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#201374 - 07/12/18 12:24 PM Memories
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1775
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
A week ago I went through my gear cupboard to thin out some of the clutter. I was able to collect quite a bit of duplicate and no-longer-used stuff and donate it to a local scout troop.

But, there was also a small pile of gear from the past; it was either worn out or out grown. Included here were the climbing boots I had used for over 20 years of mountaineering. There was a sun-faded, 60-40 cloth parka that was torn, worn thin and patched beyond redemption. And, there was the pair of Nike Waffle Trainers I had used for many climbing approach hikes through the 1970’s. None of these had any useful life left in them, even if they had still fit, but I just couldn’t bear to toss them in a landfill: They had served me too faithfully through the years to be summarily and unceremoniously tossed.

We have a small sacred place on our property; it lies between two small desert washes and is shaded by a lovely white-thorn acacia tree. A large saguaro stands sentinel over the place. In spring, the acacia flower fragrance is lovely. When our much-loved golden retriever Rosie died earlier this spring we scattered her ashes there and placed a statue of St. Frances on the spot. We visit the spot often in the evening; it is a bittersweet experience.

This morning I took a digging bar and shovel to Rosie’s place, dug a hole near where she lies and with proper ceremony buried my worn-out but faithful gear. Doing this made me feel as though I was letting go of an important part of my past but it also made me feel as though I was honoring old friends. I suspect that my sadness is more my missing the way I felt when I was young and using the gear than missing the gear itself. I feel the march of time quite keenly just now.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#201375 - 07/12/18 01:31 PM Re: Memories [Re: Pika]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1817
Loc: Napa, CA
Nice story, Pica.

Plus, think of all the joy you will be giving archeologists of the 28th century when then dig up your interesting burial mound...
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balzaccom

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

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#201376 - 07/12/18 04:00 PM Re: Memories [Re: Pika]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1603
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Do I discern a fellow Fletcherite? That was an excellent piece of writing, and perfectly captures how many of us “seasoned” folk feel about gear. I’ve never buried anything, and I’ve also inflicted a lot of used gear on unsuspecting Scouts. However, I have a lot of fond memories of that gear and where it took me, and perfectly understand what you’re saying.

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#201377 - 07/13/18 07:27 AM Re: Memories [Re: Pika]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1174
Loc: Florida panhandle
I have attached to my will (stored in my home fire safe) instructions to mix my ashes with my dog's ashes (she passed a few years ago), mix us in cement and make a bench next to a hiking trail somewhere.

Maybe I should make a pyre for old gear to join us. Sort of like how old flags are retired.

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#201379 - 07/13/18 08:58 AM Re: Memories [Re: Pika]
packlite Offline
Admin

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 2502
Loc: Pullman, WA, USA
Originally Posted By Pika
Doing this made me feel as though I was letting go of an important part of my past but it also made me feel as though I was honoring old friends. I suspect that my sadness is more my missing the way I felt when I was young and using the gear than missing the gear itself. I feel the march of time quite keenly just now.

Thank you, Pika, very much appreciate. Touches growing feelings of my own. My very much loved and very close friend, Charlie the Golden Doodle is getting on 12 years and getting a little gimpy in the hips. The thought of losing him is a heavy one. The gear not so much. But I do have the tug of fond memories associated with specific gear and I also "feel the march of time quite keenly just now" and often, I might add.
_________________________
" Not all those who wander are lost ! "
J.R.R. Tolkien

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#201381 - 07/13/18 03:26 PM Re: Memories [Re: Pika]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6597
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'm going through my stuff, too--not just backpacking gear, but all my belongings. It's a slow process, but I hope to be done by the end of the year. There is so much stuff, though, that it is rather overwhelming. That's what I get for living in the same place for almost 30 years!

I won't be burying gear, but I may be handing it down to children/grandchildren. Or selling it here, if it's still good. Or maybe giving it away for the cost of shipping.

I plan to keep some stuff, although I'm no longer up to long trips. I'm hoping to do a little backpacking still, but it's going to be just a few miles on good trails, and then base camping. Plus more car camping, for which I'll use the same gear, plus a few add-ons.

