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Trail Geezers

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Geezer Tom, whatever happened to llama packing? I remember seeing articles about it as the “next big thing” decades ago, but pffft, nothing real. I’m ready for it!

I think I’m still mentally tough, but that may be the only part of me that is! Hubby and I backpacked the “O Circuit” (10 days) in Chilean Patagonia last year, and it was much harder than I anticipated. Is it a good sign when people cheer and applaud you as you make it into camp at dusk? On the other hand, we were 20+ years older than any other trekkers (age 60 and 64).

This year our big hike is the West Highland Way in Scotland, but, with more discretion and less valor, we will just hike with daypacks and stay in BnBs rather than backpack and camp. On the Other other hand, we still think we can backpack the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island this fall. It’s a famously challenging trail, although only about 75 km 46.6 mi) long. 
We hope to keep our trail legs a little longer. I think the secrets, if any, are: First, fitness. We do weight-training, yoga, and frequent day hikes. Second, technology. The lightest gear and food we can find. Still, we are slower than we used to be (and we were never speedy). Long days are OK if you pace yourself. Slow and steady!

This was a long message, but I love this topic. Thanks for starting it!

Cheers, Rockie

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Llamas are still in my future. There are a few people around that rent llamas. Some of them throw in lessons in handling, feeding and general care. An alternative to that is the goat packing groups...although I'm not sold on trail goats. This is probably because of my ignorance along those lines.

My real point is to tell you how jealous I am of your past trips. And your future adventure. I've been watching a Scottsman on YouTube. I believe that he does a lot of bad weather trips into the Highlands. That begs the question: what is good weather in Scotland?

Good luck with your trip and I would enjoy seeing some photos.

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On 1/10/2020 at 1:51 PM, Geezer Tom said:

When I started backpacking I could carry anything, and usually did. My packs were made of canvas and were filled with weight. My equipment and I have come along way. I have enough stories and memories to qualify me as a Geezer. Most of my trips throughout the years have been solo.

Now I  am a couple of years away from my seventies. I am wondering how long I can keep going. My pace is much slower, my tent has more cushion and I tend to carry warmer clothes. I still enjoy the world from a trail view. The fishing is better than ever.

Where am I going with this thread? I would like to hear from other "aging" backpackers and any adjustments they have made and future plans. I am looking at some day having to rent LLamas and maybe have someone horseback me into an area and pick me up after a couple of weeks.


Above: me on the left, brother on the right in 1969 at the Mosquito Flats trailhead. External frame packs with our coats draped over the packs. Boots and bluejeans?


Brooke and me on the Manzana River during the drought. I do some packing in this area during the winter to try and stay in shape for summer/fall fishing trips.

My first pack frames were military surplus, provided by my scout troop, made of sheets of plywood bent a bit at the edges, with a piece of canvas laced across to rest against your back.  We laid an army surplus "shelter half" over the plywood, piled all our stuff in the canvas, folded up the edges and lashed it all to the plywood.  Crude but effective.

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I have a lot of what I refer to as "City Miles" built up on my body; a few injuries that I have had to work around, added to the general aches and pains associated with getting older.  The main thing that has helped me out is high quality insoles for my boots.  This, along with adjusting expectations as far as weight and daily distances has gone a long way towards keeping things pleasant for me and not making my trips an endurance test.

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  • 11 months later...

Hi All,

A great topic.  I started in 1960 with military surplus and my Dad's Trapper Nelson, kapok sb, cast iron fry pan, 2 pound can of ravioli and a tube tent.   I grew up hiking in the Appalachian Mtns near Skyline Drive in Virginia.  

Br 1972 I moved West and started hiking the Sierra and the Cascades, then later the Rockies and Alaska. 

I have mostly done only short backpacking trips 5 days and under.  For longer trips I have relied on canoes, rafts, driftboats and horses and mules.  Llamas are a great idea and easy to handle.  So are burros and donkeys but they are rarely seen for rent these days. 

After some heart issues, and I am hiking several days a week and doing much better.  I thought my backpacking career was about to end at age 70.   I plan to stay on the volcanic plateaus that are not too high say under 7,000 feet. 

I couple of years ago I did a trip with some friends in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada.  I was the second youngest person.  Several were in their mid 70s but all were runners or former bike racers.  They brought dry ice with external frame packs.  We had steak and lobster at 9,800 feet. 

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