by Diane Spicer
When I first saw this label, 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!
I'm proud of being an older mature hiker.
Proud of all this:
So I'm fully embracing that title:
Yup, that's me!
Senior Citizen Hiker, loud and proud.
I've earned it over the decades of accumulating wisdom and experience on the trail.
If you'd care to join me in a private celebration of aging gracefully on the trail of life, called the Over Forty Hiker community for women, here's how you can become a member.
But I'm also a realist.
I know exactly what it feels like to live in an aging body.
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.
My feet swell up.
So do my hands.
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:
But there's a whole lot more for you here at Hiking For Her.
Do you have your lifetime National Park Pass yet?
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 in flexibility and core strength, and there are low cost beginner classes available at your local community recreational center.
Ditto for yoga classes.
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:
Tell them Hiking For Her sent you in support of the cause ;)
I propose that we contact these advertisers and gear companies to remind them that we're out there on the trails - and that we are purchasing their products.
Here's the only example I can find of an older woman being featured in a gear ad. Thanks, REI!
I've written my share of letters to gear reps, editors and bloggers, letting them know that I don't appreciate being ignored.
Care to join me?
It's fun to be an old curmudgeon ;)
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 proudly claim the title of elder 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 and one granola bar in your pocket!
Tell the scoffers Hiking For Her says so!
Ever hear of Great Old Broads For Wilderness?
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 silver 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.
Again, I invite you to join our private circle of elder female hikers.
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Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer.
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