Unfortunately, old age at this point is not creeping, it's galloping. Ugh.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#201382 - 07/15/18 10:30 AM Re: Memories [Re: Pika]
prussicnot Offline
member

Registered: 05/06/03
Posts: 126
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Pika, that was pleasant to read. Bittersweet is a good word for it. I'm 63 years old and headed for retirement. I have section-hiked just over 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail, but I haven't hiked for quite a while. I just don't feel like it anymore because I have fatigue and health issues. I really want to get back to it after I retire. My backpacking buddy moved across the country years ago, but I kept hiking solo for a long time. Now when I view the lovely pictures of my hikes, instead of enjoying them, I feel a crushing sadness. And music isn't very enjoyable for the same reason. I don't think I have regrets, but I just don't like getting old.
Life is a learning curve, and getting old isn't for sissies!
_________________________
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." Ogden Nash

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#201383 - 07/15/18 09:33 PM Re: Memories [Re: OregonMouse]
GrumpyGord Online   content
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 889
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By OregonMouse

I plan to keep some stuff, although I'm no longer up to long trips. I'm hoping to do a little backpacking still, but it's going to be just a few miles on good trails, and then base camping. Plus more car camping, for which I'll use the same gear, plus a few add-ons.

Unfortunately, old age at this point is not creeping, it's galloping. Ugh.


I can certainly relate. It seems to change overnight. I am 78 and things have changed a lot in the last few years. I still do some short backpacking trips but the distance is much less. I just got back from a trip which I thought I would like to do again. In the past I did this trip in about 2 1/2 days but this time it was five and a guy on an ATV gave me a ride for the last few miles. This was on a poorly marked and overgrown trail which was worse than it had been in the past but it still was a struggle.

In the last couple of years I have been parking my truck near the trail, going one direction for few hours and then turning around and coming back to sleep and cook at the truck. The next day I do the same thing the other direction. Beats watching TV.

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#201384 - 07/15/18 10:13 PM Re: Memories [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1603
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Hi, Mouse: I, too, can’t figure out why time goes faster as we go slower!

I’ve pared down the stuff at home over the last few years, when Karol and I moved to a condo (did I really need 6 chess sets?) We’ve found it very liberating, and are now taking a second, steady sweep through everything to see if we can simplify further.

As far as backpacking, I still go as often, but at 68, I have set some limits for myself:
1. I probably won’t backpack anywhere more rugged than southern Ohio or parts of Kentucky (Red River Gorge, for example.) I figure I could push and do the more rugged terrain along the AT in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee for another 5 years, but my knees would probably be wrecked in the process. I’d rather do gentler terrain for another 15.
2. I won’t go out for more than 3 nights (with maybe one exception: Isle Royale); that not only reflects commitments to my remaining two part-time work years, but also to my mother (now 91) and other family and friends. The consequences are that, with no large loads of food needed, it’s easier to keep my pack weight under 25 pounds - which also means a bit less pressure on the knees.
3. I won’t go out in bad weather (predictions of continuous rain, snow, or temperature forecast for lows below 35-40.) Been there, done that, T-shirts in good shape - nothing left to prove, and I just don’t enjoy being cold like I once did. This also means no heavy, bulky clothes to lug around, helping control pack weight.
4. The daily mileage is trending downward from 12-14 to 8-10. Yes, partly it saves wear and tear on the legs. Partly, it’s to accommodate the shorter trails in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. And partly, it’s the realization that it’s experiencing the trail is more important than miles per hour. I’m happy just being in the woods.

Taken together, this means I can afford my one luxury (a full-length Thermarest lounger chair kit for my Neoair - comfortable, warm seating and sleeping) and still hold my pack weight under 25 pounds.

I’m finding that I’d rather do shorter, pleasant walks in the local woods for the next 15 or 20 years than be forced to quit in another 5.

You go, Mouse! (I think the official motto for backpackers over 65 should be “Illegitimi non carborundum.”)

