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When I first saw this term, I thought:
"Come on. Just say it. Senior citizens tottering down a trail."
Then I burst out laughing!
Because I got my AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) invitation in the mail several (as in double digits) years ago.
They send those invites to any American over the age of fifty.
So by definition, I AM an elder hiker!
And you know what??
I'm proud of being an older mature hiker.
So I'm embracing that title: Elder Hiker.
Yup, that's me! Senior Citizen Hiker, loud and proud.
But I'm also a realist.
My lower back hurts the day after a long hike.
My feet sometimes give me signals that they're not particularly happy with the weight of my pack and the length of my hikes.
I can always tell when I hit the double-digits on a hike: anything over 10 miles, and my knees begin to creak.
And you really don't want to hear about my chronically sore toes from enlarging feet as I age!
Hiking pain = reality.
Here's the short list of considerations any female hiker approaching, or over, the age of 50 years should ponder:
These topics are shared by both genders of mature hiker:
This site map will get you up to speed on lots of other trail issues that may be impacting your trail time.
In the mood for some pre-emptive action?
It will really pay off on the trail!
Taking a Tai chi or Pilates class also pays dividends, and there are low cost beginner classes available at your local community recreational center.
Let's band together to fight the corporate image of an older hiker. Or the lack thereof.
If you take 5 minutes to flip through one of the admittedly scarce hiking magazines, or scroll through outdoor gear websites, you'll notice a theme:
How can this be??
Mature hikers are ignored, despite the facts:
I propose that we contact these advertisers and gear companies and remind them that we're out there on the trails and that we are purchasing their products.
Ignore the media messages that say hiking is for svelte twenty somethings.
And ignore all of the media messages that say only the elite hikers are worthy of time and attention, including:
Read this article to get a feel for how elitism is taking over the media's perception of hiking and outdoor sports.
Then vow to get out there and claim the title of hiker, even if you're not as nimble, flexible or motivated as you once were.
You're a hiker, even if you don't cover 20 miles a day with 30 pounds on your back!
Ever hear of Great Old Broads For Wilderness?
Maybe you should check them out.
This national organization pulls together elders (and they use the word with pride!) to work on protecting public lands in the USA.
They have local "Broadbands" that you can become involved with, or start one of your own.
The fees are low, the camaraderie is immense.
And here's a news flash: Every time I'm off trail in the back country, it's always elder hikers I meet.
Seems like the old foxes know the best routes!
Are you surprised?
The media might be!
Sorry about that rant.
Can you relate?
Let me leave you with this calm, peaceful thought:
Celebrate your strength, wisdom,
But take good care of your assets so you can hike in your golden years. The links above will help you accomplish that.
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