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SUL and advancing age
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larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
recent event on 08/19/2011 09:54:59 MDT Print View

I showed up to do a sprint triahlon a couple of weeks back and ended up 4th in my age group, great except there were only 4 guys. The other 3 beat many 20 year olds and one of the 70 year old guys placed in the top twenty.
Granted any 60 to 70 year old that is still doing tris is going to be quite fit, myself excluded,and may have more time to train but the results are remarkable.
In high school there was a hiking club led by an industrial arts teacher named Martin Balding, though I wasn't part of the club it seemed everywhere I went he had just been there or was right behind me. Recently in trying to dig up some long lost infromation about Ice House Canyon near Mt. Baldy I emailed Martin who, of course, had the thing I had lost right at the tip of his fingers. This led to conversation about his life and he is still hiking a ton and doing a little running.
Martin is 74, just finished his 32nd Crater Lake Marathon finishing 47th out of 108, 36th in the men's category.
People like Martin are truly an inspiration. I currently couldn't run a complete marathon if Uncle Griz was chasing me the entire way but it is the possibility that is the candle in the darkness.
This generation of older folk are resetting the bar on the "what is possible"
When I turned fifty I said I was going to take better care of myself, when I turned sixty I wondered why I hadn't taken better care of myself. Don't be me.

Edited by pyeyo on 08/19/2011 09:55:48 MDT.

Leigh Baker

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
Great post! on 08/21/2011 16:49:19 MDT Print View

I'm just this side of 6 decades and while I'm in better shape than most my age, I work at it. Workout 5 days a week; aerobic, strength and yoga. I eat healthy (yes it does cost more, and I don't even eat meat.)

My main motivation is hoping to be able to continue to enjoy backpacking for as long as possible. It's nice to hear from others especially those older, I'm encouraged, thanks for posting.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: SUL and advancing age on 08/21/2011 17:38:49 MDT Print View

When I was hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc in 2007, I was walking up a very steep trail on the Italian side when I heard a huffing and puffing right behind me, even though I had been walking alone for the past two hours. I stopped and turned around and came face-to-face with an old man wearing a worn out one of those black, Italian country worker's suits with an Tyrrolean-style alpine cap. He paused when he noticed me and smiled. He started saying something, but, not speaking a word of Italian, I just smiled back. He realized that I hadn't understood him, so he pointed at his chest and announced in English, "86!!! UNDERSTAND? 86!" He beamed at me while nodding proudly. I reached out and we shook hands. At which he turned his face back up the trail and headed on, huffing and puffing again. I watched him till he was a little dot on the side of the mountain. Hardly a word exchanged, and yet that remains one of the most powerful moments of the trip.

Leigh Baker

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
Miguel, that's a great story on 08/22/2011 05:27:23 MDT Print View

thanks for sharing!
+1 "This generation of older folk are resetting the bar on the "what is possible""

And on that note, does anyone know of any "seasoned" backpackers with exciting, inspiring blogs?
I love spending time on Dave Chenault's and Roman Dial's sites, but find myself thinking, boy I wish I'd gotten into all of that when I was younger!

Edited by leighb on 08/22/2011 05:28:40 MDT.

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re: Re: SUL and advancing age on 08/22/2011 18:04:07 MDT Print View

Great story Miguel,

On Tuesday I competed in a monthly lunchtime mountain running race, one of the regular competitors is 84 yo, I am a mere youngster at 56 yo.

Going lightweight has certainly made my bushwalking more enjoyable.


John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Closely approaching retirement age on 08/26/2011 17:34:02 MDT Print View

Lightweight gear has, at 66, allowed me to continue and to enjoy backpacking even more.

Edited by johnk on 09/05/2011 12:07:28 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
SUL and advancing age on 08/26/2011 19:36:39 MDT Print View

Thanks, Miguel, it's comforting that I have at least another 11 years to go!

Edited by hikinggranny on 08/26/2011 19:38:55 MDT.

