All posts by Danny Bernstein

About Danny Bernstein

I'm a hiker, hike leader for the Carolina Mountain Club and Friends of the Smokies and an outdoor writer.

Senior Hiker Magazine – A review

Senior Hiker Magazine

About ten years ago, I volunteered to lead hikes for College for Seniors, now OLLI, at UNC-Asheville. I wanted to introduce the over 50 crowd to hiking in Western North Carolina and not so subtly, encourage them to join Carolina Mountain Club after the course.

I carefully chose six to eight-mile walks with moderate ascent, all the while reminding the students that we were in the mountains. Even downtown Asheville isn’t flat.

A few terms later, after a rocky six-mile walk, a student – a man over fifty, by definition – complained to the director that I had chosen hikes that weren’t appropriate for seniors. I wasn’t asked to lead for College for Seniors again. If you can fire a volunteer, I was fired!

So, it was with curiosity and a little trepidation that I opened the first issue of Senior Hiker, a glossy magazine published by Deer Isle Press, a small publishing house on the coast of Maine.

I need not have worried. Articles range from adventures in the White Mountains to pushing the limits off-trail in the Catskills. Mile for mile, these are difficult hikes, much more challenging than those in the Southern Appalachians.

In my previous life, I spent 35 years in New Jersey hiking with the Appalachian Mountain Club. My husband and I finished the Catskills 3500 (summer and winter) the New Hampshire 4000 footers, and a bunch of other hiking challenges.

The article on how I became a senior hiker spoke to me.

The irony is that even though I was older, I felt in better shape and was better prepared setting out than I had been twenty or thirty years earlier.

I’ve had the pleasure of now reading the first four issues. As the issues progressed, the content expanded from the Northeastern U.S. to the Tetons, Glacier and even Santa Fe. The articles span from coyotes to snakes.

After Sharon McCarthy, my hiking partner on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail across North Carolina, flipped through the magazines, she said,

“I enjoyed the exotic hikes the best. Who knew there was hiking in Cuba?”

The magazine has potential.

Their first issue only had 50 pages, but 82 pages by Issue 4. Beautiful glossy pictures show active seniors with good equipment and well-shod – no one had an external frame packs.Senior Hiker partners only with nonprofit organizations and has no commercial ads.

The editor and graphic artists have also thought about other factors. The font is a little larger than in similar magazines, but most important most of the text is black on white background. No funky color combinations that are unreadable by folks at any age.

After reading four issues, I realized that I had not encountered breathless words like badass, suck, cool, wicked, or … you get the idea.

You can read an article or two online. But the magazine is meant to be read in print and saved. See their website.

Dupont Forest while freezing

It was 6 degrees or 9 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on what web site or app you were looking at when Sharon Mc. and I left my place in Asheville to meet the rest of the Carolina Mountain Club group this morning.

Grassy Creek Falls

Karen L., a new CMC leader, had scheduled an ambitious hike in the Pisgah District up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since the Parkway is closed almost everywhere, the hike would have showed off the icicle formations on the side of the road. But she wisely felt that hiking at the 4,000 ft-5,000 ft altitude wasn’t wise. So she switched the hike to Dupont Recreational State Forest, a wise decision.

Eleven hikers showed up – amazing. We were all comparing the number and type of layers we were wearing. You’re not going to get pictures of my clothing. But here goes:

On top

High Falls
  1. a thin thermal top
  2. a thick thermal top
  3. a light fleece jacket
  4. a down jacket

On the bottom

  1. a thin pair of thermal bottons
  2. a thick pair of thermal bottoms that could be worn by itself
  3. Hiking pants

Two pairs of gloves, a neck warmer and a wool hat. And of course, hiking boots with wool socks. Did I forget anything?

We started at the Lake Imaging parking lot and walked to frozen Lake Imaging. Then up to Grassy Creek Falls. By then, the uphill got me a little warmer and I could start to feel my fingers. Grassy Creek Falls was partially frozen, just like me.

Down, down, down and finally to Lake Dense for lunch – see the photo on top of this post.

All that heat got dissipated when we sat by the lake. Lake Dense was cracking and coming out with the most unusual moans and groans. It sounded like an animal was trapped under the water.

Triple Falls

We worked our way to the highlight of the Forest – first High Falls, then Triple Falls. Both Falls had wonderful ice formation, while still running aggressively.

Other walkers were making their way to the falls. Some got as close to the falls as possible, braving the ice. Others stayed back on dry land.

By the time we got back to our cars, the temperature had climbed to the 30s – a heat wave.

When I got home, I found that I had a bunch of discarded clothes on my bed and floor – fleece and thermal underwear that I had tried on and rejected. My places now looks like a teenager’s bedroom before a big dance.

The day was cold, my fingers were freezing much of the time but I’m so glad I went hiking. Dupont Forest is a gem.

New Year’s Letter to my Congressional Representative

Instead of advertising my outdoor goals on my blog, I think it more appropriate to introduce myself to Mark Meadows, my new Congressional Representative.

Rep. Mark Meadows
North Carolina 11th District
2334 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Meadows:
I just moved to West Asheville from North Asheville, so I’m now in the 11th district – your district.

My parents didn’t take me to national parks when I was young. But I made up for it as an adult, going to parks on vacation, taking our son and now our grandchildren to parks. I don’t own any land. I share our parks, forests, and trails with all Americans; we’re all owners. I have more chance to pass on the battlefields, forts, and trails to my grandchildren than if I had acres of private land, tied up in deeds, trusts, taxes, and lawyers. The Smokies and the Blue Ridge Parkway are mine and I don’t even have to mow the lawn. I own the paths, creeks, waterfalls, and historic structures.

I am very concerned about funding for the National Park Service. In North Carolina, we have nine national park units. Three of them are in your district or very close: Blue Ridge Parkway, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Visitors flock to national parks, yet, the proposed budget for FY18 is only 2.55 billion dollars.

a. This is a 13 percent cut to the Park Service, the largest cut to the agency since World War II, if enacted. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s budget would decrease funding for deferred maintenance, which the Smokies needs desperately.

b. The NPS would have to cut 1,242 in staff, or 6 percent, compared to last year. I am particularly concerned about cutting the number of national park rangers. Volunteers make an important contribution to parks. However, visitors want to see green and gray uniformed rangers who understand the park – its history, legacy and hiking trails.

c. A year into the Trump administration and we don’t yet have a director for the National Park Service.

d. And Secretary wants to raise the admission fees to large national parks.

So, please, Rep. Meadows, fund our national parks properly and work on a real budget.