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Elder Hikers: Join Me!

Elder hikers?

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.

Proud of

  • the strength in my legs,
  • the spring in my step as I make my way up a mountain side or along a meandering stream,
  • the wisdom I carry from all of the years of trail time,
  • the endless enthusiasm in my heart for all things outdoors and wild.

So I'm embracing that title: Elder Hiker.

Yup, that's me! Senior Citizen Hiker, loud and proud.

Elder hiking reality

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.


So what's an older hiker to do?


Here's the short list of considerations any female hiker approaching, or over, the age of 50 years should ponder:

The effects of menopause on the body

Conversion of muscle into fat over time

Nutrition for menopausal hikers

Keeping bones strong

Hiking and osteoarthritis

Gender neutral elder hiking topics

These topics are shared by both genders of mature hiker:

Post-hiking aches & pains: what to do?

Healthy teas for hikers

Injury prevention

Back pain relief

Coping with sore knees

Fixing toe troubles

Gear evaluation

Time to lighten up your pack?

Conditioning to maintain top trail form

Finding accessible hiking trails

This site map will get you up to speed on lots of other trail issues that may be impacting your trail time.

Be proactive as an elder hiker!

In the mood for some pre-emptive action?

  • Read Bob Anderson's book on stretching for those of us over 50, and make time every day to keep your muscles limber.

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.

Protest media age-ism

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:

  • No one is under the age of 35.
  • Not a gray hair, smile crease or extra pound of body weight to be seen.

How can this be??

Mature hikers are ignored, despite the facts:

  • We have disposable income and some time on our hands (if we've retired).
  • We have a strong desire to work through our hiking bucket lists.
  • We're focused and level headed planners who know the value of high quality, high performance gear and clothing.

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.

  • I've written my share of letters to gear reps, editors and others, letting them know that I don't appreciate being ignored.
  • And I've suggested better clothing options for older hikers, too.
  • Care to join me? It's fun to be an old curmudgeon ;)

Don't be intimidated!

Ignore the media messages that say hiking is for svelte twenty somethings.

  • If you can walk, you can hike.
  • Your body is designed for the movement of walking, and if you maintain mobility you should be able to hike throughout your life time.

And ignore all of the media messages that say only the elite hikers are worthy of time and attention, including:

  • long trail hikers on trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail or Appalachian Trail;
  • fast-and-light record setters who try to outdo each other in terms of covering the most ground quickly;
  • stories about hiking in destinations that you will never visit, with glossy photos of the equipment and death defying routes up mountainsides, through jungles, or across deserts.

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!

The power of elder hikers

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.

  • Guys can join too, as Brothers.

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.

  • Sometimes feeling invisible sets me off.

Can you relate?

Let me leave you with this calm, peaceful thought:

Celebrate your strength, wisdom,

and accomplishments!

But take good care of your assets so you can hike in your golden years. The links above will help you accomplish that.

Female hiker wearing a backpack while photographing wild flowers in a mountain meadow, Cascade Mountains, Washington State USAForty five years of hiking and counting...

Home page > Types of Hiking > Elder Hikers

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