Category Archives: Travel

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.

My hiking year – 2017

What did I do this year? It’s not a bad idea to look back and see what I accomplished in my hiking life. If my goal in life is to encourage boomers and seniors to get out there, it’s good to see what I did to further this goal.

The Great Smoky Mountains Association took over my book, Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South. Later in the year, Steve Kemp, publisher of GSMA publications, retired.

I saw the eclipse on top of Clingmans Dome, literally a once in a lifetime event.

I kept writing to my congressional representatives about the importance of public lands. When I moved from North Asheville to West Asheville, my Congressman changed to Mark Meadows in the 11th Congressional District. I haven’t written to him yet, but will soon.

A lot of good all these letters and cards did! Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke promised to shrink the National Park Service. Zinke also looks at his accomplishments.

You can find this card here. Download it, print it out, and mail it to your representatives with a personal message.

Major Trips

Ocala National Forest in Florida

Saguaro National Park on either side of Tucson, Arizona

Walking the Camino del Norte and to Finnisterre.

Danny, Hannah, Charlie, Mina and Shaw on Mt. Fuji

Hannah and I visited Japan and climbed Mt. Fuji.

Family Nature Summits, of course, this past year at Lake Tahoe, California.  Next year, Family Summits will be heading to Western Maine. Hannah, Isa and I are all signed up.

Highlights of day hikes

Greenways of Buncombe County. Encouraged by Marcia B., I learned about our local greenways and joined Connect Buncombe.

Asheville Camino, a 16-mile hike around Asheville. The Western North Carolina chapter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino has made its mark with meetings, tertulias (get-togethers) and hikes.

 

Hall Cabin in Bone Valley

Bone Valley in the Smokies with Friends of the Smokies

MST in a Day. I led outdoor celebrities on a hike as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Chimney Tops Trail. I was curious about the condition of Chimney Tops Trail after the horrendous fires of 2016.

Books Worth your Time

Illustrated Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park by Dan Pierce

Cemeteries of the Smokies by Gail Palmer

On other fronts, I took a Wilderness First Aid Course, wrote a few articles, led Friends of the Smokies and Carolina Mountain Club hikes – my day job.

Next, time to put down my goals for 2018.

When your Airbnb goes wrong!

What happens when something goes wrong with Airbnb? More specifically, what do you do when your host isn’t there or maybe doesn’t exist? I’ve been using Airbnb for years and have always been pleased with my lodging.

In my last post, I hinted that something negative did happen when I visited Folly Beach. I think it’s worth writing about.

I booked an Airbnb room in Folly Beach, South Carolina – two blocks from the beach and two blocks from the town center. The description of the property went on and on. It sounded great.

Coastal South Carolina

I got in touch with the owner, Beth, via the Airbnb email system – you never seem to get the host’s email, but you do get their telephone number.

“There’s a keypad at the front door and we send out the code on the day you arrive.”

That sounded reasonable, but the code never arrived. I called her number and I got a Verizon message which said that the number was not in service. That should have gotten me worried, but by then, I was well on my way to Folly Beach.

I arrived in town and started looking for the property. No number 55. I walked up and down the street and asked anyone I could corral if they knew where the house could be. No one did but my GPS stopped at a large house with a keypad.

At 4 pm, when she said I could check in, there was no one there. I called Airbnb. To their credit, someone answered within a few minutes.

“I will try to reach out to Beth,” Solomon, the Airbnb employee said.”

“Good luck with that.” We exchanged the phone number we had for her. It was the same nonworking number.

“We give the host an hour. Someone will call you within an hour. No one did.

By then, it was almost 6 pm and I was standing in front of an empty house by myself, with just a phone – and my car. No matter how technologically astute you are, in this situation, all you have is a phone and cell servive.

I noticed a conventional Bed &Breakfast two doors down and walked over. I made a reservation for three times the price but it was there.

I called Airbnb again. Now another employee said two hours. They sent me a list of other properties via email. Did they really expect me to try to make a booking from my phone on the street for tonight? What host was going to answer immediately?

“Please just make a reservation in the area and I’ll be there.”
“We can’t do that,” he said.

After two hours, Ruby, a supervisor, called. I told her about the real B&B I had booked. She said that she was refunding my money and 50% of the difference between what I would have paid for an Airbnb and the price of the more expensive inn.

The credit for my stay was applied to my credit card right away.

For the 50%, I had to wait until I got a bill from the Inn. I sent a copy right away to Airbnb.
I have to fill out a payout method, as if I was a host. They won’t just refund it to my credit card, so I gave them my checking account details. You could also use PayPal, but I wasn’t in the hosting business.

A few days later, I received an email that my host had canceled my reservation. No reason, of course. But I did get my 50% difference from Airbnb.

Conclusion
Airbnb hosts are independent operators. They don’t have a staff like a hotel or conventional B&B. If something happens to them – whatever – they just don’t show up.
I was lucky that an inn was just up the street and that they had a room.

I was impressed with Airbnb’s quick response. The moral of the story is that I must be prepared to act as soon as I see that there’s a problem with the host.