Hiking isn’t just for the young! Just because a person is over “retirement” age doesn’t mean they have to stop enjoying adventures. Sure, we slow down a little, but I look forward to each birthday when I enter a new age division in competitions as I am now the young one. It’s all a matter of how we look at things.
Newly retired, 70 years old and in good condition, I am planning to hike across England, ocean to ocean, 193 miles over 16 days this June.
I run marathon and 50k distances several times a year, and I ski, bike and hike. I decided to hike coast to coast in England to see more of the country, interact with the locals, and enjoy the sights.
Here are some tips to help you plan a trip of your own.
Some years ago, I was on a bike trip in France with a tour company. I was traveling on my own and opted to room with another single. My “roomie” had children my age. She was on her bike every day, rain or shine, and I enjoyed her so much that most of the others with us thought we were mother and daughter.
Choose an Attainable Activity
Hiking is one of the best and easiest ways to enjoy nature as we can all walk, all we need are good supportive hiking shoes, some comfortable clothes, a pack and off we go! We are never too old, but many are afraid of new, strange activities. Starting out with short organized hikes, working up to longer distances and meeting other post-retirement age people who are experienced hikers can give us the confidence we need to conquer fears.
Remember, age is just a number and adventure awaits if we just give ourselves a chance.
Get Proper Footwear
I’ll be hiking for more than two weeks, so I got myself a pair of the Oboz Bridger Mid BDry. I wanted waterproof boots because I expect to encounter wet conditions in the U.K. And I went with the Bridgers because of their reputed great fit out of the box.
Even still, I’m breaking them in. I’ve spent the past few months walking in these boots. I want to avoid sore spots and blisters on my trip.
In addition to the hiking boots, I need to have good hiking specific socks to help in avoiding blisters and “hot” spots. Never begin an epic journey with clothing and equipment that you haven’t fully tested.
I began to increase my mileage once I was comfortable with the shoes. Since I’ll be hiking 10-15 miles per day on the hike, I started my fitness regimen with some 5-6 mile fast walks along the beach. I am working up to long (10 mile +) hikes in the hills once a week.
Tips for Fitness
Those who haven’t been as active prior to embarking on a multi-day hike need to slowly build up over time; the more sedentary one is the more time it takes to build up endurance without causing an injury. We “mature” ones can do it if we listen to our bodies and ease into a well thought out training program. Also good for the less fit person is joining a local hiking group to have company and guidance. Going on a one or two day outing should be in one’s plans.
Invest in Good Apparel and Outerwear
There are few things worse than being cold and wet with miles to go before reaching a warm dry haven. Know the weather variables in your destination and pack accordingly. For my England trip that means rain gear: jacket, pants, backpack with an attached “raincoat” or a cover of some sort as it WILL rain. And, of course, try out all of your gear (not just your shoes) to be sure it works for you.
I’ll be taking hiking poles so I will practice using them on my training hikes, getting my hands and arms comfortable using them. And I’m making a list of what I need to pack! Too many times in the past I have forgotten something that isn’t easy to replace. Here’s what’s on the list right now:
- A hat that shades one’s neck
- Sunblock for the sunny days
- Laundry soap (laundromats aren’t typically along the trail)
- Band-Aids and moleskin for the inevitable blister that I plan to avoid
- Shirts and pants that dry quickly are a must.
- Energy bars or gels for those afternoons when we need a little boost
- Hydration system, be it water bottles or reservoir to carry your water
Heading off on a big adventure can be stressful AND exciting! Sometimes it helps to remind yourself you are doing it for fun. Happy travels!
Ambassador Carol Mortier recently finished her 40th Catalina Marathon. A lifelong adventurer, she runs 50K and 50 mile races, biked to work (averaging 20 miles a day) since the gas crisis of the 70’s, and loves to explore. Find her on Instagram at @mortiercarol