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Coming back to HST & scared

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Coming back to HST & scared

Postby mokelumnekid » Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:41 am

(Moderators, move this to Campfire if more appropriate thx).

I used to be active on HST, but a few years ago we stopped going to the Sierra because of the droughts, fires, etc. BITD we were pretty strong for seniors, say doing Ramona or Merriam Lk. in the first day from North Lake; I never worried too much about going lite, etc. In the meantime I pursued white water kayaking running all the forks of the Salmon, the Grand Canyon, rivers in OR and WA (where I live). We sea kayaked in the spectacular Haida Gwaii (look it up) and the Broken Islands, but that doesn't take a lot of fitness. Only one short backpack in the Sawtooths that kicked my behind....a growing theme...and we just returned from a trip to Daisetsuzan Nat'l. Park on Hokkaido, where even 6 year old kids and 99 year old Japanese men passed me by day hiking as I wheezed, hacked and stumbled my way along.

Point of all this is that in a couple of weeks I'll be trying to get a walk-up permit for some trailhead out of Bishop (determined by availability) and I'm scared of finding out just how now, things I used to take for granted are out of reach. I'm out of shape, with the body of a 20 year old with 44 years of experience (do the math), old heavy gear and bad hamstrings. Amazing how fast things can go 'south.' So what are reasonable goals? Crawl over Piute Pass, collapse at Packsaddle Lk. and let the skeeters have me? Or over Pine Ck. and attempt to find shade in Granite Park? :crybaby:

But on a more serious note, it breaks my heart a little to reflect on how there are places I always dreamed of exploring in more depth may now be simply out of reach, like Lake Basin (been there twice and could spend a month there), or say, West Pinnacles Creek (passed through there twice) or many other unnamed places...

So anyway it is good to be back at HST and see so many familiar faces.



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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:28 am

First let me say welcome back MK! :)
With a couple of weeks before your trip you can still increase you fitness levels, go hiking with a small pack, do some cycling, and hit the gym concentrating on your core, hams/quads, and stretching (Yoga). Get some up to date gear, reduce your pack weight by getting a light tarptent, backpack, and sleeping bag. I can help you with some this if you interested: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=11017
All the places you mentioned are well within you reach, it just may take you a little longer to get there, at least till you get yourself back into shape, but don't start out by placing limitations on your abilities MK.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby Jimr » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:53 am

Hey MK, welcome back! As Mav said, work on bringing the fitness level up, but first, off the old school stuff. I did that a few years ago. I dropped my pack weight from 60lbs to roughly 35lbs fully loaded for a week. I bring most of the same equipment, but it is all lighter. I never believed I could throw my pack on my back with one hand.

After a 13 year hiatus, I got back into backpacking with my old gear. I felt the same way you do. I wondered if I was getting too old for this stuff, but pushed on. In a couple of years, I was doing the same stuff I was doing in my 20's, just a bit slower and still with 60lbs. These days, I feel free out there with only 35lbs on my back. Number one, though, is to not allow your head to go before your abilities. Don't limit yourself before you even start.
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby SSSdave » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:58 am

Hi mk,

Welcome back. WA is a good place to be.

Can relate to your concern since am also at official SS age. We all vary in a list of ways physically so cannot generalize in age decline specifics. As we age beyond 40 years capabilities will decrease and that will accelerate after age 50. At age 60 many people look old with grey hair, wrinkled skin, and old lumpy body form, and move about like "old men". Others like this person may age much more slowly probably due to genetics (ie long telomeres) and life style. Generally unlike an adults first couple decades, as one gets older if one does not use it, one may permanently lose it. In other words when older parts of the body are not used for lengths of time, they may degenerate in ways that cannot ever be the returned to a more youthful form and performance level regardless of how much one tries. Additionally at the other extreme, if overused, an older body can be permanently damaged and never quite recover thus we older folk need to be wise about the level of stress applied.

Since you continue to be physically active, that is a huge plus. I think it is key for older people to walk and hike a lot including up and down elevations because that engages the full body. It is what our pre-historic hunter gatherer older human ancestors had to do lest they be left behind. For them the need for food and shelter was constant requiring both young and old to regularly be active lest they parish. Thus I suspect hiking and backpacking in hilly and mountainous terrain is one of the best lifestyle ways to hold back the aging clock. To prepare for your Bishop area backpack, you might exercise by carrying up and down stairs, a backpack weighted with water bottles to your expected carrying weight. If your home doesn't have stairs, one place that usually will are high school athletic field bleachers. A Maverick noted reducing carrying weight can help a lot as each 5 pounds beyond a certain moderate level has much greater affect than 5 pounds below such levels. The best way to start is to replace the older classic 5+ pound tents and bulky older backpacks.