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
SUL and advancing age on 08/27/2011 02:55:10 MDT Print View

I am 47 soon, and have dislocated a hip and broken the same ankle several times.
Recovering from serious physical trauma takes longer to heal with age, I just got over a dose of viral pneumonia that wiped me out for two years, no kidding!
My body is telling me things I do not want to hear.
Since about ten years ago, i have been doing Hatha Yoga every day. Suriyanamaskar, to be exact. If you do this simple excercise several times every morning, you will excercise and streach every muscle in your body, and regulate your breathing.
I have also reduced the big three to just over a kilo, and get 4/5 days into a Golite Ion.
UL techniques, the right gear and flexibility and determination are the keys for me.
I just did a three night hike and by the third day, I was 'pack fit' and doing some serious miles per day, and loving it.
Next season I will be ready for bigger challenges, a year older, and a year wiser.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: SUL and advancing age on 08/27/2011 10:07:54 MDT Print View

I think SUL can a great idea for elderly bikers but, if sleeping on the ground, most would require a thicker sleeping pad than younger SUL'ers. Think the rest of the gear I'm reading in the SUL would work though and technology will probably drive weights down further..

Edited by hknewman on 08/27/2011 10:11:18 MDT.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
sleeping on the ground on 08/27/2011 13:37:52 MDT Print View

As much as I'd like to admit I am the hard man of my youth[ even if it was a figment of my imagination] the comment about sleeping on the ground is important.
Decent sleep, whatever that is, in my case has become a somewhat transitory goal to shoot for and I will never, ever kick off another thread about using sleep aids.
I think sleep comfort for the aging backpacker has two components, managing "pain" or inflammation and actually what you have underneath you. Training once again makes a comeback with pain management but one needs to pay better attention to everything from bug bites to sunburn. if something in your body is twanging by the time you turn in it will have flared up into a 4 alarm blaze. I know a lot of this is common sense but as I aged I just couldn't sleep away the small issues.
Mattresses & combinations become a critical element in sleeping comfort but one cannot to actually sleep better on the ground [or hammock] after a long day of hiking then they would in their own bed, sleep issues need to be resolved at home before heading out or it will be more of the same.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
We are all old farts in waiting on 08/27/2011 13:48:13 MDT Print View

I hit the half century this year.
Up until about 3 years ago, i could sleep on a barbed wire fence. After surgical intervention to repair a torn laberal sheath, caused by coming off a bike thinking i was an 18 year old, i now need lots of padding.
This last year or so has forced me to face my own fragility.
It's scary. :)

Jennifer McFarlane
(JennyMcFarlane) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
SUL and advancing age on 09/04/2011 17:50:26 MDT Print View

Can a girl be an old fart? Or do you have to be a guy?
SUL has allowed me to start backpacking again, after not doing so for 30+ years because other things took a priority.
In my mid fifties, age and various other pursuits, as well as work have taken their toll on knees, hips and spine.
I keep in some sort of shape with hiking and karate- started karate because my son was taking lessons and it looked like fun.
Three years later... Anyway- it's good to get out there and see what you can't see from the car. I'm lucky to live within 15 minutes of the local mountains. And the neighborhood in which I live is nothing but hills, so a nightly walk with the dog is a bit of a workout.
My pain doc says to keep doing all this stuff- it will keep things from being way worse as I age.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: SUL and advancing age on 09/05/2011 17:58:06 MDT Print View

"Can a girl be an old fart? Or do you have to be a guy?"

Of course. And if you stay out long enough to smell bad and resist the urge to mitigate the stink with girlish personal grooming products, we might even make you an honorary Barking Spider, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. These include, among other things, permission to enter The Clubhouse wherein you are allowed to partake copiously of beverages ordinarily reserved for genetic males of the species, use foul language, and throw up.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Picking the right parents... on 10/02/2011 14:38:44 MDT Print View

Genetics plays an important part in out physical fitness. YA gotta pick the right parents. Some of us have "glass knees" (or hips) and no amount of yoga or vegan diet will prevent them from wearing out prematurely. So, in this age of wonder medicine, we get new knees or hips and continue on.

But other body parts, like the "main muscle", the heart, and other muscles, tendons, ligaments and lungs, can be helped by lifestyle. I hike with older Sierra Club members, many women in their 70s, who can easily keep up with me at 9,000 ft. and carry on a conversation. (Try it at 9,000 ft. with a 20 lb. pack.) They are amazing Old Girls.

The point is that we can usually "keep on truckin'" as the hippies used to say, if we are consistent in our daily exercise and diet - with time out for a good wine or Most Excellent microbrew.

