I’s Now OK That Hikers Pass Me On the Trail
I intended to hike the six-mile loop on the most popular mountain trail in this area today.
It starts out steeply from the trailhead.
And after a few hundred yards I saw my energy level was a lot lower than I expected.
So, immediately I began scaling back my aim, figuring I’d just hike up to the fork in the trail, about three-quarters of a mile from the trailhead.
Several hikers passed us before we even reached that point where the trail forks and circles the mountain in both directions.
This was something I’d had to get used to back in my 70s. It wasn’t easy for a guy who always passed everyone else on the trail.
But there were already speedy hikers who began passing me when I was still in my 60s.
I had to learn to accept this confrontation with the nasty Law of Entropy. And admit that my body was wearing out.
At first it was most disheartening.
I made all kinds of excuses for why hikers breezed by.
However, by the time I was in my mid-seventies I accepted my aging with more grace. When I did, I began enjoying the slower pace.
In fact, one reason I’ve slowed down is because I am vigilant about my heart.
I had open-heart surgery about ten years ago.
I have found that I can comfortably hike at a pulse rate of 110 to 120 without concern.
However, if my heart-rate rises above 130 I need to stop for a breather. And I have to wait until my pulse gets down below 100 before getting along the trail again.
I have a simple way to check my pulse with the second hand of my wristwatch.
When my pulse is working overtime I can feel it throbbing in my neck and head.
I count the beats for six seconds, add a zero and that is my heart rate.
If I can’t feel my pulse throbbing this way I need to find it by hand.
It is more easy to do this with my fingertips on the side of my neck, near my throat.
Whenever I feel breathless I stop to check my pulse. It is really simple and easy. And very important. Especially as the years move on.
I’ve a chart in my latest book, Backpacker & Hikers’ Handbook, telling how to calculate your heart rate for your age. The book has a lot of that kind of information in it.
So as I say, today it doesn’t bother me to accept my diminishing hiking abilities. I just enjoy greeting hikers as they pass me by.
I even enjoy the smelling-the-roses-pace at which I mosey along. To tell the truth, I think I enjoy hiking more today than ever before.
And that is a victory-and-a-half!
Tessa Met Four Dogs Today
She always enjoys that. The dogs do their sniff tests on each other. She runs around with the dogs chasing one another. And with some they are just casually interested in meeting.
Today it was mostly the sniff and run with the four of them.
We were hiking the Divisadero Trail that circles the mountain. Hikers take this trail especially in winter because it follows the mountain’s south side where the snow melts quickly, leaving the trail dry.
The reasons this trail is so popular is a) because it is so close to town and b) because the trail traverses a nice variety of terrain, including many fine viewpoints.
Once we reached the divide in the trail, I felt loosened up and decided to continue on to the first “false summit,” about a half mile farther and a couple of hundred feet higher in elevation.
So our hike today ended up a respectable three-miler, just a bit shorter than yesterday’s.
Yesterday I Tessa and I took a four mile-hike hike on the mesa desert. It was a warm, sunny day with only a slight breeze.
It is part of a network of twenty miles of trails on this part of the mesa. And its trailhead is just five minutes from home.
It is good, easy hiking as long as there is no wind.
Visitors All Want to Hike
One blessing of living here is that I can hike year round — mountains in summer, foothills and mesa desert in spring and fall, and canyon in winter.
When friends and family visit they always want to hike.
Usually they come from cities on either coast and are used to forest hiking.
So, to give them a taste of something different. I take them either on a desert or canyon hike.
Mostly I take them down into the Rio Grande gorge on a short, steep hike to the river where they also can see some ancient petroglyphs.
If they are less experienced hikers, I still take them into the gorge, but along a trail on a plateau half-way down inside the canyon.
This trail requires no climbing. And there are Petroglyphs as well. Actually, it is very colorful trail, even though easy.
Of course, if you are like my daughter, Kate, who stays a while, we’d also do several trails in various terrain.
This summer both Kate and my sister, Joanie, visited for several days each.
Katie and I did a six-mile hike in the Pecos Wilderness, on which we came upon a small herd of deer.
We also met some guys from Texas with whom I have since done more hikes.
Kate and I also did the gorge hike.
Joanie had never visited before. She lives in Florida. So it was a treat for her to hike both mountains and desert.
She is also into birding and had a beautiful new Nikon with which she took bird photos everywhere we hiked.
We also had a lot of catch-up talking to do, so we dawdled a lot on the trail, driving my wife, Joy, nuts for our taking so much time. She would trudge on ahead of us and patiently wait for us.
Lucky for me, to have so many trails to share. Some of you readers know this and have already visited to hike with me.