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Taos is where most retirees are outdoorsmen

(and frequently outdoorswomen)

So you’d expect we hikers to know the ropes from our years of hiking and skiing.

But what about the rest of you who are occasional hikers — or just walkers?

Okay, here’s three tips I and my Geezer friends do that have two important benefits.

  1. They give us more pleasure per hiking mile.
  2. They almost assure us they’ll prevent heart problems — that threaten to touch that nasty word “death.”

 

My First Tip

BackpackerBill’s got his first hiking poles!

bills-hiking-trek-polesAt 89 I finally gave-in and got trekking poles.

Yes, Mister Nevermind went on-line and bought himself his first pair.

Earlier this summer I hiked a trail marked “difficult” in the official USFS trail description. There are eight stream crossings on stepping-stones in its three-and-a-half mile hike to the top of the ridge.

At the first stream crossing I nonchalantly stepped out onto its first stone.  The stone rocked and I rocked with it, landing on my derrière in the stream getting a scuffed elbow in my fall.

Wife Joy, who’s a lot younger and wiser than me, insisted that while she wouldn’t mind my dying on some trail I love, she didn’t want me injuring myself so that I couldn’t get out on that trail any more.

As I said — “wiser.” Wiser won.

I bought my poles especially for stream crossings.  But, also for other tricky rocky maneuvers.

I made a survey on the Internet for poles that fit my criteria.

They had to be sturdy and light of course.

Must have comfortable cork handles.

Had to telescope up and down easily enough to strap them onto the outside of my pack when I’m not using them.

I found what seems like the perfect pole at a moderate, marked down price of $59.99. So I gave in to my wife Joy’s wishes and ordered my first pair of trekking poles, mountainsmith carbonlite pro trekking pole.

I’ve given them a go and they’re working so well for me that I’ve recommended them to my nephew who’s also dealing with balance in his later years.

Okay back to my tips.

 

My Second Tip

Monitor your heart rate.

This is far more important than trekking poles.

 

I monitor my heartbeat with the second hand on my wristwatch.

I find my pulse by laying my fingers on my throat alongside my esophagus and count my pulse for six seconds.

Once I have that number I add a zero, which is my heart rate per minute.

 

A simple rule-of-thumb.

Find out your safe heart rate, the rate that is the maximum you should allow while exercising.

This is found by subtracting your age from the number 220.

This is the maximum heart rate for anyone your age in good physical condition.

After I had open-heart surgery, I needed to “get back in shape” for hiking.

So I had to adjust my “maximum” back down to a reasonable number.

 

How I began checking my heart rate.

I found it best to use half my maximum heart rate.

I stopped hiking to take a rest until the rate dropped back to normal before hiking again.

Since I’m now 89, I subtract 89 from 220, which gives me a maximum heart rate of 131.

So my first time of testing I stopped hiking when my rate was above 70.

I waited until it dropped back to my resting heart rate of 55 before I began hiking again.

When I stopped a few times when it reached 70, and I noticed I was not breathing heavily, I felt comfortable about raising my target a bit.

If like me, you are feeling good and know that you are sufficiently physically fit; stopping at this target of half your max will feel as if you hadn’t exerted yourself at all.

So when I was feeling up to it I moved my target up to seventy-five percent of my max — 100.

Again, I stopped when my heart rate reached this level and waited for it to come back down to normal before hiking again.

 

I hesitate giving this information for most of us are not that honest with ourselves.

And I’d hate to hear that someone developed a heart condition because of something I said.

So, as I say, be prudent and honest with yourself.

You really do know what shape you are in.

You are not twenty any more.  And it isn’t wussy to admit being out of shape.

So monitor your heart rate — honestly.

 

For example, I’m 89.  So my maximum rate is 220 minus 89, or 131.

I rarely allow myself to reach that limit before I stop for a rest.

Usually I stop and rest when it hits 110 or occasionally 120.  Rarely do I let it hit my max of 131.

I rest until it drops back down below 90 before I start hiking again.

