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How I Graduated From Walker To Avid Hiker In My Fifties

Written by: Beckie Kullberg, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

This summer I turned 54 and feel better than I have for years, thanks to hiking. To me, hiking always seemed like something athletes did or someone wildly adventurous. Neither of those described me… or did it?


Walking for exercise is perfect. It’s free, you can do it anywhere, and it improves your health. Walking can be done in a mall or right from your TV if the weather is bad and you can’t get out. It works for every fitness level and pretty much anyone can do it. Walking takes you to places you might not go otherwise and allows you to do it with others or alone. So versatile.

In March of 2020, our world changed with the arrival of COVID-19 and the shelter at home orders we got in the US that lasted much longer than 2 weeks as originally suggested. A true test in mental health and resiliency, we were all tested. I had so many emotions bottled up and needed an outlet to release safely and aggressively.


The walks I was doing were nice, and I did get a workout, however, I needed something more. Something that would push me and my perceived limits to help ward off all the noise in my head. I NEEDED NATURE!


You may argue that walking too is done in nature and I would agree, however hiking takes you to places that most don’t ever see.


A friend and I reconnected after a few years over text and she mentioned she had been hiking so I asked her if I could join her. She was thrilled. Then I wondered, “wait, am I in good enough shape to hike?” “Do I have the right shoes?” “Do I bring water?” I felt so ill-prepared.

The first day I showed up in my regular walking attire and it was perfectly fine for the 5.5-mile hike we did that day. The vertical climb was enough to make my request to stop and rest only about 7 times. To be honest, I was a little bit embarrassed that I wasn’t in better shape with all my walking. My friend was so understanding and patient with me as I stood there and caught my breath pretending like I wanted to enjoy the scenery while I gasped for air. “Such a beautiful view here”, I’d say hoping for her to look long enough for me to recover. It worked! In time I believe she figured it out and was kind enough to play along.


As my lungs got stronger so did my legs. Last summer was the first time I was able to get up on one water ski since my early twenties. It was a huge and glorious milestone and one that I won’t forget since I tried for 10 years prior unsuccessfully. After months of hiking, I just popped right up on one ski like I had been doing it all my life. That moment added 10 years to my life.


Back to hiking… the first few times I went I wore a draw-string backpack for my water, keys, and wallet and wondered why my shoulders were hurting so much. While visiting an outdoor store (something I didn’t see myself visiting much before hiking) I decided to try on some backpacks and found one that suited all my needs. Backpacks are like purses, always searching for the perfect one. This backpack could store a hydration bladder in it and I thought that was genius.


On the first day of hiking with my new backpack, my friend asked, “Why haven’t you needed to stop to drink water?” I showed her my handy dandy water drinking tube from my pack. This would be the same system we both poo-pooed during our hikes. She put in her backpack and hydration system order as soon as she got home.


This purchase led to better hiking shoes, socks, fitted shorts, and tops that I never thought I’d wear in public, sleeveless.


During most hikes the thought, “I don’t know that I can do this” runs through my mind and when I complete my hike I gain mental strength that I didn’t know I had. This makes me feel younger! Pushing myself beyond what I think I can do has increased my resiliency and the ability to see beyond what’s possible in my business life.


With each hike we became more courageous, “where shall we go next?” Discovering new trails in our area has allowed us to see things we didn’t even know existed here.


On a new to us trail at Jenner Headlands, we thought we’d do the 9-mile loop, and another day we’d come back to go all the way up to Pole Mountain, a 17 mile up and back hike. When we got to the fork to do our 9-mile loop or cut up and go to Pole Mountain we pondered for a moment. “It’s only 8 more miles”, we said. “Who are we!?!” I thought to myself and together we decided, “Let’s go for it!” Another adventure adding years to my life through excitement and exercise.


During our trek to the top of Pole Mountain, we both had ideas of what or if there was a pole up there. My idea was kind of like the North Pole in “The Santa Clause” and my friend had imagined a stripper pole. We both laughed hysterically like someone who hasn’t slept for many nights.


It was 6 inches, SIX INCHES! The pole on top of Pole Mountain was a six-inch metal pole sticking up from the ground. We laughed and then took in the views on the top of this mountain that gifted up a 360* clear sight of Sonoma County. It was breathtaking. At that moment I knew that I was hooked on hiking. I wanted more. I wanted to see more. I wanted to feel this excitement that one only gets from just doing it even when it feels hard and don’t think they can.


We went on to hike Half Dome at Yosemite, TWICE, hiked Pole Mountain 7 times, Mt. Tamalpais, and many more… next up is Rim to Rim at Grand Canyon.


For my 54th birthday this year, I went on a hiking trip with a girlfriend to Vail Colorado. It was epic!


Hiking, for me, has been my church. After a good hike, I feel fresh, challenged, and rejuvenated. I may have just turned 54 and I feel like I am much younger and I have COVID to thank for that.


For more info, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website!


 

Beckie Kullberg, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

For the past thirty years, Beckie Kullberg has guided women of all ages and walks of life to fully understand and embrace self-love. She is a gentle leader who bonds with her clients and provides a safe haven for them to build body confidence and achieve a positive mindset. Her own story of binge-eating and recovery prompted her to create programs and tools to help others succeed in establishing strong self-esteem.


Beckie coined the phrase “image nemesis” as she designed the courses “30 Days to Breakup with Binge Eating” and “Body Confidence and Weight Release.” After hiding her secret for years (even her husband didn’t know), Beckie took multiple self-development courses and made the shift to stop the shame and restore optimal health of mind and body.


She feels grateful to live in scenic Sonoma County with her husband of eighteen years and her teenage son, where she loves to hike the local trails and connect with nature.

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