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#168379 - 08/10/12 01:18 AM Too Old?
Abnrml1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/10/12
Posts: 14
Loc: IL
Brand new to the board here and I wanted to ask a question. How old is too old? I'm in my early 50s and haven't done any packing since I got out of the Marine Corps 30 years ago. I've been battling with lower back problems for about 10 years now and my wife thinks that I am crazy for even thinking about starting this up again.

I am going to have to do this alone because my kids can't be away from their computers long enough to walk around the block. I could just imagine taking them out for a few days in the woods. They would be screaming child abuse or something.

I am sick of just existing in this house. I told my wife that life without living is just death without dying. So how old is too old to get started?

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#168381 - 08/10/12 01:47 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6561
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Welcome! There are at least 2 of us in our 70's here and many more in their 60's. IMHO, you're not too old until you can no longer put one foot in front of the other! I had to pretty much quit backpacking in the late 1980's after I wrecked a knee X-C skiing and could no longer carry a 40 lb. backpack. That pretty much limited me to car camping and dayhiking. It wasn't until I discovered lightweight gear about 7 years ago (with the help of this site!) that I found that I could get along just fine carrying 20 lbs. instead of 40!

That being said, you can make things easier by (1) getting yourself into condition, which primarily involves walking plus maybe some strength training and (2) using lightweight gear. For the second, see the articles on the home page of this site, left hand column, for ideas.

The low back issues can be improved by (1) exercise, particularly strengthening the "core" muscles that support your spine and (2) a properly fitting pack. It's generally recommended to get your pack last and take all your gear with you when getting fitted.

Another tip is to try trekking poles, which turn walking from a lower-body exercise into a whole-body exercise (called "Nordic walking") that exercises those core muscles. Here's a primer on how to use them: Pete's Poles Page On sidewalks and such you will want to use rubber tips on the poles, which can be removed for trail hiking.

I'd also consult your physician before getting involved with anything more than gentle walking, just to make sure you aren't making matters worse. As with any exercise, start slowly and gently and gradually work up. I'm doing that right now after being laid up for several months with severe plantar fasciitis (don't neglect stretching those achilles tendons!).

I'd also suggest googling for any hiking or backpacking groups in your area. Day hiking with others is a good way to start out. I'm sure your family will feel better if you go with groups to begin with.

Try to get your wife interested, too--find some place with gentle walking (you need to start out that way, too) and great scenery.


Edited by OregonMouse (08/10/12 01:49 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#168383 - 08/10/12 04:04 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I'm 59. I battled the lower back problem, but it finally cleared up after about 10 years. Assuming there isn't an extruded disk, I'd suggest trying 2 Ibuprophen 3 times a day for about 10 days. Do not do any exercise at all for these 10 days. It may cure the back issues.

Try to keep your pack under 30 pounds. Otherwise lifting it to put it on may bring back the back problems. Carrying it may also cause problems.

Be careful about creating other family issues. Backpacking can be expensive starting out. It can also be time consuming. Hiking coupled with simple car camping is a lot cheaper.

There is a growing trend among kids to spend less time on computers. You may be surprised at their interest. They may be open to easier hikes or car camping for just one night. From there they may get interested in backpacking. If they have smart phones, I recommend letting them bring them. Kids like to send pictures from the trail. A lot of adults like to update blogs from the trail.

Avoiding injuries is very important. Personally, I don't do anything that causes serious pain or fatigue. I'm not a big believer in pushing through pain as it can lead to chronic conditions.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#168392 - 08/10/12 09:26 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
Ewker Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 222
Loc: Tennessee
my GF didn't start backpacking until she was 60. She so wishes she had started it earlier in her life. Her longest day on the trail was 10 miles. That day was her max so we try to do 6-7 miles but sometimes that mileage doesn't work out.

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#168394 - 08/10/12 10:32 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1767
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
As long as you are in relatively good health, and somewhat fit, I don't think there is an upper "too old" age limit. My advice to any older person thinking about either resuming or starting backpacking would be to first get a checkup from your physician. If you get a "go ahead" from your MD then start out with day-hiking. Carry a pack containing your "ten", or "fourteen" essentials and gradually add weight to your pack as you become fitter. Gradually increase both weight and distance hiked. If you are overweight, loosing weight is the cheapest way to lighten the load on your feet and it helps your back as well.

