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  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Default A Lament on Aging.

    I recently completed a day hike - less than fourteen miles - in which a five-and-a-half mile section crosses a stream about fourteen times.

    I had hiked this loop trail before and anticipated the crossings. Water flow determines the difficulty of the crossings, from no problem to extreme difficulty. I believed the crossing made most difficult by high water was the first crossing; or the last, depending upon the direction hiked. I didn’t recall that much rain had fallen - - note to self, have “mountains make their own weather” tattooed on the back of my hand - - but it seemed prudent to make the most difficult crossing first. If the water was too high, I’d just hike another trail, rather than hike twelve miles the other way to find I couldn’t make the last crossing, then turn around and re-hike those same twelve miles back.

    The water was a little high but didn’t seem too high. I used a downed tree limb to help me maneuver across the stream, over rocks and logs, making a dry crossing.

    At one of the subsequent crossings I walked upstream and downstream but couldn’t find a dry crossing point. I could turn back or wade across. The farther you hike the greater the barrier confronting you must be to convince you to turn back.

    I took off my shoes and socks, put my shoes back on, and waded across. On the other side, I took off my shoes, took out my insoles, poured out the water, then returned the insoles and put my shoes back on, leaving my dry socks in my pack.

    My belief, that high water made the first crossing the most difficult, proved incorrect. The crossings became increasingly difficult. This routine - hiking to the next crossing, reconnoitering upstream and downstream, deciding whether to hop or wade across - added two-and-a-half hours to my hike.

    I realized that even though higher water reduced the number of objects available to cross upon, some years earlier I would nonetheless have tried hopping across the objects available.

    My ability to launch from the bank, or log or rock, my ability to land precisely on target, and the balance needed to regain my footing upon some wet, irregularly shaped, and potentially unstable surface midstream - have all diminished.

    I have sustained injury, where years earlier I would have only experienced the nuisance of short term pain. I have endured long term physical damage and recovery where previously it would have been a minor injury which I would have gotten over effortlessly.

    My increased propensity for injury, decreased healing time, and increased recovery time, have conspired with my diminished athleticism to reduce my willful risk taking, and add time to some hikes.

    Many of my day hikes include crossing water. I added a pair of virtually unused Nike Water Moccasins to my pack.

  2. #2
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Hey man ...I'm not all that far behind you and I relate to the changes in takings risks that in my youth would have seemed like amusement.

    It may take me all night to do what I used to do all night but the good news is that I'm still doing it. I made up my mind when I hit my 50's that the goal (my goal) is to just back off the pace and STEP down (instead of jumping down) off of rocks so that I can still be hiking well into my 80's and 90's (health otherwise permitting).

    So yeah ...the crossings are taking a bit longer and like you, I'm removing my boots/shoes and fording instead of rock-hopping but that's OK.

    IT'S ALL GOOD !!

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  3. #3

    Default Poles rock

    I, too, find that some things, especially stream crossings, are more challenging as time passes.

    Much has been stated in other forums about the benefits of hiking poles. I learned last summer that nowhere are they more valuable than in stream crossings. My son and I hiked the Slickrock Creek trail in SW North Carolina last June when the creek was a raging river. Poles provided the balance and security to cross several times. In addition, they served as depth probes before stepping out. I don't leave home without them!

  4. #4
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vi+
    .....My ability to launch from the bank, or log or rock, my ability to land precisely on target, and the balance needed to regain my footing upon some wet, irregularly shaped, and potentially unstable surface midstream - have all diminished....
    Yeah. Tell me about it.

    Weary

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by weary
    Yeah. Tell me about it.

    Weary
    Oh come on, Weary. You can do it. All you need are a couple of Lekis, with carbide tips.
    Roland


  6. #6
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roland
    Oh come on, Weary. You can do it. All you need are a couple of Lekis, with carbide tips.
    Nay. I tried that with a pair of lekis with carbide tips a while back. The dam* things slipped on the rock -- leaving SCARS -- and I ended up in a beaver bog.

    The latter didn't bother me. What's a dunking in a beaver flowage on a cold October day? But those scratches. The shame of it. My wooden hiking staff with its 67 cent crutch tips never did such a thing. Neither did it ever dunk me in a beaver bog. But that's beside the point.