For this person, the way I have been approaching my summer backpacking season the last couple decades is to have a short modest weekend backpack warmup a few weeks before a longer week long more strenuous backpack. Another issue those of all ages face going into the High Sierra is a body takes a few days to oxygen acclimatize to altitude. It just takes a similar few days down at urban sea level elevations for the body to change back. Thus during ski season, I may get say 3 days skiing in up at Tahoe where by the third day have better respiration by the last day only to have lost most of the change when I return the following weekend. I just returned from 9 days in the Silver Divide carrying a bit less than 60 pounds and my first day on the trail was unexpectedly difficult due to oxygen deficits. Each time I came to a steeper uphill section and climbed up, I would need to stop frequently for 30 seconds every 20 to 50 feet vertical or so before continuing. Learn to love every waist high rock and log. Later by mid trip did not have that issue.

In general what works for me is when moving uphill, regularly stopping for short 30 to 120 second breaks even when one does not need to and taking a 5 to 10 minute break every mile or so again even if one does not feel a need to do so. I also don't hike as far nor as much vertical as when age 30 before calling it a day. That is the overuse, over stress issue one ought plan to avoid by being content to taking what is a strenuous challenge more easily.
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby Alpinista55 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:04 am

Hey MK,

Fear Not! You CAN do this. I can relate, though. I am 68, and have been traveling the backcountry all my life. I did a lot of expeditionary mountaineering as a younger man, and often carried loads in the 80 - 90 pound range, while working as a construction laborer. My knees are a mess, my lower back hurts all the time and this year I seem to have added arthritic shoulder pain to my list of maladies. I try to get as much exercise as I can squeeze in (biking to work, sailing my boat, etc., but am an off-the-couch hiker and do at least one 8 - 10 day backcountry trip each summer. Here are my strategies:

* Reduce the pack weight! As I get older I have fully embraced the ultralight movement. My big three (pack, shelter and sleep system) is 6.7 pounds. I use a pyramid tarp, a backpacking quilt and a lightweight pack from ULA. I weigh every item carried or worn, and keep a spreadsheet that helps me evaluate every item and further trim the non-essentials. Leave the camp chairs, water-crossing sandals, and other nice-to-haves at home. Given a lighter load in your pack, wear trail runners instead of boots. One pound of weight on your feet equals five pound on your back.

* Limit the daily miles. Last year I did an 80-mile version of the Evolution Loop, and did have a couple of 10-mile days, but generally I try to hike around 5 - 7 miles each day. This year we'll be going into the Gardiner Basin, entering from the east over Kearsarge Pass. About 70% of the route is off-trail. Biggest mileage will be about seven miles. On days that we are off-trail, doing major rock-hopping or big elevation gain/loss, I cut back the mileage to 3 - 4.

* Leave camp early, and take lots of breaks. Give yourself time to do the miles at a reasonable pace.

* Always use trekking poles. Stability for the older hiker, and a 30% reduction of impact on the knees on descents.

* Plan at least one zero day mid trip to recuperate. Or better yet, hike in to a nice base camp and day-hike. I've also used packers to make the base-camp/day hike even lower stress. A few years ago we hired horse packers to pack into the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range and set up a basecamp for a two-week stay. We hiked our butts off and climbed in the cirque for 14 glorious days, then the packers came back in and took our camp out while we hiked out over the continental divide with light packs.

Taking these steps has kept me on the trail so far, and I hope to be able to get out there well into my 70's. I won't lie, hiking up over Kearsarge Pass will assuredly kick my butt, and I will be tired and hurting at the end of each day. But the pay-off, eight days and nights in the high country, will be worth the pain.
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby rayfound » Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:05 pm

You'll be amazed what lightening your pack will do. I'm still youngish, but not good about working out and staying in shape... I find that a 24-28lb pack is really quite nice most of the time(compared to 36-42 of years past), and makes up for a lot of the excess weight I carry subcutaneously.

Each of us will have a different threshold, but there's a point where it just doesn't seem like a lot of weight and is more like dayhiking.
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby sekihiker » Mon Jul 25, 2016 2:51 pm

Welcome back.

1. Take it easy.
2. Ditch some gear.
3. Run (jog) a mile or more a day. The running hurts at first but it really helps when you finally get on the trail.

I'm still hiking at age 71 and I don't expect to get anywhere as fast as I used to.
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby mokelumnekid » Mon Jul 25, 2016 7:53 pm

Wow everybody, thank you so much for the kind and generous support. You have no idea how much your encouragement has put me in a positive frame of mine. Following Mav's and everybody else's advice here is what I have done:

1) Obtained a high quality kitchen scale good to 5 kg

2) Got a Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 pack (my old Gregory Whitney has lots of miles left on it but weighs like 6 lbs!!)