Start to assemble a light weight kit and plan your first overnight. There are gear lists posted on the home page of this site to give you some guidance. Your first overnight should not be particularly ambitious; early efforts should be "dress rehearsals" for future, more ambitious, ventures.

As OM noted, there are several people on this forum who are in their 70's and still on the trails. I'm one of them: So is she. And, on a recent five day trip in the Sierra, I met a guy on top of Mono Pass (12,000')who was 82 and returning from a four day trip.

I have the ambition of section-hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail while I am in my 70's. So far, I have hiked the section between Kennedy Meadows and Tuolumne Meadows and the northern half of the Washington section. I doubt that I'll make the entire trail in the five years before I turn 80 but that is OK. To quote Robert Browning, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp -- or what's a heaven for?"

I, too, have periodically suffered lower back problems. In my experience, the walking is good for one's back but YMMV.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#168395 - 08/10/12 11:13 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: Pika]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1800
Loc: Napa, CA
Just turned 60 myself, and can only say that you don't know wht you're missing. Backpacking has not only made our lives better and marriage stronger, but it's helped us lose weight and stay in shape--all of which helped me with my bad back!

Take it easy, take it slow, but get out there!
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#168396 - 08/10/12 11:36 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: Pika]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1767
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
One thing I neglected to mention in my previous post. If you have back problems it is important that your pack have a good suspension system; one that will transfer most of the pack weight to your hips. Even if you need to choose a heavier pack, the load transfer is worth the added weight. I have used several different UL packs over the years. Even with loads less than 15-18 lb, none of them transfer enough of the weight to my hips to reliably avoid back pain. I have a herniated disc that will flare up if I use any UL pack (I have so far tried) but gives me no trouble when I use my 3 pound GoLite Quest. Pack, shelter and sleeping bag/pad are all critical items for an older hiker and they should be chosen only after a lot of research and, if possible, tryouts. If your pack makes you miserable during the day and you can't get a comfortable, dry, warm nights sleep then backpacking can be just an elaborate type of masochism.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#168405 - 08/10/12 01:46 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Pika]
Abnrml1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/10/12
Posts: 14
Loc: IL
Thanks for all of the responses. Right now I have 1 herniated disc, 1 extruded disc and fractures on both side of L5. Weight is a big problem that I am trying to work on but most days I can barely get to the bathroom until my back settles into an upright position.

I don't plan to do this right away but I do want to plan. I want to drop about 100 pounds by next spring and start out then. I'm getting a new pup in a few weeks and she will be my companion. She is a Catahoula Leopard Cur.

My kids start back to college next week and I usually take them and then sit and wait all day. (they don't have their license and the school is 25 miles away) Instead of just sitting there, I plan to go out to a near by lake and do some short day hikes. I would also like to do a few overnighters this fall.

Thanks again for all of the support.

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#168408 - 08/10/12 02:25 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Like OM and Pika, I am in my 70's. My back is in better shape now than it was when I was 21 - I was wearing a corrective race then. Work with your physician and be careful. A well planned hiking program, combined with weight loss, can make a world of difference...

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#168815 - 08/28/12 12:05 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: oldranger]
Hillman68 Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/29/12
Posts: 1
Loc: Wyoming

I'm 71 and still enjoy backpacking . Wife and Corgi have slowed way down on accompaniment but my hiking buddy is an agile mongrel .This really hot summer is unusual for Wyoming but we still hike only with plenty of water .

Pack is around 10 pounds which includes alcohol stove , dehydrated rations a Pur Filtration pump .

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#169096 - 09/06/12 06:06 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
Abnrml1,

I'm late to this party because I've been out hiking (backpacking and canoeing). I'm 76, 77 beginning of December.

I'm doing it a bit more slowly because I've done very little for a couple of years (I have leukemia and it flared up into an autoimmune anemia - while I was on a long hike).

I had herniated disc surgery 30-some years ago and have walked the AT end to end twice since then. The first time I was 60, the second, 70. I'm talking about maybe doing it again at 80 (if my remission lasts). My brand new (5 years, actually) child bride and trophy wife will be retired by then and she's agreed to support duty.

I agree strongly with posters above who have pointed out the critical importance of reducing pack weight, but other than that, I wouldn't let age discourage you.

