Aug 26, 2019 at 9:30 pm #3607696Brett PeughBPL Member
Due to health issues I really can’t plan those long hikes anymore. I have to change my perspective as how I have going at light backpacking for over the past decade and could use some help.
I have had my lower left lung removed due to lung cancer and my girlfriend is having issues with sciatica. I know I can no longer even walk as fast as I used to after I have healed up and I know she can’t walk as far as she used to. I think we could probably do 5 miles on a mostly flat surface twice a day with a bit of rest in between. I believe the possibility of long trails is probably out for us because the weight and how far we could travel is prohibitive. I think we would be looking at more like 2-3 days at the most at one location.
Of course I am going to keep the gear light but even though I don’t want them to, things are going to have to change. I am just wondering what gear people might have us look at and what strategies to employ as we are slower and more meandering? Thank you.Aug 26, 2019 at 10:04 pm #3607705W I S N E R !BPL Member
I’m sorry to hear this Brett, it’s got be a difficult shift.
I’ve had a few health issues that have forced me to reevaluate what sort of mileage and trips I am/will be capable of. From having to work up to being able to walk around the block again to overcoming the fear of being in remote areas alone in the event of another issue…For the most part I’m now healthy and my worst fears haven’t panned out. But the threat of having to potentially alter the way I engage with the outdoors is always there- it could be tomorrow.
I think this has radically changed my perspective in regards to miles and locations. I’m beginning to find that the smaller, shorter, and closer trips provide a tremendous amount of satisfaction. I’m pretty easily entertained and find that I don’t need to put up big numbers or seek out majestic landscapes and sweeping vistas to get my fix; stick me in an obscure local canyon, add a trickle of water, some birdsong…and I’m happy. It’s a very “unphysical” type of trip.
I love the High Sierra but the “big” trips often run the risk of making the outdoors an adversarial place or create a feeling that I’m bound to some expectations. The big trips can add an element of pressure, both in logistics and finances as well as in performance. I’m finding, however, that it’s on the little, low-key, mostly solo trips that I really get “in tune” with things, truly enjoying myself in the outdoors in a very stress-free and natural way. And I can do them far more often, nearly every weekend for an overnight if I like.
I guess I would say to really try and nurture the perspective shift you mention, to look for what you might be gaining by slowing down. Look to the wilderness as a place of restoration as opposed to one fraught with physical challenges. Slow, easy walking might just be revolutionary in this regard; it has been for me.
For whatever it’s worth…I can only speak from my experiences but I hope this might help some…Aug 26, 2019 at 10:18 pm #3607708Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
We are facing the same issues: arthritis in my knee, and bone spurs on my wife’s heel have limited our mobility. We now aim for five mile days at a max, and usually don’t stay out more than three nights. But that still leaves some wonderful options. We now lean towards base camps, where we can camp at a lake and then explore the rest of the basin via dayhikes. That works pretty well. And there are certainly plenty of those!Aug 27, 2019 at 12:16 am #3607723David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
One trick I’ve used on hikes that I do repeatedly: I stash food/drink/supplies along the way. So I only carry it out, one-way, or even half way, once and then I don’t have to carry that weight again to have that redundancy of food, drink or gear available along the route. I’ve put Kern’s Nectar aluminum cans under wooden foot bridges, water jugs 20 east of a particular mile marker, or dry food in a cookie / popcorn tin along my route. Those cookie tins could also hold a cheap poncho, thrift store warm hat, etc.
