"She's a hottie," one remarked.
"She's a hottie too."
They came to the name of a woman who could outclimb and outhike them. She was thirty-nine, about twenty years older than they were. They paused.
"She's a hottie," was the final verdict. "An older hottie."
I laughed, overhearing. I was younger than the woman they were discussing. I wasn't that much younger, though, and had noticed that on every fire crew, every trail crew, people were getting younger and younger. It wasn't so much the getting older I feared, it was the slow slide toward the inability to do the things I wanted to do. Could I still do epic hikes? Trail runs? Worse, what if I decided I didn't want to do those things? I couldn't imagine a life without running, hiking, skiing.
The older hottie thing, though, gave me hope. I started looking around. There were women older than me who were still out there. I ran next to an eighty year old at the Napa Marathon. She finished only a half hour after I did, and I wasn't moving that slowly. I kayaked on the outer coast with these women. I climbed to the alpine tundra and back with them and had to hustle to keep up. I met a woman who hiked fifteen mile days for 280 miles on the John Muir Trail and beyond. She's 60. They were beautiful, not in a fresh-faced, unformed way, but beautiful from all the years of figuring out the fall line of a mountain, the sweet spot of a river. I wanted to know what they knew.
In the spirit of the older hottie, I went for a run on my birthday today. It was just a jaunt around the monuments. Nothing epic. But I saw a woman in her twenties ahead and gunned it to pass her. Not in a mean spirit. But to show her: you can be older and still be out there.
|I'm squinting into the sun. Those aren't all wrinkles.|