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#201386 - 07/16/18 11:04 AM Re: Memories [Re: Glenn Roberts]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1817
Loc: Napa, CA
Just back from a trip to Yosemite where we hiked 12 miles in a day--surprising ourselves! But yes, we now think of this as a massive day, rather than a normal one. Is this what those signs mean when they say Speed Limit 65?
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check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#201422 - 07/20/18 12:24 AM Re: Memories [Re: balzaccom]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3939
Loc: Bend, Oregon
You set your own speed limits. My Triumph will go 165, but I keep it down to 100 mph. I have burned old gear in large campfire. The old crampon boots, multiple ice tools and ropes and cams etc etc. What seems strange to me is the total worthlessness of my collection of former state of the art electronics, now junk. Flying saucer people are here and we are them. Sasquatch is descended from crashed wookies.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#201423 - 07/20/18 04:02 AM Re: Memories [Re: Pika]
JustWalking Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 201
Loc: PNW
That was a wonderful read Pika, thanks for sharing. I feel the same way about an old bicycle I have that I simply can't get rid of, though I don't ride it any more. I bought it when I was stationed in Germany and rode it throughout Europe (including riding it from Garlstedt to Berlin, while East Germany was still East Germany, to watch Roger Waters and guests perform the entire The Wall album at the Wall. Fabulous memories from that).

Sorry to hear about Rosie. We dog lovers leave a little bit of ourselves behind when one of our loved companions dies, I think - a little bit of our heart accompanies them over that Rainbow Bridge, so to speak.

A favorite quote: “I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time? The misery of keeping a dog is his dying so soon. But, to be sure, if he lived for fifty years and then died, what would become of me?” — Sir Walter Scott

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#201430 - 07/20/18 07:18 PM Re: Memories [Re: JustWalking]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6597
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Excellent quote, JustWalking!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#202077 - 11/05/18 07:27 AM Re: Memories [Re: Pika]
Damian Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/02
Posts: 325
Originally Posted By Pika
I feel the march of time quite keenly just now.


I've been feeling that a lot lately - without my noticing it coming up, my son is finishing secondary school - he's doing his final exams now. He's big, nearly bearded, deeper voice than mine, bigger feet ... I've spent much of the last 15 years at work - 60 hour weeks were standard and 90+ not unusual. His school has a web portal and I realised that I'd never actually logged onto it ... I relied on my wife to let me know what was going on. We went to the last school concert and the last Mass, his year's Valete day presentations and services. He sang in the choir, and sang a solo. Next year he'll probably be at Uni. Time flies.

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#202093 - 11/09/18 10:23 PM Re: Memories [Re: OregonMouse]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2823
Loc: California
I will not be burying any of my old gear either. I slowly retire the gear or repurpose it. I used pieces of my old climbing rope and old kid car seat to make a swing for the grandkids. I have used old tent poles in my garden for pole beans. Old tents become paint-drop cloths. I give old packs to Goodwill. I have a few packs that I am saving for the grandkids- they are just about big enough now to use them. Shoes become garden shoes until so shabby that their last resting place is the garbage, shoelaces used to tie tomato plants to cages. I am now starting to wear a lot of my backpack clothing just around the house. Biggest problem is what to do with three big boxes of technical climbing gear. Carabiners are quite useful, but what to do with cams?

From 1996 to 2003 I was transitioning from technical alpine climbing to rigorous off-trail backpacking. Lately I have needed occasional mental breaks from difficult off-trail, so throw in a few mostly trail routes. And I have taken up fishing because now I really do not want to walk from dawn to dusk, and fishing is a great end of day activity when I am done hiking mid-afternoon. Thoughts of doing long continuous thru-hikes such as the PCT are out of the question now. I am always looking for something new- enjoying coastal backpacking in the winter. May go up to the Cascades this next summer since I have not hiked there in nearly 50 years.

Luckily I am still going strong even though I will be 70 in a few months. The main difference now is that I carry much less weight, due to the wonderful lighter gear available nowadays. Seriously, I would not still be backpacking if I had to carry what I did in the 1970's. Knees and feet seem to be less robust than when younger. Trekking poles have saved the day. Need bifocals to see.

I am anticipating later years, so have organized all my photos and trip reports. I just read through a few from 2002 yesterday. My goodness, I really did that?!?! It inspires me to go out and do more!

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