More than a Hike Report

Yesterday I went on the regularly scheduled Carolina Mountain Club half-day hike to Pink Beds in Pisgah National Forest.

Bobbie Powers, an experienced leader, led 21 of us on a five-mile loop on a popular trail. As expected, she had scouted the hike and noted any blow-downs or impediment on the trail.

The trail was perfect. A few years ago, CMC had built a bridge across a beaver pond, something that the Forest Service hadn’t been able to do for years.

Last year, a group of Amish, Mennonite and other Anabaptist groups from Ohio and Pennsylvania, who are part of the Christian Aid Ministries, spent a month doing volunteeer work to build another boardwalk on the Pisgah Loop Trail itself. Here, we can see the new boardwalk and the old one.

Even with all the socializing, we spotted one bunch of lady slippers.

Numerous patches of  painted trilliums and a few little brown jugs also lined the trail.

It was Mother’s Day and lots of families with their dogs crossed our paths.

Nobody studies us.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our hiking hero, Carroll Koepplinger -84 year old, who led us on the Old Settlers Trail, 17.1 miles. We are the ones who come out week after week to hike our beloved public trails. Some never hike anyplace else but in Western North Carolina: the Smokies, Pisgah, Dupont State Forest …

WIth all the studies about obesity and the problems it brings on, no one has thought about looking at a group of 50 year-old plus who hike with hiking clubs.

Most of us haven’t climbed Kilimanjero or Mount Everest.  A few have hiked the whole Appalachian Trail and some are working on it in sections. We’re the plodders, hikers who walk on steadily day after day, week after week. Maybe we’re like the tortoise or like a postage stamp.

Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.

Not exciting enough? Too much like stamp collecting? To push the analogy. I don’t think so.

To most people, it’s just hiking. But to be able to hike regularly, you must make fitness a priority. Less than half of people 18 year old and over get the recommended level amount of exercise–and those recommendations are quite low.

Instead the media concentrates on a few superstar athletes and the rest of the population pays good money to sit and watch them kick a ball around.  Apparently medical researchers think the same way. If they wanted to study older, habitual hikers, they might have to get on the trail themselves. Maybe that’s the impediment.

I’m not waiting for anyone to pay attention. Tomorrow, I’m leading a hike to Ramsey Cascades in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There won’t be anyone doing research there either. After all, we’re just hiking.

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