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Hiking at My Age

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The author is a homemaker and retired medical transcriptionist. She holds a Masters degree in English and loves to write.

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Author's photo

I have never had the boundless energy other people seem to have, needed to reach the top of a mountain. I suppose that is because I have never been fit enough to meet the challenge. Having said that, I do have barely enough energy to reach the top of a mountain, and over the years have hiked and made it to the summit of numerous mountains in Acadia National Park, probably 70% of them in total, and can honestly say I enjoyed all of those outings because I love nature and being outside. Also, hiking mountains is a great way to socialize and have fun with my family.

The above picture was taken on top of Champlain Mountain. The trail that takes you up Champlain is called Beachcroft Path, and it's my favorite hike; but, Cadillac Mountain is the highest mountain I’ve ever climbed. I hiked Cadillac South Ridge Trail, which is a long, straight, and steady climb with beautiful views. The humidity on that day was at an all-time high. The sun was sweltering. It didn't take long before my entire body was covered in sweat and my clothes were saturated.

Nevertheless, I continued slowly up the mountain, taking frequent rests, and over time reached the upper echelons of the mountain. It was frustrating, however, because every time I thought I had made it to the very top, another long span of rock face materialized to be dealt with. I had the impression that the mountain was laughing at me. Straggling quite a distance behind my husband, utterly exhausted, I loudly yelled out to him from below, “I can’t take this anymore! My underpants are all wet and sticking to my butt!” I then slumped down to take a break. As soon as I sat down, a cute young man in his 30s wearing a T-shirt and cargo shorts sneaked up behind me and passed me with a humorous smile on his face. He heard everything I had said and I felt embarrassed. I had assumed my husband and I were alone, but we weren’t, and the young man caught me off guard in my “I don’t care anymore” state. But, heat and exhaustion actually do lower your inhibitions, and so I figure that’s life.

I did complete the Cadillac challenge that day with considerable difficulty, but once I reached the summit I didn't have the strength to walk back down. My husband got the car and picked me up at the top.

Author's photo

Author's photo

For several years, now that I'm in my 60s and nearing 70, I've been using an old ski pole as a walking stick, which transforms me into a more stable three-legged creature instead of a two-legged creature. It's helped me tremendously while climbing mountains, and I've come to rely on it, but I continue to deal with a number of issues.

First and foremost, my legs are short. It's difficult for me to climb large rocks. This has always been a dilemma and is nothing new. Second, as I become older, I'm less steady and lose my balance more often. Loose rocks and uneven footing exacerbate the problem. Also, even though I try to remember to pick up my feet every time I take a step while going down a mountain, I frequently clip the edge of my heel on the rock or step I'm leaving. This happened to me once on Kebo Mountain, and I took a nasty rolling spill down a slippery cascade of rocks. Now when I go down a steep, rocky incline I literally turn around and crawl down backward. Third, my legs are simply not as strong as they once were, and I'm afraid that if and when I do lose my balance, I won't be able to catch myself. I'm more guarded as a result of my fear, which in turn causes me to stumble more.

For these reasons, much to my husband’s chagrin, I limit myself to climbing only one to three easy to moderate mountains a summer, which means my husband almost always climbs alone. I much prefer hiking the carriage roads and we still do that together.

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Author's photo

A Walk in the Park

A Walk in the Park by Thomas St. Germain is the all-time greatest trail guide for picking your trek at Acadia National Park. It categorizes all of the hikes as easy, moderate, strenuous, or extremely strenuous. There are little line graphs that illustrate how your course will unfold elevation-wise. The graphs show, for example, that the path up Kebo Mountain is quite steep right at the beginning. Once you've conquered this section of the mountain, the remainder of the climb is a piece of cake.

South Ridge Trail up Cadillac is different. Despite its high elevation and long-distance, the mountain gradually ascends from bottom to top, making it an arduous trek but with no surprises. Although Acadia Mountain has a lesser elevation and is considered easy, it does have a few short rocky vertical sections you will need to scramble over. The book is fun to read and to mull over after you have taken your hike, as a way of reliving the mountain and all the other hikes you have taken.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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