50 Shades of Graying

Or more precisely, 53 and graying.

Let’s start this adventure with an intro and a short, lighthearted post. I’m sure things are gonna get heavy (literally and figuratively) in the months to come.

Who’s That?

Your average Midwestern, 50-something empty nester.  I somehow miraculously reared and sent two successful children out into the big, bad world.  Now is my time.  Granted, not the ideal time, given creeping menopause and weight gain, but my time nonetheless.  I “came out” to my family with this crazy idea a month ago, and nobody reacted by trying to have me committed.  So, I cleared that hurdle.  As to what’s being said behind my back, well, I’d rather not know.

My intent is to AT flip-flop NOBO from Harpers Ferry beginning April 2020. The plan is for my sister, Izzy Rat, to get me to the drop-off point, slow to under 20 mph, and then I’ll take a shoulder roll out the door of her RV.  I figure the pack will absorb the impact.  She will then return to a normal life; I will embark on this adventure.

Priorities #1

I follow a lot of forums, FB pages, and other hiker resources.  Yeah, yeah, I know the Big Three (pack, shelter, sleep system) are concerns to be heavily researched and field tested.  However, there is one item I wanted to get early and test often:  a urination system.  Enter the P-Style, my first trail prep purchase.

I’ve backpacked before, and really disliked taking my pack off to take care of business. I’m sure there are some women out there with killer quads and exquisite balance who can answer the call with their pack on.  I am not one of them.  My Prime package arrived less than an hour ago, and I’ve already had an opportunity to give it a whirl.  Epic fail, but it’s too early to tell if it was user error or product design fail.  I’m going with the former. I’ll keep you posted on the learning curve, ladies.

Priorities #2

I have no intention of being constantly “on the grid” during my trek, but the option has to be there for safety and, well, maintaining this blog.  Enter a core battery charger, my second trail prep purchase.

Wow, this sucker is heavy. 12.5 ounces.  That may not sound like much, but it equates to about 3% of my total pack weight. But I figure more than 3% of my trail enjoyment will derive from periodic connectivity, so I don’t expect it will get ditched in the first shakedown. Henceforth, I will treat this as my primary charging source and track it’s performance.

Priorities #3-50

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll try to share my incoming gear, fear, expectations, and anxieties. For you women of a “certain age,” I’ll try to especially relate the joys and challenges of this sojourn as it pertains to us. I’d love it if you came along for the ride!

Feature image via Maggie Slepian

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Comments 7

  • Marlene Wulf : Oct 13th

    As another middle-age, wanna-be hiker, I look forward to following along on your journey. Good luck and happy trails!

  • Storm : Oct 13th

    Love my tinkle belle (priority one). Its easy and I too don’t want to take my pack off every time I have to pee. It took me a few tries but now I slightly lean in to it and it works great. I also will use it at night (into a wide mouth Gatorade bottle) since I always have to pee at night. I’m 63 and plan to thru hike the AT 2020 or worst case 2021.

  • Shannon : Oct 14th

    A seasoned professional! I’m so excited to hear about your process! I’ll be on the PCT 2020, finances permitting. Can’t wait to read your posts!

  • Creek Dancer : Oct 15th

    I look forward to virtually tagging along. This has been my dream for a couple of decades. At 59, I’m not getting any younger and my dream is getting more and more deep set. Maybe I’ll see you on the trail!

  • George (Old Growth) Turner : Oct 16th

    I’m 68. Since 2016, I’ve done over 2000 mules of the trail. Watch your base weight, honor the zero day and keep it holy and enjoy the trip. Flip flopping is definitely the way to go. You’re going to love walking through the south with the changing leaves following you to Springer

  • Mary (Switchblade) : Oct 16th

    Congrats to you Mags! I am 54 and am also experiencing this “wonderful” part of life. I plan to hike the trail when my boyfriend and I retire in a couple of years. I am trying to convince him to do a flip flop as well, so we have a little more time. I look forward to reading your blog! Happy trails and best wishes to you!

  • Tracy (CoolBreeze) Auchtung : Oct 16th

    I began section hiking in 2014 at Springer Mtn. I am 61 now and am planning to begin in CT mid-May and finish to Katahdin. Maybe we’ll meet along the way. FTR, I love my p-style; it has been so liberating!


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