3) Got a new pad that is half the weight of my old one

4) Got new tent (for two of us) that is half the weight of the old one

5) Pulled out half the bristles on my toothbrush, pulled the excess cotton off the Q-tips and erased every other topo line on the map. :D

6) My wife insisted that I still bring enough tequila for nightly happy hour...but when I put all that together, I was like only at a bit over 23 pounds.

FREAKIN' AMAZING!

Next year will get a quilt-style sleeping bag and knock another pound off of that. Oh, I didn't make any changes to the kitchen set, even though that is legacy. After weighing it out and pricing the titanium stuff it didn't seem like that small change was worth it.

I have gone from sad to excited....now just praying that the skeeters don't eat me alive.

Again, thanks for everyone's heart-felt support \:D/
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby juscro » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:49 pm

That feeling of not being able to freely walk in the mountains and enjoy it I can relate to. I had a dual DeNovo cartilage replacement and microfracture surgery on my knee about a year ago. Focus on some training (bike, elliptical, swimming) which is what I did. I can't offer more practical suggestions than what has already been offered by the responses. Aside from lowering the pack/tent/sleeping bag weight I've found that the hiking poles are a huge help. I bring Maker's Mark with some mint leaves (travel well) and sugar for some mint juleps...
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:54 pm

MK,

Now I realize I am younger, but you are far too old to concede. I think as we age we have to be a bit more dedicated to out-of-mountain conditioning to maintain a hiking performance level we're happy with. On the other hand, I think one of the biggest differences many of us mountain folks have is that we just don't get up to the mountains as much as we once did, so we're not in as good hiking shape when we do, because nothing trains us for the mountains as well as being up there.

In the days when Judy and I were doing all these crazy trips, such as the Dumbbells trip that had you and your wife cursing our name, we would do a "tiered" approach beginning with an easy overnighter, ramping up to a moderately difficult 3-day trip, then doing a 4-5 day "2nd best" trip before the signature 7-9 day death march. I don't mean to be in denial about the undefeated Father Time (Judy and I were 32 and 34 respectively when we did that trip), but I'm pretty sure that most of us, so as long as we're not nursing leg injuries, would be hiking pretty strongly up there if we got out that frequently.

I think the weight saving tips that other have given are valuable, and I think the training is important too. In addition to the cardio and hiking stuff, I think we all need strength training to help us with our knees, hips, core, and other parts as we age. That sort of thing is particularly important to those of us to still insist on off trail backpacking. With my long history of knee problems I figure I wouldn't be able to hike or do field work at all were it not for my weight training.

Anyhow, my guess is that if you got into serious training again, and simply got into the mountains more, you'd recover a lot of mountain goat ability of your past. As for your coming trip, I think you'll be just fine, but it probably wouldn't be good to think of doing W. Pinnacles Creek on day 1. You'll still be able to get to great territory without huge single days.

As far as the skeeters go, you never know. I just got back from an area that is usually home to clouds of mosquitoes this time of year (Tioga Pass area, Gaylor Lakes in particular) and we were hardly bothered, owing to a very consistently brisk breeze. May the weather be correspondingly favorable for you coming out of Bishop Creek.

Your pack weight saving is pretty amazing. Some day I'll actually work on doing that.

Speaking of time, no death march backpack for me in 2016 after that glorious 5 day romp to Spire L-Bear Basin-E& W Pinnacles Creek, Ramona etc. while celebrating my 56th birthday last year. No backpacking for me at all in '16. But next year will be a different matter if I can help it. In the meantime, I keep up my training. I still have to stay fit to do all that nasty low altitude field work too.

Have a grand trip up there as I'm sure you will. You will certainly return for more. You have a lot of High Sierra miles left in you.

GB
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby Jimr » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:51 pm

MK,
Are you still carrying a white gas stove? If so, pack it away and get a propane canister stove.
I picked up one of these pocket rocket knockoffs
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mini-Backpackin ... SwabhUWeSi

And this one for frying fish
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Portable-Mini-B ... SwZQxW4YYL

That alone will knock a few pounds off your cooking gear. Also, as far as Titanium goes, I found TOAKS brand Titanium pots on ebay in various sizes for 1/3 the price of other brands. They work just fine. I also threw away my old plastic poop shovel (can we talk catholes?l) and picked up the" Deuce of Spades". An excellent piece of equipment when duty calls!
http://www.thetentlab.com/Deuce/DeuceofSpadespage.html
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Re: Coming back to HST & scared

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:30 am

Hey MK, good to see you here again. We're both about your age and still manage to hike over 100 miles a summer. You're getting good advice here--early mainly: take it slow and easy. We almost never manage 2mph for a day, and we rarely do more than ten miles.

But we still hike more, and see more, than many of the younger hikers who race by us on the trail from time to time.

Enjoy the journey.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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