Best, jcp

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#169103 - 09/06/12 10:02 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: JPete]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3915
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
JPete, Nice to hear you've been out rambling again!

One of these days I might attempt one of our Ozark trails, maybe the Buffalo River Trail. It'd be pretty cool to do the AT at 80, I'm rooting for you!
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#169111 - 09/07/12 08:56 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: billstephenson]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
Thanks Bill,

I'm at the talking about it stage of considering another shot at the OHT in the early spring (maybe first couple of weeks of April). I haven't forgotten your offer. Best, jcp

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#169124 - 09/07/12 08:47 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: JPete]
Abnrml1 Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/10/12
Posts: 14
Loc: IL
I want to thank everyone for the responses.

Right now I am in the planning stages for a trip to Tennessee next May to see my brother and do part of the AT. I'm either going from Erwin to Watauga or to Demascus. I am hoping that my brother will join us but if not it will be my son and I with our Catahoulas.

I've been working on a diet and slowly dropping some weight and my BP is coming down some. This is not an easy task. I suffer from that old sit-com disease, Married With Children. My wife isn't too happy with me wanting to do this but I am sick of making excuses for not living.

JPete, good luck with your plans.

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#169139 - 09/08/12 12:14 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
Abnrml1, Thx for the good wishes, talked some more bout it yesterday, the OHT is starting to look like a real possibility.
best, jcp

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#169143 - 09/08/12 09:28 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: JPete]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I would suggest starting out with some day hiking and even some car camping. Nothing wrong with driving to a campsite, setting up, then doing some day hiking from camp. Sleeping on the ground might aggravate your back, so a good pad, such a Therm-a-Rest or similar inflatable pad would likely help.

There is a lot of lightweight gear around now compared to years ago, so check out some of the sponsored links on the site to see some of it. You don't need to go out and buy everything at once just to get started. A decent pair of shoes or boots, a small pack, a water bottle and perhaps a light jacket are the basics for day hiking on established trails like you would find in a local park.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#169185 - 09/10/12 01:45 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
bobito9 Offline
member

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 392
I apologize if I repeat anything anyone else here has said, but no, 50's is not too old to start. I had a friend of mine who started at a similar age and really took to it. Back pain isn't necessarily a problem, depends on the type and how you deal with it. I'm in my 50's, have been backpacking since my 20's, and I periodically have back problems (hate it!!!), but oddly enough, for me backpacking itself doesn't cause it, except if I start a trip with it already bothering me, it can get worse.
The key I think is 1) work on your flexibility and joint strength (yoga is great for me) 2) be in shape from hiking on trails w/o a bp, 3) remember that gear has gotten a hell of a lot lighter over the years, and carrying a lighter load is the best thing for us, and 4) don't bite off too much at first, work your way up. The truth is that even going only a couple miles into the backcountry can be a glorious thing.It'll give you solitude, quiet, and a sense of accomplishment that is hard to get carcamping and dayhiking And then if it goes well, work your way up from there to longer more ambitious trips.

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#169188 - 09/10/12 02:06 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: JPete]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3915
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By JPete
Abnrml1, Thx for the good wishes, talked some more bout it yesterday, the OHT is starting to look like a real possibility.
best, jcp


If you're going to do that I'd love to hook up with you for a few miles. I've heard there's some good bushwhacking near the Haw Creek Rec Area and I'd really like to check that out, but it really doesn't matter to me, it's all good as far as I know (rugged and vicious steep in spots, but still good grin )
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#169200 - 09/10/12 04:31 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: billstephenson]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
billstephenson,

As I noted before, I only made it to Salt Fork. Started to notice that I seemed to be weak and unstable coming down the trail from White Rock. I had been very slow the day before, but I had road-walked in the sun and the forest service was burning the woods (mucho smoke drifting across the trail and then the road) and I attributed it to that. But next day I had no excuses so I turned back. Therefore, I don't really know anything about the really tough parts. What little I did was not too different from the AT except for fording waist deep a couple of times (and ankle deep another).

I usually hike alone, but not because I don't enjoy company. That was one of the joys of thru-hiking, so I'd love company on any section you'd like. I will send you an Itinerary when I get closer. My Granddaughter is close to graduation from UA-Little Rock, and she may want to hike a bit also...which would be a great joy.

