Hello there, young-at-heart folks,

I have a couple of obstacles to backpacking and could use your suggestions.

I'm 61, very active my whole life until injury in my 50s led to arthritis in my hips and lower back. I'm sure my doctor would tell me not to backpack but I'm very aware of the quickly passing years and don't want to just curl up and die prematurely.

My gear is medium weight. Total pack weight for a 3- to 4-day trip is 32 to 35 lbs. I had an idea to hire a young sherpa to carry 10 lbs of my gear. A pack weight of 22 lbs would be much more manageable, wouldn't it? So how does one find a sherpa? I'm serious about this.

For those of you with back problems, what do you consider a reasonable daily distance? If you could only go five miles would you think it was worth the trouble?

Second problem: I can't find anyone to backpack with. I've advertized on Craigslist for two years. I have zero replies to ads that mention my gender and age. I slept in the woods alone for many years but I've now become fearful of the big coywolves in the Northeast. I don't feel safe alone anymore. Does anyone share those feelings?

Bottom line, as I've grown older I've lost physical ability and people my age don't seem to want to do much in the outdoors.

One thing I feel averse to is joining a group. It's an adaptation for me to do a trip with just one other person. I don't want to be out there with five or ten people.

I would like to hear how others overcome these age-related changes to continue backpacking in some way, shape, or form.