The Wisdom of Baby Steps
My husband and I became avid hikers in 2016 once my husband had retired from a lengthy career as an engineer, and I had switched to writing and publishing my novels (Requiem for the Status Quo and A Jagged Journey). Hiking during the week in the Pacific Northwest is the only way to go as our area is a hiking paradise and we completed many non-weekend hikes for three solid years.
Then both of us had body structure limitations that were addressed and treated as effectively as possible so we could consider heading out on the trails again.
Then Covid happened.
We chose not to head onto the trails because even though we were extremely diligent in our masked day-to-day proactive way, hiking with a mask on was not an attractive option for us. So even though we went on neighborhood walks and took Cabin Fever Drives (CFDs) since winter 2020, we had not been on a trail since summer 2019. Until last week.
We understand the psychology of starting slowly, gradually building up to more challenging physical activities, so a close-in, 2.5 mile RT hike with 419 feet elevation gain was our starting point. What we didn’t take into account, however, was how much elevation gain would occur in 1.25 miles. We turned around once we realized our error in judgment and learned just how out of shape we are and how to better gauge elevation gain – a skill we were well-versed in just three years prior.
But we made an effort, and even though we didn’t quite master that day’s trail, we still lapped everyone sitting on the couch. Baby steps will be our practice going forward so we don’t doom our renewed commitment to Western Washington hiking.
Hiking always makes me feel good to be alive, even though my joints and muscles complain more often than not at the completion of each hike.
There’s so much goodness found in the mountains, streams, lakes, and forests of the Pacific Northwest. Along with that goodness is the kindness that oozes out of every beautiful sight we behold:
- the sweet and varied songs of the birds that are hidden from sight, but not by hearing;
- the welcome shade provided by trees that have been around longer than my timespan on this earth and that will remain long after I’m gone;
- the flowers and berries, both common and unique, that serve to add color to the landscape, thus softening the feel of the dirt, rocks, and rooty trails that receive our eager feet;
- the top of the mountain vistas – what my husband and I call the payoff – that await our sweaty, achy, bodies, making us forget the out of breath effort it took to get there; and
- the people we meet along the way who love hiking as much as we do.
At yesterday’s vista view, we met a young man who with his wife, moved to Seattle from Utah. Just three weeks into his Washington State experience Matt is in love with what our state has to offer. His wife’s job is what prompted their move: she is in her medical residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She has the overnight shift so Matt is taking advantage of her daytime sleep schedule to explore the new place in which he lives.
Matt is a microbiologist who is putting off looking for a job for a few weeks while he acquaints himself with his new home. We recommended he enjoy the best weather the Seattle area has to offer before getting anywhere near a laboratory. We also told him we felt certain he would have no problem finding work in his field given the renowned medical community in the area. We had a simply delightful conversation with this man who, after I mentioned my family’s history with Alzheimer’s, offered the promising breakthrough just discovered regarding a virus that might contribute to the disease.
Whether Baby Boomers like ourselves, young children, or everyone in between, the hiking community just seems to give off kindness vibes – a kindness that provides lasting benefits for these late-in-life hike enthusiasts. I know this has been a far different Kindness Fridays to which you may be accustomed, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless.
Coffee is not hydration
Dehydration and Dementia. The attached article is a very thorough look at the importance of hydration in the elderly, and how to assure that a person with dementia – who may no longer feel the thirst response and/or does not know how to express his or her thirst – is properly taken care of.
My husband and I went for a hike last summer during which we encountered a gentleman who I would guess was in his early 80’s. It was a warm, muggy day and my husband and I each had a 20 oz. bottle of water for our 3-mile hike. The gentleman was reviewing his hiking map and we stopped to chat with him about the fork in the road and which path lead where. “Sir, do you have a bottle of water that you can drink while on your hike today?” “No – not needed; I have a thermos of coffee waiting for me back at my car.” “I wonder, sir, with it being so hot and humid, if you might benefit from taking one of our bottles of water. I would be happy to give you one we’ve not used yet so you’ll be comfortable.” “That’s very kind of you, but I’ll be fine.”
So he went on his way but I told my husband I wasn’t comfortable with this fellow being on his own and could we please follow him at a distance to make sure he gets back to his vehicle. And so we did – and he returned to his vehicle, and no doubt partook of his thermos of hot coffee. Not very refreshing.
Although hot coffee and tea certainly contain water as part of their preparation, straight water – or even fruit juice – are a better option because of their lack of caffeine. Years ago, when I would visit one of my aging family members, you could always count on him holding that quintessential cup of coffee in his hand throughout the day. Regardless of the weather – no glass of water reached his lips – except perhaps when he took his daily vitamins or medications. This message is directed to those who provide care for the elderly, those who have older family members, and perhaps this message is also directed towards you. Drink good ol’ H2O. It doesn’t have to be packaged in a fancy bottle, you don’t have to purchase it, it’s always available at the touch of the nearest faucet, and you can access 100% water faster than making a pot of coffee.
What are you waiting for? Go get a glass of refreshing water!