I think I will probably try to fly in to Ft Smith this time, but no idea how I'll get out of Harrison (they don't even have buses anymore).

I'll keep you posted. But my pace may be too slow for you. Best, jcp

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#169438 - 09/16/12 12:50 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: JPete]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Hi, new guy here. I'mm 55 (twice retired) I have aches and pains from serious injuries in and out of military. I'm still going though. I just have to take things a little slower and lighter. I just have to accept the fact that there is terrain that I can't cover, but I just adapt, stick to slightly less strenuous trails. I'm not missing anything though. Lots of beautiful terrain for backpacking/hiking/camping, right here in KY. In the early 70's I was stationed at Denver CO. I miss the alpine trips, and tough trails with the associated payoff's, truly majestic scenery and lot's and lot's of room.

But I can find beuatiful spots in terrain that I can still handle. So, my advice to you is to keep it up, if you love it as much as I do.

J.

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#173407 - 01/02/13 10:08 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
Backpackhavn Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/18/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Texas, USA
I think it is an excellent idea to start off slowly and doing shorter day hikes until you are more comfortable walking longer distances. If it is a big problem to carry a heavy backpack, you can still enjoy the outdoors by making use of hiking inns. See http://ezinearticles.com/?Hiking-Inns&id=7411931. Hope you get to enjoy a hiking trip real soon!
_________________________
May every hiking and camping experience be a fun adventure!

http://backpackhavenblog.com
http://www.backpackhaven.com/Home.html

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#173464 - 01/03/13 09:45 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2797
Loc: California
You are never too old as long as you are open minded and willing to adapt as your physical situation changes. I suspect that for you, at the young age of mid-50's, starting backpacking will actually make you stronger and get you back in shape. Old backpackers have to be a bit more conservative about avoiding injury - either accidents or over stressing joints. Listen to your body. Pain is NOT gain. And since you are starting out today, you can get all the new light gear which is a real boon to us old folks! I am a big proponent of just get out there walking. Working out at the gym for me simply causes more injurys that it is worth. Get a dog that needs to be walked 5 miles a day!

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#173467 - 01/04/13 12:05 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: wandering_daisy]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1800
Loc: Napa, CA
And after coddling my injured knee for the past six months and waiting waiting waiting for it to get better, I finally rode my bike twice in the last two days! No pain, and everythings seems OK.

keep your fingers crossed for me !
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#173473 - 01/04/13 04:04 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: balzaccom]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Originally Posted By balzaccom
And after coddling my injured knee for the past six months and waiting waiting waiting for it to get better, I finally rode my bike twice in the last two days! No pain, and everythings seems OK.

keep your fingers crossed for me !


A bit of a thread hijack, but nevermind-a couple of things-not sure how much biking you've done, but keep in mind, ride in a low gear (my around town gear is usually 42/16 or so) and make sure your seat is adjusted properly to avoid stress on your knee. If you don't have them, get clip on pedals and shoes. I have pedals from Bike Nashbar and Shimano (two bikes) and Shimano shoes. They make a world of difference and the cost was about $75-80 for both if I remember right, on sale. Pedals by mail, shoes, local shop.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#173489 - 01/04/13 02:39 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: TomD]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1800
Loc: Napa, CA
Thanks...I have ridden about 6,000 miles a year for the past five years or so, so I am not a newby to the sport. Bike is good (I've put 50K miles on it!) but the knee has been the problem.

So far, things are going well
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#173590 - 01/07/13 01:24 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: balzaccom]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Just checking. Actually, based on my experience, maybe that was contributing to your problem-too many miles. I developed chrondomalacia in one knee because of too many miles (about 100-200 a week), so once I backed off, it went away, plus I had a physical job and spent a lot of time in the water scuba diving, so it all added up.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#174596 - 02/02/13 10:08 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
djtrekker Offline
member

Registered: 02/02/13
Posts: 43
Loc: Virginia
I'm also new, but welcome! You are young yet!!!!
I'm 60 and just took up my backpack love again in 2004. Going strong.

