My longtime primary care physician retired this past April, so I met with a new one, just to say hi. We talked about the thises and thats of health, but I had one specific question. I wondered, how I am doing for my age? These various waning capacities, are they to be expected and accepted, or addressed and mitigated? I told her I got tired in the afternoons, and that sometimes just hurrying about making myself a cup of tea winded me. Was this terrible?
“Ah, no,” she said, or something of the sort, “You are simply deconditioned.” Deconditioned! What a great idea. For surely what has been de- can be re-.
First we got a treadmill. I now spend 30-45 minutes, 5-6 times/week, tromping along as I watch Hulu or Sundance or HBO on my phone. It is neither glamorous nor edifying and at first it felt awful, but now is good. You may remember that I strained my Achilles tendon badly back in 2019, and am prone to soft tissue injuries, so I am careful to pay attention to discomfort.
Then I went hiking. This felt better than good. However, due to the aforesaid tendon trouble, I want to be extra-extra-careful, so I invested in more serious hiking equipment.
The roundabout point of all this is that a reader asked me about gear and I wanted to oblige. We’ll start at the top, literally.
I’m pretty sure this is the Tilly hat I wear, but I can’t know for certain as I found it in my closet and have no idea from whence it came. It’s comfortable, blocks sun, and survives packing.
EltaMD. Light, easy to apply, doesn’t bug me–and I am easily bugged.
My husband has researched what makes a good backpack. He chose this. It was perfect: water bottle fits on the outside, can stuff with a jacket in case temps change.
It isn’t shown above, but 15+ years ago I bought a Quechua jacket at the French retailer Decathlon, in Shanghai, and it has proved superhuman in both staying power and utility since. The closest you could get now might be this. The price is very reasonable.
There is no link for my shirt as I bought it for the Outdoor Action program my son did for his Princeton orientation. Yes, that was 13+ years ago, sensing a theme? If I were to buy a shirt that offered sun and scratch protection but a) had all its buttons and b) fit, it’d be this one, in this color.
Poles, you ask? Why poles? My sister told me to, and she hikes regularly, that’s why. She was right. They really help, both going up steep paths and coming down. If you prefer to get recommendations from a more public source, go to YouTube and amuse yourself with multiple videos showing you how to hike with poles. Then ignore everything they say and feel good anyway.
I love REI. A co-op started up in the PNW, it’s grown to be a great source of hiking/camping/outdoor equipment. So, when I was reluctant to hike in my oversized jeans, and didn’t want to snag my sports tights, I chose these and am SO happy with them. Good to show off my cute seat on the trail? Heck no. Good for staying cool and unscratched with all the pockets I could possibly want? AND an adjustable waist? Heck yes.
Hate hot feet. Like these.
Boots, of course, were the big purchase. I have been wearing high Timberlands for the past couple of years, and they really help with my tendon discomfort. So I wanted high hiking boots. These Lowas are incredibly comfortable, to the point where I’ll wear them on the treadmill even though the lace-up is an entire saga. Recommend highly. (Do research how to care for them, so as to avoid cracks in the sole.)
I suppose another point being that Sturdy Gals are not likely to jump out of airplanes late in life, however they will like to get themselves a strong pair of boots and poles, some good sun protection, and rally their boon companions to set out on the trail.
Have a wonderful weekend.
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