Geriatric National Park

[Brooke Pudar lives in an old house, where she alternately tends and neglects her garden.]

I’ve been a little panicky since turning thirty. At the mention getting older I get a deer-in-headlights look and fidget nervously as I run through my bucket list in my head and wonder how to prioritize the items so I can get to all of them before I start falling apart. I finally got into good enough shape to pull off a bikini at thirty-two for a trip to Hawaii, so check that one off the list, thank goodness. I should probably knock out the really physically demanding stuff soon, I think. The Inca Trail looms threateningly over my head. And what about kayaking the Napali coast? Europe can wait till I’m older… but not too old! I still need to be able to walk around windy cobblestone streets without too much trouble.

It’s stupid, right? But my list is long, so, you know, I have to consider these things.

On our trip to Glacier National Park this summer, though, I got some much-needed reassurance that my thirst for adventure doesn’t need to come to a screeching halt at age forty. Or fifty. Or even sixty. Possibly seventy. Because Glacier National Park was chock full of old folks. And not just at the roadside scenic pullouts. On the trails. Hard trails. Trails that John and I were huffing and puffing on. I can’t tell you how many heads of white hair shot past us with big smiles and breezy “hello”s as if hiking fifteen miles up two thousand feet of elevation was no big thing.

On the one hand, I was kind of appalled that what was a big accomplishment for me seemed like “just another day” for these geriatric hikers. On the other hand, I was pretty inspired. That could be me some day, I realized. Wait, that will be me someday! I resolved on the spot to be an awesome old person. An old person who is not fat, not slow, not cranky (well, maybe), does not complain incessantly about ailments, and who can do the same cool crap I can do now.

Thanks to our trip to Glacier, instead of worrying about getting old, I can just worry about getting cancer. Or going blind. Or getting arthritis. Or any other accident or malady that might prevent me from my bucket list.

Or I can try to chill the heck out. Try being the operative word.

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4 thoughts on “Geriatric National Park

  1. Don’t worry….really…don’t worry! You’ll do everything you want, and you’ll be able to do it until you’re 90. But if you worry too much, you’ll only be doing it until you’re 80.

    Great post.

  2. Love the post and definitely agree that “old” people being fit/inspiring. My father is about to turn 67 and regularly bike rides 50-100 miles at a stretch, just for fun. He recently got pulled over by a park ranger for descending down a mountain road at 40 mph, when the speed limit for cars tops out at 25 mph. He was pretty proud of that.

  3. Haha, that is awesome, Jen. Thanks for the encouragement, westerner. It would be ironic if worrying about getting too old is what ended up killing me one day.

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