My bad back was aided by a good backpack with good hipbelt, properly fitted to me. Feels like heaven to wear. Keeping the core body in shape is crucial to the back. Back muscles, abdominals, laterals, need exercise. You don't need a gym necessarily, just find some good exercises to do for strength and flexibility. Lots of walking!
I agree with earlier post, too, that I would make certain via doctor that my back doesn't have a malady that requires medical attention. I thought mine might, but found I had just gotten soft. I use a gym and walk a lot.

This thing is fun, backpacking. I'm into gadgets, so what can I say - heaven! You don't have to be though, and it isn't that expensive either. Start by walking some trails, stay out most of a day, move to an overnighter, relax and enjoy. You know what they say, just do it!

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#175173 - 02/19/13 08:54 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: djtrekker]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Out snow shoeing and snow camping again this weekend, this time with three younger guys in their 30's. One I've done a few trips with, summer and winter. He called me a tank, I just keep rolling along, not pokey, just after climbing straight up a steep hill or two on shoes, it takes it out of you. However, they were the first ones to bed that night, I stayed up and read and wasn't even sore the next day.
Duane

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#184790 - 04/30/14 10:21 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: hikerduane]
ndwoods Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/02
Posts: 572
Loc: Santa Cruz CA, Sierra Hiker
61 here, hubby 63. Hubby has congenital back defect...gap in his discs that has pained him his whole life to some degree. Odd thing is that backpacking actually makes his back feel BETTER! He says the back rests just right against his back...
_________________________
http://ndeewoods.com/ and http://wilderstatepark.com/

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#184946 - 05/07/14 09:39 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: ndwoods]
intrek38 Offline
member

Registered: 11/29/03
Posts: 430
Loc: Hesperia, Calif
Following a few thru hiker journals and I figure these would fit in here.
Drag'n fly is attempting to become the oldest woman to thru hike the AT (record is now 71) and will turn 74 in September.
www.trailjournals.com/freckles

I met a thru the other day on the pct who hike with this women with an amazing goal/challenge ahead of her.
Gotta Walk
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=443273


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#185711 - 06/13/14 03:05 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
Djwine Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/20/11
Posts: 3
Loc: topeka, ks
Sure hope you aren't too old. I'm 71 & am leaving for the scout ranch in NE NM (Philmont) for a 10 day trek with my grand son & other scouts.

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#185770 - 06/17/14 09:33 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: Djwine]
dzierzak Offline
member

Registered: 07/18/07
Posts: 43
Loc: WV
Originally Posted By Djwine
Sure hope you aren't too old. I'm 71 & am leaving for the scout ranch in NE NM (Philmont) for a 10 day trek with my grand son & other scouts.


When and what trek?
We are 623B1 on trek 22. I'm not quite as old as you - 65...

Ed

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#191733 - 08/28/15 04:46 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
Djwine Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/20/11
Posts: 3
Loc: topeka, ks
We were crew 617 B. Trek 15. What a fabulous trip.

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#192270 - 10/20/15 01:14 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
ndwoods Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/02
Posts: 572
Loc: Santa Cruz CA, Sierra Hiker
There is no too old to get started
_________________________
http://ndeewoods.com/ and http://wilderstatepark.com/

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#192272 - 10/20/15 10:07 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: ndwoods]
tramp Offline
member

Registered: 01/24/12
Posts: 79
Loc: WV
If you think you can't............you're right. If you think you can you're right too.

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#192314 - 10/24/15 01:03 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
Outcasthiker Offline
member

Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 60
Loc: Tennessee
My Dad is 77 and still backpacks with me in the Smoky Mountain National Park every year. He is on two different hiking clubs as well.

Get out and enjoy the beauty of nature!
_________________________
Never Pass Up a hike!

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#192944 - 12/21/15 09:41 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 281
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
I liked many of these responses. My advice is to gradually build up to longer trips. I walk up the hills in the neighborhood when it is raining and i can't go out hiking. With a pack and boots if I'm getting ready for a long trip. I hike once a week in the woods, some times with considerable elevation gain, mostly easier trails. Sometimes over night, mostly day trips that last 6 to 8 hours. I am older than you and because I train regularly younger people never fail to mention how inspiring it is to see an old guy doing so well.
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Jim M

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#199655 - 12/02/17 06:22 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
EMT Dave Offline
member

Registered: 11/24/16
Posts: 65
Loc: MA
Originally Posted By Abnrml1
Brand new to the board here and I wanted to ask a question. How old is too old? I'm in my early 50s and haven't done any packing since I got out of the Marine Corps 30 years ago. I've been battling with lower back problems for about 10 years now and my wife thinks that I am crazy for even thinking about starting this up again.

