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Joanie at Williams Lake 9-8-15
My sister, Joanie, who’s a pretty geezer, at Williams Lake at the base of New Mexico’s highest peak, Mount Wheeler. Loves taking bird photos with that long lens!  And loving to let photographing them take her forever on a hike.  Great hiking companion!

“You are younger today than you will ever be again. Make use of it for the sake of tomorrow.” (Anonymous)

As I trudged up the Divisidero Trail yesterday the thought occurred to me.

Yes, I saw that hiking has had a lot more to do with keeping me from falling than I realized!

The difference is between my ‘walking’ and my ‘hiking.’

I walk down our road which is great exercise alright.

But I hike the Divisadero Trail which is even better.

Same distances, but a bit of a difference that makes the difference.

I mean, take a look at the photo at the top of the page of some sections of the Divisidero Trail .

Notice, that while its rocky sections aren’t very difficult, they do exercise a variety of different leg muscles and utilize more of our body’s balancing mechanisms to scramble over those rocks.

It is even different than stair climbing, which provides as much, or even better, aerobic exercise.

But stairs don’t challenge those itty bitty muscles that go into action when our balance starts to get a little off kilter.

Everyone can hike, unless they are in a wheel chair.

The hardest part of taking a hike, or even a walk, is putting on your boots and heading out the door.

I mean it.

When I had open-heart surgery, they put me on my feet walking down the hall as soon as I came out of the ether.

Not far.  But walking.

Then three days later, when they sent me home, they ordered me to walk for fifteen minutes every day. That isn’t very much walking either.

But, they knew their trick would, in time, get me walking twenty minutes.  And then walking even twenty-five and in time, thirty minutes.  For, as that old geezer, Newton said, “Things in motion tend to want to remain in motion.”

And best not to forget Newton’s corollary: “Things at rest tend to want to remain at rest.”

So, I find that the most beneficial hike I ever take is those first few steps out the door.  Especially when I least want to go.  And even when I have really good reasons why I shouldn’t go today!

If I am going out the door often enough when I really don’t want to go, I begin to find that I can’t keep my feet indoors.

It’s sort of like the movie “Red Shoes.”  If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing a good flick.

It is one of my all-time favorite films.

Leading lady, gorgeous Moira Shearer, becomes victim of her ‘red shoes’ which compel her to keep on dancing — on and on.  She just cannot stop dancing, for the compulsive pull of those damned red shoes!  Eventually, those red shoes drag her along to her ultimate demise!


Now a Few More Bits of Advice

Easy does it.  But just get to doing it!

Don’t go for the gold.

Start out doing no more than your fifteen minutes a day walking. Not hiking.

Don’t do it to prove something about your prowess.  Just do it for the joy of being out in the open air.

As for hiking, there are some measures geezers, or anyone else, ought to take to prevent falls on the trail, which could turn out worse than falling in the bathroom.

  1. Good idea to hike with hiking sticks.  Many hikers I see on the trail use two ski pole type hiking sticks for support going over sections of tricker footing. I always use one hiking stick.
  2. Hike with a partner.  On more popular trails you will see many experienced hikers going solo, even running along the trails.  OK, if you are that advanced you aren’t reading this post.  Geezers ought best stick with a trail companion on their hikes.  Not always easy to come by.  Still, the safest way.  If  you can’t find a companion, then walk, don’t hike, is the better option.
  3. Don’t just go hiking when you haven’t hiked in years.  You know you are not in the physical condition you were “back then.”  That’s almost worse than risking a fall at home!  Start a lot slower than you think you are capable of doing.  And start by walking.
  4. Finally, when hiking, and even walking, do less talking and give more attention to where your feet are stepping.  You do not want a single miss-step on a rocky trail, even on a steeper gravelly section where smaller pebbles can easily roll out from under your boot and woopsie!.   Not good.

Hey, don’t be impatient.  Get used to walking before you do any hiking. You’re in it for the joy of the outdoors.

Walking is absolutely the best exercise you can give yourself.  And it has most of the benefits of keeping your balance and avoiding a fall.

Easy does it.

I’d reverse Jimmy Carter’s motto and say instead: “The best is the enemy of the better.”

Instead of going for the best, it is regularity and consistency that count.  My motto is a “daily walk or hike.”  It’s a lot easier to remember to do something daily, than it to do it say, two or three times a week.  Daily is a much easier habit to develop, than remembering in retirement if today is Tuesday or Wednesday.  And whether I decided to walk on Tuesdays and Fridays or Mondays and Thursdays.

And regularity will guarantee the most enjoyment.

Then, once you are out the door and on your walk your feet will tell you how far and how long to go.  Follow them.  As the quote says:

“You are younger today than you will ever be again.”

Go for it!

And avoid succumbing to that one-in-three-geezers-over-fifty syndrome.


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