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Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

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Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby Tom_H » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:24 am

My darling wife and I are closing in on 60. Fortunately, mother nature has been kind to me; my body still is strong. I can't carry 110 lb. the way I once did, but I can still do 70. The joints have held up well too.

My sweet bride of 31 years has been facing the toll of age during the past two years. In Jan. of '11, during day 10 of Shingles in the right knee she slipped, breaking the right femur just behind the knee cap and tearing 6 tendons and ligaments that couldn't be repaired. In June of the same year, the principal at her school made her change classrooms and left it to her to move everything herself, on her own unpaid time of course. In pulling and pushing stuff, she tore the meniscus on the inner side of the left knee. Workers' Comp paid for the surgery in Dec. of the same year. With physical therapy, the knee seemed to heal fairly well. In the late spring, she was able to do day hikes in the foothills. We did a 1 nighter in Desolation in July (with me carrying all the gear for both of us), then day hikes at Pt. Reyes and Angel Island in the fall. Her left knee began to swell more and more. The doctors say it was a combination of phlebitis, inflamed veins and nerves both, and inflammation in the knee. The Orthopedist says the meniscus is not level from one side to the other, does not need more surgery for the time being, but will eventually need a knee replacement. He is giving her a series of cortical steroid injections that are bringing the swelling down. He says he does want her to continue exercising and that she should swim and do gentle cycling. My wife loves, however, to walk, especially to hike. He says that after she builds back her strength, she may hike again, but needs to hike on soft trails, avoiding rock surface and Sierra trails where the boots impact rocks on the trail. She also must carry no weight, needs to avoid uphill, and most especially, avoid downhill.

Well, that leaves out about 99% of the beautiful trails we are used to. I suppose we will have to look a lot more at the Coast Ranges. In the Sierra, I can think of one place that would meet the criteria, the West Walker River from Leavitt Meadow to the confluence with Kirkwood Creek. The valley floor is mostly soil from sediment that has washed in and there is not much elevation change. Fortunately, I have no problem carrying everything for the both of us and am thrilled to do so if it means she can hike/backpack with me.

I have quite a few trail guides, but there is a lot to sort through. I know we will find these short little jaunts in parks and stuff, but we want to still really get out into nature, into real wilderness. I would deeply appreciate suggestions for places you can think of that we might be able to day hike or backpack that also meet the doctor's guidelines: soft trail, very little elevation change (and none of it steep), but that are still some genuine wilderness. Thank you so much for your help!



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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby jessegooddog » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:45 am

There is a stream side trail off the Tioga Pass, east of Saddlebag (a few miles?) that used to have a now closed road to a campground (still open) that is less than 1/2 mile in. The trail continues maybe a mile (?) in before climbing to a hidden lake. There is no sign at the entry but it is across from a large pull out - anyone have better directions or recall? Its quite a lovely wildflower filled trail, and about as flat as one can be. I have had it to myself on a summer afternoon.

EDIT - This is the trailhead to Mt Warren, there is an "Elevation 9000" sign a stone's throw away. Short, but often secluded, and certainly an enjoyable half day hike.
Last edited by jessegooddog on Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby SSSdave » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:37 am

Take the ferry across Saddlebag Lake. Lots of short easy destinations to no name ponds with cross country trivial.

Also up Rock Creek out of Mosquito Flat to first lakes of Little Lakes Valley.
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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby oldranger » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:41 am

Lyle Canyon!

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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby papasequoia » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:12 pm

Ditto Lyle Canyon - it's the first one that popped into my head while reading your post. TH is in Tuolumne Meadows and you can hike along the Lyle Fork for as far (or not) as you want. You do have to get a certain distance away from Tuolumne (1 or 2 miles, I believe?) but it is fairly level hiking with nice scenery. It's one of the first places I went when we first started backpacking with our kids. Good luck! Jon
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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby balzaccom » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:17 pm

You could also try the trail out of Clark Fork in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness off Highway 108. For the first 2-3 miles it certainly meets most of your criteria. So does Preston Falls, below Hetch-Hetchy.

LAdybug trail in Sequoia? We haven't done that one, but it seems right.

And, of course, the other thing to do is cut down on weight all the way around. You should be be to do an overnight hike with a pack that is about 30 lbs or so for the both of you...
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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:41 pm

I have (with some exceptions) considered the Yosemite and the Emigrant country as something to be saved for my "old age". As I ran out of new destinations elsewhere, I have been knocking off trails in that area as well. There are hard hikes in that area, but the easier hikes outnumber them.
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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby dave54 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:48 am

Are you committed to only hiking?

Mountain biking (bikepacking) and paddling offer backcountry bag nights with less stress on the knees.
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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby richlong8 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:26 am

Little Lakes Valley, already mentioned, is a good candidate, I think. The Ladybug trail has a little slope to it, but not that bad. Low elevation trail, good 3 season access, pretty river. Snakes are present when hot. Unfortunately, if you want to go higher on the Ladybug trail , to the Sequoias, it has some elevation gain involved. Kennedy Meadows, bordering the South Sierra Wilderness, is nice and flat, but is not near as scenic as some of the others mentioned.
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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby balzaccom » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:39 am

You might check out this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Creaky-Knees-Guid ... 1570617414

About 80 hikes in NorCal that meet your criteria!
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Re: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:23 pm

Wow, my sympathy to your wife for a really rough year. As for suggestions for easy hikes that are scenic and nice I second SSS Dave's suggestions of Saddlebag and Little Lakes Valley. Those two are always tops on my list. I also agree that Leavitt Meadow based hikes are easy. A few others:
Virginia Lakes area (out of Bridgeport). very short hikes from trailhead get you to some nice spots. A bit like Saddlebag country but not as popular.
Mokelumne Wilderness: Kinney Lake from Ebbetts Pass. Granite Lake and vicinity from Blue Lakes, Winnemucca and Round Top Lakes.
I-80 country: Grouse Ridge area (Island Lake and vicinity, Lindsay L. and vicinity)'
Lakes Basin and vicinity: Long Lake (big shoreline and can find a spot to yourself)
Tamarack Lakes (can 4-wheel there)
Jamieson Creek drainage.
Buck Lakes Wilderness: Gold Lake

Although my wife and I have done our share of "death marches" we've done a full spectrum of trips and we enjoy "motel camping", too, with little dayhikes while staying in places such as Bishop, Lee Vining, South Lake Tahoe, and Quincy. The destinations above can be done as easy backpacks, as part of car camping, or as part of "motel camping" hiking trips.
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: Needed: Gentler Trails for Those Growing Old

Postby sparky » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:22 pm

@ Roads End in Kings Canyon is another obvious choice....some rocks and roots to deal with.

Might be too soft, but hiking desert washes you would have endless choices. Of course you dont want to do that 4 months out of the year, but
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