I am sick of just existing in this house. I told my wife that life without living is just death without dying. So how old is too old to get started?


I am 65 and you are naught but an infant. Read the last version of The Complete Walker and some of the newer and more timely books to gear up and get going. Go light but not ultralight until your skill set is up to speed. Try and get your physical condition improved first. Carry your new pack for hikes in town loaded with water bottles, if necessary getting your load to where it will be.
Start with overnights
Ideally, find yourself a companion with some experience to fill in cracks and get you going. You should start out in smiling weather so as to not discourage yourself and over test your new skills.
Hey, if you are in the northeast, get in touch. If I am not humping patients, I am good for a couple of nights. Seriously.

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#199656 - 12/02/17 06:26 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: intrek38]
EMT Dave Offline
member

Registered: 11/24/16
Posts: 65
Loc: MA
Originally Posted By intrek38
Following a few thru hiker journals and I figure these would fit in here.
Drag'n fly is attempting to become the oldest woman to thru hike the AT (record is now 71) and will turn 74 in September.
www.trailjournals.com/freckles

I met a thru the other day on the pct who hike with this women with an amazing goal/challenge ahead of her.
Gotta Walk
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=443273


I regularly saw hikers in their 70's this past summer in Berkshire county, MA.
Granny Gates was hiking until the year before her death in her mid-70s. Her "tent" was a plastic shower curtain and she wore canvas sneakers, ate Vienna sausage and her "pack" was a canvas sack she carried in her hand.

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#199677 - 12/03/17 05:10 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
HPD Offline
member

Registered: 12/22/16
Posts: 64
Loc: Colorado High Plains
Originally Posted By Abnrml1

I am sick of just existing in this house. I told my wife that life without living is just death without dying. So how old is too old to get started?

I know this post is old but the advice is still the same - Your body will tell you! Work your way into and see what happens.

I got back into it some years back and ended up doing a lot of what I'd call big trips over the last couple decades. I felt like I was in my best shape ever in 2014 when I did a couple long ones, including the Grand Canyon and the Wind Rivers. Then, some of my parts started failing. Only done one trip since, this past summer. Screwed up a couple toes on that one which kept me from going back to the Winds in August.

Dealing with my 2nd detached retina in 18 months now, so I have a pretty good feel for what it's like sitting around the house-it sucks!
But I still have hope for at least one more trip to Winds - man, I love that place! Gonna try and work my way back into it and see what the body has to say about it.

I've always felt that backpacking was mostly a mental thing. Guess I'll find out how far that goes.....
Bill

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#199962 - 12/22/17 09:25 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: Abnrml1]
EMT Dave Offline
member

Registered: 11/24/16
Posts: 65
Loc: MA
On consideration I think the real issue is health. How good is it? Are you OK with walking the distances you want to over the terrain you wish to walk? Do you have a health condition that could result in death in the wild which could be easily treated in civilization? Do you have unstable angina? Do your blood sugars plummet with exercise?
Being out of shape need not be a reason to give up the sport as long as your health permits. Just be honest with yourself and your companion.

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#200298 - 03/02/18 03:26 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: balzaccom]
slammer Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/02/18
Posts: 4
Loc: AL
Hello all, I'm 52 and got back into backpacking (did it in my 20's) in the last two years. Aside from being limited to about 10 miles a day I've had no issues. I could probably increase that if I can afford some more ultra-light equipment. My packs still a bit heavy.

I did enjoy an incident last year, I was way the heck down some trail in the smokies or possibly on the AT, I forget. I run across the two guys way the heck older than me. They refereed to me as "Young Feller". I don't recall the last time any one referenced me that way.

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#200315 - 03/03/18 10:46 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: slammer]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2797
Loc: California
You ARE a young fellow! At your age, I got back into alpine climbing after years of raising kids and going to graduate school (to get a good job so I could pay for those kids college, LOL). I then quit climbing at about 65, not because I could not do it, but because all my climbing partners "aged out". I now backpack because I can do it solo. Now, a few weeks from 69, my summer plans are a 300+ mile off-trail thru-route in the Wind Rivers.

