I Am Going on a Thousand Mile Hike… At 75

View of Mt. Whitney from the west including Curtis Mekemson.

I’ll be completing my thousand mile journey by climbing Mt. Whitney, the curved mountain in the background and the highest mountain in the contiguous United States. I’ve climbed it many times. Here I was wrapping up a 360 mile backpack trip to celebrate my 60th birthday. Will I be looking as spunky after a thousand miles at 75?

Expect some changes in my blog. I am gearing up for a thousand-mile backpack trip this summer starting on June 17, 58 days from now. I’ll be travelling from Mt. Ashland, a few miles from our home and following the Pacific Crest Trail south to Mt. Whitney through the Siskiyou, Marble, Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains. With mountains to climb, rivers to cross, wild animals to confront, swarming insects to avoid, and bad weather to face— not to mention the challenge of backpacking 1,000 miles— there will be plenty of adventures along the way. And there will be lots of photographs. Much of the country I will be backpacking through is drop-dead gorgeous.

My journey will take me through a variety of terrains, including Yosemite National Park.

I estimate the total trip will take about three months, including breaks. It’s my intention to blog about the journey along the way. Peggy will be backpacking part of the trip with me, but mainly she will be doing back-up, meeting me at places where the trail crosses the road. When we have cell phone service, I’ll have Internet. I am excited about sharing the journey with you. Once the adventure gets underway, I’d appreciate your sharing a post or a link with your followers. I figure the more people hiking along with me, the merrier! I’d like a few thousand beside me when I encounter my first bear!

Black bear with cave in Alaska

Yosemite is black bear country. I once woke up with one standing on top of me. At 75, I might have a heart attack! 🙂

Not many people go out for a thousand-mile backpacking trip. And the number of 75-year-olds who do it are far fewer, maybe a handful. But I am no stranger to long distance adventures and this year marks my 50th year of backpacking. I think of the journey as a celebration of doing what I love to do, and a statement that age isn’t necessarily a detriment to having grand adventures.

Having said that, I realize I am 75 (grin). I’ll be seeing my doctor before I go. And Peggy and I are doing a 40-mile conditioning backpack trip along the Rogue River in four weeks. That, along with the first 60-mile section of the trail, will give me a hundred miles. The way I think is that if I can do a hundred miles, I can do a thousand! If not… well there are always other adventures.

There is a ton of preparation that needs to be done in getting ready for the trek, in addition to conditioning. I’ve started by putting my gear together. I’ll be traveling ultra-light, using the modern terminology. Peggy turns white and checks the budget each time I head out to REI. My new tent, backpack, sleeping bag, and mattress weigh seven pounds, which is what my old backpack alone weighed. I am hoping to keep all of my gear to under 15. With food for a week, this should keep my total weight to 30 pounds max.

The route, food considerations, resupply points and permits all need to be planned out and reviewed. There will be less time for my blog over the next couple of months. I will be limited in the number of posts I can put up and the number of posts I can read. My apologies in advance. But I will do what I can! And I will put up a few posts on my preparation efforts, including the backpacking trip along the Rogue River.

The beginning of my journey will take me around the edge of the Red Butte Wilderness, which includes the Red Butte Mountains seen here from our deck. Thunderstorms are often a challenge when hiking through the various mountain ranges of California in the summer.

WEDNESDAY’S POST: I wrap up the Alaska Adventure with more photos from Kodiak.

FRIDAY’S POST: It’s ground zero in MisAdventures with Freshmen PE Dance Class!

MONDAY’S POST: A look at today’s ultralight backpacking equipment.

63 comments on “I Am Going on a Thousand Mile Hike… At 75

  1. What a fantastic adventure. Are you aware of Brad McCartney’s blog BikeHikeSafari. He’s done the Pacific Coast Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Lots of good info on his blog.

  2. Wow, Curt. you are amazing. I admire you. Be safe and smart keep us posted as you can, but most of all; live in the moment and enjoy it. What a grand trip. Cheers friend

    • Thank you Craig! I know I will have a lot of good times. It’s impossible not to on such a journey. As for my bad times, may they just bad enough to make good stories. 🙂 –Curt

    • Thanks Tam. I’ve hiked through most of this country at one time or the other. And it is some of the most beautiful in the world. There should be lots of tales— and photos. –Curt

    • “You look like a 50-year old.” (grin) You sure know how to get to a 75-year-old’s heart Bojana. I am really curious what I will look like after a thousand miles. Skinny I can pretty much guarantee. Thanks a lot. Appreciated. –Curt

      • Curt, you really are only as old as you feel. You’re the best proof for it. Today’s 20-year-olds don’t have such adventurous spirit. So, no grin. A wide smile instead.
        Looking forward to hearing your story after a 1000m.

