed in, a bivy if travelling in bug season, a woodstove/chimney 1.5 lbs which is a few more ounces than a gas stove and fuel but ten times better.
What ever I take I don't put it on my back any more it goes on a wheel. I fitted my camptrails frame pack with a wheel or I pack it on a bicycle. I liked my one wheeled bicycle trailer but it got burned in a fire.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
A friend and I experimented with a pack on a shingle wheeled frame this past year. We took it on some trails nearby and it worked better than I might have expected.
Then I looked at some models that are for sale. They make a much better rig than we did. I think it's an idea with potential, but it's certainly a different way of approaching the problem and would take some getting used too.
I don't know about the "woodstove/chimney". I've read about the "Mailbox" or "Coffee Can" stove in a post here recently. Is that similar to what you're talking about?
Being over the hill also. I am restarting. My choices are a mix of liteweight and comfort. Pack GG Vapor Trail, NF old Cat's Meow sleeping bag, eureka tarp, taken from an old tent, Sierra wood stove, GSI alum pot with lid, Thermrest trail lite reg. Wally world blue foam mat, (used as chair and additional sleep mat) Katadyn Guide filter, "Yeah I know it is heavy" but I like good water. Surefire flashlight, NB trail runners, Columbia fleece, nylon pants, thorlo socks. I mostly freezer bag cook, but like my coffee.
Loc: Afton, Virginia
Hello to All:
I Just joined and am also of the Almost...but not yet an...Over the Hill unit. It has been over 30 years since I have done any serious backpacking. Following my 24 year old nephew, on his A/T Thru on "Trail Journals" last year, and providing him with a few great Zeros here in Virginia has returned my thoughts to getting in shape and heading out into the woods. I have since had him come down from Connecticut and done a few A/T and loop hikes over-night with him. His experience as an A/T graduate has been invaluable in helping me get back into the woods.
Things are very different then with a 45lb. pack being the norm vs. the 29 lb. unit that I currently carry. I lose weight every time I go out and am feeling ever stronger. However, my knees are the biggest obstacle that I am facing with well-worn joints from the abuses that they have taken. I do hike slowly with deliberation and awareness, but I am back at it!
A little more each week with the eye on Section Hiking the entire 550 miles of Virginia over the next 2 years. We will See.
Hope to see all of you out there...Wish me luck!...Hobbler
Edited by Hobbler (05/08/1004:23 PM)
"May Your Feet Be Light and Your Gait Be Long"
Loc: The State of Jefferson
Glad to have another OTH back at it.
Knees are often the first thing to go, have you tried trekking poles? They helped take the pressure of my way-older-tan-me knees and have kept me on the trail when I would have had to give it up otherwise.
You're very lucky to live where you do: Shenandoah NP and the Mt. Rogers/Grayson Highlands area are both lovely, and both are feasible long-weekend trips for you.
"...my thoughts to getting in shape and heading out into the woods." As long as you are aware of the risks, and don't push too hard too early, why not make it "getting in shape WHILE heading out into the woods"? Day hikes with a full pack, and lunch in the woods, help make the longer trips easier and more fun.
If you're looking to shave a few more pounds out of your pack, you've probably come to the right forum - just be prepared to possibly have your ego slightly bruised in the process! (We've all been there. Well, maybe not Jimshaw. ;))
Loc: Afton, Virginia
Thanks so much for the welcome and the “heads up” to my bruised ego possibility. That is what constructive criticism is about. I will be looking forward to all the input and maybe dealing out some myself. I may be a newbie to the site, but have many deep woods miles under my belt from decades in the past.
And I do agree that the best way to get your trail legs back is to actually get out on the trail. I have been doing some day hikes with my wife while toting a 25lb 40 liter pack. I am mixing that with carrying my 29lb. main trail pack doing some overnight loops and also some short stretches on the A/T. I have got that pack weight down to the 29 pound level from the 39 pounds that I have started the year with. I am still tweaking and it will get even lighter I am sure.
As for being lucky to live here where I do...It was my choice to move here from the Northeast some 27 years ago and the whole reason was to be closer to the mountains.
Look for me on WB and TJ.
Good luck in all your hiking.
“May Your Feet Be Light And Your Gait Be Long”..... Hobbler
"May Your Feet Be Light and Your Gait Be Long"