Two main differences from ten years ago; pack weight and maximum distance in a day. I limit each leg to 10 days, and take a few days off between. I am not "UL", but my starting pack weight is about 30 pounds (including a bear cannister) (20 pound base weight on my back) for a 10-day trip. I go light on food becaue I fish a lot. I usually do 7-8 mile days off-trail or 10-15 miles on-trail. I did a 21 mile, 11 hour day (with 3000 feet gain) two years ago, and it really did me in!

I also have to limit my downhill to about 4000 feet loss, or my knees get painful. I can still go up 5000 feet in a day. I also have to be willing to just stop and camp if I feel my body is getting over-worked. Some days are just "off" days.

My theory is that as I age, I keep in shape off-season by doing more gentle excrcise - mostly walking the dog 3-5 miles a day and 20-mile bicycle rides. No more running for me. My friends and family think I am obsessed, but I am VERY careful to keep my weight down. Never want to get more than 5 pounds over my ideal weight. I am also lucky to live where I can backpack in the winter, although more overnight stuff.

My eyesight is one of my worst health problems. I compensate by making sure all my gear is bright colored, otherwise I loose it! Also need bifocals, which makes boulder hopping a slower process than when younger.

I am going to get an InReach this summer, as I realize that I am getting more likely to get injured.

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#200316 - 03/03/18 01:50 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: wandering_daisy]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2964
Loc: Portland, OR
No more running for me.

Wisdom encapsulated! Solicitude for one's knees is paramount if one wishes to continue backpacking as long as Pika. I often remark to my wife how lucky I am never to have participated in competitive sports as a young man.

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#200331 - 03/05/18 03:15 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: aimless]
JustWalking Online   content
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 186
Loc: PNW
No more running for me.

I just got back from running the Colonial Half Marathon in Williamsburg. Well, ambled the half might be more like it. I was shooting for 2:30, came in at 2:26.

But unlike you old timers, I'm still young, I only turn 60 this year. :-)

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#200336 - 03/05/18 12:30 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: JustWalking]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2797
Loc: California
Everyone is different. I stressed my joints a lot in my teens and 20's (lifting and carrying weights that were extremely heavy for my size and a lot of mountaineering with steep downhills) and tend towards arthritis, so in my case, quitting running was a no-brainer.

The years of running, regardless of age, may be a bigger factor. I started running and backpacking when I was 16. Back then we had horrible running shoes- no cusioning at all!

All I am saying is that you can stay in shape for backpacking with less stressful exercise, if needed.

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#200338 - 03/06/18 02:30 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: wandering_daisy]
JustWalking Online   content
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 186
Loc: PNW
"All I am saying is that you can stay in shape for backpacking with less stressful exercise, if needed."

Most certainly! I wasn't trying to contradict anyone, sorry if it came off that way. Was just having a bit of fun. My running days are on borrowed time, I can feel it in my knees big time. :-)

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#200353 - 03/08/18 11:25 AM Re: Too Old? [Re: JustWalking]
slammer Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/02/18
Posts: 4
Loc: AL
I am still running for exercise but not very long distances. I do a 5 mile run and a 3 mile trail run per week and I find that keeps me going. As for knees, I seem to have been blessed with knees of steel because they never bother me even on long down hill stretches.

I just get tired after 8 miles or so. I might beat that if I went on some longer hikes to acclimate better but so far 3 days is the longest I've been able to get free. Working for a living sux.

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#200355 - 03/08/18 12:32 PM Re: Too Old? [Re: slammer]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2797
Loc: California
Agility is also very important to avoid "getting too old to backpack". I actually know several people who quit backpacking because it became just to difficult to live on the ground and get in and out of a tent!

Exercise that combines agility and strength have been important to me over the years, such as rock climbing, taking care of toddlers (always squatting to get down to their level), house work (yes scrubbing floors) and gardening. I find that men generally are more focused on strength and aerobic and less on agility (at least my husband is!). As a woman, one of the harder things for me is to gain upper body strength to effectively use my trekking poles.

And there is nothing like backpacking to get in shape for backpacking. Just take it easy and build up at first.

As we age, we sometimes lose perspective on agility. If you have grandkids, just watch them and you will realize how old and stiff we have become!


Edited by wandering_daisy (03/08/18 12:34 PM)

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