  3. Wowsa, how exciting. This is really cool. No doubt it will be a challenge, but a beautiful and fascinating one for sure. Document well; maybe you’ll be the next Cheryl Strayed and get a bestselling book out of the journey!

    • A book, a movie, hey why not! (Laughing) But I do intend to write a book about the experience, Carrie. I’ve been working on my agent letter. And I won’t hesitate to self-public otherwise. With or without, however, the bottom line is the experience. Few things make me happier (Peggy, for example 🙂 ), than hiking down a wilderness trail. I am not hiking out with Cheryl’s, trauma, but I have a world of more experience. I often cringed when I read about her trials on the trail. –Curt

  4. 2 milestones this year for you, and a wonderful way to celebrate them. Wishing you a smooth hike, and great weather!! Looking forward to hear from you! All the best Curt!

    • Much appreciated, Christie! It’s an ideal opportunity for someone who loves the wilderness. I’ll be hiking through some of my all-time favorite country plus seeing some new places I’ve never wandered. I suspect that there will be numerous photos waiting to be taken and stories waiting to be told. –Curt

  5. I’m out of breath just reading about all that hiking!! But I know you’ll do great, give us a bunch of terrific photos and posts and we’ll be thrilled to know you’re still the most fit 75 year old we’ll ever know!!

    • Now you are talking Cindy! What fun that would be. I’ve had a few celebration dinners in Lone Pine over they years as I have come off of the mountain, but this one will be different! –Curt

  6. I bow! And I applaud. Age is only a number and yet…
    You’re awesome and you can do it. I will definitely cheer you up. This landscape is so gorgeous your pics will be terrific. Good luck as you train, Curt.

  7. You look after yourself, Curt, and stay away from those bears. I am sure you are in for some exiting times. We, of course will share your adventures of overcoming nail-biting dangers, cowering behind the safety of our computer.

  8. Wishing you joy and good luck (and no bears using you for a perch!) You’ll be starting out in my neck of the woods (so to speak). I seen quite a few bits of your planned hike and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s drop-dead gorgeous.
    Adding wishes for happy trails!

      • Well shoot, you WOULD ask it that way! 😀 I have to admit to being a bit of a chicken to do much hiking by my lonesome. I did hike and explore parts of the El Dorado forest, below Lake Tahoe in the 70s when I had my husky with me. Since then a shattered ankle kept it to shorter day hikes into the Mt Whitney area and Yosemite meadows and other places you didn’t mention. Anxiously waiting to tag along on your adventure!

  9. You are one amazing hiker! So glad you are doing this, and I hope it’s not your undoing. Peggy, too, is amazing, and I suspect she may wear down more quickly than you do. But here’s hoping you finish strong and take pics to share all along the journey. (Please don’t tell me you’ll miss Burning Man because you’ll be hiking.) Best wishes for much success in planning and preparing.

    • Doubt it will be my undoing. 🙂 There are always escape options, if need be. Peggy will only be doing sections. Most of the time she will be meeting me at trailheads for resupply and a bit of R&R. I’ve been backpacking for 50 years and led groups for 30. Also, I went out several times this past year. I think I can do it… 🙂 –Curt

    • Thanks. 🙂 I’ve done bits of it over the years, Rusha. Way back in 1976 I spent some time hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine. I remember seven days of rain and a ton of biting bugs. 🙂 –Curt

  10. Curtis, This is great – I so look forward to reading your blog on this. The PCT is something I have wanted to challenge myself with ever since our friend Nicole hiked it. It is definitely on my bucket list.

    • Thanks, Dave. When I led my first hundred mile backpack trek in 1974, a 70 year old man, Orvis Agee, showed up and wanted to go. My initial reaction was no, but he quickly persuaded me. He climbed Mt. Shasta regularly and had done a 50 mile trip the year before. 17 years later, at the age of 87, he did his last long distance trek with me. Talk about inspiration! I remember thinking in the beginning that I couldn’t imagine going out on one of my trips at his age— and hoped I would be able to. –Curt

  11. Yes indeed I will get the word out about your upcoming adventure. Good to hear you are taking some test hikes. You really are living it large with this one Curt. Wishing you and Peggy the best always…isn’t life a hoot!

    • Thanks, JoHanna! Much appreciated. Our 40 mile conditioning trip is just around the corner. 🙂 Meanwhile, the thousand foot hill right behind our house is calling! –Curt

    • Thanks, Ray. I’ve been wanting to do this one for awhile. Decided I’d better get to it. 🙂 Seems to me at 74 that you manage to work in lots of adventures! –Curt

    • I have a hard time remembering that myself, Juliann. 🙂 Part of the secret about not being 75 is not behaving like it. It doesn’t exactly make me 20 again, but… As for the brace, thank you! –Curt

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