Those numbers work for me, inasmuch as I’m in pretty good physical condition, from years of hiking at least two to three miles every day, and five to seven miles a couple of times a week.

 

Sophisticated Monitoring Devices

In the past few weeks I’ve hiked with Geezers who’ve had different ways of monitoring their heart rate.

One uses his smart phone.  It has a stopwatch feature.

Another has a device he straps to his bare chest to let him know his pulse rate.

And two others have smart wristwatches that give them theirs.

It’s mostly a matter of costs.

My wristwatch is a cheap-o with a second hand, costing about $12.

My friend, with the chest strap device, said it cost $300.

The smart phone was in the neighborhood of $400.

And the smart wristwatches were in the $600 range.

All of them give the same measurements.

Whatever – –

Just monitor your heart rate and pay heed!

 

My Third Tip

It’s all about attitude.

Know when to turn back.

Be honest with yourself, your age and weather conditions and you enjoy hiking more than you ever imagined.

You are no longer twenty.  Get over it!

You have nothing to prove.

It’s not wussy to say, “Guys, it’s been fun.  But it’s time for me to turn back.”

Just yesterday as I was coming down the South Boundary Trail, I heard a guy tell his hiking friend just that.

He’d only hiked in about half a mile, was seated breathlessly on a rock beside the trail.

His face was flushed.

He looked like he was maybe in his forties or early fifties.

But he was honest and sensible enough with himself and his friend to not risk a heart attack.

I’ve turned back early many, many times over the years.

I recently even wrote a post about three of us turning back early because of weather conditions. (ADD URL)

No big deal!

I’m out to enjoy myself.  And I want to continue enjoying myself long as I can.

I have nothing to prove — except to prove to my self that I can keep on hiking and enjoying it.

So that’s my advice for today.

Hiking poles if you like.

Monitor your heart.

Be honest enough to turn back when you feel you ought to.  And still have enough energy left to get back out.

And truly, I mean truly enjoy getting old.  It can be one great, good time!  It is for me and most of my geezer friends.

Sophisticated Monitoring Devices

In the past few weeks I’ve hiked with Geezers who’ve had different ways of monitoring their heart rate.

One uses his smart phone.  It has a stop watch feature.

Another has a device he straps to his bare chest to let him know his pulse rate.

And two others have smart wristwatches that give them their pulse rate.

It’s mostly a matter of costs.

My wrist watch is the cheap old Swiss variety with a second hand, costing about $12.

My friend, with the chest strap device, said it cost $300.

The smart phone was in the neighborhood of $400.

And the smart wrist-watches were in the $600 range.

All of them give the same measurements.

Whatever – –

Just monitor your heart rate and pay heed to it.

 

My Third Tip

It’s all about attitude.

Know when to turn back.

Be honest with yourself and aging will be better than you ever imagined.

You are no longer twenty.  Get over it!

You have nothing to prove.

It’s not wussy to say, “Guys, it’s been fun.  But it’s time for me to turn back.”

Just yesterday as I was coming out the South Boundary Trail, I heard a guy tell his hiking friend just that.

He’d only hiked in about half a mile, was seated breathlessly on a rock beside the trail.

His face was flushed.

He looked like he was maybe in his forties or early fifties.

But he was honest and sensible enough with himself and his friend to not risk a heart attack.

I’ve turned back early many times over the years.

I even wrote a post about three of us turning back early because of weather conditions — http://williamkemsley.com/quirky-taos-hiking-weather 

No big deal!

I’m out on to enjoy myself.  And I want to continue enjoying myself a few more years.

I have nothing to prove — except to keep on hiking and enjoying it.

So that’s my advice for today.

Hiking poles if you like.

Monitor your heart.

Be honest enough to turn back when you feel you ought to.  And still have enough energy left to get back out.

And truly, I mean enjoy getting old.  It can be one hell of a good time!  It is for me and most of my geezer friends.

One Response

  1. zev guber
    | Reply

    good stuff…

    handy, especially knowing when to call it a day.

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