Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Spring hikes for older legs

spring hike

For decades editors have told me not to use the word “elderly,” because it is both subjective and derogatory, an edict that I have afforded the same bland indifference with which I semi-acknowledge a dental hygienist who has just pressured me to floss.

But at a public hearing over a Ticonderoga public works project this week, a young woman was decrying new curbing that had facilitated the formation of ice and  caused her to fall. She was OK because she was young, she said, but — and here she pointed to her neighbor, not much older than me — “this elderly gentleman” might not be as lucky.

He gave her a look, but didn’t say anything. I got to admit, though, that kind of stung. Still, the Adirondacks is filled with little hikes suitable for us elderly folk.

I used to think some of these short but interesting jaunts like Essex Quarry or Cathedral Pines as beneath my dignity, but now that I’m elderly I revel in these, and other perks of the infirm.

The lightbulb went off some years ago when I was helping a friend of a friend move to a new home. As I started to pick up one end of a sofa, a twenty-something quickly stepped in and said, “Let me get this for you, sir.”

Ding ding ding. This was something I could use to my advantage, and more noble than faking a bad back.

Even if you are a whippersnapper, mud season is a good time of year to stretch your legs on something easy and sustainable. The Nature Conservancy’s 120-acre Boquet Valley Preserve in Willsboro is a nice choice for a stroll, or to check out conditions on the Boquet River in anticipation of the coming salmon season.

Last Friday, we took the dogs and started off on Tim’s Trail, a hardened, 1.2 mile pathway named in honor of conservationist Tim Barnett, that’s accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. From there we dropped down on a footpath (take care not to follow the snowmobile trail instead) down to the Boquet.

The river was high but not flooded, and a small ice jam was beginning to break up in the late winter sun. In a few more weeks the salmon will be running, and you’ll likely to see all manner of people who have called in sick as word of the run travels through the Adirondack Telegraph made up of people hanging out at post offices, highway sheds and Stewart’s.

On this day the banks were empty of people, but populated with waterfowl that observed our passage without showing much interest. After walking upstream a little less than a mile, we — rather than walking through town back to the starting point — bushwhacked up a precipitous incline that put us on a piney plateau above the river.

It felt good to be outside, and we were able to cover most of the trails in not much more than an hour. Which is important for us elderly because it leaves plenty of time for a nap.

Photo by Tim Rowland

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Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth are residents of Jay, N.Y.

12 Responses

  1. Bob Craft says:

    Love your columns. My wife Jamie and I fell in love with CATS trails two summers ago and–with no children or grandchildren visiting because of Covid–felt like we were on a second honeymoon. I don’t regard myself as elderly (although I am 82), but we have enjoyed Tim’s Trail (I knew Tim as a camper at Camp Dudley), the Art Barn Trail, the Riverview Trail, the Ancient Oak Trail, Noblewood (on a day when we were the only people on the beach because the Lake was kicking up five foot waves) and a number of others. And unlike the High Peaks–virtually empty. What a treasure. Keep up the great writing.

  2. Zephyr says:

    Ha! Now being in the same category I am lucky that I have always been hiking many out of the way, “shorter but interesting jaunts,” since my parents started taking me as soon as I could walk. Last summer my wife and I went on a wonderful hike, within 30 miles of home, in a low part of the Adirondacks in a State Forest, and spent most of a day alone in the woods. I think we ran into one other person in many hours, including a lovely lunch next to a roaring brook that looked very inviting on a hot day. And, this was a perfect summer day when I know any trailhead in the High Peaks would have been jammed, if I could have found a place to park. I ran into Tim Barnett himself more than once at these types of trails in places where he could still navigate in his wheelchair. He was always smiling and wanting to chat.

  3. Steve Stofelano kr says:

    You’re too funny but these were
    Useful tips the fragile!

  4. LeRoy Hogan says:

    Thank you for the article Mister Tim, will share on my facebook page.

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Cathedral Pines. Just off on the north side of the road. Just a few trees but worth visiting. To think that this whole state was covered with old growth white pines at one time!

  6. Todd Miller says:

    Hiking in the AdKs and reading your light-hearted columns soothe the soul. Thanks.

  7. SJ Newell says:

    I would love to see more pieces like this! “Enjoying the Adirondacks at 65+”, or some such focus, which takes into consideration benefits of hiking poles, how to get in and out of a kayak, AND good, easy hikes!
    Thanks for this glimpse.

  8. Rose Anne says:

    I second SJ Newell’s suggestions! Shorter hikes to take with the grandkids – or not. Places to kayak with easy access. Please, Melissa!

  9. Adela beckerman says:

    Are there group hikes for “seniors”? How can I find about them?