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Thread: Too Old to Hike?

  1. #1
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Beginning and End

    Too Old to Hike?

    Can you ever be too old to hike?

    This rescue of an 87-year-old on Gunstock raised that question for me....

    Nobody told me there'd be days like these
    Strange days indeed -- most peculiar, mama

  2. #2
    Senior Member griffin's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    With Augie on Carrigan
    I've met some 80 year-olds that I'd feel safer hitting the trails with than some youngsters.

    Sounds like the started out with a reasonable plan, but then kept throwing good money after bad when their detour proved more challenging than expected.
    Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Nov 2004
    New hampshire
    I don't think so, but you might want to be more selective in picking your partners. This group did a bunch of things wrong, I mean who abandons a tired 87 year old?

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2003
    Gorham NH
    Like many other old age decisions, the hope is that folks will voluntarily make the call to cut back on hikes (or any other activity as they lose abilities. I really hope F&G doesn't decide "hiking while old" swings the decision from clueless to reckless.

    I don't personally know many folks in their eighties who hike but I know a fair share of folks in their mid seventies that can out hike folks in their thirties.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    NH Seacoast
    There are two men who run the Mount Washington Road Race yearly. One was 99 last year and one about 89 (maybe 87). The 87 YO is beating a fair number of people. They are extraordinary of course. That's not hiking but it suggests age is not a factor. Break down of the body is a factor. Someone told me once that happens at 40. In short, I'd say no, age cannot be a factor. Ability, health, decision making, and experience level can be though IMO.

    The only time I think age should be considered is with minors. Give them a break. Once anyway.
    Humankind has not woven the web of life.
    We are but one thread within it.
    Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
    All things are bound together.
    All things connect.
    ~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

  6. #6
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    New Hampshire
    Quote Originally Posted by Raven View Post
    . One was 99 last year and one about 89 (maybe 87).
    George Etzweiler

    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    May 2013
    Woodstock, CT
    Age is just a number. There are people in their 30's that have no business being in the woods and people in their 70's that are machines on the trails. I met a guy a few weeks ago who was 77 and working on his 4th grid over age 60. He blew my doors off with ease and had tremendous balance. The "77" means nothing on its own. Without some background on this woman it's hard to say 87 is right or wrong. Need more information, although I suspect based on all the other stuff mentioned this was probably not a good idea for her and was not an experienced group.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nessmuk's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    western 'daks
    Unfortunately, more and more often, I am called out on a SAR incident to look for an older person who has wandered away from his or her safe place, either their own home, or a care facility. Sometimes it is a hunter who has hunted the same woods for 60 or more years, whose family will usually say "he sometimes has short term memory problems". Most often it is much more severe than the family knows or is willing to admit. Many times those kinds of SAR incidents do not end happily.

    On the other hand, as a canoe racer I see plenty of older folk in marathon canoe races. there is an 80+ yr old guy who consistently beats my butt on the water and on the portages ( I'm in my 60s). A class of "super veteran racers" (in their 70s and beyond) was recognized in last week's Adirondack 90 mile canoe race.
    "She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night." - Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]

  9. #9
    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    Jul 2013
    Chattanooga TN
    I used to play tennis against a guy who was 88 at the time. He had flown on B24 bombers in WWII and was a tough competitor. I don't think he was into hiking but I would not have hesitated to include him on one of my hikes. He worked out every day and his stamina was amazing.
    Last edited by Grey J; 09-14-2018 at 12:34 PM. Reason: typo
    "I am a pilgrim and a stranger"

  10. #10
    Senior Member WhiteMTHike's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    I imagine that eventually most people grow too old for a lot of activities. With hiking I think as long as the person is in good physical shape and has a daily workout routine that some degree of hiking will always be reasonable for them. IMO, the individual's mental health should be more of a concern. The best cardio conditioned senior citizen could easily forget what trail they are on or forget to take a correct turn.
    Last edited by WhiteMTHike; 09-18-2018 at 02:47 PM. Reason: too not to
    "The laborers day ends with the going down of the sun, and he is then free to
    devote himself to his chosen pursuit, independent of his labor and his
    employer". Henry David Thoreau

  11. #11
    Senior Member nartreb's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Waltham, Mass.
    The title of the thread instantly reminded me of the gentleman with a bad hip who had to be rescued off of Franconia Ridge in bad weather - two years ago now?? By contrast, it sounds like this party was never in much danger, just overestimated their strength and was unprepared for nightfall. Same foolishness we hear about teenagers and twentysomethings all the time on this board.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Bob Kittredge's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Terrified on Webster
    I'm 74 and hike regularly. I'm pretty sure I'll know when to start cutting back and when to quit altogether. I'm thinking 80.

    It didn't sound like the people in this incident were particularly experienced. Or that the "leaders" really knew their job. Their initial plan of a 30-minute walk sounds about right.
    I am Geezer; hear me roar!

  13. #13
    Senior Member MikePS's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
    Merrimac MA
    Interesting topic. If you had told me in my 20s I would still be hiking into the 60s I would have been happy. Now I hope to push into retirement with a goal of 70 or beyond. I have left a few trails behind: Knife Edge Double top from the south, Caps Ridge, longer backpacking trips. I also try to do the big peaks and 10 mile plus days for June through September. Oct-May I am happy to seek out smaller peaks with views, The Kearsarges, Crawford, Pemi,Percival-Morgan etc. I draw great inspiration,advice and motivation from Ed Parsons Saturday colums & Steve Smith blogs BTW I don;t know if anyone knows Ed, I wonder if he ever has thought about packaging his collection of colums into a book? I find them interesting, well written and informational, and they would stand the test of time. One issue, for me, is that all of my boomer partners have stopped hiking, had a few younger pards but they are now in the family stage, so I am mostly solo these days. Biggest issues for me are joints, balance & flexability. The cardio & power seem to be holding, the ups are much easier than the downs Happy hiking no matter what

  14. #14
    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Somerville, MA
    As the saying goes - You don't stop hiking because you get old, you get old because you stop hiking.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Northford, CT
    I'm 76 years old and still hiking, camping and kayaking - enjoyably so. Am going out on a maintenance trip this weekend.

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