I read in this thread of many overcoming physical problems and going on to enjoy backpacking. Congratulations on your preserverence. When you stand, pack on your back, at a fantastic vista, you've gotten your reward. When you see inactive friends of your same age decrepit with diabetes, heart ailments and creaking around with obesity, all the time struggling with big medical bills,you know you've lived the best lifestyle. So celebrate and hit the trail.

You've earned your health. It's given to us for "free" in our youth but those of us who truly understand find it must be worked for to keep it the rest of our lives.

Edited by Danepacker on 11/17/2011 20:12:37 MST.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Great topic on 10/27/2011 21:22:32 MDT Print View

I have been going to the gym for near ten years. I am 47 and have wanted to keep that fitness that came so naturally since I can remember. I have gone for several reasons and those not only include physical prowess in my atheletic endeavors, but also to stay healthy so I can serve my family. I'm trying to treat my temple with some respect. And I hope that it will buy me (selfishly) more time before I can't perform in the activities that help to define me and how I enjoy life.

I see SUL/UL or whatever as being ways to enjoy what I'm doing more. I'll probably never get to the point where I'm so strong that a few pounds don't matter at least a little, but one can only do that by constantly being out. My major pursuit for more than twenty years is surfing. One can only truly be on top of the game if they are doing it every day. It's really the same with any sport. You gotta pursue fitness and actually do that which you love at a high frequency in order to really excel. So this lightening up thing works really well for folks like me that can't do it all the time. Carrying less and going to the gym pair to make me better in the wilderness than eithe alone can do. Great thread.

Claire Walters
(ShadowAlpha) - F

Locale: Southeast
re: SUL and advancing age on 10/27/2011 22:08:39 MDT Print View

This thread is very inspirational. I'm 46. Lower back issues since early 20's. Did a lot of bike riding for many yrs. Lighter gear has made it much more enjoyable to get out in the woods more often!

Jennifer, I try to keep moving as much as possible. I don't like staying still. Have seen many who just sit or say I can't.

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
SUL and advancing age on 10/28/2011 14:58:25 MDT Print View

Sob. I just got my Medicare card. Even worse, the "Welcome to Medicare" brochure was in large print! I won't be 65 until February, but I guess the feds send them early to ease you into the concept.

My early (20's) traditional backpacking days were few and uncomfortable with the standard too-heavy, too-much gear. I didn't get interested in the outdoors again until my early 50's when I joined the Mountaineers. Again, more standard, heavy gear for climbing. The knees couldn't handle it, but I refused to quit. Luckily I found this website, which I consider has given me a new lease on life. I have switched to lighter weight gear and less gear. That, plus an encouraging doctor who told me whatever I do, don't quit, and a mindset of wanting to be out there, have combined to make my current backpacking days frequent and enjoyable. I'm always trying new ideas that I learn here. Right now I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of a zpacks hexamid solo tent, which will be a nice drop in weight from my 2-lb Contrail.

I've fallen in with a group of women who hike on Wednesdays - all of us are up and down the 60's scale (yo, Larry! one of them was so inspired by Barbara's book about your round-the-world bike trip she did it herself). On a recent 4-day backpack trip in the Pasaytens, the other 3 carried 30-lb packs, and mine was 17, with food and water. Although they were interested in what I was and wasn't carrying, the most frequent excuse I heard about their excessive or heavier gear was "I want to be comfortable." My response is, "I'm comfortable!" Later one of them said she was miserable with all her comforts.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: SUL and advancing age on 10/28/2011 15:24:49 MDT Print View

Other than a more comfortable sleeping pad, I can't think of any gear-oriented concessions to age other than some reading glasses. I never have been a record-setter for speed. Lighter is better at any age, and a real blessing on the north side of 50 :) Hiking is good exercise and good for the head too.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: SUL and advancing age on 10/29/2011 18:33:01 MDT Print View

rosie rabbit,

congrats on the medicare. don't worry about your age because active +60's woman - especially in groups - are awesome. My wife and I are both approaching 60 in a few. She works out with a group of mostly 60 - 70 yr old ladies. They really wear her out. She said they our the ones encouraging her to add another day to her weekly workouts.

Now when it comes to backpacking she's figured out how to get me to carry most of our stuff. But I don't mind because I really enjoy backpacking with her. We are both comfortable, but have encountered disbelief from relatives/friends we've backpacked with. We just smile and listen.