It potentially gets several pounds of “just-in-case” gear off your backs while retaining the peace of mind that should it cool off, start raining, or you need more provisions that day, you’ll have it available.Aug 27, 2019 at 1:18 am #3607725matthew kModerator
I started working as a high school teacher just over a year ago and I have not had enough time for training. I get out once a week if I am lucky. I had a short trip in the Sierra in July and I definitely took more breaks than I would have a couple years ago when I was hiking 2–3 X/week. I still enjoyed my time there covering fewer miles. I was solo and felt no pressure to not slow my friend(s) down. I took lots of breaks and saw plenty of beautiful sights from large vistas to perfect little streams. I’m not afraid of slowing down as I get older.Aug 27, 2019 at 1:34 am #3607728JohnBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
As my dog got older, she slowed down and developed some bad arthritis in her elbow. She seemed to still love hiking/backpacking/camping, but couldn’t go very far. We ended up adapting to lower mileage days pretty well and had some of my favorite trips this way. Not sure if this will help, but here are some things I did to help us get out:
Aug 27, 2019 at 1:38 am #3607730Five StarBPL Member
- Explored the outdoors in ways other than backpacking, like remote dispersed car camping and kayak camping. My favorite campsite ever is one I found off a lonely BLM road. Camping at boat-in only campsites was also great – we just stuck to lakes.
- Hiked slowly and took extended breaks often. I would sometimes sit and read. I think we averaged 1 mph or less.
- Chose less-traveled trails and did more easy off-trail hiking, encouraging a slower pace. I enjoyed finding old and forgotten trails off forest-service roads and ended up doing some great hikes that I had previously deemed “too short to bother”.
- Packed in some in-camp comforts (chair and fresh donuts for me, full-size pillow from home for her)
- No mileage goals – just hiked however far she seemed up to on that particular day
@mammomanLocale: NE AL
Sorry to hear about your health issues….but they’ve knocked you right into my wheelhouse. I’m 56, arthritic, at least slightly overweight (albeit active), and do a few week-long hikes per year. When solo and on the AT, a 10 mile day is about the most I average, and when I’m hiking with my wife it’s more like 7-8 miles. A 16 is my record day. I’m not about crushing miles. On my recent 42 mile hike through Pictured Rocks, I did it over 5 1/2 days and had a blast. AND my TPW at takeoff was only 18 pounds. Dialing my gear in has really helped me continue to stay out there for longer hikes, but I never turn down the chance for 3-4 day trips either, those are still very rewarding.
Bottom line- get your pack weight down as low as you can, be happy with shorter days (take breaks, explore the sights along the way, fish a little, etc.) and see how long your pack weight lets you stay out there.
I’m often hiking during a thru-hiker bubble with hikers doing 20+ mile days. I don’t think they’re having any more fun than I am.
Oh, and packing a little bourbon helps :)Aug 27, 2019 at 2:21 am #3607738Daryl and DarylBPL Member
@lyrad1Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
This is one of my favorite topics. My wife and I are in our mid 70s and have addressed the health issue of aging for several decades. Here’s what weve learned, done, etc.
We let people know what are limits are. I recall telling my friend Eric, for example, about 20 years ago that I was good for about 4 hours or 8 miles per day, whichever came first.
We like solitude and that’s hard to get near Seattle if you are a slow hiker. So we drive farther to avoid the crowds. Wife and I just finished a 5 day backpack in the Pasayten Wilderness of Washington where we only saw 4 people. We drove 6 hours to get to the trail head, however.
Hiking in bad weather is another way to get solitude. We use our experience and skills to go out in bad weather that discourages newer hikers/backpackers.
Hiking at 1MPH up a steep slope gives me the same feeling as when I could move up that slope at 3 MPH. I liked it then and I like it now.
We plan trips where we can adjust mileage to match how we feel. In and out works better than round trips, for example. Round trips might commit us to mileages that we aren’t up to for the trip.
Another “seeking solitude” trick is to go just one more ridge farther than most others are going. Weekday hiking also helps.
Focusing on lightweight is more important than ever.
We carry a Personal Locator Beacon.
We like the lightweight aspect of higher proof alcohol.Aug 29, 2019 at 3:57 am #3608057Greg FBPL Member
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
Hiking with Kids pits some of the same constraints on you with distance and speed.
One thing to consider is how much camp time vs moving time you will have. The more camp or break time you have the more comfortable you want to be in those periods.
Also with shorter trips your food weight can be replaced with luxury weight.
I nice lightweight chair and a tarp for poor weather would be my two adds from a traditional UL kit. Perhaps more luxurious food choices as well.Aug 29, 2019 at 9:45 am #3608079Erica RBPL Member
Why push it when you can slow down enjoy it?
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