    What will the beavers think when they see those scratches? I just pray they realize the lekis, not me, are at fault!

    Weary
    Last edited by weary; 02-05-2006 at 20:13.

  7. #7
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    Just out of curiosity, do you train to hike? I know that many folks just grab the old pack and go, planning to get in shape on the trail, but especially as I get older I find that's just not do-able any more (or not without such excruciating pain that it becomes an enormous disincentive to going at all).

    You may very well be doing all this already, but at this point you probably need to be doing cardio 5-6 times/week and core training 2-3 times/week. Not marathon running, not training to turn into a behemoth, just sensible exercise to break a sweat (fast walking, jogging, swimming, biking, elliptical) for 30-45 minutes at a stretch, and building your chest, shoulders, back and abs. Some yoga-type stretching will help, also. If you're trained up, you'll feel more comfortable in your body and your balance and confidence will improve.

    Horrible as this is to hear, also as we age, we need to cut back our calories. This means it is harder and takes more dedication to maintain a good hiking weight, yet again, it will pay off in terms of decreased wear & tear on the joints and pain and strain on the engine.

    I honestly feel that I am in better shape today than I was 10 years ago, when I was sitting in a chair nursing all day long, or endlessly picking up toys and winding up exhausted at the end of the day but without having ever gotten any real exercise. I used to subscribe to the notion that I shouldn't "have to" train to hike, but since I have been doing it I have found that hiking is incredibly more enjoyable, and I really look forward to going instead of dreading it. I still don't LOVE hauling myself and a heavy pack up a field of boulders (like St. John's Ledges) or humping along for hours in 90+ heat, but the training does make it seem less daunting somehow.

    Just a thought... feel free to disregard if not helpful!

    Jane in CT

  8. #8
    Registered Loser c.coyle's Avatar
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    Getting old stinks, but it beats the alternative.

  9. #9

    Default Footslogger...

    "It may take me all night to do what I used to do all night but the good news is that I'm still doing it."

    ROFL. Thanks for making my day. Good hiking to you.

  10. #10
    Section Hiker, 1,040 + miles, donating member peter_pan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c.coyle
    Getting old stinks, but it beats the alternative.
    Amen brother.... I sure do enjoy today>

    Pan
    ounces to grams
    WWW.JACKSRBETTER.COM home of the Nest and No Sniveler underquilts and Bear Mtn Bridge Hammock

  11. #11
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I've found that I'm much more conservative about picking my steps down a steep, rocky section of trail than I was in my youth. If I concentrate, hard, then I can keep up the pace for a short while, but inevitably I fall back to a more comfortable tempo. I can't imagine what I'll be like when I get to be weary's age!
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  12. #12

    Default Related humor...

    An old woman, somewhere on the downhill side of 90-YO, had her phone ring. She picked it up to find it was a telemarketer pushing some investment that would take 5 years to pay off. After listening politely for a minute, she brushed the phone solicitor away with the comment that "At this point in life, sonny, I don't even buy green bananas.".

  13. #13
    Registered User Singe03's Avatar
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    ....My ability to launch from the bank, or log or rock, my ability to land precisely on target, and the balance needed to regain my footing upon some wet, irregularly shaped, and potentially unstable surface midstream - have all diminished....
    Be thankful you ever had the ability in the first place. I have had all the grace, agility and leaping ability of a drunken hippo since the ripe old age of 17 or so. When confronted with a stream crossing, the boots come off, the tevas go on and I slog though, if for no other reason than to avoid the embarrrisment of yet another spectacular flying dismount from whatever I landed on. I'm going to get wet either way, I may as well retain some degree of dignity about it.

  14. #14
    Registered User MisterSweetie's Avatar
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    Default

    I may be the youngest to chime in here, but I can see the downward trend here. I walked around for about 3 hours yesterday, probably 10 miles or so, and my knee let me know about it. And I don't even have "knee problems" so to speak... anyway, I don't look forward to the inevitable.
    Sardis Thru-Hiker Club - A 6.73 miler.

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